Grand Cruise – Black Sea to the Danube GDR21
|Resort:||Grand Cruise - Black Sea to the Danube GDR21|
|Operator:||Great Rail Journeys|
Aboard the state of the art Amadeus Silver II which comes replete cutting-edge facilities, follow the path of the Black Sea as it makes its journey towards the coast and soak up the very best of Eastern Europe; from the unusual nature of the Danube Delta and the unique cities of Serbia and Bulgaria to the vast expanses and traditions of the Great Hungarian Plains. Then experience the magic of the blue Danube from the twin-cities of Buda and Pest to the elegance of Imperial Vienna
Day 1 – London to Nuremberg
Begin today at London St Pancras, where you’ll meet your Tour Manager as well of the rest of your group, to start your journey to Europe. Board the Eurostar travelling to Brussels, then change for the service to Nuremberg, via Cologne.
Day 2 – Continue by rail to Passau
We make the short walk back to Nuremberg station for the train to Paasau. On arriving in Passau, we meet the Amadeus Queen or Silver II and are welcomed with a cocktail in the lounge before dinner.
Day 3 – Regensburg
Regensberg is our port of call this morning, which we explore on foot. This medieval town contains many buildings that testify to its history as a trading centre and to its influence on the whole region from the 9th century onwards. We enjoy dinner back on board tonight.
Days 4-5 – Melk & Salzburg or the Austrian Lake District
We arrive into Passau this morning where you have a choice of excursions. You could head further into the countryside for a day spent amidst the spectacular scenery of the Austrian lakes. Make stops in UNESCO listed Hallstatt, one of Austria’s most photographed villages thanks to its traditional pastel-coloured houses perched on the tiny plain between the mountains and Hallstttersee Lake, as well as Mondsee.This pretty town is set on the lake of the same name, and its most famous sight is the 15th-century parish church, which featured in the wedding scenes of ‘The Sound of Music’.
Otherwise, travel by coach to Salzburg, via Mondsee, one of Austria’s most famous cities and known as the birth place of Mozart. A guided sightseeing tour reveals the city’s internationally renowned Baroque architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage site. On Day 5 we reach Austria’s Wachau Valley, a famous wine-making region. We arrive in the idyllic village of Drnstein where you have time at leisure. As we sit down to lunch on board we begin cruising along the picturesque Wachau Valley, an extremely scenic area with green valleys and vineyards rising up from the river, picturesque riverside towns, and commanding fortresses with sweeping views. We then journey by coach to Melk Abbey, enjoying entrance to this 11th century Benedictine Abbey which stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube and is home to the Abbey Church, considered one of the most beautiful Baroque churches north of the Alps.
Day 6 – The history and music of Vienna
After a calm night of cruising, we arrive into glorious Vienna, for a comprehensive sightseeing tour. This is a chance to relish in Austria’s Imperial heritage, one full of tradition and rich in architectural, artistic and musical heritage. You’ll see many of Vienna’s finest ornate buildings, including the impressive Hofburg Palace. This vast complex of buildings demonstrates the awesome power and wealth commanded by the Habsburgs. You’ll also take in the impressive Opera House, one of the leading opera venues in the world, as well as the grand Parliament Building.
Tonight a real treat awaits us on board, where after dinner we are joined by musicians from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for an exclusive, private recital. Be whisked away by the music as you immerse yourself in this singularly exceptional experience, as the Vienna Philharmonic is one of the most popular and skilled orchestras in the world.
Day 7 – Arrival in Bratislava
Your morning is at leisure aboard before we moor up early this afternoon. After lunch, we set out on a guided coach tour of Slovakian capital. Located in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Bratislava straddles the Danube which neatly divides the city into two parts; the Baroque Old Town (Stare Mesto) and the new city. This picture-postcard city destination historic Gothic buildings, several universities, a wealth of museums and galleries, and a refreshing cosmopolitan atmosphere. The historic centre features delightful cobbled stoned roads, pedestrianised plazas, pastel 18th century rococo buildings and street cafs galore. Following our excursion, we return to the ship for another delicious, 5-course dinner.
Days 8-9 – Discovering Budapest
This morning we arrive at the scenic Danube Bend. This section of the river has a long and fascinating history and from the sun deck or panoramic windows in the bar, you’ll be able to see castle ruins, churches, pretty houses hidden in the hills and dense forests.
After lunch on board, we enjoy a guided coach tour of Budapest, introducing us to Budapest’s main sights. We pass impressive buildings and monuments on both sides of the Danube, including the neo-Gothic Parliament building, the magnificent State Opera House and St Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest Castle, Matthias Church and Fishermen’s Bastion. Later take in the illuminated sights as we sail around the city. We are also treated to a performance from a local Hungarian folk band in the lounge. On Day 9 your morning is free to explore Budapest before we rejoin the ship as we cruise to Kalocsa.
Days 10-11 – Hungarian puszta tour and Serbia
We arrive into the port of Kalocsa this morning and embark on puszta tour by coach. The puszta itself is an area of Hungary defined by its grassland ecosystem set amongst the Great Hungarian Plains, and which has a mcertain ‘wild west’ feel to it. Our first visit during our time here is to a paprika house. One of Hungary’s most famous and important cooking ingredients, paprika was once known as ‘red gold’ in this region, and we get to taste it in a variety of dishes while learning about the spice’s historic significance and how it help shaped the lives of the people who resided here. We continue to the former home of a wealthy 19th century family where we are treated to a performance of traditional folk music and dancing before heading out into the great plains themselves to try some more local delicacies, meet Hungarian half-blood horses and experience a wagon ride hauled by these magnificent and powerful creatures.
On Day 11 we moor in the Serbian capital of Belgrade this morning, heading out on a guided walking tour to see the attractions of a city whose varied history can be documented through its architecture. First up is the Kalemegdan Fortress; the oldest surviving part of the city and dating back to the 3rd century BC, it also offers wonderful views across the Danube and Sava rivers. Next we swing by Belgrade’s National Museum before seeing the parliament building, Terazije Square and lastly, the Palace of Princess Ljubica. With it’s Asian influences, this is an unusual building for this part of the world, one which was built in the 1800s for the wife of Prince Milo – the eponymous Princess Ljubica. This afternoon you are free to continue sightseeing, or do a little shopping, independently.
Day 12 – The Iron Gate Gorge
Today is spent at leisure on board as we make our way towards Vidin. During the afternoon we pass through the ‘Iron Gate’ Gorge. Enjoy the cruise director’s informative commentary as we witness towering mossy cliffs interspersed with ornate and detailed carvings hewn straight from the rock face.
Days 13-14 – Constanta and Veliko Tarnovo
We begin sailing towards Ruse, in Bulgaria, docking for an excursion to Veliko Tarnovo. The city was once the cornerstone of Bulgaria’s 14th century empire, and boasts impressive medieval churches and an Old Town of timber-framed buildings for us to explore on our guided tour.
On Day 14 we have a free morning on board the ship. This afternoon we’re driven by coach to the nearby port town of Constanta for a guided tour. Here we uncover Constanta’s ancient history from its Greek origins to its Roman ancestry and Persian influences. Some of the attractions we’ll see include the great mosque, art-nouveau casino and Genovese lighthouse. A short visit to the city’s History and Archaeology Museum is also very enlightening, and there’s even some time to take a stroll along the pristine beach before we return to our ship.
Day 15 – Danube Delta safari
We hop aboard some smaller safari boats today for a nature cruise through the UNESCO-listed Danube Delta, formed by the river as it splits into thousands of tributaries on its way to the Black Sea. This specialist biosphere reserve is jam-packed with wildlife, including many rare and endangered species such as golden jackal, European hoopoe, white-tailed eagle and lesser-spotted woodpecker. Back on board we enjoy a relaxing afternoon sailing back to Fetesti.
Days 16-17 – Bucharest
We arrive in Burcharest this morning and set out on a guided city tour, discovering the palaces, remains of medieval homes and 21st century modernist skyscrapers that all mesh together to make for a remarkable and surprising destination. You have some free time for lunch and might like to try out one of the many al fresco restaurants tucked away amongst the tangled network of streets and verdant parks. We transfer to our hotel for the night.
Following breakfast on Day 17, we disembark and make for the airport for your flight back home.