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Tauck Tours – Blue Danube.

Back in early July I had the real pleasure of taking my own personal holiday with Tauck Tours.
The holiday I chose was The Blue Danube

A highlight for me and my answer to why a product such as Tauck are worth the extra money, is you always get so much more for your money, the experiences, stories that unfold as you participate in the extraordinary culture of your destinations. These are the memories that get made when you holiday with a company that knows how to deliver. Something that I would say is priceless.

On our evening in Prague – we arrive at Lobkowicz Castle and were invited to cocktails on the terrace for enjoy the view of this wonderful city with over 100 spires.

After drinks we are invited into a theatre style audience and are introduced to Prince William Lobkowicz. A flamboyant and strangely American voiced man, who I found immediately to be both engaging and had the most awesome story to share. He explained that his family lost everything twice, first to the Nazis and then to the communists. His grandparents went to Boston with all the family at this time and felt all they had was lost forever. William went to Harvard and studied history and the more he learnt the more he questioned if any of the family history belonged to them. He studied harder and convinced his father to help finance his desire to check with lawyers what their rights were after several years they received a call to say “You are the owners of 1 palace and 11 castles!! “ even as he shared this story – which he must have now shared 100’s of times, you could see his emotion and almost still imagine the shock! I had goose bumps listening! The family now live in Prague and has worked funding the restoration of the castle and its belongings – some of the first sheets of music written by Beethoven and Mozart are amongst the treasures.
Stories like this – told by an actual Prince – now you wont get that on any old holiday!!!
Here is my blog of the whole trip

I decided on this trip for several reasons, I love Budapest, I love river cruising, I have always wanted to go to Prague and I wanted to be spoilt. I can confirm loud and clear that I made the right choice.

One is never sure if a holiday will be all we want it to, but I should have realised the minute that I landed at the airport that this trip would be special. I wonder how many of you are like me and worry about the arrival in an airport and will the much anticipated “transfer be there” As soon as we walked through the arrivals doors, there they with a lovely big Tauck sign, so easy to see and professional looking. This was to remain that way throughout.
Our holiday began with 2 nights stay in Budapest, we were taken to the Kempinski Hotel, which on arrival was very elegant and felt luxurious from the reception area alone. Check in was efficient and very fast. We were introduced to the Tauck guides (3 of them were at hand at the hotel) and advised if we wanted they were doing a short orientation of the city by foot if we would like.
Budapest – the highlights and an Exclusive for Tauck guests – special welcome cocktail reception and dinner at the grand Akadémia Club in the Hungarian Academy of Science. Here we enjoyed early evening drinks reception with canapes, followed by the most enjoyable dinner in the breath taking surroundings and accompanied by traditional Hungarian music.

From our dining room we also enjoyed breath taking views of the illuminated Chain Bridge, the Castle of Buda, the Matthias Church and the River Danube when looking out of the windows.
On day 2 we enjoyed a morning to explore the Pest side of the city which including City Park and Heroes’ Square – bounded by some of the finest architectural works in Hungary – and a special visit to the opulent State Opera House, opened in 1884, with its royal boxes and gilded vaulted ceiling, a truly beautiful building!.

In the afternoon there was a further option to explore the historic Buda.

Our next day, we explored more of Buda. We travelled up to Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the Danube on the Buda side of the city, for sightseeing and lunch at a local café. See Fishermen’s Bastion, with its Neo-Romanesque design, and admired the stained glass windows and centuries of history in the 14th-century, late-Gothic Matthias Church. We then joined MS Savour our home for the next week. Before dinner we meet the crew at the welcome reception followed by dinner.

The boat – what a Gem. A stunning 5 star ship that truly has every facility to ensure that you have a fabulous week. The cabins are more spacious than most river cruise vessel I have stayed on. Tauck is an all-inclusive product and they really mean this. A huge selection of fine wines is available and the food, service and attention to detail is of the highest standard throughout
Day 4 – Baroque in Bratislava, such a quaint town! We took a walking tour of this cobble stoned, vehicle-free city. There is so much history here, everything from 17 centuries of history eloquently chronicled in its 13th-century Old Town Hall, Baroque Habsburg-era palaces, the Opera House, Slovak Philharmonic Hall, and St. Martin’s Cathedral, site of the coronation of many Hungarian kings and queens, and sample some of Slovakia’s delectable almond pastry at a local café. In the evening, after dinner we were entertained with a performance by a talented troupe of Slovak dancers.
Day 5 – Vienna – one of Europe’s hidden gems. We enjoyed the city in some free time and simply explored this lovely town and its many beautiful buildings.. Seeing the story of music unfold is both interesting and enlightening too. In the evening we had another Tauck Exclusive where we enjoyed the royal treatment and pageantry at the Imperial Evening in the opulent Palais Pallavicini, a private Baroque palace in Vienna that film buffs may have spotted in the 1940s film noir classic The Third Man. Welcome cocktails and dinner preceded an unforgettable spectacle of beautiful ball gowns and a musical performance celebrating the legacy of Mozart.
Day 6 ­ today was a highlight for me as we visited Schönbrunn Palace an architectural masterpiece and Austrian cultural treasure, or the amazing Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg, Austria’s official presidential residence. Then, shuttles are at the ready to bring you back to the riverboat before we cruise the Danube River through Austria’s Wachau Valley; glide past castles and abbeys to medieval Dürnstein, where you’ll arrive late in the evening.

Day 7 ­ Dürnstein & the Wachau Valley Dock in Dürnstein for a closer look at its 16th ­century Baroque houses and 13th-century Romanesque church on a walking tour along cobblestone streets; you may also choose to tour a local monastery, or take a bicycle ride. Enjoy some free time in this charming riverside town, perhaps taking an invigorating climb up the steps to the ruins of Kuenringerburg, a hilltop castle above the town where Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom during the Crusades. Sample the fruits of the Wachau Valley vineyards during a wine tasting at an authentic Austrian tavern. Back aboard, you’ll continue to cruise the Danube River through the Wachau Valley, Austria’s lush wine-growing region that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved medieval landscapes
Day 8 – Salzburg sights or Cesky Krumlov Your boat stays docked in Linz today, with a choice of how you spend your day – full ­day excursions to Salzburg (Austria) or Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Salzburg is the hometown of Austria’s beloved composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The setting for The Sound of Music, Salzburg is a parade of beautiful Baroque architecture, painted wrought-iron signage, ornate church towers and grand palaces. You’ll visit Mozart’s birthplace and the very cleverly designed Mirabell Gardens, with some free time in Salzburg before rejoining the riverboat for dinner. Alternatively, travel through beautiful landscapes of rolling hills to Cesky Krumlov. This town has earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site roster – and that’s the entire town – due to its incredibly well-preserved medieval heritage. A walking tour includes Krumlov Castle; the many steps are worth it to get a look at the mix of medieval, Renaissance and Rococo designs.
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Day 9 – Engelhartszell & cycling along the Danube Wake up this morning in Engelhartszell, a pretty town on the Danube in Upper Austria. Enjoy a guided walking tour plus visits to several private homes and a taste of local cake, sweets and coffee. If you wish, join us for an optional riverside bicycle ride before continuing to cruise the Danube River this afternoon. Take in the views from the sun deck, lounge, or the windows of your outside cabin as your riverboat glides into Germany, bound for your final destination, Vilshofen; enjoy a farewell reception followed by dinner onboard tonight.

Day 10 – Disembark Vilshofen for Regensburg & Prague The cruise portion of your trip concludes when you disembark your riverboat in Vilshofen and travel overland to the well-preserved Bavarian town of Regensburg, which began its long life as a Roman encampment many centuries ago. Take a walking tour led by a local guide; visit the Steinerne Brücke (a medieval stone bridge over the Danube), towering Dom St. Peter, and the remains of the town’s Roman wall. Perhaps try some of Regensburg’s celebrated Bavarian sausage for lunch and explore a bit on your own before driving to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic and the “City of 100 Spires,” arriving in late afternoon. Alternatively, you may choose to travel directly from Vilshofen to Prague this morning to explore on your own, then join your Tauck Director for a brief walk through local sights. This evening, sample the culinary pleasures of Prague for dinner as you please; the city’s many fine restaurants and cafés feature a wide range of cuisines… and some of the best schnitzels, goulashes, strudels, dumplings and beer the region has to offer.
Day 11 – The legacy of many centuries in Prague Start your exploration of Prague this morning with a choice of walking tours through Prague’s ethereal Old Town, choosing between a “walk through the centuries” including a visit to St. Agnes Convent, or the city’s poignant Jewish sites in Josefov, the historic Jewish Quarter (ask at booking about dates that cannot visit inside the Jewish Heritage sites as they are closed Saturdays and on Jewish holidays; in those cases, alternate sightseeing will be offered). This afternoon, explore the ancient Hradcany (Castle) district on a guided excursion that takes you to 1,000-year-old Prague Castle’s complex of palaces, courtyards and gardens; the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus; and the grand Baroque libraries of Strahov Monastery, where a private tour is a Tauck Exclusive. Tonight, cap a memorable trip with a truly royal evening that’s another Tauck Exclusive; join us for a farewell reception, tour and dinner at 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle. Immerse in an evening of classical cultural treasures – and see for yourself how music and art played an important role in the aristocratic world of the Lobkowicz family.
Day 12 – Journey home
Your Danube river cruise experience ends in Prague, Czech Republic. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Prague Marriott Hotel to Praha Hlavni Nadrazi train station or Václav Havel Airport Prague. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for check-in.

Do you wish to find out more about a Tauck Holiday then contact us on 01954 232802 or email [email protected]

 

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