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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Well that’s a first!

Day 3/15 2023 Viking Grand European Christmas Market Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam. December 18, 2023

This is our first sea day ever on a River Cruise! We had been on a Uniworld Rhone/Soane River cruise before but we never experienced a sea day, so today was a first for us.

I suppose I really should change my terminology and call it a 'RIVER' day, but what the heck! Sea Day is really ingrained in my vocabulary after 138 days around the world on the Viking Neptune! So SEA DAY it is!

Laundry hanging up behind me. 15 days with no laundromat on board means doing it ourselves or sending it out at way over inflated we'll put up with a few clothes hanging up in our cabin!

No I didn't jump and he held onto my life jacket! I went back to blogging and he went on the top deck for a look!

Our first order of business on our sea day was to go to our muster station when the alarm sounded, wearing our life jackets (which are stored under the head of our bed). As opposed to an Ocean Cruise, River Cruises are allowed to have the safety drill completed within 24 hours of sailing, so because we never sailed on Saturday, but just overnighted on the ship, our actual sailing from Budapest on Sunday was at 6pm so we had until Monday at 6pm technically, to do our safety drill. We checked in with the staff up in the Lounge by the piano, which was the muster station for our balcony cabin 207, and then the drill was over and we were free to enjoy ourselves again on our SEA day.

After the safety drill there was a German lesson being offered at 10:30am for 30 minutes in the Lounge, but instead of a German lesson, I started working on the blog from our time in Budapest. Its difficult to find time to blog when we are busy all day in a port, so thankfully having the time to catch up and blog was available to me on our SEA DAY!

Somewhere in Slovenia.

As we sailed on the Danube through Slovenia we saw some castles and interesting looking houses. We also saw some other River Cruise ships which looked like they were finished for the season and docked in Slovenia for the winter. Our Captain told us that we were the last cruise for the Viking SKADI this year! Does that sound familiar? If you followed us in October when we took the Norwegian Encore to Alaska, that journey was also the last cruise of the year for the Norwegian Encore to Alaska. We are batting 1,000 for being on the "last" of something. Let's hope that our ship the SKAGI does make it all the way to Amsterdam without a ship change.

Speaking of ship changes and high water levels, Viking currently has a Christmas markets cruise on the Rhine which has not cruised at all until almost Day 6, and they also had to do a ship swap. That means a lot of time has been spent on buses going to visit towns which probably were not on the original itinerary, but Viking has to provide some type of tours, so people are definitely not happy, but Viking cannot control the water levels in the Rhine. And to think we might have been on that cruise had we not changed 2 years ago after we originally cancelled a Rhine Christmas Markets cruise, to be on this 15 day Grand European Christmas Market's cruise. Yikes!

For lunch today in The Restaurant Richard had a pressed Cuban with fries. I had a Asian slaw with vegetarian egg rolls and cream of broccoli soup with walnuts.

I was pretty much blogging most of the day and in between blogging we headed up to the Wheel House with the Captain for a tour.

Captain Lyubomir Nedkov who has been with Viking since 2014.

Viking is good about providing 'behind the scenes' stuff like visiting the Wheel House and we did a similar thing on the Neptune, visiting the Bridge and having a tour. One thing I did learn and appreciate was the water onboard was always fresh and refilled at every port we visit. NO DESALINATED WATER! The desalinated water did a number on all of us because it stripped our hair of any natural oils. So knowing that the water is fresh means no issues with our hair after this 15 day cruise is over! YEAH!! We are heading against the current at this point so we are using more fuel and we're cruising at about 9 knots.

I went back to blogging and then it was time for a Christmas cookie making demonstration in the Lounge at 3:30pm.

Rolling out cookies with help from Chef Florin.

Chef Florin asked for 2 volunteers and the 2 volunteers were each given a Viking Cooking School apron, chef's hat and a box of Lindt chocolates for volunteering. We have 4 of those Viking Cooking School aprons at home! The cookies the Chef was making were Christmas Shortbread Crescents called 'Vanillekipfert'. Chef is from Romania and his grandmother was a pastry chef and it is her recipe that he gave us! While we were watching him supervise his two volunteers roll out the crescents, some of the Viking staff brought us plates of cookies to try.

On the plate were the Christmas Crescents which I tasted first, but there were also these star shaped cookies, so of course I had to try one. Oh my goodness! The Lebkucken star cookies were out of this world! I asked Chef if I could please have the recipe for the Lebkucken and the bar manager went to Guest Services to print out the recipe for me. (Recipes below)

We had been advised that our ship would be docking in Vienna at 6:30pm, but lo and behold we seemed to be coming to a stop around 4pm in Vienna. Perfect, because we had dinner plans off the ship and our original timing would have been quite tight to make our dinner reservation!

Vineland Estates Winery, Vineland, Ontario July 2023

Our friends Ulrike and Walter live in Vienna and we had met up with them when they came to visit in Canada in the summer for Ule's Uncle's 90th birthday. Unfortunately Walter (the rocket scientist) was going to be away in Sweden due to having to reschedule from last week when he was sick, but we were still going to have dinner out with ULE!

Grafitti on the walkway from the SKADI to the Metro which is about a 10 minute walk up a lot of steps and then along this long grafitti walk way. Our metro stop on the Red 1 line.

ULE had made reservations and told us where the restaurant was located so we left the SKADI around 6pm to walk to the Underground and take the subway 3 stops on the Red 1 Line to the restaurant. We quickly found the restaurant and went in and got our reserved table and waited for ULE.

Me and Ule at Motto am Fluss, Austria, Vienna for dinner. Metro stop Schwedenplatz on the Red 1 line - 3 stops from our Metro stop Vorgartenstrabe.

It is so nice to have friends and family all over the world that we can make plans to visit if things work out.

The Austrian bread is one thing Ule said she would miss if she ever moved away from Austria. The bread was like a sour dough rye and was so delicious!

Wiener schnitzel with Viennese potato salad. Richard was not a fan of the potato salad because it was too milky somehow. I think he prefers a mayonnaise potato salad or a warm German potato salad with bacon.

The restaurant was packed and so was the bar area with people meeting up for pre-Christmas get togethers.

We said goodby to ULE and jumped back on the Metro for the 3 stops back to our home Metro stop, and then walked back over the highway bridge to the waiting SKADI. The temperature was -2C but the walk was refreshing after our dinner out.

What a great first SEA day and we still arrived in Vienna by 4pm in time to go out to dinner with a friend! We decided at dinner to ditch the included Panoramic Vienna tour for tomorrow and get up at our leisure, take the Metro downtown on our own to enjoy a full day in Vienna, without any annoying buses...or lollipop people! We're such rebels!

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