Dave and Sandy's Great European River Cruise Adventure
About this blog
Sandy and I spent six weeks traveling around Europe the summer after we were married in 1974. We did it on the cheap. We drove to New York (seeing the traditional destination of honeymooners, Niagra Falls along the way). We also visited the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts as well as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York...Duh! It was me afterall! We stayed with some friends, Jack and Pam Vetter in Syracuse NY before the trip. Jack was in Law School at Syracuse. Jack and Pam took us to JFK to fly out, and picked us up six weeks later.
We flew Icelandic Airlines with a stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland. Very interesting for my first large airplane flight. Sandy had been to Paris in High School, and she spoke French pretty well. Our six week adventure in 1974 included flying into Luxembourg, and First Class Euro-Rail Passes to visit The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, and a little bit of Spain. We got back to the US just in time to see "Tricky Dick" resign.
The six week trip started our marriage out wonderfly. We were with each other 24 hours a day seven days a week for six full weeks. Sandy kept the Passports and I kept the Traveler's Checks. We needed each other for those to reasons if nothing else!
We brought back many treasures from that trip, including some hummels, which we had been collecting since before we got married. But mostly we brought back a boat load of memories of good times and bad. Of good hotels like the ones we found in Paris and Rome for about $5 a night. Or the time we met up with some German kids vacationing in the Alps. We had a great time with them. Or going for a walk in Rome after dinner, eating fresh coconut sold by vendors on the street. And bad times, like when I turned my ankle jumping off a statue. Or got stung in the night by a mosquito and my eye was swolen shut for a day. But mostly it was good times and great memories. Like meeting the Postmaster General of Saudi Arabia on the a train. Or like the day we both like to remember high above Lake Lucerne having a picnic lunch on Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland. Never mind that for our picnic, I accidentally bought vinegar instead of wine in the grocery store!
Anyway, we have always said we wanted to go back. And we'll do a ground trip sometime, but not long ago, I heard about river cruising in Europe. I very much enjoyed the brief river cruise we took last year down the Nile in Egypt, so I was excited about looking into Europe.
I was pretty sure I knew what I wanted...It's called, "Magnificent Europe - Amsterdam to Budapest. And I wanted a specific cruise line....Avalon. They have the newest fleet on the rivers and the one we will be taking is brand new for 2012. And they have all suites with full length sliding glass doors for great viewing.
I started looking into them in the fall of 2011. But the cruise I wanted was full. I kept checking back every once in a while and a few suites would open up, but not on the decks I wanted. Then just a few days after Christmas, I found one that opened up on the Avalon Vista. It sails from Amsterdam to Budapest June 24 - July 8. I called the lady we had been working with at Affordable Tours (Globus) and she booked it for us. Then I started to get excited.
Just after January 1, 2012, I started looking at flights. Most American airlines were $2000 on way to Amsterdam. Ouch. I found Air Lingus (The Irish Airways) had flights out of Chicago for $650 one way...sold. We stop in Dublin for an hour. On the way back from Budapest, once again most American airlines were $2000. FinAir was $480. We stop in Helsinki, Finland for about 3 hours. We plan on spending a few days in Amsterdam before the cruise and a few days in Budapest after the cruise. That's where I am as I write this on January 3, 2012. Next up...book some hotels...I'm thinking my friends at IHG might like us. Maybe a Crown Plaza in Amsterdam and an Intercontental in Budapest....we'll see.