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Floating to Europe's Christmas Markets

 

Evenings onboard were a real treat...

After rushing around all day evenings were low key and pure relaxation. There was no pressure to participate in anything. The hours were yours to use as you needed and wanted to. The helpful cruise director was always available to answer questions and to take care of any concerns the passengers had. New found friends gathered in the lounge to chat, read, listen to music, play bridge, review their photographs or enjoy the talents of singers and dancers that came on board to entertain. We were especially impressed with the fabulous Spitweg Quartet, four young men who sang acapello for us. Their evocative rendition of Silent Night was so lovely and tugged gently at our heart strings. From time to time I thought about last minute shoppers shlepping shopping bags through malls back home. This year happily I wasn't one of them. Nirvana.

 

Some of my favorite cruise recollections...

-- The fabulous hot chocolate at the Schonbrunn Palace Market in Vienna.
-- Sister G. who graciously allowed me to photograph her in Regensburg's Palace Market.
-- The elegant Austrian church where Julie Andrews was married in 'Sound of Music'.
-- The mouthwatering breakfast waffles served aboard the M/S Amacello.
-- The spectacular library in Melk's Benedictine Abbey.
-- A cup of steaming mulled wine in Pest's Market Square.
-- CeeCee, the passenger who 'dressed' for dinner every night. Gorgeous!
-- Finding helpful friends from Texas when I was hopelessly lost in Vienna.
-- Looking down on Prague's Christmas Market from the Prince Hotel's Terrace.
-- Eva, my M/S Amacello smiling fairy godmother who kept my cabin spotless. Bless her.
-- The Linz Market by night and the vendor who offered samples of sugared almonds.
-- The horse-drawn Christmas buggies in Salzburg. Magical.
-- Nuremberg's world famous spiced Christmas cookies (Elisen-Lebkuchen).
-- The swans that swam beside the ship when we were docked in Vienna
-- Beef Goulash and bread dumplings at Cafe Slavia (Smetanovo nábreží 2) in Prague.
-- The apricot schnapps I tasted in the charming town of Melk.
-- Watching the snow fall silently on the Germany landscape as we sailed the Danube.

 

What should I wear?

Leave the fancy gowns and glitz at home. Part of the joy of a river cruise is its wonderful informality. There was only one evening when we dressed up a bit, otherwise we all opted for comfortable sweaters, sweatshirts, jeans or slacks. Going on a Christmas Market River Cruise means travel in December. Northern Europe is cold and damp at that time of the year. So what? It's supposed to be cold at Christmas time. It just means you'll be drinking lots of hot chocolate and delicious mulled wine. Just make sure to pack appropriately and understand you'll be exploring markets and sightseeing for long stretches of time. For me that meant wearing a warm coat, hat, gloves, scarf, socks and long johns. I also made sure I had boots that had thick soles so I was never cold.

Bonus: If you're lucky you'll get to see Europe under a sprinkling of snow and in a very different way than if you'd travelled by train or car during the summer.

 

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