Victor-Farmington Rotarians occasionally share their unique travel experiences at club meetings. In recent years, club members have presented programs on trips to the Amalfi Coast in Italy and Machu Picchu in Peru.
A recent dinner meeting featured a program by Dave and Judy Luitweiler about their European river cruise on the Danube River through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary in December 2018. The trip provided a 12-day opportunity to visit these countries’ traditional Christmas markets and explore historic locations including Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest.
Their tour started with two days in Munich after an overnight flight from Rochester, followed by two days in Salzburg, Austria. Then, they traveled by motor coach through the mountainous Austrian countryside to Passau, Germany, for an eight-day cruise on the Danube River.
Dave and Judy visited the outdoor Christmas market at Marienplatz in the center of Munich and viewed the Rathaus-Glockenspiel at the city hall. They participated in a day trip to the Bavarian Alps to visit Neuschwanstein, the fantasy castle of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. This castle would be the inspiration for the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
The tour package included a two-day visit to Salzburg, birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and land of “The Sound of Music.” Mozart was born in 1756; the 1965 film highlighted the life of the von Trapp family in the late 1930s. Every year, thousands of tourists travel to Salzburg to visit Mozart’s birthplace and the locations connected to the film.
The cruise included a stop in Vienna for a tour of the city, with optional activities that included a Strauss waltz performance, the Spanish Riding School and its Lipizzan stallions, a visit to a traditional coffee house, or an evening at a neighborhood tavern for music, food and wine.
The final stop on the cruise included a tour of Budapest, Hungary, and a visit to the historic Central Market Hall for a hands-on cooking demonstration on preparing Hungarian crepes and an opportunity to sample Hungarian wines, cheese and food delicacies. It was the last chance for visiting a Christmas market.
The Rotary program reviewed the amenities, meals, evening programs and life on a river cruise. Dave and Judy presented a slideshow on their travels and answered questions about the locations they visited. There were 198 passengers and a crew of 60 on the boat. Virtually all of the passengers were from the U.S. or Canada. During the eight days of cruising, the boat was a floating hotel that docked in the center of whatever city they were visiting.