A Travelogue by Jennifer Campbell
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: Caesar salad, parma ham and assorted melons with a grapefruit vinaigrette, honey barbecued fillet of salmon, grilled leeks, and polenta spring rolls, and warm apple hazelnut crumble à la mode.
Following a wonderful meal and a delightful “day at river,” we sprung for the Mozart and Strauss Concert that evening. Sitting on the front row of Schubert Hall, I was captivated by the excellent musicianship and talent that exuded from the platform as the Vienna Residence Orchestra performed. To welcome us back on the ship, the chef prepared Goulash soup and fresh baked bread as a late night snack, which was the perfect way to conclude a delightful evening.
DAY SIX - VIENNA, AUSTRIA
Vienna, Austria is a city that needs no introduction. The moment we stepped off the ship, we ventured directly to the U-Bahn, navigating our way to the Schönbrunn Palace, a former imperial summer residence boasting 1,441 rooms. After touring 40 of these luxurious rooms, it was time to return to the city center where we explored many miles of historic sites.
Soon we found our way to the Zum Schwarzen Kameel (The Black Camel). The Viennese schnitzel and potato salad, as well as the spaghetti Bolognese topped with micro greens, were culinary perfection. Of course, the Viennese cuisine served here should be renowned! This iconic restaurant has roots dating back to a delicatessen frequented by Ludwig van Beethoven himself!
What better way to end the evening than with a concert featuring the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra? Sitting inside the Great Hall of the Wiener Konzerthaus, I felt as if I was royalty. How amazing it was to sit in box number one, row one, seats one and two! The best seats in the house complete with a view of the piano keys. The Vienna Symphonic Orchestra (Wiener Symphoniker) performed under the direction of conductor Robert Trevino. They played works by Peter Iljitsch Tschaikowsky, Franz Liszt, and Antonín Dvořák. From the first note until the last, it was an amazing evening of expert musical talent. Hearing this brilliant assembly of musicians perform was a dream come true!
Just as I was soaring on cloud nine, the evening went to even greater heights. Atop the Wiener Riesenrad, or Riesenrad, a 212-foot tall Ferris wheel in Vienna, the view was spectacular! Riding one of the world's oldest operating Ferris wheels was the ideal way to end an absolutely dazzling day.
DAY SEVEN - MELK, ABBEY
Founded in 1089, Melk Abbey towers over the medieval town of Melk, Austria. This Benedictine abbey sits high upon a hill, offering a mesmerizing view of the Danube River as well as the surrounding hills, villages, and vineyards. Coupled with a meandering walk down the hill, through the old town, across the bridge, and through the woods, it definitely feels like you have stepped right into the pages of a storied fable!
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: red pepper and spinach hummus with pita bread, Munster cheese plate with apple chili chutney, Zwiebelrostbraten & crisp onions with mashed potatoes, onion sauce, and pickled cucumbers, and milk chocolate mousse with strawberry salad.
DAY EIGHT - PASSAU, GERMANY
Break out your lederhosen and dirndls! The first stop in Bavaria is Passau, Germany, home of the world’s largest cathedral pipe organ, boasting more than 17,000 pipes! Thanks to Viking, we were able to attend a concert to hear this monstrous musical instrument being played. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, sharing a detailed history of the “Three Rivers City,” named for the three rivers that converge in Passau: the Danube, Inn, and Ilz Rivers.
Since the recipe originated in Passau, you will definitely want to stop in a local bakery for some lebkuchen, a traditional German baked Christmas treat resembling gingerbread. Or you could try a slice of this delicious Forest Berry Cake from Hoft Bakery. The layers of pastry, spongy cake, and gelatin filled with fresh berries, along with the thinly sliced almonds, made this the perfect way to satisfy my sweet tooth!
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: blue cheese
stuffed meatballs and micro herbs with a porcini dust reduction, osso buco with shallot confit, porcini risotto, and a lemon herb gremolata prime rib eye steak with a herb chimichurri, steak fries, and a vegetable medley, and apple cake, a regional specialty.
DAY NINE - REGENSBURG, GERMANY
Home of the oldest bratwurst grill, Regensburg, Germany is a colorful town featuring a 12th century stone bridge that is 310 meters long with with 16 arches. The city center has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, considering the well-preserved medieval structures, such as the Gothic Regensburg Cathedral.
Following a very enjoyable tour with a local guide, we savored an appetizing lunch at a picnic table beside the Danube River, near the Old Stone Bridge, at the Wurstkuchl. Aptly named the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen, this restaurant has been in business over 500 years and serves 6,000 sausages per day. You’ll definitely want to order your own plate of signature sausages, layered on a bed of caramelized sauerkraut, for you truly cannot eat just one!
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: tomato & buffalo mozzarella with balsamic reduction (one of the best I have ever had), basil pesto, and tomato coulis, poached asparagus with prosciutto, ricotta panna cotta, quail egg, and balsamic reduction, braised beef brisket and barbecued meat empanada with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and jus, prime rib eye steak with a herb chimichurri, vegetable medley and steak fries, and créme schnitte cake, a regional specialty.
DAY TEN - NUREMBERG, GERMANY
While Viking provides an excellent complimentary excursion in most ports, we chose to take the World War II tour in Nuremberg, Germany. As a Language Arts teacher, I am required to teach the Holocaust. Teaching this difficult subject becomes a little easier when I can share personal experiences with my students, such as touring Congress Hall and Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg Trials were held. While this tour was quite the somber experience, our lovely tour guide has now become a dear friend.
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: Munster cheese plate with apple chili chutney, poached Norwegian salmon atop a bed of Caesar salad, barbecued chicken breast, mashed potatoes, and vegetable medley, and black forest cake à la mode.
DAY ELEVEN - BAMBERG, GERMANY
Where do you go from Nuremberg? To Venice, of course! Bamberg, Germany is home to Little Venice, a former fisherman’s district constructed of half-timbered houses. Of course, the landmark destination in this Bavarian town would be a tie between the Bishop’s Palace and ornate rose garden or the Town Hall building situated right in the middle of the river Regnitz. According to legend, the Bishop would not grant land to the citizens, so they built an artificial island on which to construct this colorful town hall. Be sure to ask your tour guide about the “legacy” the artist left behind on the painted mural!
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: chilled roast beef with mixed pickles, potato rösti, and rémoulade sauce, veal tenderloin with parmesan jus, mushrooms, green peas, and citrus potato gratin, bienenstitch cake, a regional specialty, and stracciatella ice cream.
DAY TWELVE - WÜRZBURG, GERMANY
Later we stumbled upon the best soft pretzels we tasted on the entire trip at the Ditsch Pretzel Bakery. If you’re looking for authentic Franconian and Bavarian food, look no further than the Würzburger Ratskeller, a beautifully decorated restaurant serving delicious food that will tantalize your taste buds! The apple strudel was some of the best we have ever eaten! Having lunch in the courtyard was such a delightful experience!
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: truffle scented chicken cassoulet with a puff pastry crust, mushrooms, and tarragon, roasted tenderloin of beef with pommes duchesse and béarnaise sauce, surf and turf with salmon with hollandaise sauce and roasted tenderloin of beef with pommes duchesse and béarnaise sauce, brownie and white chocolate sauce, and warm white chocolate and cherry pudding with caramel ice cream.
DAY THIRTEEN - WERTHEIM, GERMANY
Known for the iconic Wertheim Castle and medieval town center, Wertheim, Germany was one of the most quaint, picturesque German towns we encountered. From the leaning tower of Wertheim to the Tudor style architecture, this town has a photo opportunity on nearly every corner! A walk or ride up to Wertheim Castle is a must. The view from the top of the hill is absolutely breath-taking.
DAY FOURTEEN - KOBLENZ, GERMANY
On the way to Koblenz, Germany, we sailed past countless castles and tremendous townships. We even had the opportunity to have the perfect vantage point from which to view Loreley Rock. Known as the Gateway to the Rhine Gorge, Koblenz is a short motor coach ride to the Marksburg Castle, part of the included tour provided by Viking. I was awestruck by the spectacular hilltop vista, overlooking the town of Braubach. As we stepped across the threshold of this centuries old castle, it felt as if we had left reality and stepped into the pages of a make-believe fable.
While a trip to a medieval castle would typically be the high point of the day, the day once again soared to an even greater altitude. We experienced an exhilarating ride across the Rhine River via cable car to the top of the hill where the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is located! Mere words cannot fully describe this experience.
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: crisp tandoori chicken & parmesan foam with tomato salad, pumpkin mousse ravioli with lamb loin and a sweet chili sauce, beef wellington napoleon style with sautéed vegetables and pommes duchesse, and crisp dark Valrhona chocolate tart with mango salad.
DAY FIFTEEN - COLOGNE, GERMANY
The fourth largest city in Germany, Cologne is home to the grand Cologne Cathedral, a massive structure which towers above the vast majority of buildings in this ancient city.
What a treat to be notified by the Viking Concierge that the Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra was holding a free concert that afternoon! It was one of the most enjoyable concerts we experienced on our Grand European Tour.
Wanting to maximize our time in the city center, we enjoyed a quick lunch at Merzenich, a delightful bakery near the Cologne Cathedral. We shared a sandwich called a Fitness Fladen, including turkey, lettuce, cucumbers, shredded carrots, boiled eggs, and a remoulade. Very unique and extremely tasty! Of course, I also did a little shopping along the way, as there are plenty of enticing shops on Schildergasse, the busiest pedestrian-only shopping street in Europe with 13,000 people passing by every hour!
Named for a Dutch folkloric story of a cat saving a child’s life, Kinderdijk translates to “children’s dike.” Located 15 kilometers east of Rotterdam, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for a unique collection of 19 authentic windmills from the 18th century. While on the Viking tour, you will not only have the opportunity to walk along the picturesque dike, but you will also be invited to explore the inside of one of these historic structures and even speak to a local miller. It is an unforgettable experience that was only overshadowed by the fact that this was the final day of our river cruise.
Our Dinner Selections on Board the Viking Ingvi: surf and turf, salmon with a Hollandaise sauce and caviar, along with a prime rib eye steak and vegetables, New York style cheesecake, and bittersweet chocolate pots de crème with whipped cream and a pineapple-mint salsa on the side.
Throughout this Grand European Tour, there were moments when goose bumps covered my arms, tears filled my eyes, and my heart was overwhelmed with joy. While my diary entries were scattered, at best, I am certain I will never forget the places we explored, the remarkable experiences we shared, and the many strangers we now call friends. My first Viking River Cruise etched indelible memories in my mind and effectively tugged on my heartstrings as well. As we received our customs form on the flight home, the reality of returning to the “real world,” began to sink in. Yet I encouraged myself with this thought: all good things must come to an end, so new ones can begin. So now the only question that remains is: when will I set sail with Viking once again?
I invite you to view my full photo log of our trip at www.jennifersjourneys.net/photolog.html. I am also happy to answer any questions you have concerning Viking River Cruises or the destinations we visited. I would love to hear your recommendations for future travel plans as well! You may e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.