Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Dig out your overcoat and boots and prepare for a magnificent riverboat cruise along the Danube River.
You will leave the United States on Dec. 23, arriving the next day in Munich in time to celebrate Christmas in the medieval town of Regensburg. There, you will board your riverboat with a deluxe outside stateroom. The cabins are extremely comfortable, with a sitting area by the window, enabling you to see the countryside, a flat-screen TV, safe, hair dryer, individually controlled thermostat, European down comforters, plush terry robes and generous closets and drawer space. The ship holds only 136 passengers, allowing you the opportunity to make many new friends.
After departing Regensburg, you are on your way to Deggendorf in the Bavarian Forest, where a horse-driven sleigh waits to take you through the beautiful countryside.
Continuing along the Danube, you will stop at Passau to visit St. Stephan's, home of a most famous pipe organ. Passau is situated on a narrow peninsula. A tour of the city will include a stop at Passau's Glass Museum. Throughout your journey, you will enjoy local talent brought aboard for your entertainment.
Upon arriving at Linz, a full day's excursion to Salzburg is on the menu. The hills truly come alive with the "Sound of Music" during the holidays. The locals dress in elegant Alpine costumes, and you feel as though you have stepped back in time. You will visit the 17th century cathedral built to resemble St. Peter's in Rome and Mozart's birth home.
Cruising the Danube to Vienna, the "City of Waltzes," brings you to a New Year's Eve party with all of the trimmings. Dress up in your finest garb and enjoy elegant dining, a Mozart and Strauss highlight concert, dancing and wonderful champagne to bring in the New Year. This magical evening is yours to remember forever and is included in your package.
Day nine brings you to the City of Bratislava, the "Coronation City of Kings." Walk through the "Old Town," where you can visit many museums, palaces and the all-pedestrian street for shopping. You will spend a day just relaxing and cruising the Danube to your last stop in Budapest, Hungary.
The beautiful city of Budapest is divided into two sides: "Buda," the hilly side, and "Pest," home to the Hungarian State Opera House, St. Stephan's Basilica and Heroes' Square. Great little shops and restaurants are located on the "Pest" side. You might want to try a local dish called chicken paprikash, which includes chicken, sour cream, paprika and dumplings.
Don't forget to bring home the local paprika, which is deep in color, great in taste and a wonderful gift idea.
What a great way to spend the holidays and bring in the New Year. Round trip airfare, a 12-night cruise, transfers, deluxe outside cabin, all meals, festive on-board entertainment and shore excursions are included in this heartwarming vacation.
There are several holiday land tours or river cruises available, which run from Thanksgiving through the New Year.
You can follow the holiday traditions of many countries during this most festive time of the year. Just think what beautiful gifts you can bring home to your friends and family.
Your local travel professional can arrange this wonderful experience for you. Book early, as these special tours sell out early.
Pat Kelley is owner of Port Orange Travel. She can be reached at (386) 788-3990 or by e-mail at Pat@portorangetravel.com.