I have a group of friends that like to travel together and one of them knew of another small group that was doing a Danube River cruise with Viking River Cruises. Having cruised the Rhine with Viking a couple of years ago, we were excited to join that group for another European float.
One of my good friends who lives in Chicago agreed to be my travel partner for this excursion. We looked at the trip extensions Viking offered: a pre-trip extension in Prague before the cruise began in Nuremberg, and post-trip extension in Budapest, where the cruise ended. As we looked at what was offered, we decided to do our own versions of these extensions and use our hotel points (mostly) to pay for our rooms.
Naturally we used airline miles to cover our flights in business class. We both used United miles to fly to Prague with a long layover in Brussels. My friend also used UA miles for a return flight from Budapest on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul. I used my Lufthansa Miles & More miles via Frankfurt, hoping to be able to upgrade to First Class as the time for our flight grew closer, but it wasn’t to be. No first class award seat ever opened up on the FRA-ORD leg on my flight date. Note to self: in the future, don’t fly on a Monday. Loads of business travelers! I saw award seats on both Sunday and Tuesday around my date but by then the rest of our plans had been set so I had to “settle” for business class.
Our outbound flight connected in Brussels and I have a Twitter friend who lives in Belgium. Though we’d never met in person, she was kind enough to drive down to Brussels and meet us for lunch and take us on a walk around the area near the train station. I love the way the world gets smaller with social media!
Late that afternoon we caught a Brussels Air flight to Prague, landing a bit after 6 PM. We used Blacklane to get from the airport to the first of our two hotels, the Marriott Courtyard, and pretty much collapsed after a long travel day. After walking our feet off in Prague the next day and spending a second night at the Courtyard, we moved to the Boscolo, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection. This worked out perfectly for us as we were then very close to the train/bus station, where we caught a bus to Nuremberg, Germany. From Nuremberg it was a short 20-minute train ride to the Erlangen train station and from there another short taxi ride to our boat.
Our boat moved into Nuremberg overnight and we had our choice of a couple of tours during the day. Over the next several days we stopped in Regensburg and Passau, Germany and Krems and Vienna, Austria before ending our cruise in Budapest, Hungary. We booked a room for a couple of nights at the Hilton in the Castle District in Budapest before returning home.
The trip report is written so new installments should be posted every couple of days or so.