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Mon. 29 Dec.
Lounging in the Lounge of the River Empress awaiting our departure from Vienna

Eva & Marita

Water safety drill

Enroute to Bratislava on a gray day (weatherwise only)

Arriving in Bratislava

"Kissing" our sister boat, the River Duchess as we dock alongside her

Eva giving us the background on Slovakia

Lunch on the 29th

Barbara, Dorothy, and Carolyn

That damnable dessert table!

Dennis, Hene, Forrest, and Shirley

Here's what the soft-spoken Dennis is doing at his dining table--making caricatures of unsuspecting fellow diners. Talented guy. Thanks, Dennis!

The lower lounge with all-day coffee/tea service and the popular puzzle table

We tour Bratislava

Leaving Passport Control and boarding our tour bus

A look back at our two moored boats

This very contemporary structure is a television studio

At the castle-fortress on the hill above the cityi

Views of Bratislava from the castle-fortress

Touring the old city on foot

Charles, Janet, and Dagmar, our wonderful Bratislava guide

A benchmark compass, showing we were closer to the North Pole than to New York

Dagmar, telling us of this building that once hosted Franz Liszt

This building acknowledges Mozart's appearance

The Mozart plaque

The "Man in the Manhole" sculpture

Local folk musicians and dancers entertain us after dinner on our ship

Mike gets drawn into the dancing

Our day-long cruise to Budapest on the 30th, beginning with two views of the imposing Esztergom (Hungary) Cathedral

Budapest glows gloriously as we approach at about 5:30PM

We tour Budapest (beginning with Pest) on the New Year's Eve

Eva telling us about the area, including the sculpture of "Anonymous" behind her

An immense ice rink

Heroes Square

On to Buda and the Buda Castle complex

Our first stop (once off the bus): a cafe

A good day for the tour bus companies

The view looking south over Buda

Some intriguing architectural sights

Views to the north, across the Danube

A child experimenting with the precise scale model of the cathedral with Braille coding for the benefit of the blind

After lunch, a tour of the engine room

A New Year's Eve tour of old Budapest

The pedestrian-only street, Vaci, lined with anticipating revelers and vendors with celebration gear and more

A band of young musicians

St. Stephen's Basilica

The interior of St. Stephen's

The Hungarian Parliament

Our New Year's Eve Gala aboard ship

Dinner with Judy and Jordan Seitz (Barbara on the left)

Gordon, Barbara, Marge, Mike, and Lorraine awaiting the New Year

Charles, Janet, and Barbara

The same group plus Will (me)

A view of the city from the ship's deck around midnight

Enroute back to Vienna on 1 Jan

The ship's "wheel house" -- without a "wheel"

Two more views of the magnificent Cathedral at Esztergom as we depart Hungary

A tour of the galley while we're underway

Our German head chef

Our Dutch pastry cook

The puzzle corner--a great place to socialize and relax (if you don't become obsessed!)

We pass through one of the huge river locks at about 9PM

Tonight (still the 1st), we're entertained by the crew (while we navigate the lock)!

Sharing the lock with our sister ship

Getting ready to leave the now nearly-full lock

Back in Vienna, touring Schoenbrunn Palace

Barbara and Eva leading the pack

Eva giving us directions

The Palace

Walking through the (winterized) gardens with Mike, Lorraine, Barbara, Janet, and Marge

Returning to the ship

Janet and Marita, at Marita's favorite coffee house in old town Vienna where a few of us stopped on our way "home"

Janet, Hector, and David on the Vienna underground

The Captain's Dinner -- our last night on the ship

The crew leaders at a pre-dinner reception line outside the lounge

Edith, Marita, Charlotte, and Arthur enjoying the reception

Mary Louise--ready to party!

Dorothy, Eva, Barbara, and Carolyn

Bill, Istvan (our waiter) Forrest and Barbara being regaled by Istvan's napkin folding art (he just made a "chicken")

The baked Alaska arrives in a grand march!

The baked Alaska presentation

Dorothy, Carolyn, Barbara, and Will at dinner

Istvan and Barbara

Jane and Janet at dinner (Charles was under the weather)

Bill, Lois, Forrest, and Shirley, lounging after the gala dinner

Barbara and Anita (from Estonia), our breakfast server who graciously provided me with raisins for my oatmeal every day (Thanks, Anita!)

Jan 3, We've left the ship and are spending the day exploring Vienna

Janet and Barbara, and one of the very popular small urban cars

The Hofburg

The Albertina Museum

Views from the observation deck 343 steps up the tower of St. Stephan's

Looking down, near the top of the tight, spiral staircase in the tower

A wall display telling the story of the St. Stephan's and it's damage during WWII

The tower wrapped in advertising by those firms helping with the restoration


The magnificent interior of St. Stephan's Cathedral

A "statue" in Stephansplatz that startled me with a wink!

Lunch at a tavern in the basement of the Albertina

Kaerntner Strasse

The Monument against War and Facism, on the site of the war-destroyed Philipp-Hof

Our final evening together as an Elderhostel group at the Strudlhof Hotel

Jordan, Judy, Myrt, and Stanley

Barbara, Bill, Lois, Marge, Will, and Gordon

Janet, Mike, Lorraine, Forrest, Shirley, and Charles (by now, mostly recovered)

Eva and Marita who made it all happen so enjoyably!

Edith, Charlotte, Arthur, Mary Louise, Dorothy, and Carolyn

Kay, Bonnie, Diana, and George

On the bus to the airport, 7:30AM, 4 Jan.

Two shots of a deep-in-thought Eva as the bus rolls along

Mary Louise and Barbara enjoying the gate lounge accomodations at the airport.