My second training trip came to an end and my third training trip was about to begin. On my first two trips, I was the only trainee and I was paired with a specific TD (Tour Director). On this third trip, there is something called batch training. There will be 5 trainees and one dedicated trainer. It will be a little strange going from one TD trainer to having a more structured schedule with specific training components. By mid-November, I will have had three complete training trips and then I’ll have a few more trainings in the spring. In order to be a proper TD on a particular itinerary, one has to train twice on that itinerary. My first training itinerary was from Prague to Budapest. My second and third training itineraries are from Amsterdam to Budapest and visa versa. So as of mid-November, I will be able to be a proper TD on the Amsterdam to Budapest (or Budapest to Amsterdam) itinerary. Unfortunately, this is the end of the riverboat season in Central Europe so I will have to wait until the spring to run this itinerary on my own. I am looking forward to having the winter to develop my commentary and lectures.
Trip #3 started last Saturday evening with a night sail through Budapest. Everyone gathered on the sun deck to take in the illuminated Budapest skyline. Boy, these views never get old!
On Sunday, the guests and the other trainees toured Budapest. Due to the fact that I had already done the guided Budapest tour twice, I was given the freedom to check out something different.
I had a guided tour and then visited the cemetery, gardens and museum. I was in awe of the sheer beauty of the synagogue and my curiosity was peeked with its’ similarities to a cathedral. Our next stop was Bratislava, Slovakia, my third time in this quaint Slovakian town. I enjoyed walking around and becoming more familiar with the nooks and crannies of the side streets.
On Monday night, we had an important briefing in the main lounge. The Captain told us that there was low water between Passau and Regensburg and that the water was dropping daily. So in order for us to pass the critical point between Passau and Regensburg, we needed to implement an accelerated sailing schedule to ensure that we would successfully sail and complete our itinerary. This meant that we would depart Vienna on Tuesday afternoon instead of the early morning hours on Wednesday, we would have to coach in to Passau and then would have extended time in Regensburg. By Friday afternoon we should be back on schedule. After the briefing on Monday night, we went to Palais Pallavacini for our night at the palace! I could get used to this lifestyle!
On Tuesday, we had most of the day in Vienna. We started the day with guided tours to Schonbrunn and the Hofburg Complex. Due to the fact that I had already been to both, I was given the option to check out some different museums and attractions. I really had the day to myself and I knew that I wanted to make time to see Jake Goldwasser. Jake is a NFTY-SAR alum and is studying at the Music Conservatory in Vienna. I didn’t have a chance to see him on my first two trips through Vienna so it was important to me to make it work this time. I met Jake in front of the Albertina at 9:45am and I was greeted with a huge NFTY-style hug. After all of these weeks away from home, it was really nice to see a familiar face. We walked to a coffee house that was off the beaten path and it was filled with locals. Jake and I spent a great hour together and before we knew it, it was time for Jake to get to class. Another big hug, the obligatory selfie and we were on our separate ways.
I look forward to seeing Jake on my future trips through Vienna. I made my way through the side streets of the first district and stumbled upon Time Travel Vienna; a 50-minute guided tour and virtual journey through 2000 years of Viennese history.
It would be a great activity for families with kids and I had a feeling that Ayla and Ethan would have enjoyed the experience. I spent the rest of the day walking around and becoming more familiar with the first district. Before I knew it, the time had come to head back to the ship for a 4pm departure…headed towards Engelhartzsell, Austria. We had a lazy sailing morning on Wednesday and the weather was gorgeous! The weather has been wonderful….mostly sunny and a bit chilly. I’ll take anything but rain! Rain can definitely dampen a trip (pun intended!). For late October in Central Europe, we have been extremely lucky with the weather! I was able to sit on the sun deck and relax with my coloring book and pencils.
I knew that there was someone else from Charlotte on the ship and I finally met her! We started chatting and it turns out that I used to babysit her grandkids! What a small world! The ship arrived in Engelhartzsell on Wednesday afternoon and set out for Passau, Germany via coach. Due to the current migrant situation in Central Europe, many borders between countries in the EU have been closed. Normally there is no problem crossing from one EU country into another EU country. We tried to cross at the closest border crossing and it was closed so we made our way to the next closest border crossing. There were bus loads and bus loads of migrants and it was quite a site to see. Along the way, we also spotted really large marshmallows! Who knew marshmallows were so big in Austria!?!
Come to find out, they were just large bails of hay. Bummer…can you imagine the smores we could make with those!?! We finally crossed the border into Germany on our third attempt and we were finally on our way to Passau! While the guests and other trainees enjoyed a guided walking tour of the town, I ventured about and explored all of the little side streets and shops.
We only had a few hours in Passau and after a quick snack at Cafe Simon, it was time to head back to the ship. With an accelerated sailing schedule, we had no time to waste. We were approaching the critical part of the river, between Passau and Regensburg. Fingers crossed that we make it to the other side…