People often say that travel is about the journey, its not about getting from A to B but how you get from A to B and this has never been so relevant as today. Amsterdam to Budapest is the must do trip and the preferred mode of travel is a River cruise.
I have been lucky enough to do this trip and I can safely say it lives up to all the hype. For many years people would do coach tours through Europe, and whilst this is still a very popular option, people who had done one or two tours were looking for another option, the natural progression was River cruising; 2 weeks, unpack once and let the sights come to you, what could be easier!
There is so much to see on this cruise that 15 days is not enough so we would always recommend at least an extra day at the beginning and end of the cruise, Amsterdam is fascinating and Budapest gives one a glimpse of what life was like behind the Iron Curtain.
Life on board the ship is very relaxing and most of the travel is done overnight giving maximum sightseeing opportunities and plenty of free time. The food is fantastic and as one imagines on a cruise, plentiful. Beer and wine was provided with dinner and bar prices were incredibly reasonable. The cabins were more spacious than I expected and the open air balcony design of the the Avalon Suite Ships is a masterpiece of style and function.
Sightseeing is included at every stop and there are a few extra excursions one can do to immerse oneself deeper in to a place, my favourite was the classical music concert in Vienna. Of course the ever present in this region is Beer – there are many specialist brews taking on historical significance when one considers the monks were the brewers centuries ago. Make sure you pick up a few bottles for sundowner tastings back on deck.
As you meander down the Rhine, Mainz and Danube rivers the pretty villages and UNESCO World Heritage Sites come thick and fast (click here for full cruise itinerary) my favourite was the Bishops Residence, hardly known yet in my opinion it is as spectacular a palace as I have seen in my many years of travel; Nuremberg was fascinating especially for a WWII buff like myself; Vienna just oozes class and Bratislava was a rough cut diamond.
The 15 days went by too quickly and I could have happily stayed on another 2 weeks and headed all the way to Bucharest!
I am torn for my next trip between Grand France and a Russian River Cruise – too much choice!