The Christmas Markets | Amawaterways™
Parliament Building at Night – Budapest.
AMA WATERWAYS Christmas Market Cruise
After an overnight flight from Toronto we were at last in Budapest. The beginning of our Christmas Markets cruise on the Danube. I was looking forward to seeing Budapest again but this time in Winter.
The AmaStella was our home for this week. The crew were waiting to Welcome all guests on board. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas with a huge tree in the atrium and a very large wreath on the elevator. The corridors had wreaths on every stateroom door and decorated Gingerbread houses were displayed at the entrance to the dining room.
Besides the holiday decor we experienced and learned of the many Christmas traditions including a very special visit from St Nicholas.
Budapest: Our highlight on this evening was the Illumination Cruise on the Danube past the famous landmarks of Budapest and of course the Parliament Buildings.
Next morning we toured the Buda side of the city and took in views of the Pest Side of the city from the Fishermans Bastian on the Buda side, before crossing the Chain Bridge to the Pest side of the city and the Christmas Market in Vorosmarty Square. The market has hand produced items,made according to handed-down techniques and from natural materials. This was our first market so we selected our decorations and took some time to sample Gluhwein (delicious hot mulled wine) and Langos, (this is like a flatbread with sour cream Gruyere cheese and chive topping), before heading back to the ship.
Vienna: The capital and largest city in Austria dates back to the Habsburg dynasty. We toured the city centre and historic buildings. From St Stephen’s Cathedral we enjoyed walking the pedestrian streets doing a little retail therapy and enjoying coffee and dessert before heading to the Rathaus Market. The market is located in front of the City Hall with quaint open air stalls selling Lebkuchen (gingerbread) Bratwurst and of course Gluhwein as well as handcrafted decorations and toys. The market appears magical at night when the city hall is illuminated. The Schoenbrunn Palace, the most famous palace in Vienna, was the summer palace of the Habsburg’s and has a Christmas market on a smaller scale.
Melk: Today we toured the beautiful Melk Abbey. This Benedictine monastery was the home of monks who followed the rules laid down by St Benedict for over 900 hundred years. Today it is a school. The highlights were the library and the Collegiate Church. We returned to our ship walking through this small town and Christmas market.
Passau: This morning we arrived in Passau Germany called “the City of Three Rivers” due to its location between the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz rivers. Some of our passengers chose to travel to Salzburg for the day. Having been to Salzburg we decided to enjoy walking around Passau and take in the sights as well as the Christmas Market.
On this evening we enjoyed the Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner on board. La Chaine des Rotisseurs is an exclusive international culinary society. Membership is by invitation only, extended to those possessing world class culinary acumen. All of AMAWaterways ships in Europe are members. Our dinner this evening was definitely a highlight for us and we could tell the Chef and his staff were all very proud.
Regensberg: The old town with its narrow cobblestone streets is charming and is also a Unesco World Heritage site. The highlife of the city is the Cathedral, famous for its boys choir, the Regensburger Domspatzen. The Christmas Markets here have a magical feel as the surrounding tall buildings and Cathedral are all lit up in the background. From the main market you can stroll up the cobblestone street to the Children’s Market where there are hand made toys and dolls. In the centre of this market is a carousel that the children love to ride.
In the courtyard of the Thurn and Taxis Palace there is another market set amongst fir trees with stalls selling traditional Bavarian treats and handmade decorations and gifts.
Nuremberg: Importent during the WWII as it was the place Hitler chose for the Nazi Party Rallies and later was the location of the Nuremberg Trials.
The Nuremberg Christkind is the symbol of the Christmas Market. She wears a white and golden dress, has long blond curls and wears a crown. The Christkind brings gifts to children. Lebkuchen is the name for Nuremberg’s famous gingerbread and there are lots of stalls selling these decorated cookies.
Christmas Market Cruises are a wonderful way to get into the spirit of the holidays, meet new friends, and enjoy new experiences.
Review author: Carol Patterson, co-owner of Cruise Holidays of Burlington.. All images courtesy of the author.
Image on left: Nuremberg
Image on right: Carol (right) and her daughter on their wonderful Mother-Daughter week on this Christmas Market cruise.