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Danube River Cruise on the Viking Prestige


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The Weltenburg Abbey and the Danube Gorge
The Danube Gorge near Weltenburg and Kelheim, Germany

The Danube Gorge near Weltenburg and Kelheim, Germany

Danube Gorge (c) Linda Garrison
The drive through the German countryside from Regensburg to Weltenburg was lovely (about 45 minutes), and we even rode by the home of Pope Benedict XVI (before the Vatican) near Regensburg. He was a college professor of theology and religion before he became a Cardinal, one of Pope John Paul II's closest confidants, and then Pope himself.

The old abbey at Weltenberg sits right on the Danube River and is subject to bad floods in the spring and fall. Cruise ships don't go by the abbey because they join the Main-Danube Canal near Regensburg and leave the Danube River. This canal connects the Danube and Main (and eventually the Rhine) rivers and was completed only in 1992--just 20 years ago! It enabled commercial barges and river ships to move between Amsterdam on the North Sea all the way to the Black Sea in Bulgaria. The Danube River from Kelheim (which is upstream from Regensburg) past the abbey is restricted to small ships and is one of the most scenic sections of the Danube River.

After touring the Benedictine church at the Abbey, we had a delicious soft pretzel and a dark beer called Weltenburger Kloster that is made at the abbey. We also had a little free time, so I walked up the hill to get a better view of the river. Some people went down to the river and stuck their feet in, and one of our group even went in swimming with some of the locals (in his clothes). He said the water was quite cold, but refreshing.

After 1.5-2 hours at the abbey, we walked the short distance down the river to the small river ships that carried our group on a 20-minute ride on the Danube back to Kelheim. The tall rocky cliffs overlooking the river were quite scenic and we enjoyed watching the kids swim in the river, although our guides said it was quite dangerous due to the many whirlpools.

When we got to the small ship Kelheim dock on the Danube River, we found that our ship the Viking Prestige had been delayed in the nearby Main-Danube canal due to the breakdown of another ship in one of the locks. Instead of meeting the ship at 5:30 pm, we were going to meet it at 7:30 pm. So, instead of the buses taking us to the meeting point on the Main-Danube canal (about a 10 minute bus drive), we went up to the top of a nearby mountain to visit the large Liberation Hall monument built by Ludwig I (not the mad king Ludwig II who built the Neuschwanstein Castle). We were all tired from the heat, so many on the three buses just sat in the hilltop cafe and had a cold drink or ice cream. Some of us walked to the monument (about 1/4 mile or so) to hear the guide's impromptu stories. About 6:45 we got word that the ship was on its way and would be arriving at a little after 7 pm. So, we quickly got back on the buses a little earlier than expected and rode down the mountain/hill to the meeting point.

I had a quick shower and was at the nightly meeting 30 minutes later. I can be quick when food and drink is at hand! Dinner was quite good. I had a salmon main course, which was excellent, as were the appetizer and soup. The waiters did a baked Alaska parade (with sparklers). We finished off the meal with Palinka, a very strong apricot brandy from Hungary (home of our maitre'd). It was better than the aquavit and vodka, but still too strong for me.

Danube River Cruise on the Viking Prestige


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