2017 River Cruise Budapest ot Amsterdam - Christmas Markets travel blog

Schipol AIrport Amsterdam

Sheraton Hotl at the Airport where we have stayed before

We were up and had breakfast earlier than usual then checked out of the hotel and too a cab to the airport. We were in plenty of time and the check in was not open. We sat till it opened and lined up. We were fortunate to be upgraded to a higher class of seat. We sat in the lounge ill it was time to board. The plane was a little late in leaving, but we had a good flight with a meal on real plates and cutlery.

AT Reykjavik we were directed to a gate. We were first there, but soon a crowd gathered and we stood past the time the plane should have boarded. We watched an air crew enter the gate then come back out again. We reckoned that could not be good. Eventually the lady on the gate announced that there had been a change of plans and we needed to go to another gate. That of course was at the other end of the airport - fortunately, Keflavik is not a big airport. By the time we reached there we were no longer at the front of the line, but we were able to use a priority lane. They soon opened the gate, but took the other passengers first which was a slow process as they were changing people's seats - we later learned that the plane we were supposed to get had arrived late and when it did it was unserviceable so they had to use another one. We guess that the seating was different, hence the need to reallocate the seats. Another couple in the priority lane asked what was happening to us, whereupon we were admitted.

We had assumed we would be boarding from a ramp and had packed up our coats, now it was evident we were going to be outside and be bused to the plane, so we got our coats out ready to withstand the rain. Soon we were outside and on the bus to the plane. We got boarded and seated then waited for quite a while before all the passengers were boarded. Eventually we were in the air almost two hours behind schedule. The flight was the roughest of this trip and the noisiest. We are not sure if it was the weather or the plane, regardless, we did make it to Edmonton safely. We got to the baggage claim and texted, David, our son. He responded that he was just leaving the house and we had arrived sooner than the web site was predicting. We were about an hour and twenty minutes late. As we waited there was no sign of the luggage for quite a while. Eventually it did come and the cases were very wet.

We approached the immigration area and discovered it had been automated. I inserted my passport but it did not recognize it and gave a message to see an officer. We went and explained the situation and the lady took our information and we were again on our way. When we got outside David was waiting for us. He took us home and I unpacked my luggage. Christine took out the items that had got wet, but left the bulk of it till the following day.

Well, what was our overall impression of the trip. We both thoroughly enjoyed it. Seeing the same towns under different circumstances was interesting. Looking back on the blizzard in Rothinburg makes it an interesting experience and worth more on reflection than n the actual experience. The weather was not any worse than we had anticipated, except in Amsterdam which had much more snow and colder than we anticipated. We were told on several occasions that the snow was unusual at this time of year.

As far as the ship was concerned it was the most opulent of the four we have been on. The crew also seemed to be able to strike the right balance of being helpful and friendly without being obsequious or overly intimate. Our cabin was not just spacious, but extremely well designed with adequate storage. The tours from the ship were quite good, but I think we felt the other lines we had been with gave a deeper appreciation of the destinations - for example, the concert in Vienna was a six piece band, whereas the one wit Jerry Van Dyke was in the Golden Hall (where the New Year's Day Concert is held) with a full orchestra.

The Christmas markets were the reason for our trip and they did not disappoint. Our initial exposure to them in Budapest was disappointing as most seemed to be craft merchandise of the type available all year long. That changed in the other places with a vast array of Christmas related goods. Undoubtedly, the one at the Vienna City Hall was the best. It also was the most crowded.

Amsterdam would have been a disappointment due to the weather if it had been our first visit, but we have been there several times and enjoyed renewing our acquaintance and were not too disappointed at having to cut our outings short due to the weather. I had hoped we might have gone to Haarlem, but we abandoned that idea when we saw the weather.

All in all we had a good time and met interesting people. Although the majority of passengers were Australian, they seemed a more subdued crowd than we had met on the Scenic cruise and we befriended some very nice people.

Well, that is us till late January when we set off for Scotland and Portugal. Hopefully, you will join us on that trip also. If you have made it all the way with us, thank you for your persistence and patience. We trust you have enjoyed I and some of our enthusiasm has rubbed off on you.

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