Sailing with Viking River Cruises on an enchanting Christmas markets-themed cruise from Nuremberg, Germany to Budapest, Hungary we experienced an overwhelming number of events. Not overwhelming like we’re freaked out and need to be under a doctor’s care but overwhelming in a very good way. Now complete, that experience brought a great number of lifetime-quality memories, many of which we will share with you in a series of posts between now and Christmas Day.
The point of all we do here is to bring readers the information they need to make an informed decision about which cruise line, ship and itinerary is a good fit for them. When that happens, wonderful travel experiences result. To that end, we begin far in advance, connecting readers with reliable sources of information that enable informed decisions, every step of the way.
From packing to being there, we try to bring readers along for the ride a number of ways. Here at the Paris airport, we met Al and Lisa, two Viking passengers we would see throughout the voyage.
Traveling to a foreign land can be a scary proposition for those who do not do it regularly. Easing us into the travel experience, we see a Viking River Cruises representative just as we walk out of the baggage claim area. While others wander around looking for their contact at the scene, we find ours easily; every time. Here we see Franz, the driver who took us to our pre-cruise hotel, the Meridien Grand in the heart of Nuremberg.
The Meridien Grand Hotel is situated just steps away from one of Nuremberg’s Christmas markets. I say “one” of Nuremberg’s Christmas markets because, like other towns we would visit, most have multiple markets in various locations. If you go, count on cold weather and have a nice warm place to retreat to from time to time as you explore these enchanting places. The Meridien Grand was one of those places. (more)
The first stop after dropping our bags at the Meridien Grand Hotel was the Christmas market and, more importantly, the first Gluhwein stand we happened upon. While the hot mulled wine beverage (Viking recipe here) is featured at every market we visited, the collectible cups are unique to each market. Vendors charge a deposit on the colorful mugs (about €3) which they give back if the mug is returned. We never did. At €3, they are a great and inexpensive souvenir.
Our second stop was to get inside at a little restaurant that served good German beer.
And our second try at bratwurst in as many hours on the ground in Nuremberg, (Photo of our first not available, I was just too darn excited to waste time juggling a camera)
Shopkeepers in Nuremberg seemed to be in a festive spirit as well.
At the hotel, a Viking concierge was on duty with helpful tips and suggestions for getting the most out of a self-directed tour of the city. That was also the place to meet for guided tours and pre-cruise excursions. In the morning, an included breakfast before transfer arrangements booked through Viking would make getting to our Viking longship easy.
The dining room at the Grand Meridien Hotel is full of European charm and staffed with people who have made the hotel business their career, as opposed to just their “job”, and that makes a world of difference in the experience. We would see that same commitment along the way in a variety of situations because we took time to look, something we really never did enough of on previous trips and something that elevates our travel experiences to new heights.
Returning to that same Christmas market at night brought an entirely different experience as colder weather caused more Gluhwein consumption and the crowd thickened. As the business day came to and end, the market became busier and brought some great memories of window shopping, pretzels and more.
As one might expect, night at the Christmas market also brought a new look to the area we had just visited hours earlier.
Back at the Meridien Grand Hotel, a room service order brought some good German beer and hot Potato Soup.
We also tried Currywurst, a version of Bratwurst first sampled visiting Cologne earlier in the year, traveling with Abercrombie & Kent. This something I never would have tried had it not been for the recommendation of our friend Joey, a Viking Program Director met last year on our first Christmas markets sailing. I think the hotel added french fries to Americanize the dish. I suspect that German potato salad could have been substituted if requested.
A good night’s sleep prepared us for embarkation day and the beginning of our Viking River Cruise, themed to include stopping at Christmas markets along the way but with a core experience of Viking’s Romantic Danube itinerary, available at other times of the year as well. Shown here, a standard double room at the Grand Meridien Hotel that I saw on a tour of the hotel. We did not have one of those. Selling out far in advance, the only option we had were two single rooms which were nicely appointed but made for an odd sleeping arrangement.
Probably to be remembered as ‘the night we stayed at the same hotel but in separate rooms’, we liked the accommodations at the Meridien Grand Hotel but looked forward to checking in to Viking Delling and what we knew would be a nicely appointed stateroom, sight unseen. That’s next.
Coming Up On Festive Sailing With Viking River Cruises
If we were making a movie of our experience and each enduring memory was a scene, they would number over well over 100. The above are 16 of them. I hope you will come back and see the rest as we reflect on the experience, now back in our home town of Orlando. Reliving our journey, 4000+ miles removed, offers a different perspective than what we offered live, as this marvelous travel experience unfolded.
“You’ll see things differently when you go sailing through the heart of cities and landscapes with Viking River Cruises,” says Viking on a TV commercial I happen to see quite frequently. On our third full-length Viking sailing, that commercial comes back to be hauntingly true, noting “It’s a feeling only a river and Viking can give you,” which repeated sailings verify: what we experienced has not been a fluke but what just what they do. More importantly and where this series is heading, that TV ad ends with “Forever change your perspective on the world and maybe even yourself.” Stick with me on this series and I’ll show you just exactly how they go about doing that, minus a few secrets that would spoil your own experience.
Here is that ad
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: What To Wear
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Travelers We Will See On The Ship
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: River vs. Ocean Experience
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: The Viking Longships
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: When Winter Travel Is Worth It
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Remember Where You Are
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Looking Forward To Vienna
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Ocean Cruise Skills I Will Not Need On My Viking River Cruise
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Going Through Locks, Will They Be Frozen?
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Overnight In Budapest: What To Do
- Nuremberg’s Meridien Grand Hotel A Great Pre Cruise Option
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