Going With The Flow AND The Overflow

By Marianne Windham
Windham Travel and Leisure

Happy 2023 everyone! My take on 2022 is that it was a wonderful and exciting year of new opportunities. Many of us also created new ways to evolve through change and challenges. Certainly travel is no exception to this.

Windham Travel & Leisure has grown! We’ve grown in numbers and in business! I will share more later in the year about a company growth. But as far as travel goes, it has been apparent for quite some time that people want to travel more often, and for longer periods of time, and farther! Life is short, and so is time. We take our opportunities with full gusto! My latest?

Just last month, I enjoyed a magical European Christmas Markets river cruise with a dear friend and several travel colleagues aboard Uniworld’s SS Maria Theresa. We sailed on the Danube from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary; and explored the beautiful cities of Passau, Linz, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. A quick recap:

Passau-Known as Dreiflüssestadt (City of Three Rivers), Passau is built upon the meeting point of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, home of the world’s second-largest cathedral organ, is one of Passau’s favorite attractions.

From our 2nd port Linz, we did a full day Salzburg tour of the fairytale city of Salzburg, passing highlights including the Mirabell Gardens which featured in the Sound of Music movie, the charming little shopping lane of Getreidegasse and Mozart’s birthplace. We took the Festungsbahn funicular up to Hohensalzburg Fortress! In virtually no time, arrived at the most popular tourist attraction in Salzburg. The biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe, high above the rooftops of the Baroque historical district, offers a 360-degree view of the city and its surroundings. Afterwards, we had lunch at Europe’s oldest restaurant – St. Peter Stiftskulinarium, founded in 803 C. Located inside St. Peter’s Abbey, the establishment has been serving Austrian cuisine for over 1,200 years. It’s also regarded as the oldest restaurant in the world.

Next stop, the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria’s capital. First we had a “Morning with the Masters” tour of at the Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum), built in 1891 near the Imperial Palace to house the extensive collections of the imperial family. Afterwards, we continued on foot to explore Vienna’s culinary Christmas traditions at a few of the city’s festive markets and a gain a ‘taste’ of a Viennese Christmas. We then visited the exquisite Schönbrunn Palace, summer residence of the former Habsburg imperial family. I bought some of my favorite items from some of the artisans at the Christmas Market in front of the palace.

Next stop-Bratislava! We enjoyed a guided walking tour through the old town of Slovakia’s small but precious capital. It’s a wonderful mixture of architectural styles that lace the little streets. Influenced throughout time by people of many nations and religions; it was the coronation site, legislative centre and capital of the Kingdom of Hungary for over 200 years. Bratislava’s Christmas markets are smaller than neighboring markets; but I was very partial to the cozy, less crowded and very authentic vibe. For a good warm up, I had to try the Tatra Tea. It hit the spot!

While we’re on that topic-Glühwein is also traditionally served at stalls at Christmas markets across Germany and Austria to keep people warm as they shop and socialize. German Glühwein, which literally translates to “glow-wine”, because of how you feel after you’ve been drinking tiny mugs outside in December. We tried it at each of the markets and every destination. Each similar, but unique in their own way. Definitely a must do. Certainly kept us warm & cheery. 

And finally, Budapest -once referred to as the “Queen of the Danube,” because of the city’s cultural significance at a time when Hungary was three times the size it is today. We had a vibrant walking tour, delicious local treats and a visit to the Christmas markets. And we stayed over an extra night at the incredible Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest in the heart of the city.

A primary unique and amazing bonus of river cruising is that instead of being taken to the destinations, you are carried THROUGH the destinations. You continually have land on both sides. You are immersed in the destinations. Your hosts take extra care in sharing as much of the destinations with you as possible, from bringing on local entertainment, experts and guides, fresh produce, delicacies, etc…The sights, sounds, scents and sensational delicious specialties of each region are all a part of the experience. They are everywhere!

Again, river cruising is one of the most desired modes of travel. You will be hearing about many more opportunities and cruise offerings. And if there’s a destination you have been interested in, just say the word. We likely have an existing group or promo for exactly what you’re looking for!

Happy New Year and Safe Travels!
Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you’ve been all along.

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