Day 16: Beautiful Vienna, Which We Did Not See

We spent a lot of ti e staring out of our stateroom window at the scenery. This is some of it.

We docked at Vienna, so the view from our stateroom changed. We were facing across the river from the old city, which meant a view of very modern buildings, including a tall skyscraper with a weird wavy design, and a spire that looked like it might be a control tower.

Cute little Austrian town on theDanube. Don’t ask me which one.
This is all we saw of Vienna. I assume there’s a lot more to see.

Not moving around is tiring, if you can believe it. I still feel like I have a bad cold, but the inactivity is getting to me. It is so much worse for Tom, who normally averages six miles of walking a day.

I spent my time working on a little graphic novel for our middle granddaughter about her favorite stuffed animal. Bunny is no longer as important to Jessamyn as she once was, but I promised, so I will deliver. I am refreshing my skills on Procreate—I let myself get rusty.

I finished an audiobook called “The House in the Cerulean Sea,” by TJ Klune. It is a gently humorous fantasy about the healing properties of love and the moral courage required to buck a bad system. I absolutely loved it. I had intended to buy it as a Kindle book, but I. Screwed up. However, the narrator, Daniel Henning, was very good, and added to the humor with the different voices for a very diverse cast of characters.

By late afternoon, I was beginning to feel better. If the experience of my travel companions is anything to go by, recovery is rapid. Just about everyone but me is back to normal except for the occasional cough. Glory to the house of science, which brought us the vaccine.

We left Vienna this evening. The six of us had already planned to go back to Vienna for a few days, so I am not upset about not seeing it on the tour. I am a little worried about the weight I must be gaining, sitting here and eating three squares plus an afternoon snack and getting no exercise. But seriously, the meals are by way of entertainment. We watched another stupid movie called “Blythe Spirit,” based on a play by Noel Coward and featuring Judi Dench. It sounded promising, but wasn’t.

Stormy evening on the Danube.

Day 15: In Which We Eat and Drink and Read but Do Nothing Else on Our Exciting European Vacation

Today was not a good day from the standpoint of feeling healthy. As Tom grew steadily better, my cough worsened and I became more congested. My side aches from coughing.

Every time they bring us food, little salt and pepper shakers are included. I stole a couple of these to make a salt water rinse. Necessity is the mother of invention.

We have seen some rather odd things from our stateroom from time to time. This is a small Viking ship sailing on the Danube.

We are sailing on the Danube now, and I must report that it is not blue. More sort of muddy green, not that I’m complaining. We are passing by little villages nestled into green countryside, with thickly forested hills beyond. Once, we passed a speedboat stuck and abandoned in the river, with water flowing over it.

Alex the Magic Butler tells us that after they announced 6 new cases of Covid, masking went to100%. As he told me this, the guy who never masked ambled down the hall—wearing a mask.

There have been several places where people were swimming and fishing, so the water quality must be good.

The Uniworld staff continues to be solicitous and kind. They are taking care of us six sickies in addition to their normal duties, but are endlessly patient. We just have to remember to request EXACTLY what we want because if we just ask for salad, we get lettuce with dressing, and nothing else. I’m not complaining at all, it’s just the way it is. They aren’t mind readers.

A castle on the Danube.

Day 14: The View from Our Stateroom

We went through a lot of locks today as we approached the continental divide. They grew ever larger, though we were not in the best position to see them from our stateroom.

Approaching one of the locks. This was taken from the sun deck before we were sequestered in our staterooms.

I began to cough and sniffle and asked the staff for cough medicine and throat lozenges. Someone got off in Passau, the last stop before entering Austria and the Danube, to buy me meds. They made an excellent selection, and it has helped.

I checked with our friends in the morning, and they were doing well. Tom and I spent the day watching the banks of the Danube, eating, reading, etc. We watched two of the movies available on board. “Wild Mountain Thyme” with Christopher Walken, John Hamm, and Emma Stone seemed promising, but it was my least favorite kind of plot; the people involved made everything complicated because they wouldn’t tell each other the truth. Ugh.

“The Courier,” with Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel Brosnahan (Mrs.Maisel), is a very good film. It’s based on a true story of spy intrigue during the Cold War, and I highly recommend it.

Not too much else to report. We are passing through some very pretty countryside.

Sunset reflection from our stateroom.

Day 13: The Plague Ship

We knew we were risking Covid when we embarked. But all six of us were fully vaccinated and boosted, and we were careful about masking. Unfortunately, not all of our fellow travelers were as careful.

Early in the trip, a gentleman from Australia was taken off the ship sick with Covid and sent to the hospital. We heard later he had been seriously ill. He was discharged from the hospital and went directly home. He had isolated in his room for the first few days, so none of us had been anywhere near him. We weren’t overly concerned.

As the days went by, we noticed more and more people hacking and coughing, and mask wearing was only about 40%. One guy NEVER wore a mask.

Then, the evening we set sail for Regensburg, Clod tested positive for Covid. We all did the quick results test. I was the only one not feeling symptoms, and my test was negative. Tom’s was positive.

We all disembarked in Regensburg and took a taxi to a little booth to take a PCR test. Results were reported in two hours. By this time, I was feeling a faint tickle in my chest.

We stopped at an apothecary for some meds and walked back to the ship, a stroll of about 10 minutes. We got to the quay where River Duchess was moored. There was a long bench close to the ship.

We all sat down and stared glumly at the ship. Once we got back on board, we knew we would be confined to our staterooms and would not be allowed to socialize with each other. We talked for a few minutes and then one of the officers appeared and herded us gently back on to the ship.

We were all positive. The protocol was to stay in quarantine for five days, which meant that on the last day, when we were due to disembark in Budapest, we would be released from quarantine. Everyone assured us that all we had to do was ask for something (other than leaving our staterooms), and it would be brought to us. The phone rang constantly with people checking on us and asking if we needed anything. Our rooms would not be cleaned, but we could get fresh sheets and towels any time, and they would do our laundry.

They have been as good as their word. In addition to taking our meal orders, Alex brings everyone a snack in the afternoon, and anything we have asked for has been quickly fulfilled. Alex has been taking care of all of us.

I have taken a few photos, but much of the time, there isn’t much to see from our stateroom. We haven’t been bored, but Tom greatly misses his daily walk. My ankles were very swollen from all the walking in the heat, and are back to their normal size.

None of us are seriously ill, though I, being the last to get it, am experiencing a worsening of symptoms as the others are recovering. It feels like a cold, no worse.

Every day, we get a paper agenda informing us of all the activities we will not be participating in that day. But we did enjoy the 2/3 of the trip that we did get to experience outside of our staterooms

The view from our stateroom for one entire day. I don’t remember where.

Voyage to Budapest

Days 1 & 2: San Francisco to Amsterdam

We planned this trip for two years, believing that Covid might be over by then. It isn’t, of course, but we came anyway. I thought we would be traveling a lot after we retired but Covid put an end to that for a while. At my age, I don’t know how long we will be able to travel, and it is worth the risk. I, my husband Tom, and our friends Linda and Clod and Susan and David are doing a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, something none of us have ever done. Apart from Amsterdam, this trip will be covering a huge swath of Europe Tom and I have never seen before. (The others in our group have seen some of the places we’re going, but not all.)

The Covid infection rate here in the Netherlands is 14 per 100,000, which is better than any place in the US. I believe this is because they are not encumbered with as many radical conservatives and conspiracy theorists, but that’s just a guess. Very few here are wearing masks, indoor or otherwise. I am not so trusting, and wear a mask indoors. If one of us gets Covid, they get kicked off the ship at the first opportunity to quarantine elsewhere, and who wants that?

We few over on United Polaris—Business Class. They have eliminated First Class. The seats fully reclined, but it didn’t help me. I have never been able to sleep on a plane. I took prescription medication in an effort to overcome this, with no success. I found it massively uncomfortable, but there were a lot of people who looked blissful tucked up in their reclining seats. Being tall does not help. The food sucked. Honestly. I can’t imagine what they served in Economy.

But it was my choice to watch “Cyrano,” with Peter Dinklage and Jennifer Lawrence. I love both of them. It was a massive waste of their considerable talent. Pretty much a hot mess with meh music and silly choreography. Cyrano is supposed to be a comedy. It opened with promise, but got less funny as time went on, with a tragic ending. Towards the finale, I found myself impatient for it to end. Don’t waste your time.

We are staying in a hotel in a park. You have to walk from the taxi drop-off to the hotel, not very far. The hotel is called “Conscious Hotel at Westerpark.” I thought that was amusing because when I am in a hotel, it is usually in an unconscious state. But the name refers to being ecology-conscious, green, etc. The front lobby looks like a snack shop, which threw us for a few minutes. The rooms are minimalist, but clean and extremely comfortable. The park is lovely. I fell asleep to the sound of happy, screaming children playing in the park. (I am only perturbed by unhappy, screaming children.)

Sitting in the middle of a pond in Westerpark. A statue of a court dress with no one in it. A statement?

The second couple, Susan and David, arrived not long after we did. We walked around looking for a restaurant with tables in the shade. The only one we could find was a vegetarian restaurant with the most wonderful veggie lasagna I have ever tasted. Then to bed again for about 10 hours of sleep. I woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with no jet lag—a first. The bed here is seriously comfy.

The next day, we decided to walk to one of David’s fave breweries, located in an old windmill. While we were hoofing it, Linda and Clod checked in to the hotel and we arranged to meet them at a restaurant for lunch. I ordered a Caesar salad, but what arrived was basically a large quantity of fried meat on a meager bed of lettuce. It did have a lot of shaved Parmesan, but it was definitely not what I wanted on a hot afternoon. And I had developed a massive blister and went back to the hotel in a cab rather than walking another 3/4 mile on my abraded and bleeding toe. So I missed the beer. I imagine there will be other opportunities.

It was fun looking in the store windows and just soaking up the city. Head shops everywhere, which I don’t remember from my last visit here. I recall we had to go to a coffee shop to get weed. Not on my to-do list this time.

Tomorrow: the Reichsmuseum! I am so looking forward to that—but I will be wearing different shoes.