Christmas Markets Along the Danube & Christmas in Vienna with Family   8 comments

Christmas Markets Along the Danube & Christmas in Vienna with Family

Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Linz, Melk, Vienna & Bratislava

Dec. 16 – 30, 2014


Our family Christmas adventure began with a delightful cruise with Grand Circle Cruise Line.  Jim & I along with our son Eric, and daughter Karree boarded the River Aria in Nuremberg, Germany on Dec. 16, 2014 to do the “Christmas Markets Along the Danube.”   This was the 33rd trip with Grand Circle/Overseas Adventure for Jim & I.  As per usual everything was spot-on:  Harold, our “above & beyond the call of duty tour-director”; Constantin, the hotel manager; Ambrose, the Captain; and the staff & crew on the River Aria.  (The map below is copied from

Save Money:  If you decide you’d like to go on this or any Grand Circle Travel or Overseas Adventure Travel trip, and you are a first time traveler with them, they will give you $100 off any trip if you mention the name of my travel blog and my customer #000561413.  New travelers instantly receive $100 off the cost of the trip, and I will receive $100 when you depart on your trip. 


“Christmas Markets Along the Danube” ended in Vienna, Austria on Christmas Eve morning.  At that point Jim & I and Eric & Karree went to our daughter and son-in-laws home for a week.  Jim & Kellee live in Vienna Austria so we had our very own personal tour guides and a wonderful time celebrating Christmas at their home which is located right in the first district of Vienna.  We certainly missed our youngest son and his wife.  But they are looking forward to Vienna & etc. in Sept. and Dad & Mom might just make it back about that time also.  We don’t want Kellee & Jim to get lonely.


Nuremberg, Germany:  This medieval city surrounded by 13th-century walls is the second-largest city in Bavaria. 


Today the city’s name evokes the notorious post-World War II war trials, the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the half finished gigantic Congress Hall where Hitler planned to hold party meetings. 


The Documentation Center:  Is a museum in Nuremberg, that is in the north wing of the unfinished remains of the Congress Hall of the former Nazi party rallies.  “Fascination and Terror” is concerned with the causes, connections, and consequences of Nazi Germany.  Excellent museum. 


Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) of Nuremberg:  Located in the Hauptmarkt square in the old quarter, this is Germany’s most famous traditional Christmas market.  It was alive with the aroma of gingerbread, Nuremberg bratwurst and gluhwein (hot mulled wine). 


The Christmas Markets in the various towns are always set in a scenic old town square.  Entertainment, singing and bands add to the festivities.  All kinds of things are available to buy in various booths throughout the market.  Lots of delicious food is being prepared.  It’s fun deciding what to buy to eat.  


When a hot gluhwein is purchased, for an extra 2 Euro you may keep the mug.  Of course the idea is to have it refilled many, many times.  I have a collection of Christmas Markets gluhwein mugs, and that is my excuse for buying gluhwein at every Christmas Market.  My first of many mugs. 


Concert:  We enjoyed an pipe-organ concert in one of the beautiful churches in Nuremberg.


Another Christmas Market in Nurrenburg:  So much merriment & fun.


Cruising from Nuremberg towards Regensburg:  We were invited to sit at the Captain’s table for dinner.  Later we enjoyed going outside and watching as we went through a lock on the Main-Danube Canal.  

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Then the excitement happened!  On the second night aboard the ship, our daughter Karree suffered an acute appendicitis attack.  I went with her by ambulance to a little town called Neumarkt, Germany.  She had an emergency appendectomy shortly after arriving at the hospital.  It was done laparoscopically and she did well, and was released the next morning.  We took a train to Regensburg, where our wonderful tour director, Harold met us at the train station.  She was a trooper.  She didn’t miss a beat on the whole trip.  So, I have a rather cute picture of her in the surgery hose waiting on the train. 


Cruising the Main-Danube Canal: 


Regensburg, Germany:  The town suffered little damage during WWII, so it remains a hidden treasure dating back to medieval times.  The medieval center of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 


The Regensburg Cathedral:  An example of pure German Gothic architecture.  It was founded in 1275 and completed in 1634.  Lots of nice buildings in the medieval center of Regensburg. 


Concert:  Jim & Eric enjoyed a boys choral concert featuring festive holiday music.  Karree & I didn’t enjoy sitting at the hospital. 


Mom & Karree join back up with the trip:  Karree & I took the train from Neumarkt and arrived in Regensburg with enough time for me to go into the cute little town and visit the Christmas Market before we sailed away.  And, another Christmas Market mug for my collection. 


   Kienze’s Walhalla, built in 1842:  Sailing near Regensburg we saw an imposing Classical building erected by Ludwig I of Bavaria as national monuments to German patriotism and greatness.  It is a costly reproduction of the Parthenon. 


Cruising:  Perfect timing for a day of cruising.  Karree had the opportunity to just sit around the ship, recover, and enjoy the pretty sites as we cruised down the Danube. 


 Passau, Germany:  Situated at the confluence of the Danube, the Ilz, and the Inn rivers, Passau has been called the City on Three Rivers.  Below is the lovely Town Hall and a pretty advent wreath. 


It was a bit cool so time for a cappuccino and maybe something sweet.


St. Stephen’s Cathedral was built in the 17th century.  It has the world’s largest church organ, with 17,774 pipes.  We had the opportunity to listen to the organ…pretty grand.


Christmas Market in Passau in front of St. Stephens Cathedral.  Karree has a cute new hat that was made locally, and Marilyn has another gluhwein mug to add to her collection. 


We are at the “tip” of town where the confluence of the Danube, the Ilz,, and the Inn rivers meet.  Passau is surrounded on both sides with water. 


Back to our Riverboat, otherwise known as “ship.”  Karree is pointing out our cabin. 


  Linz, Austria:  It’s one of the largest ports on the Danube and the second-most populous city in Austria.  As we entered the city next to where our ship was docked we were at Hauptplatz.  We rode the little Christmas Market train and got a good over-view of the city.

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A fun visit to the Christmas Market in Linz.  Of course we needed to collect another mug. 


We visited the tourist office and discovered we could go on the city tram to the pretty church on top of the hill in the distance.  It was a nice ride on a steeply graded tramway which climbed the small mountain at the northwest edge of the town.  It has a viewing platform over the city, and is the site of the Poslingberg Pilgrimage Church. 


The Poslingberg Pilgrimage Church was built in 1748.  The church is popular for weddings because of the unique location


After stopping at a little restaurant for a cappuccino we rode back on the nice tram from Poslingbern to Linz city center.  Our River Aria was docked just next to the entrance into Linz. 


Melk Abbey, Melk Austria:  On my, the grandeur of the Baroque Melk Abbey! It is a massive Benedictine monastery, which was founded in 1089 in a medieval fortress belonging to the House of Babenberg. After 1,000 years it’s still functioning as an abbey and school today.  Our first stop on our tour of Melk Abbey was the Abbey Museum which is located in the imperial rooms. 


Within the Museum is a model of the Abbey complex.


From the Museum we went into to the Marble Hall which was the imperial banqueting chamber in the high baroque style.  The walls and ceiling are magnificently decorated.  The ceiling fresco was painted in 1731.


The Abbey library rises two floors and also has a beautifully painted ceiling.  It contains approximately 80,000 volumes of priceless works, from the 9th through the 15th centuries.  (No photos were allowed in the library.  I copied this from Wikipedia where the holder of the photo released it into the public domain).   


Before entering the Church at Melk Abbey one can overlook the Danube and the pretty little town of Melk.


The high point of the baroque monastery is the awesomely beautiful church.


And the best part of the cruise was being with two of our kids.


Wachau Valley:  It was a delightful sunny and warm afternoon to cruise along one of the most beautiful parts of the Danube – the Wachau Valley.


  And suddenly it was the last day on the “MS Aria.”  Time certainly flies when you are having fun. Seems only fitting to capture the delightful time in the dining area ready for another delicious meal.   


Karree enjoying the little balcony off our cabin on the river ship.  Captain Ambrose waved us into the bridge for an up close and personal look.  I asked permission for a photo.


The parade of the baked Alaska.  And…the sun sets on our final evening of our cruise of the “Christmas Markets Along the Danube.” 


And the merriment continues on the second part of our Christmas Holiday.  Our daughter and husband live in Vienna, Austria so we met them and stayed on for another week.  We managed to find each other in the Christmas Market in front of the Rathaus (City Hall) in Vienna.  


Enjoying a good bratwurst in the pretty little square near Kellee & Jim’s apartment. 


Another Christmas Market in Vienna.


And another Christmas Market in Vienna.


Christmas Eve Dinner at a Serbian Restaurant with friends, Milcho & Jenn.  Milcho is Macedonian and this is his favorite restaurant, it puts him in mind of “home”.  A fun evening. 


Votivkirche: We attended Christmas Eve service at VotivKirche (Votive Church).  Following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, the Emperor’s brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian inaugurated a campaign to create a church to thank God for saving the Emperor’s life. The church was dedicated in 1879.  It’s a lovely church. 


Since this is all in Jim & Kellee’s neighborhood we had a pleasing stroll from the 10:30 p.m. service at VotivKirche to Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Stephens Cathedral. 


We had the honor of attending Christmas Eve Midnight Mass in St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna.


A delightful Christmas night dinner at our kids home. 


Milcho, our favorite Macedonian, is all decked out to come to Kansas.  He can wear his overalls, the t-shirt from the Prairie Nut Hut and his Lenny’s Quality Oil, or his Carl’s Sales & Service cap.


Schönbrunn Palace:  A former imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs that is located in Vienna.  The 1,441-room Baroque palace is part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage due to its historic importance, its unique grounds and its splendid furnishings.   Emperor Franz Joseph, who later married the enchanting Sisi and reigned from 1848 to 1916, was born here in 1830. (No photos were allowed inside.)  And….there was a Christmas Market in front it the Palace. 


Dinner at the Augustiner Keller, near the Opera House in Vienna.  We had typical Austrian food. 


One of my highlights of Vienna was attending “The Nutcracker” performance at the awesome Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House).  I bought the tickets on line as soon as they became available.  Now granted, they weren’t the best seats in the house, but I think those are sold out to season ticket holders.  It was spectacular to just be in the fantastic opera house.


Another fun meal at another keller in Vienna.  The “Sisis Keller Restaurant”.  It was located down a long stairway and in a cave. 


So, it was essential that we went to Bratislava, Slovakia.  By going to this country Jim & I celebrated the fact that we have been to 74 countries.  It is only a one-hour train ride from Vienna.  Bratislava is the capital and largest city in Slovakia and lies on both banks of the Danube River.  We walked to the Old Town from the train station. 

The fortification gate and tower were built in the 13th century. 


Shana, this is for you.  Karree, please get the fellow up and out of the man-hole. 


As usual we didn’t have any problem finding someplace to eat, and there was so much of it. 


There was an ice-skating rink in the Old Town.  I guess with the little cannon in front of the espresso shop, they can keep the riff raff out.


Time for a little shopping.


It’s snowing, must be time to walk back to the train station.


Our last night in Vienna and Karree made us delicious spaghetti & meatballs. 


Thus ends the Farmer’s Christmas Holiday with family. There is only one thing that would have made this the perfect Christmas Holiday.  And that is if all of our kids could have been with us.  Missed you Derick & Chelsea! 


Posted January 19, 2015 by marilynfarmer in Travel

8 responses to “Christmas Markets Along the Danube & Christmas in Vienna with Family

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  1. Always enjoy reading about your adventures. Great pictures…Christmas Markets look like so much fun!

  2. Marilyn great blog and a great trip Dianne and I are to see the tulips in April

  3. Enjoyed the holiday pictures. How cold was it? I noticed lots of coats, even at the evening church services. You certainly added to your mug collection on this trip! So glad Karree got medical help when she needed. Exciting trip with lots of memories. Vera

    • Hi Vera. Glad you liked the holiday pictures. It was fairly cold a good bit of the time. Yes, coats in churches, they don’t heat the churches. And my mug collection over the years is getting a bit large, but it sure is fun collecting them. It indeed was a memorable and fun time being with 3 of our 4 children in Vienna. Glad they know how to do an emergency appendectomy in Germany as well as they do in the U.S.A. Great times!!

  4. Thanks for posting your Christmas Danube Cruise pictures and descriptions. I am trying to put my pictures and memories into a narrative for my trip in 2014. Yes, I am a little late, and your blog helped remind me of places, sights and sounds of my trip on Grand Circle. Thanks again.

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