Sharon Miceli continues to share her story of her European Christmas Markets river cruise aboard Amalyra, as a guest of AMAWaterways. Sharon....
|The quaint Christmas Market is dwarfed by a near-perfect evergreen in the town of Cesky Krumlov.|
Two days in Prague had been so much fun and now it was time to make our way to the Intercontinental Hotel where we would meet with the transfer to our ship in Nuremberg.
The 5-star Intercontinental is located right on the Vltava River and for guests who book their hotel & cruise package, AMAWaterways reserves those rooms that have the stunning view of the Prague Castle. We were met in the lobby by our Cruise Director, Csaba Tamas, a young Hungarian who was made for his job. At this early hour we appreciated his simple instructions and sunny disposition.We found out that due to the heavy snows in the days before our arrival the Danube River had risen 13 centimeters, about 5 inches, just enough to make it impossible for our ship to cross under the last 2 bridges on its way to Nuremberg. Therefore we would have to meet the Amalyra in Deggendorf, Germany.Aboard each bus was a local tour guide who provided great narration throughout the countryside. Making up for our missed port they made an unscheduled stop at a very special place called Cesky Krumlov. Talk about a land that time forgot! This tiny gem of a village high in the mountains of the Czech Republic is a UNESCO World Heritage site and its huge charm far exceeds its tiny footprint.
The snow covered wall marks the entrance to Cesky KrumlovWe entered the city by way of a snowy path that led us under massive walls that looked like Roman aqueducts and supported the ancient castle spanning the gorge high above our heads. We crossed over the moats by way of wooden bridges and heard the story of the brightly painted Butter Tower where freshly churned butter had been stored back in medieval times.
|A small inn at Cesky Krumlov. Pick your room from pictures at right; red indicates occupied, green is vacant|
In the tiny square we found their version of a Christmas Market; two stalls and a tree! We had time for lunch and chose to eat at one of the hotels that enclose the plaza. The temperature was dropping rapidly and hot chocolate warmed us for the short walk back to the bus.
The brightly-painted Butter TowerOur ride to the ship through the mountainous, unsalted roads reminded me of landing in someone’s hand crafted Christmas Village. The miniature towns and evergreen forests were perfectly flocked with snow that glistened like diamond dust in the sunshine. I was reminded of a flight home from Europe one time when we crossed the Alps. Peering out from my window seat I had been fascinated at the little villages clustered in the ravines and valleys of the highest peaks. I had yearned to visit places like that and now here I was.
|Captain Rien Pols, Hotel Manager Ovidiu Nicolescu and Cruise Director Csaba Tamas welcome us aboard Amalyra|
It was already dark by the time we reached the Amalyra but the Captain and crew who stood at attention gave us the sunniest of welcomes. We took a few minutes to unpack and get comfortable before our Captain’s welcome reception.For two girls who had packed heavily for this winter escapade we found more than enough space for all our gear. The room was beautifully appointed with a desk/dressing table, 2 easy chairs & cocktail table with a candy bowl overflowing with Christmas sweets, lighted closet rod, interactive flat-screen television with free tv, music & movies on demand and free internet & Wifi! The spacious bathroom had a granite-topped vanity and a shower with 3 showerheads! How decadent for a ship! I loved it.Captain Rien Pols, from the Netherlands, presented each lady with a long-stemmed red rose as we entered the forward lounge of the Amalyra. We were introduced to the staff while we sipped champagne and admired the richly adorned room complete with no less than 3 Christmas trees.
|The lounge was all decked out for the season|
The rest of the evening was enjoyed over a sumptuous 6- course gala dinner and dancing in the lounge to the resident piano player. I will devote more time to the food & entertainment aboard the Amalyra because it deserves much attention. But for now I’ll leave you with this “amuse bouche” just to whet your appetite.
|A homemade cream puff served aboard Amalyra [Editor's Question: You didn't bring one back for me?]|
Thanks, Sharon. Can't wait until you actually set sail!