Danube River Cruise in Vienna

Danube is a big river and it runs through several countries, including Slovakia and Austria. Ever since moving to Bratislava I've wanted to go on a cruise from here to Vienna or Budapest, but haven't found the time or the company to go with. So, now that my parents were coming to Vienna I decided to book a cruise as a late Mothers' Day gift.

I booked the tickets beforehand since it is summer and Vienna is a popular tourist attraction. So, on Saturday we ordered a taxi to the harbour an hour before but didn't take into account the traffic. By the time we arrived to the ticket office I had already almost given up hope of catching the boat on time. Eventually we got to the counter where people were being told that the boat was already full-booked. When it was my turn the guy behind the counter was clearly prepared to sell me a don't-have. So, when I put the reservation paper in front of him his face made it clear that he was disappointed. It's "lovely" to notice that it's not just Slovakia or Estonia where people don't bother hiding their frustration and opinions in a customer service situation, but that it's the same in Austria as well...

We were so lucky with the weather, considering that otherwise the weekend wasn't exactly sunny. On the cruise you can just relax, order some drinks and snacks and enjoy the views. Although at the beginning there's not much to see in the delta but when the boat turns into Danube the views get better. 

Before the cruise we had time to do some shopping and I found the perfect marine-inspired outfit: dark blue and stripes. The loose trousers were perfect on the upper deck covering just enough so that I wasn't cold even in the wind.

The most exciting part was the point where there should have been a small waterfall but instead it had been built into a power plant providing electricity to the city. The boat had to stop into this walled space and the "doors" behind and in front of it were closed. I don't know why but I felt like being trapped in the Hunger Games movie :D When all the "doors" were sealed they started to let water into the space where our ship was floating so that the boat started gradually rising upwards. Little by little you could see the higher part of Danube emerging from behind the wall. It was sort of eerie, but cool. When the water levels where even the "door" in front of the boat was opened and the trip could be continued.

St. Francis of Assisi Church

Probably the most interesting sights on the way were the business center concentration on the other side of the river (which I had no idea about) and the church of St. Francis of Assisi. The church is quite new considering the style: built between 1898 and 1910. Today it is the center place for English-speaking Catholics in Austria. Inside you can find Elisabethkapelle, which is a chapel built in memory of Emperor Franz Josef's wife who was assassinated by an anarchist in Switzerland in 1898: Empress Elisabeth of Austria, aka Sisi

The cruise ships are operating from April to December and I would warmly recommend them. It's a nice and different way of seeing the city. Basically you see the parts you probably wouldn't otherwise see. Maybe in the autumn I will try a cruise between Bratislava and Vienna or Budapest. 


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