Monday, June 22, 2015

Viking River Cruise Recap #1 - "So this soccer game is a bigger deal than we thought..." and accidentally running in a half marathon.

Hi everyone! So good to see you after my extended absence! For the next couple of days I'm going to be talking about the vacation I just got back from, but then we will be back to book content. So if you're not interested in the cruise and pictures of me looking sweaty, come back next week :) These posts will be long with lots of pictures, that is your fair warning...

Let's start with the basics:

Who: Travelers were myself and my older sister, Quinn.

What: A Viking river cruise! Quinn wanted a vacation where she didn't have to pack and unpack constantly and I agreed. I wanted to see Prague. It was a little bit costlier than we were originally planned on spending so we had to cut down on some froyo trips to make it happen (or save like maniacs, you know, whichever) but we made it happen!

Where: Down the river Elbe. Our itinerary was: Berlin, Potsdam, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, Torgau, Meissen, Saxon Switzerland (actually in Germany), Dresden, Litomerice, Melnik, Prague. Quinn and I decided to stay an extra few days in Prague so we could do the city right. This was the best decision ever. Also, our itinerary did not actually turn out to be like this, keep that in mind.

When: June 5th through 17th!

Why: Sister adventure! Quinn turned 30 last year, I turn 30 this year, she's never been to Europe and I was itching to go back. And who really needs a reason for Europe?

Let's begin.

Friday the 5th we fly out of O'Hare in Chicago to Amsterdam. In the most wonderful stroke of good luck, Quinn and I have a 3 person row to ourselves. This clears up all the anxiety I had about midnight bathroom runs over sleeping neighbors! (Also had no jet lag problems, so the two things I worried about were nonissues. Typical, thank the Lord.)The flight was on KLM, my first with them and it was a super pleasant experience. Quinn slept a good chunk of the trip, I didn't sleep for more than an hour. This is the problem with me and overnight flights.

We had a couple hour layover in Amsterdam at their tidy, bright, under construction airport and then boarded our plane to Berlin. Getting on this flight we noticed that there were boxes on our seats. Open them up and they contain a Heineken branded psuedo soccer jersey and a hat, courtesy of the airline in celebration of the Championship League game (Juventus v Barcelona). That's when we realized this soccer game might be a bigger deal than we thought.

After arriving at our hotel (after a slight mishap, my fault), dropping off our bags, and meeting Radim, the Program Director for our cruise (he really was our fearless leader in the mishaps that were coming in our near future), we set out to see some stuff. We hit the town hard seeing the sites and crashed about 10; excited to see the ship the next day! (There was one point during the day where we were a little bit lost and really wanted to get back to the hotel because it was at least 90 degrees and we were exhausted. It took forever to catch a cab because everyone was going INTO the downtown area and we were trying to get out. We figured out later we were only about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. Daaaaaaarn it).

(All pictures were either taken by Quinn or I, so don't use them without running it by me first. Danke!)

Me at Bebelplatz, where the Nazis burned books. I'm smiling because we found this place on our own; not because of the Nazis burning books. And because I like that dress, a "day before the trip, panic shop" purchase at H&M

There was all kinds of soccer shenanigans around the Brandenburg Gate, which kind of made it feel less majestic and special, but it made for a memorable stroll. (Lots of happy, singing drunks!)

Does anyone else read Philip Kerr's "Bernard Gunther" series? The main character was the house detective at this hotel, the Hotel Adlon, which I didn't realize was a real place until a few weeks before the trip. Then I  was all about getting this picture taken!

Selfies with the Reichstag and our "quiet vox". Which was basically an ear piece that meant we could always hear what the guide was saying even when we wandered off, or ran ahead, or lagged behind to take pictures.

I could fill a whole post with just pictures of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Unsettling and simple and poignant.
The next day we traveled towards the boat, with a good chunk of the day spent in Potsdam at San Souci Palace and the Dutch Quarter. I had seen the gardens of San Souci during my europe trip in high school, but it was spring so nothing was in bloom. Much nicer in summer! After traveling and seeing Potsdam we finally got to the ship! And that's where we will begin tomorrow....

The Potsdam half marathon was going on and so I was waiting to cross the street during a time that would not hinder the runners. Some of the old people panicked I would get lost. I was literally 5 yards away.

Hello yellow!

Quinn loves taking pictures of doors. This is her signature shot!

We traveled for small sections on these very nice motorcoaches. Quinn and I sat in the back row everytime, for many reasons. The main one so we could goof around and snore and no would see.

Quinn had a major craving for ice tea, so we found her some and emailed the parents to tell them we were alive using the free wifi. We did try really hard to eat local after this, just needed a tea pick me up!

Little bunny friend in the Dutch Quarter! 


  1. Ahhh, so fun! I really want to ask you what you thought about the riverboat experience (if it was a good way to see Europe, etc), but I'll save that for next time when we actually see the boat ;)

    1. I'll give you the short answer, I think it's a great way to see Europe! It's nice to be taken care of and have so many logistics figured out for you, but there was also always free time so you could do some things on your own. And all of the guides we had were incredibly knowledgeable (though a couple were a little hard to understand) and I learned a lot!

  2. So much fun!! Love the pictures (and the title cracked me up). Glad you had a blast!! :)

    1. Someone was like "stumbling into Berlin during this match is kind of like accidentally showing up in Dallas on Super Bowl Sunday." Thats when Quinn and I finally got it.

    2. haha! That's the perfect description!

  3. Ooooh I love San Souci! Aren't the gardens amazing?! And that's hilarious about the soccer game. Talk about good timing! or maybe bad timing??

    1. I could have wandered those gardens a long time! The soccer game definitely gave a fun energy to the city, but it would have been nice to be a little less crowded too!

  4. Replies
    1. hahahaha! Marian! I promise no crew secrets are revealed :)


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