Thursday, June 25, 2015

Viking Cruise Recap #4 - Quinn's "European Las Vegas" - Dresden,saying Auf Wiedersen to the boat and some real talk about the cruise.

European vacation recap continues! I think that Quinn really out did herself with some of the pictures today, which is especially impressive considering she had a touch of the brown bag flu (*cough cough* hungover *cough). After reading this book about Dresden I felt like I was pretty prepared for what had happened to the city during the war, but it was a different thing to actually see it.

We did a city tour, and then had the afternoon free to do as we pleased. Quinn hung out on the boat and I dodged the (VERY TARDY) rain drops to explore the Old Master's Gallery by myself. That was some good art right there. I don't often get the opportunity to walk through a palace and look at art, and it is something I will treasure in my heart.

Zwinger palace is beautiful and large (aka "the party palace")

The rest of the pictures are all of "Fraukirche", Our Lady's Church. Actually a Lutheran church as you might be able to tell from the Marty statue out front. This place was completely demolished during the war. The rubble sat in the middle of town in a heap until it was finally rebuilt and finished in the 90s. Some of the original sandstones were used (they're the darker stones. In 50 years all the stones will match). The large cross on the top is a replica of the original (which was found in the rubble, and is now on display inside the church). The replica was made in England by a man whose grandpa was in the RAF an involved in the bombing of the city. (Dresden is full of these goosebumpy moments, at least it was for me). Quinn had trouble with the fact that so many places were built to look old but were actually quite new. Hence the European Las Vegas. I kind of loved it, to be honest. You get the old school charm without the leaks and tiny closets and all the other things that come with old buildings.

This is in the top 5 of my favorite trip pictures. #Skillstopaythebills

This night, after leaving Dresden just before dinner the boat pulled out and traveled through the night and docked in the Czech Republic, where we would leave the boat. Though we would all still be a group through the first day in Prague. We spent the evening (and most of the early morning, cough cough) hanging out with the crew, drinking, singing songs with our favorite Australians, sitting in the mist and watching the boat cruise through the night, and doing just a little bit of packing. We weren't worried about packing well because we figured we'd repack when we were going home. (Spoiler alert: we didn't really. We weighed and redistributed but basically the shoddy half hour packing job that we did the following morning was basically it.)

Real talk about the cruise:

- Food was super good. Dinner was at 7 everyday and there were only tables of 6 or 8. While it can be kind of nerve wracking it was good because it forced us to meet different people almost every night. We only had one regrettable set of dining partners, known to us thereafter as "the food spitters". They were the one pair of generally unpleasant people on the whole boat. We were a little nervous that we might get hungry because there was no room service (Quinn and I have been known to order room service at all hours when on vacation, don't judge); but it wasn't a problem.

- We were basically the youngest ones on the ship. There were two other girls almost exactly our ages but they were traveling with their mom and aunt. It could get a little bit frustrating (like on the at least 2 occasions when Quinn and I are having a conversation amongst ourselves and someone came up and with barely an introduction started showing us pictures of their grandkids on their phone. Um, okay?) but mostly it wasn't a problem. Everyone called us "the girls". Nearly every one of the 96 other passengers were friendly, interesting, well traveled and capable of being on a cruise.  When we would go on city tours they would offer a "leisure" group, so that those not interested/capable in keeping a faster pace could take that option. This was a very good move.We knew that we would be about the youngest people on the boat, so it's not like it was a surprise. This also helped us to make friends with the crew, which brings us to my next point...

-We, especially Quinn, got to know members of the crew pretty well. We would ask where they were from, if Viking was a good company to work for, how often they got to go home, who was dating who on the boat etc. etc. A lot of them came from Eastern Europe and left ocean cruise jobs to join Viking so they could be closer to home. Service was really impeccable. Always courteous and smiling and couldn't do enough for you.

-This was not a cheap way to travel but so much is included. It was nice to pay the bulk of money ahead of time and then have to worry about less money when the trip actually started. It was really low stress in multiple ways. We got our hands held on things like transportation and food, but then had free time to ourselves to do what we wanted. It was a good mixture for us. The time sailing was a good way to have forced downtime so you weren't "go go go go" trying to see everything the whole time.

-The trip obviously did not go quite as planned, but the crew, especially the captain and Radim, bent over backwards to try to help. Lunches were paid for, new excursions were arranged at the last minute, boats were squeezed through tiny locks all for us. From what we heard almost no one had a terrible attitude about it, because really, what can you do?

Tomorrow we go to what I think might be the most beautiful place on earth, PRAGUE!

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