Solvang resident Linda Johansen with a group of 27 other local travelers just returned from another grand adventure featuring a 7- night Danube River cruise.  The group left September 18, on a bus bound for LAX and were fortified with a fresh Kringle from Olsen’s Bakery and mimosa’s courtesy of Montecito Bank and Trust.

Arriving in Frankfurt, they shuttled and stayed two nights in the quaint Village of Wurzburg which is known as the “Jewel of the Main River”. They visited Munich which was in the midst of Oktoberfest having beer and lunch at the famous Haufbrau and explored the lovely medieval town of Rothenburg. Then the group sailed with Lueftner Cruise Line with 119 other Collette passengers through Germany, Austria, Bratislava and terminated in Budapest, Hungary. Highlights of the trip were visiting the Imperial Festival Palace – Castle Hof,

The garden at Schonbrunn Palace Austria.
Photo contributed

Schonbrunn Palace, Esztergom and Szentendre and an excursion to Weltenburg Monastery. The group also explored Passau which is a 2000 year old fairy-tale city with ornate Baroque architecture with cobblestone streets and St. Stephan’s Cathedral, which is home to Europe’s largest church organ. Magnificent castles and scenery were enjoyed cruising through the romantic Wachau Valley.

They enjoyed Vienna, Austria’s beautiful capital city and exploring the lavish Hofburg Palace with ornate Baroque elegance. The Lippizana Stallions all stuck their heads out of their barns with loud whinny’s in retort to Rick Mathis and his cell phone ring of a loud horse whinny. It was crazy funny as prior to his phone ring all the stallions were obscure from view, but the minute they heard that loud whinny, they had all the stallions with their full heads and neck out of their barn windows making lots of racket.

“It was hysterical because I think the stallions all thought they were going to get lucky with a mare,” Johansen joked.

That night dressed in their finery the group attended a concert in the Vienna Concert House that was so beautiful it brought tears to their eyes.

The group’s visit to Slovakia was in the middle of a harvest festival with all the folks wearing their national costume. It was a sight to see the beautiful costumes, hear the local music and enjoy this festival with the towns folk. Visiting a 13th century castle, the old town, St. Martin’s Cathedral, Michael’s Gate and the Archbishop’s palace in Bratislava was a full days adventure.

A castle in Budapest, Hugary
Photo contributed

Ending the river boat trip in Budapest, Hungary was definitely the perfect finish to an amazing trip and adventure. They explored Budapest, Hungary’s lovely capital city featuring the historic Duda Castle area, Fisherman’s Bastion and the 500 year old St. Matthias Church. The twin cities of Buda and Pest on the opposite side of the river were unique and the captain treated us to a night sailing which showcased all the beautiful historical buildings all lit up with lights.

“It truly was breathtaking sailing along the Danube and through these beautiful countries and villages that have castles and magnificent historical buildings dotting the shoreline,” Johansen said.

There will be another river boat cruise September 5, 2018, along the Rhine an Moselle Rivers. That presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. on November 2 at Bethany Lutheran Church Parish Hall. To RSVP for that presentation, please call Linda Johansen at 686-1644. The 2018 trips also include Vietnam in February, Iceland in May, and South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls in October.