HOME SWEET HOME
HOME SWEET HOME.
We are updating this post to acknowledge the additional comments we received after we posted.
Doris...Yes we were very lucky to avoid getting ill during the voyage. Thank you for your nice comments and for following our postings.
Joy...Thank you for following our posts and for the very nice comments.
Eileen...Thank you for your comments. It's nice to be home.
Originally posted May 22
Thank you Catherine, Karin, Jo Ann, Mary, Howard, Kathryn, and Theresa for your comments.
We are now home as we arrived back to our house before 6:00 PM last evening.
The overall day and flight home went well.
After we posted we relaxed at the British Airways lounge before we made our way to the gate.
For fans of the National Football League, Anne Marie helped out former Dallas Cowboys Quarterback by showing him where an outlet is located for his electronic gear. She recognized him on her own without help from Keith. 😀 Then again she used to see him at a Hallmark Store where we previously lived from time to time. Many years ago Keith sat next to him from a flight from Washington, DC to Dallas when he was returning from Washington after the Cowboys were recognized at the White House for winning the Super-Bowl.
Now if Keith could just see Paul McCartney that would make his day. 😁
The good news is that our flight took off on-time and we arrived early. With Global Entry we went through immigrations/customs quickly and we had a vehicle to take us home arranged by Crystal Cruises.
We each watched several movies and between the movies and food the time passed quickly. These are photos from the lunch. They served a tea but didn't take photos of that and snacks were available but we didn't need any of that.
The good news is that during the course of the adventure we didn't get sick which is a challenge when sailing during the winter months and in vessels, hotels, airplanes and just surrounded by people. We were proactive and as we have mentioned we did avoid some situations where there were lots of crowds. This did mean that we didn't participate in some areas as we have done in the past, but as they say "you do what you have to do". Again this is not easy when you travel and the odds no matter what we did we would get sick.
We have a challenging time ahead in a couple of months. If all goes well we will begin a new adventure later this year. Please check back in mid-December as we get ready for the start of our next adventure.
Happiness to all.
Anne Marie & Keith
DAY 157 - ON OUR WAY HOME
ON OUR WAY HOME - AN ADVENTURE MIGHT END BUT THE MEMORIES LAST A LIFETIME
Thank you Betty for your nice thoughts and for following along all these months. The time does go by quickly which is why we try to enjoy each day and not look ahead. At the start of the trip people would ask if we were looking forward to our first River Cruise. We would say yes but trying not to think about it as it would mean the ocean vessel portion of the adventure was over.
Thank you Theresa. Sounds like we did miss out on the muffins but might have been a good choice for our waistline. LOL.
We thought this title was fitting as we make our way back home. There was a song by The Beatles (you know we love The Beatles) sung by Paul McCartney and John Lennon originally called We're on our way home before it became Tow Of Us. We like the lyrics and enjoy how they are singing to one another.
We are at the conclusion of another amazing adventure. As they say all good things must come to an end or as The Beatles sang "All good things must pass". .
We have visited places for the first time, returned to locations we have previously visited, and experienced so much at sea and on land. We have laughed. We have teared up when we visited the concentration camp and felt lots of emotion as Keith did the Jewish tour. We have increased our knowledge about world events. We have grown. We have seen things through our own eyes and not the lens of a camera. We have met several guests for the first time and we have renewed friendships. We have seen our family who are presently in Australia and kept up with our family back in the States. We have created memories which will last for the rest of our lives. We have sailed on a River Cruise for the first time and we achieve 100+ Crystal Society Milestones during this adventure. We have now sailed the equivalent of four years.
We hope our narrative and photos have conveyed much of what we experienced the past five+ months.
There is so much to see around the world and we remind ourselves that our home country and home areas represent only a portion of the world. The world is full of diversity and that makes us all that much better if we take the time to learn from others about the cultures around the world.
There is so much going on around the world and our concern is in our home country is sometimes we miss it as the news is too single focused. We have shared what is happening with investments by China in places such as Africa and we have seen first hands issues related to the global environment. These are some of the benefits of travel.
We enjoyed our last night of the cruise at the Sofitel Hotel at London Heathrow Airport The first night of our adventure began at a hotel airport for our local airport so it was fitting that the last night end at an airport hotel. We enjoyed our final dinner of this trip and toasted our love for each other and our love and appreciation of travel.
Dinner was not three or four courses as we enjoyed on Serenity and Mozart. We kept to two courses; salad and a salmon entree. If we would have realized the entree came with French Fries we would have asked for something else Oh well. We survived.
We read and wrote before we went to sleep and awoke early for our final day away from home. After getting ready we went down to the lobby of the hotel where we could check in for our flight and drop off our luggage. This is a new service which British Airways offers at the hotel which began six months ago. We had no waitt. Since our bags were large they asked us (Keith) to place each bag on a luggage scale and to read off the weight. We were given our boarding passes. From there we walked the long corridor and took the elevator up four floors and entered terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport.
We went through passport control, through security and made our way to the British Airways Club Lounge. We didn't get stopped for extra checks as two people directly in front of us did. They did do one extra check on Anne Marie's 3-2-1 bag.
We just finished breakfast at the lounge. We kept this to the same breakfast you are familiar with by now; cereal and a banana. LOL. They had a full service menu with table service.
We will be here another few hours before we fly home across the pond.
We will post in a few days following our return to home.
We hope you have enjoyed following our adventure.
We have a challenging time ahead in a couple of months. If all goes well we will begin a new adventure later this year. Until then:
Be well and enjoy life to it fullest extent and look for the good and don't dwell on those things that don't go as well as you would like. Remember, life is like a book and each of us does not know when that last chapter will be written.
Anne Marie & Keith
DEPART MOZART & FLY TO LONDON
Caryn, thank you for your comments, good wishes and for following our trip. We wish you both the very best.
Betty, we are glad to hear you enjoyed the blog and we wish you a great time in Italy. If we can help with questions please let us know.
Anne, thank you for your comments. We don't have another River Cruise booked yet but plan to find another one to book. We loved the experience.
Doris, thank you for your very nice comments about our Blog and for following along all these months. The nice thing about travel is that there are many options available including different types of vessels to sail on. It is amazing the cruising industry has have between Ocean and River Cruise vessels not to mention the increase in airlines and flights and land trips.
Yesterday afternoon had some interesting items on the schedule including Wine Tasting followed by Team Trivia. The morning also featured a Galley Tour.
We enjoyed our final evening on-board Mozart starting with a pre-dinner drink at Palm Court.
Mark Farris was playing the Piano. There are two pianos on Mozart. One is located in the cove right by the bar where there some seats are located and the other one is in the Palm Court where many chairs are located. Mark changes up where he plays the piano before dinner.
It has been wonderful sailing with Mark.
This was followed by our final dinner of the River Cruise at Waterside
This is the dinner menu from last evening.
It was busy in Waterside and very jovial since this was the final night of the cruise. People traveling together or newfound friends were dining at larger tables. Guests were saying their goodbyes to one another and to the amazing members of team Mozart.
We enjoyed four courses.
Each night the waiter would make a recommendation for each course.
We both had a Crepe for the appetizer, recommended by the waiter. It was delicious between the actual crepe pastry and the filling.
We asked for Spinach Salads which were not on the menu for our next course.
Keith had Lamb Chops for his entree and Anne Marie had Salmon. The waiter had recommended the Lamb.
For dessert, Anne Marie had a strudel. After all we are in Austria. and Keith had Cheese Plate. He had the waiter select the types of cheese some of which were on the menu and some that was not last evening.
It was a wonderful meal. With Mozart going under Genting at the end of the year and not available for bookings we expect that we will likely see some of the waitstaff on other River Vessels, Ocean Vessels, the Yacht and Endeavor.
They took great care of us throughout the cruise.
We said our goodbyes to many of the waitstaff team including those who took care of us regularly at dinner and those who we would have on occasion when we were sitting with other people at larger tables and other locations. Often at dinner we sat at the port side of Waterside. At lunch we dined at or near the same location. During lunch the swap the waiters so the waiter we would have at dinner would be at the starboard side and the waiter who is assigned to the port side for dinner would be at the starboard side for lunch. It's nice how they move them around. Some of the waiters/assistants will be working the buffet area at lunch and back in the dining venue for dinner.
Likewise, earlier in the evening we gave our best to the two bartenders at Palm Court. We also thanked the two people who served the drinks who we saw later as they are runners at Waterside during the dinner time.
Before going to bed we added more items to the luggage and weighed them.
We slept well last night. We were up early but no exercising for Keith. We had breakfast 30 minutes earlier than usual. Butler Paolo was on duty one hour earlier than normal so he brought the breakfast. We gave our best wishes to him. We knew him from his time on Crystal Serenity. We are sure he will move to one of the other River Vessels so he can stay closer to home in Europe.
A difference between the River Cruise and Ocean Vessel is luggage doesn't to have to be placed outside our suite until 45 minutes before departure. In our case that was 7:15 AM with a private transfer scheduled for 8:00 AM.
We kept to the same breakfast of cereal and a banana.
We arranged for a private vehicle transfer with Crystal Cruises to take us to Vienna International Airport. Another option was the complimentary bus transfer to the airport.
Butler Paolo told us when we were ready he would take care of our luggage. We called him at 7:00 AM and he came by the room and took out our two large pieces of luggage.
We left the room at 7:50 AM and we saw our luggage and the concierge Andrea said the vehicle would arrive in the next few minutes. Hotel Director Sonja stopped by to chat with us as did the Captain a few minutes later.
At precisely 8:00 AM Andreea wheeled our two pieces of luggage off the ship. It was raining. With umbrella in hand Sonja escorted Anne Marie and Shore Excursion Manager escorted Keith out to the waiting car. Unlike the Ocean Vessel no necessary to have the ship cards scanned and the vehicle was just a few steps from Mozart. In short, the departure process was as easy as embarkation.
The drive to the airport was quicker than anticipated. We used an airport concierge service which allowed for expedited check-in. We proceed through passport control and to an airport lounge.
The airport lounge was pretty plain but the person at the desk was very professional and helpful. He showed us around the lounge pointing out where everything was; self service breakfast, beverages, rest rooms; tables with outlets, etc.
Security was done when we proceeded to the gate for our flight.
Today's flight only involved traveling from Vienna to London Heathrow where we are staying over at the London Heathrow Sofitel Hotel. We have stayed at this hotel numerous time including a few weeks ago when we flew from Serenity in Athens to London Heathrow. There is a direct flight to our home city but the connection today would have been too tight for us which is why we broke the travel into two separate days.
We arrived to Terminal 3 at Heathrow. The good news is starting last night landing cards are no longer required for those entering the UK from seven countries including the USA. There were no lines to go through immigration. Not sure if this was the reason but it certainly eliminates paperwork, saves money and allows the reallocation of some resources.
From there we made our way to Terminal 5 where Sofitel is located after we cleared immigration, picked up our luggage and cleared customs.
We will post more tomorrow before we take off on our flight back to the states.
Anne Marie & Keith
DAY 155 - DAY 10 MOZART
SCENIC CRUISING BUDAPEST TO VIENNA
Thank you Mary for following our travels and for taking the time to provide comments. It is very much appreciated.
Thank you Emily. Keith was glad that he was able to prevent what would have been a tragic accident.
As mentioned in our previous post, we took another long walk yesterday morning around Budapest. We did this in lieu of taking the organized tour of the Parliament Building and the Market. It was a little overcast until the sun finally came out. The temperature was comfortable.
Keith showed Anne Marie where the Four Seasons Hotel is. We took a similar route as we did the first day. When crossing the first bridge we saw the Parliament Building with its impressive size and architectural beauty.
We walked along the Danube as we headed in the direction of the ship. Several people were out walking, jogging and bicycle riding.
We crossed another bridge to get back over to the Pest side and we revisited the Great Market Hall. We picked up a few items including Paprika and two hand painted Pepper Mills. We ended up looking at a few different shops and bought the Paprika at one shop (they didn't carry the Pepper Mills) and the Pepper Mills at another shop. We made our decision based on the two very friendly ladies from each of these two shops. Friendliness is good.
These are from the two places we made our purchases.
Depending on where we are docked sometimes we need this reminder to be careful as we enter and exit Mozart. On more than one occasion Keith has forgotten about ducking. On his way off the vessel he said to George one of the two men who do security that he tapped his head once again. George who is bald says "this is why I have no hair". LOL.
Speaking of security some of the river cruise lines do not have security personnel. Guests swipe their own cards as they arrive and leave the ship. We appreciate the Crystal River Cruise Vessels have security.
Returning to Mozart we enjoyed lunch at Waterside and took in the scenery before and after we departed Budapest.
We made a stop to The Bistro where Darrell made a Cappuccino Coffee for Anne Marie. He topped it with a heat. Very nice.
Anne Marie attended a talk given by Hotel Director Sonja about The Life and Music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. After the talk there was an Apple Strudel Demonstration given by the Pastry Chef Jozef and this included tasting of Apple Strudel along with coffee.
Many guests went up to the sun deck to enjoy the scenery. Drinks were served from the retractable bar. The weather was sunny and the temperature warmed up making this an ideal location to enjoy.
We enjoyed a pre-dinner drink at the Palm Court. Thank you Mark Farris for playing a Beatles song for us. We loved it.
The views of the Danube and the surrounding areas including villages and town was spectacular and this carried over to dinner.
This photo is Anne Marie outside of Waterside. When Mozart was refurbished it was completely redone inside the ship with pretty much every screw and nut along with everything else redone. Two paintings remain from the original Mozart and Anne Marie is standing next to one of them in the photo.
These are the dinner menus from Waterside for last evening
Hotel Director Sonja dined with us this evening for the second time of this voyage. It has been a pleasure for us to get to know Sonja during this voyage.
We enjoyed four courses.
Keith started with the appetizer caviar and Anne Marie had a half portion of the tomatoes and mozzarella salad. Although it wasn't on the menu we were told that a mixed salad was available and that is precisely what we each had. Anne Marie had the sirloin beef for her entree while Keith had the branzino seafood entree. Dessert was a cheese plate for Keith and cheesecake for Anne Marie.
We didn't finish dinner until half past nine and didn't attend the evening entertainment which was the newlywed game.
As usual dinner was terrific between the non-stop conversation, delicious cuisine and terrific service. The waitstaff team has been great throughout the cruise. Often we have the same waiter and assistant waiter and sommelier at dinner and sometimes at lunch depending on where we are seated at Waterside.
We've included only a couple of food photos and a couple of photos showing views that we enjoyed during dinner.
We enjoyed another good sleep as we are sailing back to Vienna where this wonderful voyage began. Keith worked out for the final time of this adventure followed by coffee and breakfast in our room.
After our room was cleaned we worked on packing as we depart Mozart tomorrow morning. Packing at an end of a trip is relatively easy compared to when we were packing on Serenity and had to decide what to take with us for the River Cruise and what to ship home.
We enjoyed our final lunch at Waterside. Oh the word "final" sounds like the end is near. LOL.
At lunch today there were several examples of how attentive the waitstaff team is. For example there are dinner plates for the salad and yesterday Keith saw a waiter with a large bowl which holds the ladle for the soup. Keith said that is his kind of salad bowl. The waiter said he will be sure Keith has a bowl for today. Keith completely forgot about it and as he was going to the salad bar the waiter came up to him with the bowl. A minute later he gave Keith a larger plate to place below the bowl with a napkin on top of it.
Another example was after we were seated and Keith remarked how cold it was and a couple of minutes later one of the waiters who assists us for lunch let us know that he had reported it being cold to see if they could adjust the temperature.
A third example is the kindness shown each and every day by Waiter Hanaganut who offered to take us around should we visit his country. We will miss Hanaganut and this extraordinary Mozart team.
After lunch we went by The Bistro so Anne Marie could get a take-out coffee. In addition to Coffee and Tea there is an array of food items including sweets.
We will close now as we have a busy afternoon.
Anne Marie & Keith
DAY 154 - DAY 9 MOZART
BUDAPEST & SCENIC CRUISING
Before departing the ship yesterday to explore Budapest we saw Josef Lumetsberger and John Stoll. Josef gave us some touring advice for the city and we went on the sun deck with him as he pointed out places to visit.
We began with our first walk of Budapest. Boarding and departing River Cruise vessels can be a different experience from an Ocean Vessel. For example, in the morning Mozart was docked alongside another ship on the Pest (pronounced Pesh side of the river). To get from our ship to the walkway we walked through the other vessel. We almost thought we were on an ocean vessel and walking in a terminal as the lobby of the other ship was full of merchandise for sale. LOL.
Our walk began by taking in views of the Buda side which we would eventually walk. We made a visit to the Great Market Hall (in Hungarian Nagycsarnok or Vasarcsarnok). It was built in 1897 and is the largest and most beautiful of the market halls in Budapest.
It is a great place for tasting fresh baked goods, shopping for meat and poultry, selecting vegetables and fruit, and picking up other items such as honey and paprika. We saw many locals making food purchases. At the same time it is good for tourists with a variety of items to purchase from soft goods to toys, shirts, magnets, purses, wallets, clothing, Christmas Ornaments, Chess sets along with many other items.
It is on multiple levels and also a great place to people watch.
We proceeded to walk in the other direction and saw Josef Lumetsberger who was getting ready to depart the area on his way back to Amsterdam where his office is located. Josef mentioned someone we knew very well would be there in a minute or two so we waited for him. Those who have sailed Crystal several years ago will remember him and he looks the same to us.
Do you recognize him?
The familiar face was no other than Josef Widmar who retired from Crystal Cruises in 2010 after many years as a Maitre d' on the Ocean Vessels.
We sailed with Josef on Symphony and Serenity. He was the consummate Maitre d'. He used to have office hours each morning at the Captain's Table at the center of the Crystal Dining Room. He would have that board with the seating chart of the Crystal Dining Room. On the first night of the sailing he would walk around the Dining Room with the chart to see if everyone was pleased with their seating assignments during main and late seating.
We learned from him the way the Europeans pronounce our surname.
Although retired, from time to time he fills in on a vessel to provide relief for someone going for a short holiday. It is a Small World.
We wished Josef Widmar and Josef Lumetsberger safe travels. We thanked Josef for his hospitality and for visiting the ship and having dinner with us and we look forward to seeing him again.
We continued our walk along the Danube on the Pest side walking by several beautiful buildings and taking in the scenery all around us. We walked near the Jewish Quarter and St. Stephen's Basilica. We crossed over to the Buda via one of the bridges. We walked towards Castle Hill which is an array of buildings that comprise this UNESCO World Heritage Site. This includes the Castle Palace and the Hungarian National Gallery and National Library. We could see the Matthias Church which was the venue used for the coronation of several Hungarian monarchs.
We walked along the Danube in the direction towards the ship. The weather was gorgeous and we had sun and no rain. Many people were out walking and there were lots of bicycles. You do need to be careful while walking and not veer into a bike lane or you might be accidentally hit.
We took in other sites as we walked. We passed a memorial building related to World War I.
We continued to another bridge and could see the Gellert Hill. We walked across the Bridge and back to Crystal Mozart.
We found an Anne Marie with a loving heart.
Back on-board we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Waterside
Speaking of food, we wanted to mention on selected nights an alternative for dinner at Waterside is available which is Tapas at Bistro Mozart. For those of you who dined at Tastes on Serenity there are a few items that will look familiar as Tastes offered tapas. This is the menu.
After lunch Keith went out on his own while Anne Marie walked for the first time of this cruise on the Promenade Deck. This is the only one of the five River Cruise vessels having the outdoor deck. As Keith departed the ship, George one of the two security personnel, let Keith know that at 2:00 PM the ship would be moving its position from alongside the other river vessel to directly next to the pier.
Keith did a mix of running and fast walking . He runs, fast walks, runs, and fast walks. It works well for him and his knees.
He covered a lot of ground on his own. It was cooler than the morning as there was some wind. The streets and sidewalks were active with more people out and about. Outdoor cafes were busy. It was recommended that we check out the Four Seasons Hotel. Why you ask? It is located in a restored Palace. The site was once occupied by Nako House a Neo-classical palace built in 1827. Eventually with new ownership they built a new structure called Gresham Palace which was completed in 1906 and opened in 1907. During the occupation after World War II the red army used the building as a barracks. In 1990 following the end of the communist regime the government presented the palace to the city of Budapest.
Starting in 2001 the building was redone and made into a luxury property. In 2011 it was bought by the State General Reserve of Oman and is managed by Four Seasons. The outside and inside of the hotel are truly amazing.
Keith continued his run/fast walk as he enjoyed views around the city. He stopped only to take some photos and at traffic lights.
Speaking of traffic lights he helped to prevent a tragic accident. While he was waiting for a light to turn green he noticed a couple to the left of him. The light was still red. The man started to take two steps into the street and at the corner of his eye Keith saw a car driving fast (likely because the light was changing). The man was looking to the right and the car was coming from his left. Keith shouted stop....stop... and the car was within a second of running him over before he stepped back. It would have been a horrific accident with the man possibly killed. He thanked Keith. Wow!! A reminder to be careful.
We enjoyed the rest of the late afternoon on Mozart and got ready for the evening. We had a pre-dinner drink at Palm Court as a lecture was being given on Hungary followed by dinner at Waterside. The dining venue featured a buffet dinner. It opened 30 minutes early as there as a Crystal Signature Event off the ship called Princesses of the Violin.
The buffet included many of the salad items offered at lunchtime, an array of hot items (fish, veal, turkey cordon bleu, several types of vegetables and a few other items). Lots of desserts, and someone slicing three different types of cheese.
We made the decision not to attend and this is due to Anne Marie's immune system. As those of you who have been following us know we are careful in some of the things we do. It's all about doing what we think makes sense and being balanced. We wish we could go to events like this but at the same time we are grateful that we are able to travel and be here.
At 10:30 PM after those who went arrived back to the ship we had a ninety minute sail around this area of the Danube to enjoy the lights from the Buda and the Pest sides. At midnight we returned back to shore.
We began our day as you have been accustomed with an early workout for Keith followed by coffee and breakfast in our room.
When Keith went to the Fitness Center he noticed an envelope outside for us. It was a preliminary statement which is a reminder that the end of the voyage is near.
We enjoyed our final time in Budapest with another walk. The weather was terrific and this is such a beautiful city. Like all cities one needs to be careful and we were given good advice where to walk and areas to avoid. We followed that advice.
We will provide more details about our walk when we post tomorrow along what we did for the remainder of today.
Anne Marie & Keith
DAY 153 - DAY 8 MOZART
SCENIC CRUISING AND BELFAST, HUNGARY
Before we post about the tour from Thursday afternoon we wanted to provide a few additional photos of our room.
The bathroom has terrific lighting including lighting on the two shelves below the two sinks.
The second two photos show the Toto Toilet including the remote control.
As we mentioned, we each have our own desk similar to the PH on-board Serenity. The desks are wider but not as deep. They did a nice job with the finish out inside each desk which is an upgrade from the interior of the desks on Serenity.
The safe has a nice digital readout and is wider than those on the Ocean Vessels and lights up when unlocked.
Another nice feature that is in the guest rooms on the River Cruise ships and the Yacht Esprit is an iPad. Anne Marie has been using this to look at menus, and newspapers and is a very nice feature. We remember this being considered for the Ocean Vessels at one point in time and are glad to see it available on the River Cruise ships.
A couple of photos as we arrived to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Yesterday afternoon, Anne Marie stayed on Mozart while Keith took a tour shortly after we arrived to Bratislava, Slovakia yesterday afternoon.
The tour was called Bratislava's Ultimate Survivor: Chatam Sofer Memorial. The tour allows visitors to explore the remaining portion of Chatam Sofer Memorial where hundreds of rabbis and teachers are buried from the golden age of Bratislava's Jewish Heritage.
It is considered to be one of the most important Jewish heritage sites in Slovakia and the only remaining portion of the centuries old Jewish Cemetery. It narrowly survived the construction of an underground tunnel in 1943.
The tour included discussion of the rabbi that the site is named after. The site was restored in accordance of the standards of Jewish law. Keith has never seen any Cemetery like this one. The Grave Stones were enormous with lots of writing in Hebrew on most of them.
All men on the tour were required to wear something to cover their head. A hat was fine. Jewish Yamaka's were available for anyone not having a hat.
Keith also visited the Bratislava Castle built in the 9th century which provides beautiful views of the Danube River and Slovakia. Its location provided an important vantage point for protecting the area. We also saw the gardens which were only redone a couple of years ago.
We visited the Jewish Cultural Museum. The size of the museum is not large but it is very impactful with the items on display. It tells many stories about Jewish life, customs and rituals. It includes Torahs, yads which are pointers for the Torah, the equipment and a bench used for circumcision, Chanukah menorahs, shofars which are blown on Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur along with some other items. There was a room with a temporary display of Jewish Bibles.
From there the tour visited the Old Town where we saw the Holocaust monument and the oldest Jewish settlement of the city. It is located in the center of the old town on the site of the former Neolog Synagogue demolished in 1969. It was erect in 1996 to commemorate the 105,000 Holocaust victims from Slovakia. Similar to what we said the other day to put this into perspective more deaths than the number of people living in our city back home and ten times+ the number of people living in our former town. Words cannot describe these horrific acts, the people who died, others who suffered, the loss of parents, children, siblings and the scars it left on those who didn't die.
As we walked the old town we came across a former house with our surname on the front where people lived before the Holocaust. Another reminder of the tragic impact the Holocaust had on so many families. As you walk the town it is easy to go back in time with many buildings in place as they were back then.
It was a very educational tour. We only had eight people on the tour including one person from the ship who was assisting a guest with some physical issues in lieu of her family member. Keith learned a great deal and actually wants to followup by doing additional research.
Throughout the tour we are reminded about how Jewish people were treated. This included a cemetery in an area near the Danube that would be flooded frequently, or the removal of Jews from their homes, their community where they were sent to concentration camps to die. It puts a lot into perspective and one of those items is that while there are ups and downs in most everyone's lives today we are have so much to be thankful for.
Before dinner we saw local entertainment that was brought on-board. Two brothers who sang and played musical instruments. It is not the type of show we would normally see but one that was enjoyable to watch. We've included a couple of short video clips.
This is the dinner menu from last evening at Waterside.
After the show we enjoyed dinner at Waterside with three other people.
We were joined by Josef Lumetsberger who is General Manager of Operations for Crystal Cruises River Cruises. Josef was instrumental in the rollout of this product including the deployment of the five Crystal River Cruises vessels which comprise Crystal's River Cruise fleet. We have known Josef for many years. He has held a variety of positions at Crystal Cruises for the Ocean Vessels including Executive Chef and Hotel Director. We last saw Josef on the 2015 World Cruise.
We were also joined by John Stoll who is Vice President of Crystal Cruises Land Programs for the Ocean Vessels, Esprit Yacht and the new Endeavor Expedition vessel planned for deployment in 2020. John is on-board for a vacation with his wife and his mother-in-law and they are celebrating a special wedding anniversary.
Josef is standing next to Anne Marie.
Dinner was terrific. Where do we begin. Well let's start with the appetizer. Anne Marie had the Caesar salad for her first course with Onion Soup as the second course. It was recommended that she have the salad first so she did.
Keith had a Herring Appetizer whose flavor was enhanced with the sauce that accompanied it. His second course was the Caesar salad.
We both asked for the salad with light dressing as we have learned to do at Prego on the Ocean Vessels.
On 10 day or greater cruises Fresh Lobster is brought on board for one evening and last evening is when it was featured on the menu. Keith had learned that the beef is from Austria. When he ordered he asked for the Lobster and asked if it would be possible to get a piece of the beef which was also on the menu. The Waiter said absolutely and he could make it a Surf and Turf and that worked out well for Keith. Anne Marie had the Lobster.
We had dessert which was Cheese for Keith and Ice Cream for Anne Marie.
We enjoyed non-stop conversation.
At the conclusion of dinner we learned after this was made public and the crew informed about the public not being able to book cruises on Mozart starting in 2020. It was a surprise since we have been enjoying the vessel and the itinerary and talked about taking the same itinerary on the ship in 2020 or 2021.
With that said there is a reason for most things to happen and in our case the good is that it will force us to select an itinerary on one of the four newer Crystal River Vessels.
Following dinner we toured around the vessel and we all went for a night-cap at the Palm Court. We even surprised Mark Farris showing up so late for a drink while he was entertaining. Yes, there is hope for us after all. LOL.
We got to sleep around midnight.
It was a fun evening.
Keith wasn't up as early as usual so when he got up he skipped the workout and had coffee, read and wrote and managed to speak with our son. We enjoyed breakfast in the room as we got ready to arrive to Budapest. This is our first time in Budapest and first time in Hungary. Most everything about this part of the trip is a first for us.
Because we have covered a lot in todays post we are going to stop for today. We will post all about Budapest tomorrow.
Anne Marie & Keith