Invited to join WestWorld Tours 2016 Danube River Cruise President’s Tour along Europe’s second-longest river, I was excited to discover a continent I had yet to explore on my own. The best part was the cruise offered a unique and relaxing perspective of four European countries from the Danube river rather than traditional bus or air travel.

Beginning in Munich, Germany and ending in Budapest, Hungary, we explored and learned about several of Europe’s most beautiful castles and intriguing historical locations over a 600 kilometre distance. As a Canadian, this was a very different perspective than learning about our relatively short prairie history.  From Melk, Austria’s Benedictine Abbey and library of more than 100,000 books in 15 different languages in the scenic Wachau Valley to the world’s largest cathedral organ at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau, Germany with more than 17,900 pipes, there were countless times I was rendered speechless with genuine “wow” moments.

Top three highlights:

1. The Austrian Lakes District
The scenic Salzkammergut region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of several locations where The Sound of Music was filmed. Feeling like I was transported into a fairy-tale, I wandered cobblestone streets admiring brightly coloured buildings decorated with baskets of flowers on every windowsill. The views of white sailboats and monolithic mountains reflecting in the more than 75 lakes in the region makes it a location I plan to return.

2. The Cuisine
The food on board the AMASerena was nothing short of delectable. From ice cream parties to five course meals at the Chef’s Table, the combination of the local flavours of each country we travelled through was perfect. As a traveller with a sweet tooth, my favourite dessert was a rich chocolate truffle cake served with two others in a dessert variation.

3. The Service
I’m used to travelling on my own and planning and preparing every little detail but it can be exhausting. While traveling on the WestWorld Tours President’s Cruise, I didn’t have to worry about anything. From getting around to getting advice from Uwe, our Cruise Director, everything was taken care of for me with the added bonus of excellent service. It was a welcome holiday, from a holiday!

Ashlyn George
The Lost Girl's Guide to Finding the World