I have found the Club Lounge (located aft on Deck 3) to be the best spot for my morning coffee and blogging routine. It is comfortable, relatively quiet at 6am, and has everything I need: an automated coffee machine, juices, pastries (even though I don't partake), and comfortable seating.
Avalon also provides guests with complimentary WiFi, which has performed admirably for a river cruise ship. River cruise ships are notorious for dropping WiFi satellite connections as they enter locks, go under bridges or sail through narrow river passages with high hills on each side. For those times when the ship's WiFi is unavailable, I use my SkyRoam Solis portable WiFi hotspot (the orange thingy in the above photo) which uses a 4G/3G cell phone connection. However, there are even times when it struggles to find a cell tower along the river. Between it and the ship's WiFi, I can usually get online.
This morning, Avalon Vista is docked in Passau, Germany, primarily to drop off guests who are going to Salzburg for an excursion. Instead of going to Salzburg (we were just there a couple of years ago), we decided today would be a good day to stay on board Avalon Vista as she sails to Linz, Austria, where the guests who went to Salzburg will rejoin the ship. Who doesn't love a day of relaxing sailing down (or up) the river?
Before lunchtime, we decided to check out the ship's Fitness Center, located on Deck 1. A couple of treadmills, a couple of stationary bikes and some free weights are enough to keep most folks in shape while on '“vacay”. Complimentary bottled water and towels are nearby if needed.
Only about 30 guests chose to remain on board instead of going to Salzburg, so the Restaurant was very quiet at lunch today. The staff had sectioned off a portion of the dining room, close to the buffet line, for lunchtime seating. In spite of a relatively small group of guests, the chef has prepared a very nice selection for lunch today. My favorite was the pasta carbonara.
Much of the afternoon was spent in our stateroom, in front of the huge wall of glass, just gazing out at the scenery going by as we sailed toward Linz. The cloudy, cold weather made for a perfect nap setting, so I may have dozed off for a minute or two (or perhaps an hour!)
We did find the strength to make it to the lounge at 4pm for tea time and a cup of hot Glühwein (being served each day at tea time on this sailing).
Glühwein (glu-wine), or mulled wine is a beverage usually made with red wine along with various mulling spices and sometimes raisins, oranges or apples. It is served hot or warm and is alcoholic, although there are non-alcoholic versions of mulled wine. It is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas.
By 5:00pm, Avalon Vista was pulling into the dock at Linz, Austria. From our vantage point on the river, Linz appears to be a large, bustling city with office buildings and lots of traffic. Guests visiting Salzburg are scheduled to re-board at 5:45pm and the ship is not going to depart for Melk until after 11pm, so we decided to take a stroll into town and check out the Christmas Market. We stop by the Reception desk to obtain our "boarding passes" before disembarking.
Avalon uses the boarding passes as a way to track which guests are on board and which are on shore. We keep the boarding passes with us until we return to the ship, then turn them back in to Reception.
It is really cold, dark and windy tonight when we disembark in Linz, the coldest it has been so far this journey. Fortunately, it is dry.
Tony, our Cruise Director, gave us directions to the Chrsitmas Markets. Plus, there are city maps available at the Reception desk. We take a map with us, just in case we get lost.
As it turns out, finding the Christmas Market in Linz is pretty simple. There is a lot of traffic at this time of night, and getting there requires crossing a couple of busy intersections, but there are good traffic lights and drivers seem to be very cautious of pedestrians.
The Christmas Market is about a seven-minute walk from where our ship is docked. You can't miss it because of the beautiful lights. It is smaller than some of the other Christmas markets, but interesting nonetheless, and it is the most crowded market we have visited so far on this trip.
There are mostly food vendors here selling sausages, crepes, pizza, and of course, Glühwein. However, there are a few clothing vendors and artisans selling beautiful hand-blown, hand-painted glass Christmas ornaments.
It only takes about 30 minutes to see the entire market here. We found a nice souvenir ornament for our Christmas tree. We also decided to take a stroll down the main street in Linz, toward the large church. But, it was so cold that we soon turned back toward the ship. We are back on board in time for Tony's daily briefing.
Avalon Vista will be in Melk, Austria, tomorrow morning and Vienna tomorrow afternoon.