All good things must come to an end. And, so it is with our first Avalon Waterways river cruise. Today is our last day aboard Avalon Vista and we are docked in Vienna, Austria, where we will disembark in the morning.
While most Vista guests opted for the included morning tour of Vienna, we again chose to sleep in, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, and wait for the afternoon tour of Vienna Christmas Markets. At noon, we found ourselves at our favorite table for two for today's buffet lunch. Our favorite item, you ask? The roasted chicken at the carving station!
At 1:30pm, we step outside to a cold and windy Vienna. It is about 31 degrees (F) here, but the sun is shining and it is dry, so it is not all bad news. There were about 50 people who signed up for this optional Christmas Markets tour. After a 15-minute coach ride into Vienna, we were divided into groups of ten and introduced to Barbara, our local tour guide for the day.
Barbara explained that we would be visiting three food-oriented Christmas Markets and would have the opportunity to taste some traditional Austrian delicacies. Our first Christmas Market was just a few blocks from where the bus dropped us off. Here, we had the opportunity to try "fruit bread," which was basically what we would call fruitcake.
Our next Christmas Market was also very small, perhaps 30 vendors selling organic products. Here we sampled some Austrian cheeses, sausages and Gühlwein. At the third market, we sampled some honey and cinnamon-coated peanuts which were warm and delicious. The whole tour took about three hours and we were given free time to explore each of the markets on our own. We thought we would have time to visit the huge main Vienna Christmas Market, but it was so cold that we decided to take the 4pm bus back to the ship and return on our own tomorrow after we disembark Vista. The ship did offer a second bus departing at 5pm for those who wanted to stay in the city a little longer.
We were back on board Vista in time to start packing and get dressed for our final Happy Hour cocktail and the Captain's Farewell Reception. As with the Captain's Welcome Reception, waiters/esses circulated through the lounge with complimentary glasses of sparkling wine, and hot and cold hors d' oeuvres.
The Captain wished us a safe journey home and Tony, our Cruise Director, said his goodbyes and cracked a few good jokes as a bonus!
Tomorrow, we disembark Avalon Vista in Vienna. Watch CruiseReport.com for an in-depth review and analysis of Avalon Waterways and Avalon Vista coming soon.