The brochure became irresistible: we would be exploring parts of Europe on board a comfortable cruise vessel, with Stanford faculty members to illuminate the sights for us. What's not to like about THAT?

In September 2000 we embarked in Budapest on a long (350 feet) and narrow riverboat named AMADEUS. The ship would carry us upstream on the Danube, into the recently-completed Danube-Mainz canal, and then into the Mainz and into the Rhine, disembarking in Basel, Switzerland.

Our trip was punctuated by five different countries, 14 stops to explore, lots of checkered history to learn, and congenial companions with whom to share meals and experiences. This second taste of the Stanford Alumni Travel/Study program sealed our appetite for this kind of travel.

We transited a number of locks along the way, and had lots of barge-type river traffic to watch as we cruised. The AMADEUS has unusual fascinating features: her special-purpose ballast tanks, hydraulically-activated upper-deck railings, and elevator-like pilothouse were designed so that the crew could reduce the vessel's draft when crossing sandbars and lower its profile when passing under bridges.

A most pleasant surprise was to find cousin Glen Henry Mitchel, and his wife, Martha, among our Stanford group. Glen is not an avid traveler, but Martha had talked him into this cruise on the basis of a later extension to the WWI battlefields, a particular interest of his. We had lots of time to catch up, and to exchange family memories and information.

The river takes one to places not usually visited by tourists who ply the autobahns, and so names such as Durnstein, Passau, Nuremberg and Bamberg filled in the slots on our itinerary between the must-see targets such as Vienna, Frankfurt and Strasbourg. Bob Hamrdla and Karen Kramer lectured on the political and cultural history of the areas we explored as we cruised between these various ports of call.

Some of the highlights:

> The Great Synagogue of Budapest, the largest in Europe, with a very moving Holocaust memorial resembling a huge metal weeping willow. Each little leaf is a shiny name tag identifying a victim;

> The exercising of the Lippizan stallions at Vienna’s legendary Spanish Riding School;

> The medieval knight’s castle at Kelheim;

> The Hitlerian parade ground in Nurenberg, and that city’s trademark tasty sausages;

> Wine tasting in the extraordinary wine cellar of the Residenz of the prince in Wurzburg;

> Canal tour of old Strasbourg;

> Visits to the top of the Jungfrau and the Eiger, from our base in the delightful Swiss town of Interlaken.


Now it's cold - up on the Eiger!

Lock Transit

The Amadeus takes up the whole lock on the Danube-Mainz canal.

Group Shot

Martha and Glen Henry on the right. The rooftops of Nuremberg in the background.


Riverfront buildings in Nuremberg.

Basel Heights

That's Basel in the background.

Glen and Martha

Glen and Martha, tired from visiting Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, and now Switzerland.

The Wachau Singers

While stopped in Melk, Austria, we were serenaded aboard by the Men's Chorale of the Wachau Valley.

Lake Country

It's getting cooler in late September by the Swiss lakes.