Sunday, October 10 - Final comments and reflection during the flight home.

It was indeed an easy hop to the airport, with very smooth car rental return. We were in plenty of time for our flight and were able to relax while we waited.
It seems to be a very full flight, but we have a nice pair of seats so hope for a comfortable trip.
This has been a very good vacation. Trying to think of individual highlights is difficult.
Of course a very great aspect was spending two weeks with the Intrepids. Our trips are always well-planned and smoothly run. And it's a great bunch of folks to socialize with.
Larry was a great chauffeur through Germany, and thanks to his "location charisma" we never were lost for very long, even when our GPS, Helen, let us down. I kept track of our progress on some very difficult maps, being very thankful that I wasn't solely responsible for navigation.
So many of the places were beautiful that it's hard to pick out any one, but I particularly liked Bratislava,Slovakia and Schloss Heidelberg. Neuschwanstein Castle was crazy over-the-top opulent. Vienna was wonderful and Cesky krumlov, Czech Republic was amazing. Vukovar was sad - Even after 19 years it's still a place of pain as a result of the Balkan Wars.
We ate some great food. I love schnitzel, and ate my fill of it. We enjoyed "apfelstrudel", and the most amazing hot chocolate. The "wet" muesli available everywhere at breakfast was really good and there was always nice, moist very dark rye bread. Talk about pigging out! Wow!
On board the Viking Primadonna we were so well-cared-for by all the staff. It was fun each night to see how Slavka arranged out sleep wear. [Larry: yes even my tea shirt can be made into a nice design].
Marek, the Cruise Director, kept the excursions and activities interesting and evening briefings for the following day were most helpful and entertaining as well.
We all felt sorry for the Captain, crew and staff when first one, and then the other ship engine failed. They all worked very hard keeping us entertained and comfortable for the few days it took to bring in engineers and parts from Spain to do the necessary repairs. We understand that the Captain worried off about 10 pounds over the whole situation. The Viking planning staff at headquarters did a fine job of replanning so the tour continued regardless and eventually the schedule was caught up.
Driving around Germany ( with our little loop into Austria and Switzerland ) in our super-comfortable VW Passad (+ Helen) was very interesting. There was everything from tiny cow-tracks to the super autobahns [Oh! the scary thrill of the speed-limitless autobahns], and from steep cobble village streets to wide-open countryside.
It's clear that Germany is prospering these days and we did hear some grumbling about the EU and how much better-off Germany would be without it.
In Eastern Europe we heard a lot about the Ottoman Empire, and how long and hard they'd struggled to get out from under it. For now, they seem to be OK, but we've, of course, been concerned about the huge toxic spill in Hungary that is threatening that country and the Danube River too.
And now we're tired and happy to be going home where we'll see family and friends and won't have to struggle with the language. [ However most everywhere we went we could deal in English + a little sign language ]

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