I made these random notes in my trip journal as we waited in the airport waiting for our flight out of Prague. Thinking about them a year later, I don't think any major revision is necessary.
Our cruise ship the Viking Jarl, its crew, its staff, and our fellow passengers get a grade of A+. It was the experience of a lifetime--not cheap but worth every penny. Comfortable, no I take that back, it was luxurious and also impeccably organized from start to finish.
Of the places we visited Budapest seemed to achieve the best balance between sights, people, and food. The evening cruise on the river with all the lights of the city spread out on both sides of the river was simply double spectacular.
Vienna seemed the most orderly and spic and span. Great contrast between old and new.
Prague seemed more of a newcomer--a bit gritty and disorderly--but perhaps the liveliest of all.
For smaller old world charm Passau is at the top. Gelato at almost every corner is hard not to like. The noon organ concert in St. Stephens wins as best musical experience.
Most stunning setting goes to Melk Abbey. Whether seen from the river or from within it just plain sparkles. Color is unmatched.
Nuremberg didn't to get much of a chance to compete. We had only a half a day, it rained, and just seemed dreary. Better luck next time.
Best on-shore lunch was at the Wurstkuchl Bratwurstube by the old bridge in Regensburg. No peer for sausage and beer.
Terezin was our last stop, but probably would have been the most emotional even if it had been first.
Were there negatives and frustrations? Sure. Traveling builds them in so you can better see the contrasts. Most sights are jammed with tourists, but I must admit that the new so called whisper phones do make it easier to hear your guide and block out the other guides as well as the general din of crowds.
The selfie stick onslaught developed into a full blown pet peeve for me. "Look at me. I am seeing me seeing the sights. My picture is more important than the sight. I am large and in focus. The sight is small and blurry. I love ME more than what I am seeing."
Americans are still too loud and seem to complain more than most other nationalities or perhaps we just hear their complaints more because they make them so vociferously.
Europe is getting better, but remains behind in making things accessible. Expect lots of stairs. Many will be narrow, steep, or worn and uneven. Do not expect smooth walkways, elevators, ramps, or handicap toilets.