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A Viking River Cruise Along the Historic Danube

A Viking River Cruise Along the Historic Danube


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During the Middle Ages, travel by water was the easiest – and most luxurious – way for a monarch to visit his or her dominions, as most cities of any importance were situated near the river.

Today, Viking offers a river cruise called “Romantic Danube” which takes passengers one way from Budapest, Hungary to Erlangen, Germany — or, alternatively, from Erlangen to Budapest. The “Romance” of the title, by the way, refers to the “Romantic Movement” of the early 1800s. In this case, European authors, artists and others reacted against the perceived coldness of England’s Industrial Revolution with creations of emotion and warmth.

Hills and mountains rise along either side until port cities come into view, and every now and then an ancient castle can be seen on a projecting crag.

From March through the end of December, Viking cruise ships dock at selected ports and guests can go ashore for a day of touring these historic European cities. Ironically, cold December is one of the most popular travel months, as passengers come specifically to visit the famous Christmas markets.

Viking Longships

Viking’s Longships offer all the luxury and amenities that passengers expect. Each ship has 95 exterior staterooms offering views of the passing countryside. Each room has twin beds, plenty of space to store clothing, and even 40-inch flat-panel Sony TVs with access to on-demand movies.

Passengers can gather in the spacious lounge to enjoy a drink as they enjoy the spectacular scenery surrounding them or get to know each other. At evening’s end, the ship’s program director delivers a briefing for the next day’s excursions.

Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style in the dining room, although daily specials can be chosen from the menu. Dinner is casual, with open seating. The executive chefs are Swiss-trained and prepare and serve delectable meals. Anyone who wishes lighter fare can enjoy these in the Acquavit Terrace, adjacent to the lounge.

The attentive room stewards, dining staff and ship’s officers combine to deliver first-class service.

Budapest, Hungary

The Danube River separates the two once independent cities of Buda and Pest which together make up the capital of Hungary. The cruise ship is berthed near the Chain Bridge, constructed in 1849 and the first permanent structure to enable pedestrians and vehicles to cross the Danube from one city to the other. Like so many of the ancient structures in Budapest, it was damaged during World War II and subsequently rebuilt.

Guests “check in” to the Alta, and spend the night aboard ship. The next day, they can go on various optional guided tours of the city.

Buda Castle, located at the top of “Castle Hill” with scenic views of the Danube, is a particularly popular tourist spot. Below it is Fisherman’s Bastion, a long terrace designed in Gothic style. Close by is the ancient Matthias Church.

Vienna, Austria

Passengers who choose to sleep rather than watch the changing scenery of the Danube at night wake up to find themselves in Vienna, the capital of Austria.

Here they are encouraged to visit Vienna’s Old Town, site of half a dozen ancient churches including St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This was consecrated in 1147 and draws both worshippers and tourists to this day.

The cathedral is surrounded by large open plazas and streets filled with pedestrians, many of whom stop in at the shops, sidewalk cafes and historic buildings. A must-see, or rather must-eat, location is Demel, a pastry shop founded in 1888 which serves strudel and cream cakes made with one hundred-year-old recipes.

Schönbrunn Palace is on practically every guided tour offered. It is most famous as the residence of Maria Theresa, the last ruler of the Habsburg monarchy, who reigned over Austria, Hungary, and several other countries during her lifetime.

And of course in December, practically everyone flocks to Vienna’s Christmas Market, held at the Town Hall. There are dozens of red-roofed stalls serving food and offering handcrafted Christmas presents and decorations for sale.

Melk, Austria

The ship cruises through the scenic Wachau Valley and then docks in Austria at the city of Melk. This town is famous for its Benedictine Abbey, which owns an extensive library of medieval manuscripts.

Melk is also known for its wineries, and guided tours of some of these establishments are available.

Passau, Germany

From Austria, the ship enters Germany and docks at Passau, also best known for its cathedral named after St. Stephen, the first martyr of the Christian faith.

The cathedral is renowned for its pipe organ, which is the largest in the world with nearly 18,000 pipes. Concerts are given at specific times on most days throughout the year.

Regensburg, Germany

Regensburg has an Old Town that is one of the best preserved in all of Europe. Most of its medieval buildings are still standing.

St. Peter’s Cathedral (also called simply the Regensburg Cathedral), is a popular destination for tourists as well as worshipers from around the world.

Passengers from the Atla can go on either general city excursions, or themed tours that focus on a specific aspect of the city’s history. In December, exploration of the quaint Christmas Market is recommended. The locals serve half-meter long bratwursts and locally made beer.

Erlangen, Germany

Erlangen is the last stop on this romantic route but not the end of your visit to Germany. Tour buses will take you to the historic city of Nuremberg, a half-hour away. This city of over 500,000 inhabitants is an important industrial center with a burgeoning economy, and in December is home to one of Germany’s largest Christmas markets.

Passengers can enjoy the luxury and ambiance of these floating luxury hotels while cruising in grand style. A Viking River longboat is one of the best ways to experience the Danube just as emperors and kings did so long ago.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


Gluten-Free Viking River Cruise on the Danube River

Everybody needs a Dragan! Someone who presents you with a menu at breakfast so you can choose your gluten-free lunch and dinner options. And, then when you sit down at those meals your chosen foods just magically appear. Bliss!

Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral

Gluten-Free Food on a Viking River Cruise
I had that wonderful experience on a Viking River Cruise down the Danube River in Europe last month. Dragan is the Maitre d’ on the Viking Legend ship and he was superb. He had a thorough knowledge of special diets so I was in good hands. In cooperation with the Executive Chef Marios and the Pastry Chef, Dragan made it possible for me to eat usually-forbidden foods such as Fish & Chips, Monte Cristo and Cuban Sandwiches, and Wiener Schnitzel and Desserts such as Apple Strudel, Tiramisu, and Chocolate Cake. I had bread at every meal and discovered the new Dr. Schar’s Artisan Baker Multi-grain, which was one of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever eaten.

Breakfast
Breakfast was served buffet-style, with many choices—eggs, bacon, potatoes, fruit, yogurt, etc. Waiters brought me gluten-free bread at every meal. At lunch, we started with a buffet-style salad bar and then ordered our main dishes from the waiters. There were plenty of choices and I was amazed at how efficient everything is.

For example, waiters carry iPhones and enter your order by noting your menu choice, your table, and your seat at the table and transmitting that back to the kitchen using the ship’s Wi-Fi. For my special diet, my cabin number was how they tracked me.

Dinner
Dinner offered a variety of options: beef, pork, fish, seafood, and chicken—plus vegetarian options. I had the feeling that Viking really tries to meet the special diet needs of its passengers. One night I had Pork Medallions, another night it was Chateaubriand, Shrimp, and Salmon—were just a few examples. The food is attractively plated, though I noticed an absence of the usual garnishes we commonly see in the U.S. Portions at all meals are reasonable, which I really appreciated (rather than the huge plates we see in the U.S.)

Austrian Dinner
One special night in Austria, Executive Chef Marios treated us to an Austrian meal. My special gluten-free plate included Wiener Schnitzel, something I only get to eat if I prepare it myself OR my lovely daughter-in-law does it for me. In fact, I learned how to make it from her! The male waiters were dressed in lederhosen (leather britches) and the female waiters in dirndl dresses. Accordion players serenaded us while we dined. It was really fun and the staff seemed so eager to have us experience their traditional food.

As part of this special night, we toured the kitchen which was a model of efficiency. All of our food was prepared in this small space although Chef Marios told me that he shops for fresh produce when we are docked at a city.

Gluten-Free Apple Strudel
And, now for the Apple Strudel story.

Earlier in the day of the Austrian dinner, we watched a demonstration of how to make Apple Strudel. Of course, it used phyllo dough and I couldn’t taste it. But I casually asked Dragan if there was gluten-free strudel (knowing this was unlikely). He replied, “I’ll see what I can do.” After we were back in our cabin following dinner (about 9 PM) there was a very assertive knock on the door. (Did I mention that Dragan is a very big guy—at least 6’ 4”and very muscular? So, I knew it wasn’t our 100-pound Asian steward). I opened the door to find Dragan holding a plate of gluten-free Apple Strudel. And, he apologized for not having it ready at dinner! I was overwhelmed by his caring attitude. Of course, I devoured it on the spot. In case you’re wondering, the Pastry Chef used a pastry crust rather than phyllo dough but it was absolutely delicious and I was so grateful.

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises are best known for their white longships that slowly cruise down rivers (although they are introducing ocean cruises), frequently advertised on Downtown Abbey or other PBS-TV shows. It is one way to see Europe—if you like to unpack your suitcase and stay in the same room for the duration of your trip, have your itinerary pre-arranged for you, and visit churches, castles, and Old Town areas. This is decidedly not how my husband and I usually travel in Europe, where we rent a car, arrange our own itinerary, and often stay in a different hotel each night.

Our preferred style is not for the faint-hearted, but we are comfortable with it—even though taking a car into European cities is sometimes difficult if not downright impossible, especially in the Old Town areas. This time, however, we wanted to visit some Eastern Europe countries and felt that the most comfortable way (language, driving, etc.) was by river cruise and it worked out beautifully.

Where We Went
We began our journey with a 3 day visit to Prague, a city that’s been on my “bucket list” for years. Then Viking transported us by bus to the ship in Passau, Germany where our cruise began and continued on down the Danube River through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Along the way, we could see castles high on the hills overlooking the Danube. We passed through many locks, which are fascinating in themselves.

Prague
Prague is in the Czech Republic—half of the former Czechoslovakia, which split in 1993 to become two nations: Czech Republic and Slovakia. Prague is small, but charming. We stayed at a large, very comfortable Hilton Hotel with a huge breakfast buffet (gluten-free bread, too) and each dish was labeled with allergens. I was really impressed, plus they had soy milk for lattes and gluten-free pasta. Waiters speak English, so communication was easy. We toured the Old Town section of Prague by bus, foot, and then by pedi-cab, which was really fun.

We even found a Starbucks in the Old Town where I enjoyed a soy latte. At lunch, my husband had a “pig knuckle” which looks like a small ham, with bone. Huge!! I had duck legs, accompanied by gluten-free Focaccia bread instead of the usual dumplings or red cabbage. The dumplings obviously contained wheat but I never did find out why the red cabbage was off-limits. The servings were huge!

Salzburg, Austria
Known as the birthplace of Mozart and where “Sound of Music” was filmed, this is a lovely city by any standards. But it also has a health food store (known as Reformhaus) just a few steps from Mozart’s birthplace in the Old Town area. So, I stocked up on Dr. Schar breads (couldn’t find the new Artisan Baker Multigrain)and sweets to tide me over. We had lunch at Café Tomaselli, a touristy place but with a great location so we could do some serious “people-watching” on the square. The café’s gluten-free options were limited, so I had ham and eggs for lunch.

Farmers Market in Salzburg

Nearby was a Farmer’s Market with lovely displays of fruits, vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, etc. A real feast for the eyes!

Vienna, Austria
One of my favorite cities, we walked to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and around the Old Town area. Known for its music, we attended a Mozart concert in a converted stock exchange building. The nice thing about this cruise was that a bus delivered us right to the door of the building and we left our coats on the bus. Convenient!

A city tour by bus gave us an overview of Vienna, but it will leave you yearning to return and explore in more detail. I’ve been to Vienna before and enjoyed the Opera House and all of the historic places this beautiful city has to offer. If you go, allow plenty of time for this lovely city.

Budapest, Hungary
I wasn’t prepared for Budapest’s beauty. It is actually two cities, divided by the Danube. Buda on one side, and Pest (pronounced Pesht) on the other. When you sail into port at night, you are greeted by the city dressed in stunning lights. One of the pretties sights on the whole trip.

As with Vienna, leave plenty of time to explore this sophisticated city. We got a good overview of both cities by bus (with excellent tour guides) but a city this beautiful deserves more time than we could give it.

Getting Ready to Travel, Gluten-Free
Preparation is key to successful travel. I gathered my Dining Cards in Czech, German, and Hungarian (although I never had to use them, since English is quite common). I did a web search for health food stores and restaurants in case I had time to visit them. I also packed lightweight clothing so I could layer it for the colder locations along with a lightweight raincoat. Temperatures were in the 40’s at night, and 50’s during the day. We had sunny skies and no rain, so I didn’t need that umbrella I also packed.

Lufthansa Airlines Gluten-Free Meals
I preordered a gluten-free meal for the trans-Atlantic (Denver-Frankfurt) portion of the trip and this worked nicely, both going and returning home. The meal was plain (grilled salmon or chicken), yet filling and got me through the flight (although I quickly tired of the rice cakes!!). One unexpected benefit was that I received my meals before the other passengers.


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