I'm back from Europe, having completed another active river cruise. This time, I was biking and sailing with Trek Travel and Scenic. The trip on Scenic Amber, sailing from Nuremberg, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, provided a little bit of everything. I had a luxury, all-inclusive experience on a gorgeous high-end river vessel that sails my favorite European waterway. I also came back with tired legs and a sore rump after miles of cycling with avid bikers who do this type of thing far more often than I do.
Those miles and tough hill climbs were rewarding for the sense of accomplishment we all enjoyed and also because we knew we would soon be back onboard a luxury cruise ship able to kick back and relax in all-inclusive comfort.
Trek Travel provides excellent support and the best road bikes you can imagine on the route. Each day, we got off the ship in a new location to find our bikes waiting for us to hop on and head out for our daily cycling. (Trek Travel also can provide e-assist bikes for its river cruises.)
Before every ride, our guides Wiebe and Andy fixed us up with our GPS-navigated routes so we could pedal at our own pace (paper routes also are provided as backup) without getting lost. Sure, we got off course a few times as we speeded through the countryside, but were able to quickly get re-oriented.
Snacks and drinks are also available to keep us properly fueled up. And when the day's riding is done, we head back to the ship for dinner, drinks and leisure time (that often meant a dip in the pool for many in our group).
Here is a recap of my Trek Travel and Scenic biking river cruise on the Danube, by the numbers:
Biking Buddies -- 18. Aside from the awesome guides from Trek Travel, I met 16 other fellow cyclists on our adventure. It's always a pleasure to meet actively inclined people who enjoy traveling the world to see these interesting destinations from a different perspective. We had a lot of laughs while getting to know each other over the many miles, a few beers and some fine meals.
Riding Days -- 7. You have the opportunity to ride each day of the weeklong cruise. Some of my fellow riders chose to take a day off during the week to enjoy Scenic's cruise program instead of the Trek Travel biking portion. Half our group explored Vienna, for example, instead of biking. The idea is to have your vacation, your way. And combining a biking tour with the cruise gives you great options and flexibility.
Daily Mileage -- 20 to 60. The longest ride planned is 100 kilometers, a beastly challenge, to be sure. But most of the days have you riding about 30 miles over a mix of flat roads with a few hilly challenges.
Total Miles Biked -- 175. By the end of the week, those who chose the longest route options each day accumulated at least 175 miles on the roads and paths along the Danube. Not too bad. Many of us fell into the 150 miles or fewer range, however.
Diet Cokes and Cookies -- 24 of each? I lost count of my intake. My cabin steward and butler quickly noticed my preference for Diet Coke and kept my mini-fridge well stocked. (The minibar is included in your fare, so feel free to indulge on beers, sodas, waters or even liquors.) My offhand comment that I liked the ship's Manner Original Neapolitan Wafer cookies also meant that I had an endless supply in my suite.
Cans of Pringles -- 8. Yep, I always had this snack treat, too - mini-cans magically appeared in my room replenished each day.
Butlers -- 2. Marcin and Aron dropped by to make sure I had everything I needed. Each cruiser on Scenic enjoys butler service, which means you can have laundry done (up to 1 kilo free), morning tea or coffee service delivered to your room, luggage unpacking and repacking and many other sweet conveniences. Unaccustomed to such extravagances, I simply had a small load of laundry done (those socks and T-shorts can get pungent after a day of biking). Aron also surprised me with a plate full of fresh oranges when he noted that I had asked for an orange one morning at breakfast. How about that type of attention to small details? These types of touches were bringing smiles to cruisers all week while I was onboard.
European Towns -- 12-plus. From our start in Nuremberg, we ventured to small villages in the Bavarian countryside, such as Roth, Kelheim, Schwabach, Regenburg and Passau, as well as Austrian delights like Melk, Spitz, Weissenkirchen and Durnstein. Of course, the big cities of Vienna and Budapest are highlights.
Beers and Other Bevvies -- Undetermined number. Bikers enjoyed trying new drinks like Radler (lemonade beer, like a shandy), Aperol Spritzes and Apferschorle (apple juice and carbonated mineral water). My favorite refreshment when biking remains a nice cold German or Austrian lager, although I did find a dunkel or two (dark beer) that I enjoyed at certain meals.