With only 24 hours notice, Program Director Michael found accommodations for all of us. We would be leaving the Viking Embla, staying ashore for two nights, and transferring directly to her twin sister, the Aegir.
Embla’s entire staff–cooks, servers, bartenders, housekeepers, engineers, managers–turned out to move the luggage of 180 people off the ship, down the gangplank, into the buses. Then they scrubbed the staterooms, prepared the welcoming meal and put on clean clothes and smiles to welcome 180 new passengers that same afternoon.
Meanwhile, we’d all sort our luggage out, except for the pieces that got lost, when we checked into Vienna’s Grand Hotel.
Our room was sumptuous, right down to the duvet and the bidet. It seemed ungrateful but we had one miniscule complaint: it was a room for smokers. Nothing else was available. Within half an hour of moving into it my throat was raw, my eyes red and my nose running.
After the bus-and-walking tour around Vienna the next morning Jerry and I spent our free time searching for an apotheke. (Try asking for an antihistamine in a country where you not only don’t speak the language but can’t even remember what the language is.)
I filled our hotel wastebasket with menthol-scented tissues and breathing was a chore. Before long my allergy would become a cold which Jerry would catch. Our colds would become bronchitis and by Bucharest, our last stop before flying home, Jerry had pneumonia.