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AMA Gems of SE Europe

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We did Bucharest and Brasov privately and I would highly recommend doing it - either with the ship or private.

By description the Viking tour is very similar to what we did privately.

Budapest is a great city - again extend your trip there with the ship or on your own.

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Overall I've found cruise line pre and post extensions to be way overpriced.  I use a TA at a full service agency, and she's able to put together pkgs. for me at a fraction of what the cruise line charges.



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Thanks for both replies. Why travel so far without seeing more of Romania? We’ve been to Budapest twice but there’s always more to see. Just exploring options for now, and I take your point, Roz.

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We leave for AMA’s Gems of SE Europe in just over 2 weeks, Giurgiu to Budapest, and have booked the 4 days pre and 2 days post cruise adventures through AMA.  We haven’t received our documents from our TA yet, so we don’t know what to expect.  I will try to let you know our experience in a few weeks!

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1 hour ago, tabber said:

We leave for AMA’s Gems of SE Europe in just over 2 weeks, Giurgiu to Budapest, and have booked the 4 days pre and 2 days post cruise adventures through AMA.  We haven’t received our documents from our TA yet, so we don’t know what to expect.  I will try to let you know our experience in a few weeks!



Fantastic! I look forward to hearing all about it! Bon voyage!!

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  • 1 month later...

We are back from an amazing AmaWaterways Gems of SE Europe trip with the added bonus of 2 days pre-cruise in Bucharest, 2 days pre-cruise in Transylvania, and 2 days post-cruise in Budapest. 


2 nights in Bucharest at the Radisson Blu:  There was a welcome briefing with wine the evening we arrived.  (Our incoming flight was slightly delayed, which put us into some major traffic as we transferred to the hotel, so the briefing actually took place 13 minutes after we arrived to the hotel!  I was grateful for that glass of wine, for sure!)  Next day was a city bus tour and a visit to the People's Parliament in the morning, and a guided walking tour in the afternoon.  We were on our own for lunch and dinner, so there was plenty of free time to enjoy the city.


Transylvania:  Wow, Ama packed a lot in this 2 night itinerary!  On our second morning in Bucharest we all boarded the bus at 8:00 AM.  After a 3 hour bus ride we arrived to Bran Castle, where we had free time for lunch prior to the tour.  After lunch we climbed up to the castle to begin our tour.  It was lovely on the outside and inside.  Then back on the bus and we arrived to the Kronwell Hotel in Brasov around 6:00 pm.    The next morning was a 2 hour bus ride to Sighisoara, a beautiful well-preserved medieval town.  We had a walking tour, then had free time to explore, climb the clock tower, eat lunch, shop, and people watch.  Then 2 scenic hours on the bus back to Brasov--I saw two wolves in the forest near the top of a pass, which thrilled me to no end.  In Brasov we were dropped off for a guided walking tour of the old town.  There were so many pedestrian streets and outdoor restaurants lining the walkways, it was a bustling and energetic old town!  The next morning we boarded the bus at 8:00 AM and headed south toward the AmaCerto.  Along the way we stopped in Sinaia to tour the majestic Peles Castle, followed by free time in the vibrant old town area for lunch.  Then back on the bus and onward through Bucharest, to greet the AmaCerto.


2 nights post-cruise in Budapest:  We disembarked the AmaCerto after 7 wonderful days and nights sailing the lower Danube.  Those of us who booked the post-cruise in Budapest and the happy people who were continuing on the AmaCerto to Nuremburg went on the day's excursion together.  We got on a bus and headed to a ranch run by the Lazar brothers.  This was an incredible and totally unexpected experience for this city girl!  (In fact, I post daily photos to friends and family on an email blog I send out while on vacation, and one of my good friends who has a horse farm of her own emailed me the next day.  She was excited to see where we had been, and said that particular ranch is hallowed ground for anyone who knows anything about dressage.)  We had a welcome drink and snack, then viewed native Hungarian animals:  Puli dogs, Hungarian Giant rabbits, pigs, twisty-horned goats, grey cows and Nonius horses.  We rode a horse drawn carriage around the grounds, walked through one of the stables that had Lippizanner and native Magyar sportlo horses in it, then were directed to a building to watch two short videos to get a better appreciation of the Lazar brothers and their horsemanship legacy.  Wow!  Next we sat at the arena and were treated to a show complete with Hungarian cowboys, horses and enormous grey cows.  A lovely lady wearing a long red gown rode her horse in a dressage demonstration.  Finally, we entered a large building to have a traditional lunch of the best goulash I have ever had, followed by a giant platter of chicken, pork, duck and all the sides.  I forget what the dessert was, but all the food was super tasty.  We waddled back to our bus for the short drive to our hotel, where we parted ways with the people continuing with their second week on board the AmaCerto.    


Our hotel was the Sofitel Budapest Chain Bridge, which is in an excellent location.  We took an orientation walk with Laszlo, our local host, and had the evening free.  The next day we took the Queen of the Danube tour, a combination walking and bus tour of Buda and Pest.  We visited the Matthias Church up at the Fisherman's Bastion and ended at the Central Market Hall.  The remainder of the day was ours for exploring.


This was our first time in SE Europe, and we are very glad we booked the pre- and post-cruise excursions through AmaWaterways.  Both Bucharest and Budapest are very manageable on your own, but the trip into Transylvania and all we saw there, plus the visit to the Lazar Brothers' ranch in Hungary were definite highlights that we would probably have missed if not for this trip and its extensions.  We had a great time and AmaWaterways took care of all the logistics and details!



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Thanks very much, tabber. We’ve been to Budapest twice with Uniworld and visited the same horse farm in 2010. We were just given a strong alcoholic drink and appetizers, not a delicious lunch! We’d definitely want to do the Bucharest/Transylvania visit.

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