I recently enjoyed a storybook kingdom vacation with Adventures by Disney, where the itinerary included Central Europe (Czech Republic, Austria and Germany). While Adventures by Disney has many guided tours, this particular itinerary is designed for both adults and children 10 years of age and older. This tour was filled with site visits to cathedrals, palaces, castles, medieval villages, ice caves, UNESCO World Heritage sites, galleries, elegant renaissance-era buildings, charming cafes and restaurants. So much history in this region. Hotel stays included 5-star luxury accommodations at the Prague Marriott Hotel, Hotel Edelweiss Berchtesgaden, and the Ritz Carlton. All hotels are centrally located, which allows for great walking tours.
With VIP access and several hosted private events this vacation was truly like none other. Fantastic food from different cultures, snacks, luggage service, two Adventure By Disney guides, as well as local guides were all included.
Our meet and greet was at the beautiful Prague Marriot Hotel where we met both our Disney Adventure Guides Betty and Christine, along with all the other adventurers from around the world. This hotel was to be home for the next two days. Our first adventure included a short walk to dinner at the Sarah Bernhardt Restaurant, one of the top ten restaurants in Prague. Excellent food with elegant décor.
Our private guided walking tour in Prague included visiting sites such as St. Vitus Cathedral, Golden Lane Wallenstein Garden, Charles Bridge and the medieval Astronomical Clock (this clock was installed in 1410 and it is still ticking!) We strolled along well-worn cobblestone streets as we explored 1000 years’ worth of Baroque, Rococo and Art Nouveau influences. We enjoyed a boat cruise on the Vitava River that allowed us to see Prague from a different perspective. Our day ended with dinner at Folklore Garden, where we were entertained with traditional singing and dancing, and each of us was encouraged to try out folklore dancing.
Upon departing Prague, we loaded onto a tour bus that would take us to Berchtesgaden. The ride was breath-taking, as we observed various landscapes of mountains, forests and farmlands. Our first stop was the festive medieval village of Czesky Krumlov (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) in the region of Bohemia. A local guide was available to embellish us with the history of the 13th century Kromlov Castle. Here, we would discover elegant renaissance-era buildings, cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops that seemed to remain untouched over the years.
At the end of the evening we finally arrived at Hotel Edelweiss Berchtesgaden, where we enjoyed a delightful dinner. This hotel is in a postcard perfect setting, nestled in the Bavarian Alps. This would be home for the next four nights.
Our first guided tour of today tour would take us on a hiking tour to Eishole Ice Cave, the largest of its kind in all Europe. For me, this would prove to be the “Ah-ha” moment of the tour. Our tour bus started our journey with a ride as far as it could go into the mountains. Then, with walking and a cable car ride, we eventually made it to the entrance of the cave. We were met with extremely cold temperatures! Once inside the cave, you forget about the cold temperatures as you are immersed with the beauty of the ice formations throughout the cave. We concluded this adventure with a hearty warm lunch at the Odel House Restaurant overlooking the mountains surrounding the ice cave. The meal was delicious!
Once back down the mountain, our next adventure was a privately guided tour of the 11th century Hohenwefen Castle. Here, we would experience a breath taking view of the valley below, and also visit the Falconry Centre. Here, we observed a demonstration of the falcon’s ability as a bird of prey. Then it was back to Berchtesgaden to our hotel. The conversation on the bus ride back to our hotel was filled with laughter and cheer. Today had proven to be life changing for some, as they would conquer the fear of heights!
Today, we would embark upon a privately guided tour of locations from the film The Sound of Music in Salzburg. For those who may have not been familiar with the movie, our adventure guides actually showed the film in route where there was plenty of sing-along activity during the ride. We enjoyed today’s adventure with another local private tour guide, Baroness Peter, who enlightened us with the real story of the Von Trapp family. We also toured the Maribell Gardens, lunched at the Hellbrunn Castle, and enjoyed another privately guided tour of Hellbrunn Trick Fountains (designed to spray unsuspecting guests)…not to worry, there are plenty of rain ponchos to go around.
Our evening ended with dinner at St. Peter’s Stiftskeller older restaurant in Salzburg, with a private performance by a duo of Mozart violinists, serenading us with classical sounds of the 18th century Salzburg. This too is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The restaurant’s doors first opened in 803 A.D. This is also the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!
Our day began with a private guided tour of the Salzbergwerk Sale Mine. Salt Mining in Berchtesgaden goes back to the 18th century. Dressed in our miner’s overalls, we headed down into the salt mine where we glided on a raft over the glimmering salt lake called Mirror Lake.
Next on our agenda, was the village bakery, where we embarked upon the pretzel making activity. Pretzel making is a tradition that dates back to the 5th century. Lots of fun folding the pretzels, then eating them afterwards. Before leaving for Vienna, we enjoyed lunch in the quaint town of Mondsee overlooking the lake. Very picturesque!
The Ritz-Carlton of Vienna would be home for the next two nights. Our first privately guided tour today, was a visit to the Schonbrunn Palace another UNESCO World Heritage site. This is one of Austria’s most visited destinations. Here, we walked through Viennese history and culture: trace the footsteps of emperors and courtiers in the drawing rooms, parlors and galleries. Another adventure today, was to enjoy a strudel-making demonstration. One of Austria’s most popular treats! This was to be followed by an exclusive Marionette Show with backstage visit, that allowed each of us to try a hand at marionette puppetry.
On to the Vienna Zoo for a private after-hours visit and dinner. This is the oldest zoo in Europe with an unforgettable setting. Followed by a private dinner at the Emperor’s Pavilion, the former breakfast pavilion for the Emperor.
Today we visited one of the world’s oldest and most esteemed riding schools, the Royal Spanish Riding School in Vienna, with traditions more than 440 years. It is located in Vienna’s Hofburg Castle. Well known for the famous Lipizzan ballet performed by the Lipizzan horses. Here, we were privy to another one of Adventures by Disney VIP access and privately guided tour of the Lipizzan horses in their stables. Only with Adventures by Disney!
Our final guided tour today would be Private Waltz lessons at the Dancing School of Elmayer. Everyone seem to enjoy learning the grace and beauty of one of the oldest ballroom dances!
Finally, our last guided tour would be strolling through the streets of the Old Quarter of Vienna on a guided walking tour, where we were able to see some of the historic sights of this beautiful section of the city.
Our day and tour was completed with a farewell dinner where we all got together and basked in the memories of our Storybook Kingdom vacation!
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