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The areas of Hungary, Austria, Slovakia & Germany that we will be sailing through on October 17th, 2012 for the Friends of Dave Tours sponsored trip have amazingly rich and complex histories; I imagine that for many of you, getting to see human achievements of the last several centuries is the reason you travel in the first place. One of the great themes that still resonates in this part of Europe is the legacy of World War II and the tragedies that were visited upon many communities and groups of people. What is more amazing (to me at least), is the resiliency of the people to overcome war, and the nightmares of the mid 20th Century, to create an incredibly rich and multi faceted present day.
I am excited to say that our Ama sailing has some very special EXTRAS to offer you all that I feel will enrich your experience. Our sailing is one of Ama's themed journeys, which will offer not only the normal tours and fabulous food that they always do, but this sailing will offer additional tours for you to choose from which focus on Jewish Heritage and history of the region.
For example, while in Budapest (and every port we stop at), you will have the choice of the regular city tours which Ama always provides, but for our sailing you have an extra option: The Jewish Heritage tours. In Budapest, for example, the regular city tour has sightseeing in both Buda and Pest - the historic Buda Castle, view of the twin cities spread over both banks of the river, the Fisherman’s Bastion, the marvelous Royal Palace, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the famous Heroes’ Square, etc. However, you will have an extra tour to choose from which will highlight Jewish contributions and will show you the statues of Raoul Wallenberg and Gabor Sztehlo, both credited with saving thousands of Hungarian Jews during WWII, visit the Jewish District for a walking tour featuring highlights such as the Dohany St. Synagogue (the second largest in the world), the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Tree of Life. You do not pay extra for these additional Jewish Heritage tour options.. it is just one more "possibility" for you to choose from as a way to enrich your cruise.
Here are some more details:
In Bratislava, the regular city tour is on offer, but also an additional tour choice to visit to the tomb of Chatam Sofer, Bratislava’s most famous Rabbi.
I imagine that for even those that are not interested in any of the Jewish history themes tours in the other cities, Vienna may hold some interest for you. The normal city tour includes highlights such as the impressive Vienna Opera House, the majestic Ringstrasse, and the awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral, but the Jewish Heritage tour here will offer the chance to see the Jewish Museum, Judenplatz, Sigmund Freud’s House, Jewish Cemetery and the Jewish Quarter in Vienna’s 2nd District.
In Regensburg the Jewish Heritage tour will explore the oldest Jewish Ghetto in Germany, visiting the site of the Regensburg Synagogue, Jewish Cemetery “Judenau” and Oscar Schindler’s House. Of course the regular option is to join the Regensburg walking tour where you will see the city’s architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria - gates to a Roman fort built in 179 AD. Marvel at beautiful churches, the famous towers of the wealthy medieval families, and one of the oldest bridges crossing the Danube.
In Nürnberg, both the tours are a regular part of Ama's offerings: the Jewish Heritage tour visits infamous landmarks of the Third Reich, such as the Zeppelin Field and Party Rally Grounds. Visit the Justice Palace where the War Crimes Tribunal sat in 1946, including the famous Court Room 600. The other available tour explores the medieval history of Nuremberg whose highlights include the storybook 900 year-old ramparts that surround the city and the Imperial Castle.
The final special offering for this cruise will be in Prague. The Jewish Heritage Tour begins with a tour of Josefov, the former Jewish Ghetto, which was the largest and oldest in Europe and now houses the second largest Jewish museum in the world. After a visit to the Old New Synagogue, the oldest working synagogue in the world, you will take a drive to the Jewish Cemetery in Zizkov. This cemetery, established in 1680, is the final resting place of a number of prominent Jews, including many Rabbis, scholars and novelist Franz Kafka. In the alternative, you may join a city tour of Prague featuring a scenic drive and visit to Prague Castle. Afterwards, walk over Charles Bridge to the Old Town Square.
Personally, I plan to balance the regular Ama city tours that give an overview of the city with one or two of the optional Jewish Heritage tours as a way to magnify my understanding and appreciation of this region. I am not particularly religious, but I am fascinated with how an entire community of people were maligned, harassed, and almost destroyed by those in power. It may not be the happiest of holiday subjects, but it the chance to get some up close and personal experiences from the fantastic Ama guides is something that feeds my intellectual and emotional curiosity. It will be a very welcome extra choice on our journey. The best part, is you never have to decide until the morning of the tour (in some cases the night before) but the relaxed Ama style will allow you to ask questions, find out details and ask others what they plan to do once you are on board."
For any of my Jewish friends out there who may be joining this cruise, or a future Ama trip (with or without Dave) please note that Ama does NOT offer Kosher meals or services. The Jewish Heritage cruises are simply another angle to explore the interesting cities along the Danube and a special touch that Ama likes to infuse in their product.
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