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Adventures With Robin

Your Go-To Travel Source

Welcome! This space serves as a platform for travel agent Robin Norell to share her trips, experiences and expertise with you. Exceeding your customer service expectations is Robin’s primary goal. Having worked for Disney for 2.5 years, she knows how to make your vacation magic. 

Robin has visited 25 countries (Caribbean, Europe, Asia) and 31 states, and has been on 26 river and ocean cruises (so far), visited Disney World, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris multiple times, and she is happy to share her travel experiences and knowledge with you to make your vacation the best it can be.

Robin has been awarded the distinguished certifications of CLIA’s (Cruise Lines International Association) ACC (Accredited Cruise Counselor) Certification, as well as earning her CTA (Certified Travel Associate) certification, has completed the College of Disney Knowledge, and continues to learn more about the travel industry every day.

Excelling in administration and customer service, she takes care of all the details, leaving you free to relax and enjoy!

Independent Vacation Planner

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April 3-4 Prague to Budapest

Wednesday April 3

Prague to Budapest

My alarm was set for 7:15am, but I woke at 7. We went down to breakfast, and were outside when our private transfer vehicle arrived at 8:45am. He dropped us off at the train station – he pointed out that the train station was across the street, and we just needed to take one of the two elevators down one floor, and then across to the station. So I’m guessing this is where my Uber driver had been waiting the other day. Ah well, now I know (and my clients will know now too).

We went inside and saw our train listed on the board, but no track was listed yet. So we went to information and asked, and she basically acted like why was I asking, it would be posted on the board no later than 15 minutes before the train. This is my 4th train, and employees at all the others looked it up in the computer for me before it was posted, so I could get to the track with plenty of time. So we went back up to the board and waited. I spotted a healthy food place across from us, so we went in and bought wraps and fruit juices for lunch – definitely healthier than anything they would have onboard.

Around 9:30, they posted that we would depart from track 4. Many of the trains had a track number and a letter (J for North, S for South), and you would go to the right or left for those tracks. We didn’t know where track 4 would be, so I asked a young woman and she said it was down the hall straight ahead. Ah, that makes sense. So we went down the hall to track 4, and up the escalator (yay escalator!), and our train was already there. The last car of the train (the closest to us) was #372, which was ours, so we got on, went to our seats, left our suitcases at the end of the car (but visible from our seats), and the train left on time at 9:44am.

This is a long one – 9:44am to 4:28pm, 6¾ hours. But there are plugs at our seats, tray tables, and we have lunch and snacks. I brought playing cards, we have cell phones, a tablet, and my laptop. I’m just hoping for some nice views!

It’s funny an almost 7-hour train ride feels shorter than an almost 7 hour flight. Maybe that’s because you can get up and walk around, and you have a lot more legroom. Anyway, we watched our progress on Google Maps as we rode, and soon enough we were approaching Budapest.

I made reservations for us to have private transfers from the hotel to the train station this morning in Prague, and from the train station to the hotel in Budapest. I can’t tell you how nice it was to walk down toward the terminal and before we even got into the building there was a man with a sign with my name on it. He took my suitcase and brought us out to the car, and we were on our way very quickly.

He pointed out some sights along the way, including the New York Hotel. They have a café there that is very popular, and there is always a long line outside.

We pulled up to the Matild Palace, a Marriott Luxury Collection hotel. In March 2022 when Vic was supposed to fly to Budapest and meet up with me to go on the Lower Danube River cruise, we were going to stay at this hotel (he couldn’t come because he was having some heart issues). I toured it when I was here, though, and it looked beautiful.

When we went to check in, we were told that we had been upgraded to a room with a river view (probably after my conversation with the hotel representative in Amsterdam a few weeks ago). We went up to the room, and just wow! As we opened the door, the curtains automatically opened to reveal a view of the Elizabeth Bridge.

And the bathroom is huge! Heated ceramic tile floors. There is a large tub in a glass door room, with a handheld shower head, and a ceiling mounted shower head. And the toilet - well, I think I would have needed an instruction booklet because I couldn't figure it out (except that the seat automatically went up when we got near and went down after a while).

We went back downstairs, and asked about recommendations for a place close by for dinner, and they suggested Monk’s Bistro. We asked about the rooftop lounge and they directed us to a woman who asked us where we going, and when we said the rooftop lounge, she said they had a dress code, and Amy’s sandals didn’t qualify. No worries, we went back to the front desk and said we were heading over to the restaurant, so she called ahead to make a reservation for us.

It was the perfect location for dinner – dark and quiet, great food, and there were 3 live musicians that played for us.

They asked Amy if she had any requests, and when she asked for suggestions, he said they could play anything from gypsy music to....– when Amy heard that she said of course it has to be gypsy music!

Back to our room for a good night’s sleep.

Thursday April 4



The last leg of my trip – my 7-night Avalon river cruise on the Danube! This is my fourth cruise on Avalon (Paris to Normandy on the Seine, Mainz Germany to Amsterdam on the Rhine, Romania to Croatia on the Lower Danube) and this one is Budapest to Vilshofen Germany on the Danube.

We had breakfast downstairs (we prepaid 30E for it when we checked in), which they serve in the Spago restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. Then we walked to the river and made sure where our ship was and went for a little walk to the some of the shops.


Check out time at the hotel was 12pm, and before we knew it, it was 11:45am so we headed back to the hotel, grabbed our bags and checked out, and walked to the ship. Our hotel was the perfect location – we could practically see the ship from our hotel window, and the walk was maybe 5 minutes.

We were welcomed onboard, and our bags were taken. We went into the lounge and had a light lunch, and I asked the crew member in the lounge about the excursion that we were doing the following day. She said it was in the afternoon, and that we would be going to the Opera House and Heroes Square and park, which is all on the Pest side. We talked about where we could walk today and decided to go across the river to the Buda side. They announced that our room was ready, so we showed our passports at the front desk, and they took our photo, and then we went to our room.


This is my first time on the 3rd deck. These rooms generally cost more, but Avalon had sent me an email a few weeks ago and offered a complimentary upgrade from the 2nd deck to the 3rd. I said yes because I was curious about it – I usually steer my clients away from it because the sky deck is right above, and I always imagined you would hear footsteps and noise from above. I definitely did from my 3rd deck room on Emerald and wondered how it would compare.


Our room is perfect, of course. First time I’ve stayed on an Avalon ship without Vic, so the two beds was new to me, but very comfortable as always! I LOVE their mattresses (I tried to buy one for my home but they are made in Europe and don’t ship to the US). Our bags were already in our room, so we grabbed a few things and went out to explore.

We walked across the Chain Bridge to the Funicular that takes you up to the Budapest Castle Hill. Once we got on, it was a quick ride to the top. There is a lot of construction going on, so some parts were closed, some walkways weren’t accessible, but we were able to walk all around at the top. We tried to get a good photo of our ship, but the Elizabeth Bridge was right in the way.

We rode the funicular back down, and back across the Chain Bridge, to the St. Stephen Basilica, and then down the streets. We got back to the ship a little after 4pm and went to our cabin to unpack. It felt great to unpack – first time in a few weeks that I’m staying somewhere long enough to unpack.


At 5:30pm, we went down the hall to the Club Lounge and waited to speak with the chef and maître d’. When I looked at the chef, I knew he looked familiar – I was pretty sure he was the same chef that was on our Lower Danube cruise in September. When he came over to us, I asked if he was on the Impression in September, and he said yes. Yay, I’m in very good hands with my dietary restrictions!! Peter was wonderful on our last cruise!

At 6pm, we were all to be in the lounge, all 143 of us (the ship holds 166). We had a safety briefing, with a demonstration of life jackets, as we all sit and watched (so much nicer than standing somewhere with life jackets on). The cruise director spoke, and then the Captain, and then the Hotel Director (who is married to the Captain), and they introduced various crew members.


Then we had the first of our port talks – each day at 6:45pm, the cruise director will talk about the port we will visit the next day and explain the tour options. Tonight, she said that although not many had signed up for the morning tour in Budapest, she highly recommends it and booked enough buses and tour guides for everyone. She also described the optional afternoon excursions.


We had sat in the lounge with 2 gals from the UK, Karen and Carol, so we decided to eat dinner together. At the table next to ours was an older man who was traveling solo, Ernie, from Canada. So we had lots of conversations with Carol & Karen, and Ernie.


There was an entertainer in the lounge, but we headed to bed after dinner.


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Robin is an Independent Travel Planner who has been awarded CLIA's (Cruise Line Industry Association's) Accredited Cruise Counselor Certification and The Travel Institute's Certified Travel Associate designation. Her excellent service is yours at no cost - she's paid by the suppliers (hotel, cruise line, etc.), nor does she charge a fee for services. She may even save you money over booking it yourself, as she follows all the specials and will get you a better price after you book with her. When you are planning a family vacation or celebrating a special occasion through travel, you want the best experience possible, and Robin is ready to help you! She provides excellent customer service, and your happiness and satisfaction is her top priority. With the knowledge gained by her extensive travel experience (25 countries, 31 states, and 26 cruises so far) and customer service experience (2.5 years employed at Walt Disney World Resort), she's excited and ready to help you plan new adventures!

Location: Alexandria - VA
Phone: (567) 307-3476
Toll-Free: (866) 779-4830



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