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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 8. Dürnstein-Wachau Valley

Monday April 8

Dürnstein-Wachau Valley

Included Morning Excursions: The World of Saffron (1.5 hours), Dürnstein, Pearl of the Wachau Valley (1 hour), Hit the Trail: Dürnstein & Its Hilltop Castle (1.5 hours), Biking along the Wachau Valley with your Adventure Host and Picnic Stop (3 hours)

Included Afternoon Excursions: Melk Abbey (2 hours), Romance and Royalty of Ybbs and Arstetten Castle (3.5 hours), Sweet Temptations: Baking and Bees (3 ¼ hours)

Today’s schedule was very different. We had morning tour options, then back on board by 10:45am, and we set sail through the Wachau Valley. At 11:30, the cruise director started a commentary, pointing out points of interest along the shores.

At 12:30pm, they had a cookout on the Sky Deck, and a light lunch was also served in the Panorama Lounge.

Around 2:30pm, the ship stopped and anyone going on an excursion got off, then the ship continued sailing to Ybbs. Anyone on an excursion would be taken to Ybbs when they were done.

So this morning, Amy did the Saffron excursion. I slept late and missed breakfast (I later found out I could still have ordered room service until 10am), so I grabbed an apple from the lounge and went for a walk. We were right near the old town of Dürnstein, so I just explored a little. At one point I came upon one of the walking tour groups and our dear friends Karen and Carole were at the back of the group. I came up behind them and put my arms around them both…. And evidently gave them quite a scare! We all had a good laugh.

I ran into Ernie on the way back – it is such a small town, he said he wondered how they could financially survive (it felt like our ship and the Riviera ship passengers were their only tourists). I heard later that during the summer they have as many as 25,000 tourists each day.

One of the excursion options today was biking – they started at 10:30am, just before we left Dürnstein. They rode 20 miles (with a stop for a picnic lunch) and biked all the way to Ybbs, our next port.

We set sail on schedule, and at 11:30 we were on the Sky Deck as Amila began her narration. Of course, I took notes on the facts.

- There are 10 countries on the Danube River, including 4 capitals (can you name them all?) . It is the second longest river in Europe (what's the longest?).

- In the past, people would bring their goods down the river on boats to sell, and then use the wood from the boats for fire. Later they started to use animals to bring the boats back upstream to reuse.

- The Danube was used as northern border of Roman Empire. The Romans brought wine with them since 1/3 of soldiers’ pay was in wine. But they needed to make more to continue paying the soldiers. They found the local soil made good wines.

- In the 500s Rome collapsed. Locals took the land and started to make wine. They also built fortresses – tall towers made of stone with one small window, to watch for invaders.

- During the Crusades, owners of small castles ran a chain across the river, and they charged anyone to pass. By 8th century, these were used by robbers, of which there were many on the river. Then the Hapsburgs took over and the robberies stopped for a while and then they came back again as robber barons.

- 100 million tons of goods are shipped annually on Danube; 331 million tons on the Rhine.

- Locals along the river are trying to keep their communities. They have farming schools, and they encourage their kids to marry to combine farms and continue family traditions and stay here

- One of the popular crops are pumpkins. There are over 2000 kinds of pumpkins

Amy and I got off at 2:30pm to do the Baking and Bees excursion. Amy is an avid gardener, and was excited to learn more about bees. The group was large enough that they split us in half – our half did the Bees first and then the baking, the other half was the opposite.

We were dropped off across the street from a park, where a local bee farmer explained about life in the hive (he only spoke German so our tour guide had to translate everything). We didn’t really see many bees, except the ones in the small group of flowers in the park. The tour description said we would go to a bee farm and meet thousands of his bees. Um, not quite.

Then we walked up the path to the Bee Bar, where they showed us photos and real honeycombs. We tried three kinds of honey – summer, whipped, and forest. It was interesting – the whipped had nothing added to it, but because they process it longer, it has a completely different texture. Then we ate little pieces of pollen – not much flavor but supposed to be incredibly healthy. We also tried honey mead (like wine) and honey vinegar. They have a gift shop and I would have loved to bring some home but I can't fit the weight. They do have a website ( and they ship.

Our bus came back to get us and bring us to the Braun Bakery, where we learned how to make pastries (cream horns). She had us roll dough strips onto metal cones and she put them in the oven – she did that step first because they have to bake for about 20 minutes. Then she showed us the process for the dough – layer upon layer is achieved by folding and using the flattening machine and repeating over and over.

They explained the cream – it is made with just egg whites, sugar, and sugar syrup. It was not overly sweet, but tasty.

When the rolls were baked, we filled the bag with cream, and them we each pushed the cream into our rolls. We each made two and were invited to eat them there while they were warm. I ate one of mine and saved the other with the intention of giving it to Carole and Karen. Amy saved her second one for Ernie.

The bus came back and got us. It didn’t take me long – my pastry bag started to slip and I caught it… at the bottom. The beautiful pastry was now laying on the bus floor. Someone kindly gave me a tissue and I cleaned up the mess, but sorry Karen and Carole!

Last night we had a new dinner guest – Fred from Canada (originally the Philippines). Tonight there were 6 of us – me, Amy, Karen, Carole, Ernie, and Fred. Fun group!! We asked Omer, one of our servers, to take our photo and he included himself in the photo. Lol!

After dinner, the entertainment for the evening was supposed to be a music dance game in the lounge with Amila. Amy and I were just going to just go to bed, but we realized we were just about to go through a lock. This ship has gone through a few, but not while we were onboard or awake so Amy hadn’t seen one yet. I found the girls in the lounge and let them know and we all went up to the Sky Deck. There were already lots of others there to watch; some had wisely brought the blanket from their room, I grabbed jackets for me and Amy.

We entered the lock after waiting for another ship to come out, and then had to wait about 20 minutes for another ship (the Riviera cruise ship) to join us in the lock before they closed the doors.

15 minutes or so later, we had been raised to the upper level and were waiting for the doors to open. It was now 10:11 and tomorrow we have to be on the bus by 7:30am, so we went to our room to go to bed.


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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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