June 5: Linz-Salzburg-Linz & Viking Cuisine
The quality of Viking’s Danube Waltz cuisine is uniformly high. There is always a choice of three or four first and main courses, nicely balanced between meat, fish and vegetarian, with excellent soups (and again, there’s no reason why you can’t order both a starter and soup). At dinner, several staple items always accompany the choices: Caesar salad, sautéed salmon fillet and rib eye steak. Meats tend to be overcooked, so specify medium-rare if you mean medium—and some are tough, for which there are two solutions: send it back and ask for another (never a problem), or bring your own steak knives (unless they’ve accepted our suggestion that these be provided.) We recorded our favorites (asterisk = regional specialty):
Starters: Hungarian Farmer’s Plate*—salami, ham, pickles, körözött (goat cheese), roasted eggplant and garlic soup, antipasti and pesto, potato crusted mascarpone cheese, seared quail with asparagus risotto, vegetable spring rolls, Greek salad, smoked fish platter, Parma ham & melon, stuffed artichokes
Soups: carrot ginger, roasted tomato, cream of white asparagus, potato leek.*
Entrees: rump steak (if it’s a good cut), seared mahi mahi and curry sauce, sauteéd turbot, sepia pasta and asparagus, zwiebelrostbraen and onions*, braised short ribs with sauteéd mushrooms, Tyrolean catfish in horseradish crust*, pumpkin ravioli with lamb loin, deconstructed Beef Wellington, sea bass and saffron velouté.
Lunch: garlic velouté, linguini vongole, veal chop Milanese, rigatoni gorgonzola, smoked salmon quesadilla, thinly sliced duck breast, fresh figs, a dozen kinds of bread and fruit, apricot schnapps that would clean a paint brush. There’s also the option of light buffet lunches.
Desserts: Estherhazy cake*, Floating Island (poached meringue with vanilla créme), warm sugar waffle.* There’s always a splendid cheese plate, different every night, with everything from familiar munster and gruyére to local specialties.
We woke in Linz and set off on a day’s excursion to Salzburg, 90 minutes away by motor coach. For passengers already familiar with Salzburg, Viking offers a morning tour of Linz. I leave it to your browser to tell you all about these fine cities and will simply state how Viking handles Salzburg. Morning group walking tours take you to the Old Town, Mozart’s birthplace and Hohensalzburg Fortress above the city center. You’re then turned loose for 2 1/2 hours of free time including lunch on your own. Obviously this can be no more than an orientation visit; you need to come back.
In a few hours there’s enough time for a walking tour, shops and lunch. At mid-day many cafes seem to specialize in dessert dishes. We found one with a very good lunch (touristy prices) but it’s heavy fare. It was 90 in the shade so a cool church was a welcome respite afterward. The Old Town is mainly a shopping area for pricey luxury goods and tschotske. The funicular up to the Fortress is said to offer a great view and it was much cooler up there, but at this schedule there’d be little time for much else.
Again in June the crowds are enormous; early autumn might be a better time for this visit. I was not taking photos today but I did snap one of the Modensee, en route from Linz, overlooked by the southern alps, filled with sailboats, a spectacular panorama.