The father-son duo share their recent Danube Explorer trip experience + more
It can be nerve-racking to try something new especially when it means exploring Europe by bike and boat (cycling over 30 km/day). That's exactly how friends and family reacted when 53-year-old, Pat, from our Ottawa office, decided to travel with his 77-year-old father, Bob. Read on to learn more about Pat's recent Danube Explorer to Budapest trip experience, his thoughts on age and active travel, as well as useful tips for travellers.
Why it matters - Father-son duo
Hi, I'm Pat Rochon, and I've been travelling with my dad, Bob, for the past 25 years! My mom passed away at just 53 years old due to a severe brain tumor... This is the moment I took over as my dad's travelling partner which has taken us to every continent in the world from cycling in South India, kayaking in Antartica to climbing Mt Kilimanjaro. We have now travelled together 27 times and counting. Our next active adventure is cycling Germany next spring... We both love Europe and enjoy free-wheeling in the hidden corners of Europe. As long as there's cold beer available at 6 pm, you'll find us there - cheers!
The bike and barge trip claimed to offer the opportunity to experience life on the Danube and surrounding countryside at your own pace in Vienna, Budapest, and Passau. Using the MV Fortuna boat (MVF) or MV Carissima boat (MVC) as a base, we were supposed to enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the legendary Wachau, Bratislava, the Slovakian capital at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains and the icon studded cities of Vienna and Budapest.
The Danube had been on our travel bucket list for quite some time as friends and family often raved about it and we finally booked our Danube Explorer to Budapest
trip. This was my second bike and barge trip with UTracks and at first, dad and I were a little anxious to be among so many people (150 passengers from around the world) on a cycling trip.
Pat boarded the MS Carissima and a few hours after departure from Passau Germany, he was pleasantly surprised to feel freedom while scoping out the ship from top to bottom.
The Danube Explorer to Budapest did not disappoint, it lived up to the claims!
What are the highlights of the Danube Explorer?
The Danube is one of the most renowned and one of the longest rivers in Europe. There are many highlights on this tour, here are a few of my favorites:
- visiting the wonderful Wachau Valley (wine region)
- the ever-changing scenery
- cycling through multiple countries and getting a feel for village life throughout Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary
- the distances covered and routes were well thought of, which allowed the group to view a wide variety of fascinating and spectacular landscapes in Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest
- learning about the cultures and meeting new people
- supporting local merchants
Visiting the picturesque city of Passau had been on my travel bucket list for a while - having the opportunity to explore it by bike and boat with my father is a memory I will never forget
Am I too old for active travel? How fit do you need to be to enjoy this trip?
When Pat decided to bring his father along on the 8-day, self guided, bike and barge trip, new friends and acquaintances often asked him, "Do you think it's a good idea to take your 77-year-old father on a cycling and boating trip in Europe? Will he be able to participate?" He wasn't surprised because he got asked the same questions three years ago when they booked their first active travel experience with UTracks, the Amsterdam to Bruges
guided cycle (stay tuned for that blog post!).
Contrary to the belief, age isn't the ultimate determining factor for active travel. You're never too old or too young for active travel, it's possible for everyone. But you do need to be in good health and have some cycling experience. eBikes
make it easier to cycle, of course!
Ebikes have revolutionized active travel because they offer an alternative option ideal for cycling long distances, especially making uphill cycling easy. After cycling on 12 of his trips, Bob was going to retire the bike a few years ago; he didn't think it was an option to actively travel due to his age... During his Portuguese Way Cycle - Porto to Santiago
, Bob discovered ebikes. He hopped on the cycle and approximately 50 km later, he had passed Pat five times in the Portuguese mountains. Bob was waiting for Pat at the top of each hill. Pat said,
To my internal frustrations with a regular bike, my father found a new life, experience, and travel thanks to the ebike.
It all depends on your preference and level of comfort when you're choosing your active holiday. Please don't hesitate to contact us
, our team will be happy to answer any questions you may have especially in regards to our grading system
Are there things that people need to be aware of before they book or anything people always forget to pack?
- Seasonality is very important as it will determine your experience. Ie. If you're going early Spring, in general, make sure to pack for unpredictable weather
- We can't stress this enough, please be prepared as travellers often forget to pack rain gear, helmets, and reusable water bottles.
I met so many people, made new friends, experienced different cultures, and crossed a lot of things off of my travel bucket list, cheers to many more trips! I would highly recommend the MS Carissima Danube Explorer to Budapest. It's a perfect choice of ships for clients wanting a comfort plus trip, visiting 5 beautiful cities with a great and very affordable price tag!
Do you have a travel tale to share? We'd love to hear it. Send us an email or ask us if you'd like further information about how to get featured on how blog.