A Quick Note on Why I Love Social Media

This week, I am sailing aboard the Viking Hemming through the Douro River in Portugal. I love river cruising - you can explode in your room for a week and everything is taken care of for you as you watch the world go by.

Porto, Portugal

Porto, Portugal

But today, I was reminded why the benefits of social media far outweigh the negative aspects. For the past several years, I've traveled the world, often alone. While I love it, managing loneliness on the road is something you deal with.

I always say the point of online is to go offline. Social media has changed my career, it's made me meet people that have become seriously good friends - some of my best friends even. It's made the world smaller in the best possible way. I have my "Little Black Book" for travel - friends that I've made all over the world that introduce me to their friends and friends of friends. It absolutely helps when I'm writing my stories, but it makes me feel at home in the world, especially when I'm missing my kitchen and my own bed.

We are in Porto, Portugal today which is a beautiful Old World European city on the river. I decided to take the morning to roam around myself. I had heard from a friend that I had to see The Yeatman Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux property that has an extensive wine program and spa. So I wandered over, ordered a cappuccino and read another 50 pages in The Goldfinch. And I also tweeted the incredible view from the hotel's terrace, mentioning their Twitter handle.

About 15 minutes later, the wonderful director of marketing, Richard Bowden, appeared and said "Are you Annie?" He had seen my tweet, and had come to find me and offered to give me a tour. How amazing is that? He even ended up driving me back to the ship. This hotel, which just so happens to be stunningly gorgeous, gets it. 

The point of online is to go offline.

Here are a few shots I snapped at The Yeatman today - Click the photo to scroll through the gallery!

The Mustard You Must Buy in Germany For One Euro


Regensburg, Germany, to be exact. At The Historic Sausage Kitchen by the river, or "Wurstkuchl." We knew on our Danube cruise that we needed to try the mini sausage sandwich here, to compare it to the one in Nuremberg, our next stop. Apparently there's a long-standing friendly rival on which sausage is better. I couldn't quite figure out if that was just a tour guide thing or actually true. Nonetheless, we went to Wurstkuchl and tried a mini sausage sandwich, with sauerkraut and mustard. It tasted like Germany in one fantastic bite-sized sandwich. What made it so good was the mustard. And they sell small jars for ONE EURO each. I stocked up on these great gifts and had a great time exploring Regensburg on a gray, overcast day.

Danube River Cruise - Passau

The best thing we did in Passau (after Melk) was rent bikes for a couple of hours and do a long ride along the grey Danube. We wanted the fresh air and exercise (and needed it after eating strudel at Cafe Simon - a must-have in Passau) and it felt so good to take a long ride off the boat. Highly recommended! I have bike trips on my mind and really want to do one this year in Europe. In Passau, I also loved the beautiful Baroque Cathedral and seeing Europe's largest pipe organ.

Returning to Passau from bike rideCozy Cafe SimonMust-try apple strudel at Cafe Simon

National Geographic: Cruising the Danube

"It’s no secret that the Danube isn’t blue, despite the name of Johann Strauss’ popular waltz. (It’s more of a murky gray.) Still, there is a fascination and draw to the mighty river that has been the heartbeat of central Europe for centuries. River cruising is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the travel industry, and drifting through the tiny towns and villages of HungaryAustria, and Germany is a dream trip for many."

More on National Geographic Urban Insider here

Danube River Cruise - Melk Abbey

After Vienna, the next day's port of call was Melk, Austria for a few hours. I had actually been to Melk before but we had a great guide this time, which makes all the difference. Melk is a sleepy little town with a grand, famous Benedictine Abbey. Today there's a school with 900 students, but we didn't see any of them. We had some free time before returning to the Viking Embla and for me, the highlight was stopping at Hotel Restaurant Zur Post in the tiny town and enjoying a drink with Andy. At around 4:00, groups of Austrian men started to come in, ordered espressos, and went back to their days. A slice of real Austrian life amidst the tourism of Melk.

Hotel Restaurant Zur Post

Arriving at Melk Abbey

The Viking Embla docked in Melk