Monday, May 21, 2012

May 7 - Bratislava Slovakia

We awoke to a drizzly morning and had breakfast, you could either order a fresh cooked meal or else have the buffet, or do both! The buffet had juices, cereals, cold cuts, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, breads, pastries, fruit. As well, there was a special each day of the week.

We ate as we sailed through the first of the locks on our trip. The Danube is the second largest river in Europe after the Volga which we sailed this time last year in Russia.
On the Danube, there are numerous locks between Budapest and Regensburg, Germany that keep riverboats afloat.  The stretch of water passing through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany, changes levels many times and would make water travel without locks, impossible.  For me the concept of locks is difficult to understand until someone explained it as think of a lock like an elevator; you step into a chamber, doors close and you’re transported up or down to your destination.

John went up to get these photos while I sat in the comfort of the lounge.

Glad to see the captain on the far left checking how close we are to the walls.
 Looking back as the doors close.
We had a mandatory safety drill in the morning.  It was originally planned for the afternoon but we were making good sailing time so it was moved to the morning.We were required to put on our life jackets and meet in a designated spot (by room number) in the lounge. Needless to say I put my jacket on backwards at first.

The rest of the morning was spent at leisure and we had lunch on board before we docked in Bratislava.
Here is a sample lunch menu.

As we neared Bratislava.
We saw a landmark of Bratislava, the castle on the left side. The history of the castle goes back to Roman times, when the mountains were part of the Roman territory. The castle, currently under renovation and not open to the public originates from the 15th century.

"New Bridge" NovĂ˝ Most over the Danube, is a 85 m high suspension tower, a UFO like restaurant, which is visible from far.

In each town there are local guides assigned for the tours. Tipping is recommended at 1 euro for the driver (if bused) and 2 euros per person for the tour guide for a half-day tour.
The guides are always extremely knowledgeable about the areas.
Gate 1 had assigned passengers to groups for the duration of the trip. These were posted last night and we were in another group to our travelling companions so I simply asked to be moved to their group, the red group, to be with our "friends". Our guide was Monika for the duration of the trip.  There were three groups.
Each riverboat has a system to ensure that all passengers have returned before sailing. The Sound of Music used a magnetic board with a magnet for each cabin number and then a "stub" for the number of passengers in the cabin. If only one of you left the ship you only took one stub.

It was cloudy so we dressed warmly and of course the sun did come out!!
Bratislava is a small town so we simply step off the boat and meet our guide.
You'll see vineyards on the slopes of the Little Carpathian Mountains, where they meet the Danube River as you leave the boat. The Austrian border is almost within sight of the city and Hungary is just 16 km away. 

 Michael's Gate

The bells above were on this building

 Clock on Old town Hall

 Statue of Napoleon soldier in front of French embassy - more statues to come!

 Saw lots of nuns and priests - an unusual sight these days
 Tour bus

Cumil - This guy, residing in the Old Town, dates back only to 1997, but Bratislavians and tourists love him. Children like to abuse him by sitting on his head. More than once has he been damaged car drivers. Heated discussions have taken place as to what actually the man is up to - you have to decide whether he is simply resting, looking up women's skirts, just cleaned the sewer... Next to him is a real-life statue who wants money for his photos.

Schone Naci - The stuff of Bratislava legends, Schone Naci was a well known figure in the early 20th century. A poor and mentally ill man, he paraded the streets of Bratislava in old, but elegant attire - a velvet frock, greeting passers-by with his top-hat and bowing courteously to ladies passing by.

 My new Facebook photo - called paparazzi.
Time to head back to the boat.

Sample dinner menu:


  1. Trying to decide what I liked best...the statues? The nuns? I do like your new Facebook pic!

  2. Wonderful series of shots. The locks are fascinating!


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