Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (9)

Lock Gates Closing Behind Us At Gabcikovo

Lock Gates Closing Behind Us At Gabcikovo

Monday April 29-Day 10

This morning we slept in a little longer as the ship was cruising nicely up the Danube. Around 1.00 pm, the Idun entered a set of locks at Gabcikovo where there is also a hydro power generating station. The locks here are some of the deepest on the Danube with a lifting capacity of about 60 feet. We were able to watch the whole process from the sun-deck of the ship.

Lunch followed as Don, Lynore, Cynthia and I were joined by Bob and Hazel, a lovely couple from Ontario. They were both well into their eighties. She was hard of hearing too, and had me pegged for a”Marcus” so I went with it. However, she didn’t believe me when I told her my middle name was Aurelius!

At 2pm, the Idun came to rest at its moorings near the centre of the city of Bratislava. I think this is one of the features I like most about the river cruise…we can often get off and within a 10 minute walk, we are in the centre of the city.DSCN8767

The city tour rolled around at 2.30, but I was on my own today as Cynthia decided to rest after a disturbed night and Don and Lynore were on a different trip. The tour took us to see the castle, destroyed by fire in 1811 and rebuilt in the 1950s.

We were dropped at the edge of the old town and our guide Bea walked us through. It was reminiscent of Prague with its cobble stoned streets and pastel coloured buildings.

Narrow Streets In The Old City

Narrow Streets In The Old City

I enjoyed the tour but was glad to be set free to walk back. I wandered around the square for a while looking at buildings, vendors’ stalls and even sat for a while people watching. The trams were interesting too, as many of them were brightly painted in mural form.

Colourful Tramcars

Colourful Tramcars

In spite of the breeze, the 25C temperature encouraged me to head back to the boat around 4.30. Cynthia was still snoozing when I reached the room, so hopefully she will feel a little better this evening.

Dinner came and went very nicely. Don and Lynore told us of their visit to a local home where the owner brewed his wine and gave them tastes. They bought some to try too and generally had a fine visit.

Wine Barrels At Entrepreneur's Home (Don and Lynore's Trip)

Wine Barrels At Entrepreneur’s Home (Don and Lynore’s Trip)

At 9 pm, on board came a Slovakian folk group. In total they were two violinists, a double bassist, a young man on the dulcimer, a female singer and two dancers. They played and danced local or national folk tunes and we clapped along with them. They were wonderful musicians and their energy was inspiring.

The vessel set off for Vienna at 11pm. If all goes well, we should dock at 6 am. It’s time for me to get my beauty sleep now, so goodnight and God bless.

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Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (8)

Outside The Opera House, Budapest

Outside The Opera House, Budapest

Sunday, April 28-Day 9

Today, we knew, would be our musical interlude day. We, Don and Lynore, breakfasted with some good folks from Summerland B.C. who arrived on the ship yesterday. After breakfast we took a stroll around the deck or got ready to leave and at 10.30 our taxi driver was waiting for us at the reception desk. After a quick , 10 euro rip-off ride, we were at the front of the Opera House. Lynore had booked seats for us to see the Puccini Opera, Tosca. (If you’d care to watch the movie, and have the time, click here.)

Within minutes we were inside and impressed already. The lobby was gorgeous and we paused to take it all in as attendees streamed past us up to the balconies. Lynore had good seats as we were six rows from the front in, more or less,  the middle. We, like many others, took pics of the house and oohed and aahed in all the right places.

Waiting For The Start

Waiting For The Start

The opera began, and the 60+ piece orchestra pounded out the overture. There was no doubt we’d be able to hear well! The opera set was magnificent as were the voices and within minutes we were spellbound. Cynthia assured me we had seen La Boheme in Cardiff while in school in Wales, but I had no recollection of that…this was my first opera, and I was loving it.

Three hours later, apart from two 15 minute breaks for set changes, we exited the Opera house. Rather, three of us exited while Lynore floated down the staircases, still swept up in the performance. It was magnificent.

We crossed Andrassy Ut and strolled down to Franz Liszt square, named in honour of the great composer. On the way, Lynore told me that Liszt caused a stir among performers as he was the first to play recitals WITHOUT music. The square was lovely in itself, and full of energy as people buzzed through it. There were many sidewalk cafés so we piled into one and ordered goulash soup for lunch. It was full of meat, veggies and potatoes, a meal in itself. After a brief stroll three of us took a cab back to the ship while Don went walkabout again.

Vendor Selling Pastries, Strudels On the Riverbank

Vendor Selling Pastries, Strudels On the Riverbank

As the weather is so beautiful and the temp about 25 degrees. Cynthia took her book on deck to read as did Lynore.

The ship left Budapest around 9.30 pm. We went on deck to watch the departure but also to see the city lit at night. It was spectacular.

The Chain Bridge From The Sundeck Of Our Ship

The Chain Bridge From The Sundeck Of Our Ship

Goodbye for now and God bless, but before you go, if you’d like to hear some music from the great man himself, Franz Liszt, click here

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