Actual date: April 4, 2014
One of the more interesting ports of call on our Danube cruise was Bratsilava, Slovakia. We were very lucky in that our tour guide was old enough to have experienced WWII and hence, lived thorugh many of the politcal changes in her country and was able to offer first hand perspective on these events. A map of points of interest is the first image.
The first building is the Slovak National Museum and we all gathered here to board our tour buses. A motorcyclist climbs the hill to the Bratislava Castle. The Bratislava Castle and the Slavin WWII Memorial from the tour bus window.
Three photos of a home with architectural issues. Tiles are falling off, mortar is spalling off, and brick foundation is shearing away. The following photo indicates landscape issues on a hill.
In this photo the Slovak Radio Headquarters [upsidedown pyramid] building can be seen.
Fancy homes of foreign ambassadors are on this street.
Look! The castle is right over there! No! It is right over there! The Slovak National Uprising Bridge is over there! Oh! We are coming right up the castle! Finally, into the gates of the castle. Here we see the three bridges of Bratislava as viewed from the Castle: the New Bridge or Solvak National Uprising Bridge, the Hitler Bridge, and the Old Bridge. The Hitler Bridge was bombed at the end of WWII and left as it was. Other views from the castle include various ramparts and a government building. King Svatopluk I rides a rearing horse in a courtyard statue at the castle.
The Hitler and Old Bridges from the castle; note the oil refineries in the distance. Highrise housing in Slovakia. A window of older design peeks through and illustrates that the castle has been through much redesign over the ages. A not so deep well in the courtyard. We did not enter the castle because it has not been restored to what it once was. There has been no money for that as of yet, but since tourism is so important for the economy, this may be done in the future.
Next, Old Town!
Actual date: April 3, 2014.
Our ship arrived in Vienna at 6 AM. The tour bus was to drive around the Ringstrasse. The first sight was the Saint Francis of Assisi Church. We came upon a giant pillar [two photos], behind which was the giant ferris wheel. When I was 10 years old, my family came here to visit my dad’s mother. Vienna was my dad’s birthplace. We rode on the giant wheel in 1967.
A man rides a vespa in the city. A Honda dealership does well here. A view down the Danube Canal. Looking the other direction at the canal.
There are several buildings that I do not remember the names of, but I photographed them, so they must be important! LOL!
The Vienna State Opera House is seen from two side views.
The Natural History Museum in three passing shots.
The Austrian Parliament Building was so long, I had to capture it in many shots. Some locals in the EU countries bemoaned the fact that their governments’ decisions were made in other places because of the EU organization.
St. Stephens Cathedral is where my father was confirmed. Since it was bombed so badly in WWII, the stained glass windows were never restored back to their orignal condtion and the inside is only a shadow of its former glory. So, I took no photos of the interior.
In the afternoon, we took a cab to the farmers’ market. Here are some photos of the goods on sale there.
The Intercontinental Hotel is where we stayed in 1967. It was across the street from the Stadtpark, where the Danube Canal runs. Last time I was here, I asked my father if there was ever ice on the Danube. He replied that yes, there was and that once he saw a deer stranded on the ice, floating down the Danube. I asked my mom on this trip if she thought he was just making it up to amuse us children and she said she thought he was. But I don’t know. I have seen deer swim the river back home, so I don’t know how far fetched it would really be for a deer to be up on the ice in the river.
Anyhow, we walked to the Joann Strauss Monument in the park. A short walk away was the fancy restaurant that we ate at when we were there in 1967. Note the ad for the Strauss and Mozart Concert that we were to attend that evening.
After dinner, those who wished were taken to the Mozart and Strauss concert performed by the Vienna Residence Orchestra at the Palais Auersperg. Photographs were not allowed during the show. The eight piece orchestra was sometimes joined by two singers and for some pieces two dancers. The lead vionlinst played a Stradivarius violin and I, a neophyte in the world of music, was able to appreciate a significant difference in the sound of this violin. It sounded soulful and vulnerable to me. Its voice had a depth of quality and resonance that was fuller of body than the other violins, yet it could be winnowed to a fineness that was remarkable. It was really something to experience to hear it played. The Mozart part of the concert was extremely entertaining and I was sort of not looking forward to the Strauss, thinking it would be boring. But I was wrong. Not only did the dancers entertain, but I was moved because it struck me how much my father would have loved hearing these waltzes in his hometown, many of which he had ice skated to during his lifetime. It brought me to tears to think of this.
After the ship was docked, we all walked up to tour the story-book town of Dürnstein, population 900. It doesn’t get any cuter or quainter than this little Austrian town. We walked up to the family cemetery, which was all in bloom with spring flowers and is famous for its ossuary.
Back in the town, folks were drinking at an open air tavern. The charming main street was clogged with tourists. Little side streets had stone steps to accomodate the rise in elevation. Another shot of Main St. Dürnstien is in a microclimate that allows for apricots to be grown. Thus, shops sell apricot products of all kinds: candles, soaps and liquors. This shop had all of the apricot boozes one could want. They even had free apricot schnapps and liqueur for tasting. I, who never drink because of the medication I am on, actually tasted a shot of each. Man did I get wasted! LOL! My mom did the same, so we wove our way through the rest of the town. Here is a shot of a look out from one of the many high-points of the town. Here is the entry to the abbey and the abbey’s square. One had to pay an exorbitant amount to enter; so we didn’t.
We ran into this beautiful and obedient German Shepherd dog and I couldn’t help but take his photo.
I also saw a sculler and took many shots with my motordrive camera so that one can see a full stroke.
Next stop: Vienna!
We had only spent only a half day at Melk, so in the afternoon, we cast off for Dürnstein. We cruised up the Wachau valley, which is dotted on both sides by ancient castles and churches. I live on a river myself and am fascinated by life on a river. So, the next ten photos are of those things. Note the small children on the beach and the fisherman as well. On the 11th photo we can see the blue tower of the Baroque Dürnstein Abbey. The medieval castle, Burgruine Dürnstein, is actually visable in the 10th photo. This is where King Richard I Lionheart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V of Austria after their dispute during the Third Crusade. There are around 8 photos of the Abbey tower and town.
This was the first chance I had to see the crew mooring the ship and took some photos and I realize that this part will only be of interest to the boat afficiandos out there. The captain looks on as a mate brings the ship in to the docking space. A closeup of the controls. A crew member waits to toss the line. The ashore crew waits to retrieve the line. The line is tossed! The ashore crew heads to pick up the line. He’s got it! He clears a branch out of the way. The line is pulled up onto shore, and landed. Same thing. The line is pulled over to the halburk. Another crewmember takes a second line to the other halburk. The boat is secure! Most of the operational crew on the ship, are from Hungary.
Next time, we explore the tiny town of Dürnstein!