Amazing Beautiful Old Cities
03.07.2012 - 04.07.2012 38 °C
Our ship left Budapest during the evening and sailed up the Danube and out of Hungary into Slovakia (the Slovak Republic) which is a newly created country about the size of West Virginia. On the way to our destination of Bratislava, (the capital) we went through one of the 68 locks that are part of our voyage. This was a really big lock at a hydro generating area with a length of over 900 ft and a width of over 110 ft.
We had the mandatory safety drill and docked in Bratislava during lunch.
We were rafted against another large river boat and simply walked over a very short gangplank onto their deck then right through their main lobby and up their gangplank to the city dock and into our waiting coach for a tour of the city.
Prestige rafted against another large river boat.
Dave in tour bus
Bratislava is a very old city with many beautiful buildings and a population who really seems to enjoy their recent release from Communism. You can see evidence in their architecture of buildings built during different parts of their history. Under Habsburg Rule in the 1500 to 1918 time frame they built large ornate buildings around central courtyards. During the communist era they built large tracts of very plain and inexpensive apartment buildings. They resemble rows and rows of boxes.
While on the bus we passed the residence of the US Ambassador. The staff were madly decorating the entire building for the July 4 celebration the next day.
Residence of the US Ambassador
We left the bus for a walking tour of the large and imposing Bratislava Castle which is the home of their Parliament
Bratislava Castle Gates.
We continued through some very old sections.
This is a 15th century tower at Michael’s Gate.
There is a joy in the city and a sense of fun. There are several comic statues and street mimes.
We continued on past the Opera House
and the Philharmonic
It was a very hot (38C) and very humid day so we were glad to return to the air conditioned comfort of our coach and return to our ship for another amazing dinner. Finally at 11 pm we cast off for an overnight cruise to Vienna.
During the night we passed through another lock before reaching Vienna - this time we were sandwiched between 2 other large ships.
We docked at 6 am in Vienna and were again rafted against another ship. It is truly amazing to see them pull this 400+ foot long ship up along side another similar sized ship and tie up to them without a single bump, especially when you take into account they are pushing against a river current of 6-10 km per hour.
Our day started early with another coach and walking tour. Vienna is designed in a bit of a semi circular road called the Ringstrasse which is lined with imposing palaces and grand residences. It encircles the medieval Innere Stadt (Inner City). We saw the magnificent Hofburg Palace, glorious St. Stephan’s Cathedral with its gleaming spire and the beautiful State Opera House.
Church of St. Charles
We returned to the ship for lunch and stayed aboard to check e-mail, download pictures and write this blog because the internet connection is better in this area.