If my ship sails from sight, it doesn’t mean my journey ends, it simply means the river bends. ~ Enoch Powell
I am on a River Cruise with my husband on the Avalon Waterways Visionary for 15 days from Budapest to Amsterdam. It is the trip of “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium” of generation ago for those Americans with the resources, interest and time to explore the world. Thankfully, this world exploration does not require me to be packing and unpacking!
The Visionary ship was built in 2012 and is a comfortable floating hotel. She is flagged in Germany and has 128 passengers. Our fellow passengers are a mix of Americans – interestingly mostly from Hawaii – Aussies, New Zealanders and some Canadians.
The Danube River is 2,888 kilometers and is what divided civilization of the Roman Empire from barbarity in ancient times. We embark in Budapest.
BUDAPEST! Budapest is a city that makes my heart throb and brings tears to my eyes. It must be the majestic Buda Castle UNESCO heritage site that stretches for 2 miles. Or is it the Heroes’ Square that speaks to my heart? The Goddess of Wisdom statue stands guard in front of the Parliament building. The Central Market’s booths have fruits, vegetables and spices like paprika which is the best in the world. The Jewish Quarter is the largest synagogue in Europe, and St. Stephen’s Basilica is the largest church in Hungary. Then, it may be the Spa City’s thermal springs… yes! I dropped luggage at the ship and went directly to the Szechenyi Baths that I had remembered fondly from my visit in 2007. As I enjoy the thermal bath, I’m planning for my next visit for a week in Hungary to visit some of the 123 spas the country boasts. Vacations are healthy for the body and soul!
We depart Budapest at 7:30pm and sail 240 km and through one lock to BRATISLAVA, Slovakia.
The holiday/holy day of All Saints Day meant many of the places were closed. We visited the St. Martin’s Cathedral which has a Gothic interior and the Hrad Fortress of which only a small area remains since the city was leveled completely during WWII. The city of Bratislava is the capital of the new state of Slovakia only since 1993. Slovakia split from the Republic of Czech, previously known as Czechoslovakia. Its history is one of being a battlefield for Hungary, Austria and the Turkish Empire for many centuries. As my first visit to the country, I sadly learned from the tour guide that stability has not existed in the country for long. They changed currencies every 10 years during the last decades. The country joined the European Union in 2004 and now has the Euro currency since 2009. The political corruption is rampant and “the normal way of doing things” said the guide. It’s half the size of New Jersey.
Onto VIENNA next! Our magnificent journey continues.