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18 July 2012

This really does have an "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" feel about it, as I sit here docked in Bratislava, waiting to shove off and head toward Vienna, where we will be tomorrow when I wake up. But how else can we afford to see so much?

This morning we went through the first of the 67 locks we will pass through in the 1,000 miles we will travel to Amsterdam.

Locks are old hat for us now, having gone through them in England, Russia, and China...I missed the little Chinese man sitting on the wall fishing, as we entered our first lock in China!

As the day progressed, it was just a wonderful day.  First, we got to sleep in, which was nice.  Then after breakfast, at 10:30, we had a lecture by our program director, Henrietta, on Mozart, since we will be in Vienna tomorrow.

Next came lunch, because we hadn't eaten in half an hour or so.  I just had a salad and I don't intend to photograph all of my food, but this floating island was just too pretty not to take a picture of.

(It tasted good, too!)

After that, we split up.  Mike and Char chose to take the tour of Bratislava; Walt and I chose the optional tour.  I had looked at all the stops we will make on this cruise and every one includes a town tour, but this one was the only one that included a chance to visit one of the local residents, so we chose that.  We are delighted that we did.  Pani (Mrs.) Brunovska is a 73 year old widow who lives in the village of Senkvice, maybe a 20 minute drive from Bratislava, on property which has two houses on it, the two room house she, her husband (who died 30 years ago), their nine children and her mother-in-law built and lived in and the newer house where she now lives with her daughter, her son and two granddaughters.  Her son's ex-wife lives nearby with two other granddaughters.

The older, whiter house looks like its wall backs up onto the newer house (where the red "x" is), but there is no doorway connecting the two residences.

This is the old kitchen, and very modern when it was built, one of a handful of houses that had indoor ovens, holes built into the concrete wall.  She would bake bread in that round vessel there, lined with something--maybe stones?  The upper door led to where she would smoke meats.

This is the other room, where all the family slept together.  Can you imagine 12 people, one of whom is your mother in law living for years together in this room?

Though there is a new house, which appears fairly modern, it still has no toilet inside the house, though there is a bath and sink.

Mrs. Brunovska speaks no English, but our tour guide (whose name I did not get) acted as translator.  She served us bread spread with home made berry marmalade and wine which the family makes there.

(I loved the glass my wine came in--the guy next to me had some other sort of cartoon character).  I should mention that there were eight of us on this side trip, two couples from Texas, a couple from Canada, and us.  When they started discussing health care in response to a question from our tour guide, I could tell instantly that this was NOT a conversation I wanted to join!)

She showed us family pictures and I get the idea that Mrs. Brunovska is quite a character.  She dresses up each year, for example, as Little Red Riding Hood, for a pageant they have instead of our Halloween tradition.

We toured her small garden, where she has a big vegetable plot, a mini orchard, and chickens and rabbits for eating (she informed us she will be killing 3 rabbits this weekend). 

She let her big dog out for me, but when it started to poop in the garden, it had to be put back in its dog run.

This was such a special event that it almost makes up for not being able to see the horses yesterday.  I guess Mike and Char enjoyed their time in town too.  We all met back at the ship and attended a lecture about how to order and drink coffee in Vienna (apparently there is a right way and a wrong way)...as well as a guide to some pastries we might like to try tomorrow.

Then there was dinner:

The amuse bouche was fried mushroom with some sauce that I thought he said was cranberry, but it didn't look or taste much like cranberry.  Complemented the mushroom nicely, though.  Then came a roasted squash potage with crispy bacon and ravioli (though since there was only one, I guess technically it is a raviolo).  The main course was lardo di colonnato, a roast veal tenderloin (perhaps the most tender cut of meat I've ever had), with Mediterranean vegetables and "cafe de Paris" sauce.  The dessert was banana ice cream with butterscotch sauce and a wafer cookie.

I must make a comment about the dining room.  We were late arriving, so the only table big enough for us was way over in the corner, near the kitchen.  This gave me a view of the entire room and my god does that wait staff work their little buns off.  This is a "long boat" and it is a long restaurant and I could not believe how quickly and efficiently they did their jobs, almost all with smiles on their faces, whether they felt like smiling or not.  Some of the food was long in coming, but everyone seemed to be waiting, so I suspect this was a cooking problem not a wait staff problem. I was very impressed and told maitre'd Alexander that his staff ran like a well oiled machine.

You'd think this would all be enough for one day, but no there was still more to the day.  After dinner was another Folklore show, much better quality than the one we saw in Prague.  I particularly liked the dulcimer player.

Char had gone to bed before this started, and I'm not sure how much Mike got out of it either, but Walt and I loved it.

At 10:30, the Viking Freya pulled away from the Bratislava dock and headed toward Vienna.  Walt and I went out on the sun deck to get one last look.


The two formed a bond when they discovered they are roughly the same age.


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