TRAVEL THERE:ON THE DANUBE BEND
The third day of our trip began on the river. We cruised an area known as the Danube Bend and while it is a pleasant stretch, it’s not exactly postcard worthy. Bratislava, Slovakia waited around then Bend and a lovely evening of entertainment was in store, but our morning was quiet.
A Slow Start
This was the only day we didn’t have to be up and about for a morning shore excursion, so we took it a little slow. I was up before Bill and when I looked out the window I saw piles of dirt along the riverbank which were similar to the piles of sand American road crews keep for icy weather. I have no idea what the sand was for, but that’s what the piles looked like. As I said, not exactly postcard perfect.
While we took our time, it’s not like we were lag-a-beds. Breakfast was only served until 9:30 in the restaurant and we got there in plenty of time for Bill to order from the menu. I stuck to nibbling goodies from the buffet.
All manner of entertainments were available on board after breakfast. The “Safety Instructions” were mandatory, a sort of lifeboat drill for river cruisers, but the Nautical Talk, Wheelhouse Tour, Apple Strudel Demonstration and Vienna Coffeehouse Talk were all a matter of choice. We listened to some of the nautical information, but skipped the Wheelhouse Tour, because the wheelhouse was enclosed in glass and we could peek in whenever our hearts desired.
Our favorite entertainment of the morning was the locks. When we were in Oregon we watched a riverboat go through the Bonneville Locks, but I assure you it was much more exciting to be on a riverboat in the locks – not to mention that we were on the Danube, not the Columbia. It is amazing how quickly the water fills the lock once the gates are closed behind you. Then you sail away on a part of the river that is much higher than you were just minutes ago.
We skipped the Apple Strudel Demonstration. I’m not all that fond of fresh apples and I don’t like baked apples at all. I knew I wasn’t going to try to duplicate their recipe and I didn’t want the promised samples. I attended the Coffeehouse Talk, but it wasn’t as informative as I had hoped. I would have been interested in more information about the history of the coffeehouses and I depend on Rick Steves for my tipping advice, so perhaps I should have just stayed up on deck enjoying the locks. The bottom line of the cruise director’s chat was that Americans over-tip. So what? I bet the cruise director didn’t complain about overtipping when he counted his take.
In hindsight, I think I would have been better off spending more time up on deck or perhaps enjoying my balcony. We pulled into Bratislava early and had lunch, eagerly anticipating the afternoon’s activities. Come back next week for the shore excursion.