Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cruising the Danube to Esztergom

Monday June 22, 2015

As alluded to in the last post,  our boat left without us and we were to re-board it for lunch at Visegrad a bit upriver. So once back on board I guess we can officially claim to have started our cruise up the Danube. On the map our journey looked like this.  We started in Hungary (Budapest)  and traveled through Austria and Germany to Nuremberg. At that point we disembarked and took a coach to Prague in the Czech Republicfor a final two days.

But now let's get underway up this historic river that threads its way between rolling or rocky hills and past tiny hamlets with ancient churches as well as larger more modern cities. My wife's journal records that she was surprised at how much of the shoreline
was undeveloped with trees right down to the riverbank.


The rocky sections are ideal for siting ancient castles as we will see shortly.

Modern castles can also be seen

Lunch on the afternoon of June 22nd was followed by the requisite nautical safety drill. We were  sternly told that although the river seems placid and we are often within spitting distance of the shore, that the currents are strong and deadly.   

With life jackets safely stowed under our bed, we returned to the lounge for a brief talk on the nature and construction of our longship.  The most noteworthy factoid was that our power comes from close to home. The engines are diesel electric and made by Caterpillar in Peoria, IL  Our next appointment was for a tour of the wheelhouse (that has no wheel by the way). We met the First Mate who handled the steering details as our Captain was not comfortable in English.  Not to worry though,  as he was fluent in a half dozen other European languages and was working this summer to upgrade his English.
Our First Mate
His view from the wheelhouse

And as noted no wheel just a computer and the tiny joystick below. Extraordinary! 

The other note is that the entire house is on hydraulics so it can be lowered to get under some of the lower older bridges along the way.
From inside it looks like this in normal position.

Now it is in lowered position.

Here is normal from the outside 
Here is how it looked when lowered.
The awnings over the deck chairs also fold down as well in tight spots.
One of the first truly grand sights after Budapest was the green dome of  Esztergom's Renaissance  Basilica, which is the largest building in Hungary according the guidebooks.

As you get closer the size of the building becomes more evident and you can also see the ancient Royal Castle.

The telephoto lens gives you some more detail. 

  In the case of the castle generations of Hungarian Kings ruled the country from this rocky outcropping between the 10th to  13th centuries.  
As we pass silently by the city we cross under a modern highway bridge and out into open water again..


We will sail on through the evening and pass through our first set of locks around 10 PM.
I will deal with that in the next entry.



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