Saturday, June 14, 2014

Eurocruise Vienna 13/05

We sailed for 24 hours. At 2am we went through our first lock. As we were sailing up the Danube, the locks were lifting us up, that is the water filled the lock and raised us to a higher level. I did not rise for the 2am lock experience, there were many more to come. Nor did I rise before 7am to see Bratislava. Slovakia to the right of us and Austria to the left.

Fishermen's huts along the river.

Approaching our first daytime lock. The captain had invited groups of no more than six into the wheelhouse. It was our turn.

All very high tech. The captain was at another control system at the side of the boat to control our entry into the lock.

You can see a little of the control tower for the lock, but in an cost saving exercise, control now happens remotely from about three central  places.

The wheelhouse. It can be lowered, and was, down into the boat to pass under low bridges. For the lowest of all bridges the captain had his head out a manhole cover in the roof of the wheelhouse.

About 1pm we docked at the river boat port in Vienna. We were bused in coloured groups into the centre of Vienna after a drive along the circular road that rings central Venice, ringstrassen if you like, and after a walking tour we were left to our own devices, with a meeting point at the opera house to return to the ship. Vienna is classy city but so full and crowded with tourists.

The Spanish Riding School, where horses are trained to do quite unnatural movements.

Some Roman ruins.

 This was a very wide walking street in Vienna, leading to St Stephen's church.

In spite of the beautiful cakes we all were hungering for strudel. I was upsized when the waiter asked if I wanted vanilla sauce and I replied yes. It was another $2. Vanilla sauce turned out to be custard and I don't regret the choice. It was the best strudel I have eaten.

Two wealthy looking Viennese women window shopping.

When trams can only be driven at one end, they must have somewhere to turn around, known as a loop.

Remember the post about heights of world ferris wheels. The wheel in a suburb of Vienna is the oldest in the world, dating back to the 19th century and it has an unusual configuration. It looked great.

We were double berthed and had to walk through another boat to get to shore.

We were bused back to our boat for dinner and then bused out back to City Palais Liechtenstein for a concert.

The decoration of the venue was disappointingly restrained.

Champers again.

The chandeliers each weighed four tonnes.

Two female opera singers.

An orchestra and there was a youth performance.

What is the word for three people. Two is a duet. They were terrific and fun too. Did you do this in Vienna too Victor?

Not only am I not so good with the camera, I am not so good with filming either, but I tried. A Strauss waltz in Vienna, how stereotypical, but it was good fun. It was great night and here is a short video that I thought might be classy. It isn't.

It has been a very full day and on the way back to the boat, we toured the Ringstrassen again. We have another day in Vienna yet.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Eurocruise 12/05 Budapest

We had our first breakfast on our ship, buffet style. There was no end to selections of food on offer and I'm afraid the first day we had the full English and some more. After breakfast the 152 passengers were divided into groups by issued colour cards. Red gets on this bus, blue on this bus, etc. We were taken to the Budapest Opera House for a guided tour by the first of our local tour guides and what a fine lad his was. The opera house wasn't half bad either.

The opera house is old, but unlike similar buildings in other cities, there were no warnings off. We could walk on specially made and old carpets, lean against the walls and touch things. It is a living building, beautiful but also for use by performers, students and the public. In my experience, seldom are such buildings so people friendly as the Budapest Opera House.

We were treated to a short performance of a popular opera piece with a glass of champagne in our hands.

The colour is a bit weird in this photo and R and I got on the wrong coloured bus, not even thinking about our colour cards. Our APT issued backpacks all looked the same and there was R's backpack sitting on our seat, where we had left it. Except he was challenged about it and was asked to double check. Oh, not his. Embarrassing. We are on the blue bus and need to be on the yellow one. 'Excuse me, you have left your camera on the seat.' A close call.

We were then off to Hero Square, which I found quite underwhelming. Madame, that is broken down trolley bus being towed, which I find interesting. Clear yourself from photo, if you please.

A nice building on the edge of Hero Square.

Slightly odd bus. What is that about? Revelation later.

We saw quite a number of seagues in Europe, especially in Hungary.

We are on our way to Fishermens Bastion, with great views over the city.

A Trabby, that is the communist car, the Trabant, made of cardboard I think. Put your name down for one when you are pregnant as you are about to become a family. By the time your first child is 18, you might receive one. There are various models, but it was up the government to decide which you receive, so our local guide told us.

At this point old churches were a novelty to us. This is Matthias Church. Note the roof tiles.

How good were the views of Budapest. One of the older single woman on our cruise had become confused, and so R, experienced in caring, steered her in the right direction. For the rest of the cruise, she ignored us.

Parliament House, again.

We had a quick lunch in a cafe and then we were transported back to ship.

Our ship departed about 1pm. Bye bye Budapest. Bye bye number 2 tram.

Elisabeth Bridge.

The Chain Bridge.

The Buda Castle funicular.

Once again, Parliament House.

Remember the bus earlier at Hero Square? Here is in the water.

Under Margaret Bridge and up the Danube, next stop, Vienna, Austria.

I'll just write a little about public transport in Budapest, as it is an interest of mine. Our quiet and air-conditioned trains seem luxurious compared to those in Budapest but that is where the good ends. Budapest trains are noisy and utilitarian, but they are fast and efficient and with a flat fare of I think $1, cheap, for us at least. They absolutely rocket along and the underground stations are well designed and attractive too. However, you would not want to be a person with a physical disability.

The trams were similar. They were hammered along by the drivers and the loading and unloading of passengers was fast. I don't think they have a lot of priority at traffic lights, but drivers of rubber tyred vehicles get out of the trams' path very smartly. They were also noisy, especially outside. I am not sure if the wheels needs grinding to smooth them out or the tracks needed grinding to smooth them out.

To wrap, we did notice some high rise buildings on the outskirts of Budapest, exactly where they should be.