Saturday, November 19, 2016

And we're sailing! First morning cruising the Danube! Day 9, June 3, 2016

We had a restful night's sleep and were looking forward to our first day on board, which would include our first stop in a new country!  But that wouldn't happen until this afternoon. This morning was filled with plenty to keep us occupied until we'd arrive in Bratislava!

After breakfast we had our mandatory safety drill, life vests and all!

And then one of the highlights of the morning was traveling through the first lock of the cruise. This first lock we'd be going through was a big one! I think the crew said it was 33 ft, but that may not be quite right - I just know it was big, and it was quite the adventure to watch the full process, on that first morning of sailing, with so many passengers up on the sky deck!  I find the process of the locks fascinating, and apparently so do many of the other passengers!

Our approach towards the entrance to the lock...

The doors opening up for us to go in!

This lock is big enough for two other boats to fit in there with us!

And we're in....waiting for the water to rise

We started out way down low at the bottom and the water fills up once the back doors close, raising our boat until it's level with the water at the other side...

Now we can see how high the water on the other side of the lock is, and where we're heading!

This is the other side of the lock for the boats coming the other direction, that will go from a higher water level to a lower one.

After passing through, we had a few different choices of scheduled activities as we sailed on to Bratislava. An option was a short tour of the Wheelhouse or another choice was a talk given by our Program Director, Edina about her life growing up under Communism.  Alycen, Katie and I decided to go listen to Edina.  I thought Alex might go check out the wheelhouse, but in the end, he decided on a quick nap!

Edina's talk was fascinating. For the most part she shared very fond memories of her youth growing up in a Communist regime. She said that she felt she was very close with her family; there wasn't a lot for them to do when they were at home, and there wasn't an opportunity to go away from home, so that meant they spent a lot of time together, growing close to one another. It wasn't an easy life, but she didn't seem to have the negative or bitter stories that several other people had shared with me previously on this trip. It was a interesting to hear this perspective!

Afterward, the kitchen staff shared their secrets on how to prepare a proper Apple Strudel! Even with some passenger participation, including Alycen!

And of course when they were done, we all got to taste some delicious strudel!

Next we had a presentation on the various coffeehouses of Vienna! We learned all about the different types of coffee and how to order!

All this, and it wasn't even lunchtime yet!  We'd be docking in Bratislava at 2:00 pm, so we did still have a bit of time to enjoy the sites along the river and have a leisurely lunch before our excursion into the city.

Next up.....Bratislava, Slovak Republic!