Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Duna Keringőt: Budapest vagy bust

I took a selfie in my cabin.

Because of the interest of some people on the ship in the operations of the boat [me, me, me!] a tour of the helm was offered while the Captain, Milos Kadar, a Hungarian, was piloting the ship and translation from German would be offered by the Concierge David. So exciting!

It was explained that the Viking Legend has 4 diesel-electric engines aft and is 443 feet long. It is a flat bottomed boat and has less than 3 feet draft. It has two turbo-prop engines in the front. This ship has been in service since 2009. Note all of the Viking dolls in the helm. Captain Kadar was always a very sober and serious man. I love how even surrounded by sophisticated equipment, there is a carpenter's level on the helm. The silver rod with black handle is the tiller for the vessel. Note the phone off the hook, binoculars, and equipment screen. We are coming up to a lock. These handles are the engine throttles. Standing behind Captain Kadar is David, the Concierge. That is the lock, directly ahead of us. Now the first mate, whose name escapes me, is behind the Captain. We are drawing closer to the lock. Captain Kadar takes his position at the starboard side controls. We are entering the lock. We are in the lock and the three ships ahead of us can be seen. Look how tightly they are packed into the lock! We get closer to the three ships. A look back shows the Viking Freya coming into the lock behind us. The Freya is coming closer. The lock begins to close behind us! The lock closes some more. And another shot of the lock closing. Captain Kadar checks our proximity to the lock wall. The wall of the lock rise quickly as water is let out of the lock. The lock walls were greenish-gray and slimy. One passenger actually touched them! Ew!

I went inside to watch the apple strudel making demonstration offered by head chef Lajos Varsanyi [Hungary] and pastry chef Garry [Philippines]. Volunteers were sought from the audience and they were Cathy from Bristol, Connecticut and James from Ohio. Here, Cathy rolls out the strudel dough while David Morgan, the program director narrates. James looks on as the chef adds ingredients to the apples. James adds ingredients to the apples. A nice shot of everybody working on the strudel. James places apples on the dough. Cathy uses the towel to roll the dough over the apples. The dough has been rolled closed.

Actually, the pastry on board left much to be desired. The cakes and tortes were okay, but the flaky pastries needed work and tended to be dense and not flaky. We had much more luck with pastries ashore at Konditerei where one touch with a fork would make them explode into a fountain of confectioners sugar. But otherwise, the food was excellent on our voyage.

David Morgan turned out to be the soul of our ship. He was quite an entertainer with a pleasurable personality. He even could sing! Amazing! He was quite organzied and on top of everything - our tours ran like a top, mostly due to David's efforts! Thanks to David!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dunaj Valčík: Bratislava 2

Now we are in old town Bratislava and still the castle can be seen from there. The façade of Saint Martin's Cathedral has a bit of gold leaf. Here we see our tour guide, Sonja, and behind her, Saint Michael's Gate. Here, a small bridge crosses over into old town. The cherry tree is full of blossoms and a street cat licks the paving stones. Here again, we see Sonja leading us through picturesque old town. All of the old alleyways are alluring and the eateries look captivating. Maybe we will stop there for a bite later?

I found the architecture in the old town to be charming. I especially like the wrought iron railings on windows and balconies that reminded me of those in Madrid. Each building had its own Baroque decorative feature with an Eastern flair that I found added a touch of romance. Maybe I have just read too many romance novels. The truth is that many natives see the town as rundown or decrepit. But what a bargain for visitors!

Finally we reach Hviezdosklavovo Square and the old Slovak National Theater building. At this point we were released on our own. Mom and I retraced our steps to a Konditorei that she had noticed. I had this torte, though I don't recall what it was named. I also photographed the other offerings in the bake shop. All of the baked goods were just as good as they looked.

And that was it, it was time to return to the Viking Legend.