"" Writer's Wanderings: Cruising The Danube - On To Bratislava, Slovakia

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Cruising The Danube - On To Bratislava, Slovakia

For the second day in a row we had a morning of cruising the Danube. It was leisurely but not quite as sunny as the day before. The interesting scenery was interrupted only by the presentation of apple strudel making. The chef came into the lounge where most of us were gathered and demonstrated how he makes apple strudel (his mother's recipe). The tasting was the best part.

Shortly after lunch we arrived in Bratislava and gathered our things to go on an excursion. The temperatures had warmed a bit and it was a much more pleasant day for touring. The focal point of Bratislava is hard to miss. It sits high above the city and the river. It is the Bratislava Castle, a square building with four towers. This would be our first stop.

Unfortunately we could not get inside the castle itself but the grounds were interesting and the interior courtyard was decorated for Christmas. There were some live animals to delight the kids as well as a huge nativity scene and a neat sleigh.

The view from the castle was lovely as would be expected but of course still a little chilly and windy.

We boarded the bus and rode down to the old town area and began a walk through the main area of the town. The town was not bustling. For some reason I seem to recall that many shops were closed. Perhaps it was a holiday we weren't aware of.

We passed one window that caught my eye with an unusual product--at least one I'd never seen. Honey wine. I looked it up. It can be served hot or cold and in the old days, the very old days, it was called mead. A while later we got to sample a warm honey wine. Tasted a bit like I remember a hot toddy tasting when my parents would make one to chase away cold symptoms.

There are apparently a lot of unusual statues in Bratislava but the one our guide was most happy to point out to us was one in the street, a service worker crawling out of a manhole. He has a name, Cumil and has been there since 1997. You can understand why his head and nose are shiny. You rub one and you get good luck. You rub the other if you want children--of course after looking at our group she said grandchildren would work too. I hope I rubbed the right one for luck, kids.

Our tour ended at the Christmas Market where we were on our own to explore as the sun disappeared into an early evening twilight. The market was a bit different than the ones we'd seen in Austria and Germany. Of course they would exhibit more of the Slovakian culture and the local flavor of Bratislava.

I liked Bratislava. Something about it felt homey. Maybe because it was closer to my Czech roots.

Our walk back to the riverboat was pleasant. If only the weather had been this cooperative earlier in the week there would have been much more pleasant outings along the way. But what do you expect when you choose to explore during the Christmas season?

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