Danube Odyssey, Part 6
and visit to painters' home
Index to Photos / Page Updated Jan. 19, 2008 -
(More than 200 additional photos taken on the Nolans' two-week cruise through
parts of Austria, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia are posted in several Lewis
Nolan albums at www.ritzpix.com, a website that requires sign-in)
By LEWIS NOLAN
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Nov. 17, 2007, Saturday - To Bratislava
Today was an overall waste of time. After an early lunch,
the boat docked in the capital of the old Hungary
city of Bratislava
at 11:30 a.m. We took a brief tourbus tour of the downtown area on a horrid
day, with snow and ice covering the sidewalks and much of the streets we were
on. Betty and I decided to stay on the bus to read our books while most of the
passengers took a walking (and slipping and sliding) tour of an old church and
saw the outsides of several other old buildings.
Later in the day, the bus took us to a private home in a
suburban area, where a locally prominent artist and his wife live. His work
decorates school books. They were nice enough but their
English skills were quite limited. We drank a taste of a locally produced,
white wine served with white bread, topped with butter heavily laden with
garlic. Thankfully, darkness comes early in these northern climes and we
departed fairly early, about 4:30 p.m.
It was a long and dreary day that was made worse by the
cold. But at least we had another excellent meal on the boat that evening,
beginning with the captain's party featuring wine and snacks served in the bar.
That was followed by a delicious dinner of sliced, veal tenderloin served with
a yummy onion pie and followed by crème brulee for dessert. It was an elegant
meal, with the whole crew displayed and introduced by name and country of
origin. Most of the cooks were young men from Bulgaria and other onetime parts of
the Soviet Bloc.
We dined with Don and Mary Dorsman of South
Dakota and a Jewish couple from Southern
California, Max and Sonia Mittleman. The dinner was splendidly
served, with all the waiter staff on display for the captain. Afterwards, Betty
happened to be awake when the boat pulled out of Bratislava,
capital of the former Soviet possession of Slovakia, population 6.3 million.
My thought is that Slovakia
would be a dreary place to visit even in nice weather.
The guidebook Fodor's writes that Slovakia
spent more than 70 years with common statehood with the Czech Republic
and centuries under Hungarian and Hapsburg rule. "Bratislava,
the capital of Hungary
for nearly 250 years until 1784, and now the capital of the new Slovak
republic, was once a city filled with picturesque streets and Gothic churches.
Forty years of communist rule hid its ancient beauty behind hulking, now
dilapidated, futuristic structures. . ."
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