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Iron Gate:    Another picture going through the Iron Gate.   The most surprising thing about the Danube to us was the lack of houses along the lower part of the river through Hungary, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria.   The upper Danube that passes through Germany and Austria, which we took a few years ago, is lined with houses and you see bikers, hikers, etc along the Danube.  On the lower Danube the  banks resembled the banks of the Amazon lined with thick growth of trees and vegetation.  We took the Danube cruise in later April and the river was flooded (trees were under I would guess 4-6 feet of water in many places).

 

More Iron Gate:  The nice thing about riverboats is that you can spend time on the top deck reading, chatting with people, or just looking at the scenery. and get a nice view of things. 

 

Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria  One of the bad things about traveling like we do is we stop at hotels etc for lunch but never get to go in anyone's houses to see how people live.  We would have loved to go in some of those houses you can see in the background of this picture. 

 

Novi Sad, Serbia:   You can see the Viking Europe from a castle in Novi Sad, Hungary.  I forget the name of the castle but Novi Sad is one of the towns in Serbia where NATO bombed some bridges (not the one you see) in 1999 to force Serbia to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanians from Kosovo.   We never discussed politics with local people although our guide in Novi Sad touched upon the subject very gingerly.   I doubt if former President Clinton is very popular in Novi Sad, although Serbia does want Western tourists coming and spending $$$. 

 

Breakfast in Mozart's home:  Believe it or not Susan managed to scrounge a hotel room for two days at the end of the cruise in the house where  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from 1784-87 just before his death in 1791.  Supposedly in this very room, which is now the hotel Koenig von Ungarn where I am stuffing my face, Mozart wrote his most famous opera, The Marriage of Figaro.  The music you are now hearing is the overture to The Marriage of Figaro.   It seemed just a little sacrilegious, given that neither Susan nor I can play a musical instrument or carry a tune.   But hey, they had great pancakes!

 

Bucharest, Romania:    In Communist times they said about Bucharest:  Whatever happens in Bucharest, stays in Bucharest.  No wait that's Las Vegas!   But it could have been Bucharest since in Communist times nothing happened there.  Now things are changing.   It has lots of goods in store window, restored buildings, and (alas) more cars.  Susan was in Bucharest in the 1980s when the country was Communist and she says there is a difference between night and day.  

 

Danube in bed:   We could lay in bed and look out the window of the Viking Europe.   We learned the hard way to keep our curtains closed when we went to bed at night.  Often riverboats tie up along side of each other at ports so when you get up in the morning you might be looking into another person's cabin about two feet away, and them looking into yours.    

 

Vienna:   Susan looking at typical apartment houses in Vienna.  We walked around Vienna for two days, stopping at coffee houses and cafes.  Vienna is a great walking city and has convenient buses and a modern subway system.   One night we went to a Mozart and Strauss concert: 3 violins, flute, cello, base, and piano.  They played in a room with marble floor and walls.  I didn't seven persons playing string instruments could sound so loud.  They were sooooooooo good, we almost wished we lived 250 years ago before the time of rap when this was standard music fare. 

 

Black Sea:    The Danube empties into the Black Sea.   Our river trip started in Budapest and went downstream to the Black Sea, then back upstream covering the same territory twice to Budapest and then another 100 miles further upstream to Vienna where the cruise ended.   If you click the above link you will see that the Danube delta actually goes through two more countries of Moldova and Ukraine.   We never went to those countries since our boat stopped at the beginning of the delta and we were bussed the last 50 miles to the sea.  

 

Belgrade, Serbia  Susan walking along a main shopping boulevard, once a Roman throughfare,  in Belgrade, Serbia.    You can view some beautiful scenes of Belgrade by clicking on the above link. We noticed (at least I did) that Serbian women are very style conscious.  

 

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