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Novi Sad Castle:    Arriving in Novi Sad, Serbia  we are met by this castle.   You can learn more about it than we know by simple clicking the above link.  Susan and I are not "castle" people.  We would rather just walk around town and watch and meet a few people.    We even like to visit the local McDonalds to compare their Big Macs and Cokes to the ones in the U.S.   We discovered once that the best Cokes in the world are sold in Myanmar (formerly Burma).  They still have fizz in them there like they did in the U.S. 50 years ago.

 

Belvedere Castle:  We had never been to a place that had so many palaces and lavish baroque buildings as Vienna.  I guess when you tax half the world for your own pleasure it's not all that hard.   This little abode was constructed 300 years ago for Prince Eugene of Savoy for his military expertise in defending Vienna from the Ottoman Turks.  Vienna was the high-water mark for the Turks in Europe.  They were driven back from the gates of Vienna in 1683 never to return.   The Ottoman Empire completely collapsed at the end of WWI in 1918, only to be reborn as the modern state of Turkey. 

 

Bombed building in Belgrade:   This is one of military buildings in Belgrade that was bombed by NATO planes in 1999 in their attempt to stop Serbia in carrying out ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo.   I snapped the pictures as our tour bus drove by the place.  The Serbs have always thought of Kosovo as their ethnic and ancestral homeland (like Christians and Jews think of Jerusalem) , although in 1999 the country was 90% Albanian and 10% Serbs.   Serbia wanted to make the population more Serbian and less Albanians so they could better control it.  

 

Strauss's Home:   On the second floor of this building in Vienna, directly above this present-day McDonald's, Johann Strauss wrote the Blue Danube waltz.   We had a Big Mac in his honor.   When we were in Vienna, we ate where Strauss lived and slept where Mozart lived.  Both composers no doubt are turning in their graves. 

 

Novi Sad, Serbia:  If there is one thing we noticed about the towns and cities we visited were the abundance of outdoor restaurants and coffee shops.  Also, all of the towns we visited had histories that dated back 2000 years to Greek and Roman times.   In fact, the Danube river marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire, where land to the north was "barbarian" land.   Come to think of it aren't the people writing the history always the civilized ones and the other people the barbarians?          

 

Romanian Dancers: We stopped to eat at a hotel in the Romanian capital of Bucharest  and were treated to some traditional Romanian dancing and folk music.  Romanian folk dance and music with its gypsy roots is considered by many people as the best in Europe.    

 

Viking Europe:   The Viking Europe is one of dozens of river boats that ply the Danube and other rivers of Europe in summer months.   They glide so smooth in the water you can never tell if you are moving or tied up on the dock.   Another nice thing about riverboats in contrast to ocean-going cruise ships is that riverboats dock right in the middle of town and you just get off and are right there.

 

 Castle on a Rock:   If you look closely you will see a castle built on top of this granite formation.   I don't know the name of the castle but it was somewhere on the north shore of the Danube in Serbia.  This was surprising since most of the old cities (Belgrade, Buda, Vienna, ... ) and castles along the Danube were built on the south side of the river since that was the side of the Roman Empire, whereas the north side was the side of the barbarians (goths, germans, celtics, franks, ... everyone not Roman). 

 

Novi Sad, Serbia:  This is just some small town we passed in Serbia.   One thing we noticed was that most of the houses were made of stone and concrete and had red tile roofs.   Every town also had a few churches with tall steeples.  The river was flooded one our trip but none of the houses seemed to be under water although they are build right down on the water.

 

 Another town on the Danube:   The weather on our cruise changed from sun to cloudy and rain a couple times a day it seemed.  

 

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