We are traveling on this river cruise with AMA Waterways. Although we have done many ocean cruises on the big ships this is the first time that we have done a river cruise. It is a difference of night and day. Whereas the ship we traveled on to the Caribbean was 14 decks above water and held 4000 passengers this ship only has 140 passengers. During the night and the morning hours we traveled from Budapest, Hungary to the capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava.
We took a guided tour of the castle and the old city with a Bratislava native, Annamaria. She was very knowledgeable about the city and the history of the country.
They were held by the Nazi’s during World War II during which time the number of Jews went from 15,000 to 700 survivors. They were liberated by the Soviets but then a whole new repressive government controlled them. During this time an architectural feat in a suspension bridge was built. In order to build the bridge the Soviets tore down the Jewish ghettos and their Synagog which sat side by side with the Catholic Church. The Slovakian’s refer to the bridge (which draws people from around the world to view) as UFO. It is easy to see why.
Later a memorial was build on the site of the demolished synagog to honor those that were lost to the Nazi’s. The top features a Star of David
The wall came down in Berlin and was followed in 1989 by the Velvet Revolution ( meaning there was no bloodshed, just a claiming of independence) In 1993 the politicians decided to separate Czechoslovakia and Slovakia. This was a “gentle divorce ” with no ill will on either side towards the other. Anna Maria was only 3 years old when the fall of communism happened but she has listened to the stories that her parents and their generation share with her about what life was like under the repression of first the Nazi’s and then the Soviets. The architecture of the communist period is very stark and purely functional’
Now the country is thriving and is a major participant in the auto industry. 99% of the cars produced here by many major car companies are exported. Tourism is bustling and the old city draws many to appreciate the beautiful buildings and rich history.
There is comic relief in some art.
But since he lost his head twice when it was driven over, a sign was erected to let motorist and tourist know of his presence.
And finally, in front of the French Embassy there is a statue which was positioned so that his rear end faces the embassy ( maybe because Nepolean used his canons to shoot into the city?)
A delightful addition to traveling in an intimate setting is that local talent will board the ship and give us a taste of the culture.
The ship is moving and tomorrow we will arrive in Vienna, Austria.