Saturday, July 30, 2011

Checking into Serbia

20 km down stream we had to tie up to a rusty old boat and were taken into the customs buildings on shore. Checking into Serbia took a little longer as they needed much information and  paperwork in triplicate was produced. Also we had to buy a 30 day visa for 55 Euros. Again we had to go through customs and then to the police. Even though they were very friendly it took quite a while.
Customs is what took all the time. the police just looked at the passports, stamped it and asked if we had any children on board.  When all the paper work was done the police went with me to the boat and I asked the customs officer to come with me as well as I wanted to give him something. When we arrived at the boat the police officer pointed to the flag and mumbled something in his native tongue ( he did not speak English or German)  The customs officer informed me we were flying the wrong courtesy flag. The Croatian flag, and the Serbian flag look very similar and I had put up the wrong one. This was a NO NO.... the war might be over but the Serbian's and the Croatians still have no fuzzy feeling for each other, that was quite clear.
We gave both of them a pint of maple syrup and they were very happy. 

Serbia and Croatia share the boarder for the next 140 km but we intend to stay on the Serbian side so we don't have to go through customs on the Croatian side.  After that we are only in Serbian territory for  about 230 km. Serbia then shares it's boarder with Romania for about 250 km. Again we will stay on the Serbian side. After that Romania and Bulgaria share the border. We will have to decide where to check in at that point.

Leaving Europe

 The boarder between Hungary and Serbia. This is were we officially checked out of the EU as Serbia is not a member country.

The procedures for checking out were pretty simple and strait forward. At Mohács ( the last town in Hungary on the Danube) we were called on the VHF and told to dock on the yellow pontoon. Once there I had to go in to the building with the ship's papers and passports. after seeing customs and  police  we could continue on our way. The procedure took no more than 30 minutes.

More Canadians on the Danube

 Two Canadian boaters on the Danube. Ken, Cloe and their friend Henry were on our boat for happy hour. They came from Turkey and are going UP stream. We shared information and we learned a lot from them about the area where we are going.
We explored the area of Baja Hungary by hopping on the local bus and went 45 km in land.
In the picture on the right we are wsiting our turn to get on the bus. Hungarian people are not very tall as you can see.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

From Budapest to Baja (still Hungary)

   Time to move on......
We are leaving the beautiful city of Budapest and move further down stream. Our destination Baja. Again we leave under cloudy skies and it's not long or the rain starts. We have had rain of and on for the last 9 days now. However between the rain we enjoy some clear skies and even some sun as was the case this day.
The Danube is wide and deep, average 7 to 800 feet wide and anywhere from 25 to 30 feet deep.

 Because the river is so wide the current is not quite as strong. However we still can make 9 to 10 kt easy.
Today we want to travel quite a distance (170 km) and we get to our destination just as a storm is looming ahead. We just made it before the rain, thunder and lightning as well as high winds.  "Baja" is on a side arm about 3 or 4 km off the Danube. We tied up to a collection of barges and old work boats just before the wind and the rain was at it's worst.

The roast had been in the slow cooker all day and dinner was ready to enjoy. It was not long before  the storm had passed and we noticed a perfect rainbow out the port side window.
We untied the boat and made our way to the marina in down town Baja.
We noticed right away a boat with a Canadian flag and low and behold..... other Canadian boaters.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Budapest by night

 The highlight of our tour.

Budapest by night with our own privet tour guide "Norbi"
Their "statue of liberty"

Budapest large coversd market

The market place in down town Budapest. 
Hungarian sausage anyone???

 The  "chain link" suspended  bridge connecting Buda and Pest

Visiters in Budapest

 We were delighted to welcome on board Norbi and Kelley Hegedűs and their two children Sam and Lily

 Sam turned out to be an excellent captain!!
We had the good fortune to go back with Norbi and Kelley to their home for dinner.


 One of the first things we learned is that Budapest is actually a twin city made up from "Buda" ( the picture on the top left) on the west side of the Danube, and "Pest" ( the picture on the middle right) on the east side of the Danube.
In the late 1800  a bridge ( the bottom picture ) was build and the two separate cities became one "Budapest"
Hungary's population is around 10 million and 20% live in Budapest.

We really enjoyed strolling through and discovering this truly amazing city with it's grand buildings everywhere you look

On rout to Budapest

Slovakia on our left, and Hungary on our right.  Here we are looking into the Hungarian side of the Danube and have a very good look of the "Cathedral of Esztergom" It boost of having the largest alter in the world. We did not stop here to investigate and take their word for it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

On our way to Budapest

 It has rained a lot and the river is full of "floatsome"  At times I would look out to the Danube from where we were docked and there would be large trees blocking the way in or out of the harbor. I had to push this tree away from in front of the boat before we could leave the dock.
 Once back on the Danube we only had to go a short distance to where the 37km long "Gabčikovo" canal was build. A dam was build and the Danube continues on through a lock which is almost all ways  out of service so all traffic takes the canal. I believe the canal was build because the Danube is very narrow at this point and would be difficult to navigate for the large commercial ship's.
The closer you get to the lock ( the lock in the canal is at the opposite end from the lock in the Danube)  which is located near the end of the canal the  higher the sides (dikes) become. At the entrance of the lock you actually are boating at the level of the top of the trees beside the canal. The lock is a 20 meter drop.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

statues of Bratislava

 We will remember Bratislava for it's life size bronze  statues. One of the statues is a worker crawling out of a man hole.
The one on the left is the actual statue and the one on the right is an enterprising "street artist" who is copying the actual statue. 

Bratislava Slovakia

Le rêve at rest in Bratislava at "Marina Dodo. We will not forget the people in Marina Dodo!!!

Looking down the Danube from the castle grounds.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bratislava yacht harbour

In the "Dodo Zsoldos" marina we are welcomed with open arms. and Alo is traded for Alo and we try some of their local snaps "Becherovka". People here are so friendly it will be hard to leave. 
Eliska and I!!!

Eliska and her doughter Andrea and her son Robert and the two of us.

Eliska is going back to the kitchen to prepare the freshly caught fish.

From Vienna to Bratislave

Just a few km past Vienna we passed through the 15th lock in the Danube. Only three more to go to the Black sea.

Our cruise from Vienna to Bratislava was with overcast skies and rain off and on. 

This lock was challenging in that it was extremely windy and there was a double tow in the lock with us. We had to tie up almost beside the tug  that was hooked up to the double.

The rest of the trip to Bratislava was fast and furious!!! We left Vienna at 10 am and we arrived in Bratislava at 2.30 pm.

I thought the Danube was fast before Vienna but it seems to get faster all the time. We traveled 61 km in 4.5 hours and had to go through one lock. We turned 1600 RPM and never saw speeds less than 11.5 kn. many times we clocked over 12 kn and a couple of times I saw 12.9 kn on the screen.  I did not know the boat would go this fast!!!


 some  pictures of Vienna.
We biked into Vienna and toured the sights by foot.
It was nice to visit, but after a day we both had enough.

One of the streets with the"high end" stores. Its not unusual to see two security guards in front of one store

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dürnstein in the Wachau region

 WE biked from our marina in Spiz to Dürnstein the most visited village in the Wachau area.
The region is a small wine producing area with "Grüner veltliner" (a white wine) being the most common. About 10 % of their production is a red wine from the "Blauburger" variety.
By the time we returned to the boat we had biked over 30km.Not that far but considering the temp. was over 30 deg we were tuckered out by the time we got back. So a refreshing swim in the Danube was very nice.

 Besides wine there are also a lot of "marillen"  (apricots) as well.
The locals drink a "snaps" made from Marillen.

Some stores have a sign " everything Marillen" and sure enough they have Marillen  soap, cream, shampoo, jam, cake,and not to forget Snaps and Liqueur.
The man in the picture told us that they had an exceptional good crop this year.