Viking Eastern European Cruise

I don’t travel light. My 30″ luggage has a ‘HEAVY’ airline tag on two sides. I bought an additional carry-on too. Because I had an upgrade, British Air let me check three bags. Nice. AND for the record, I wore all but five things and they were weather specific that we didn’t have.

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On to the actual Viking Cruise. It measured up to the other Viking journeys…the ship,

DSC07442.jpgthe only catamaran in their fleet, was so wide, so comfortable, and spiffy. I wrote about the trip last night and lost it….grrrrr. I just can’t do the experience justice. We saw government buildings, bombed out buildings, cathedrals, souvenir shops, a family owned horse farm, folk dancers, lace table cloths, paprika, paintings, great graffiti, and a violin workshop. There were sooooo many highlights that I can’t even keep it straight in my head. Ooops, I forgot the Village Museum, Muzeul Satului, which was very cool. I loved attending Madame Butterfly at the Budapest Opera House. There were was the awesome experience of getting blessed by an Eastern Orthodox Priest, too.

Something interesting. Each country a different local guide–and a different take on the Serbo-Croation War. There were interesting perspectives on Tito’s dictatorship….some indications that the elderly really considered him the benevolent dictator….providing jobs that are not available any longer. Romania and Bulgaria were the bleakest….The population decline is significant….residents choosing to work abroad. Employment is key. Damn, I think I may have to ask Belinda to make a nice short paragraph…it would be more accurate. I may have said this in the previous entry: There just wasn’t much for show and tell in Romania and Bulgaria–and Serbia too. Croatia seemed to be more determined to rebuild. These countries have been invaded, bushwhacked, conquered, ravaged, etc. There’s darn little left. Still beautiful. This was a very, very good lesson. America is wondrous even if it is flawed.

Gypsies: I have this thing about Gypsies…I will not go into detail. Just a teen fantasy thing that involves a painted wagon and a dark swarthy gypsy man. Babs has nearly ruined it for me…telling me that gypsies smell like curry. That just blows me away it is sooooo funny. I mean, how does she know this? I hope she is reading this. This cannot ruin my gypsy fantasy. I learned that the Hungarians saw that the Nazis were losing the war, but they still opted to send off their Jews and Gypsies to concentration camps. There are hardly any left there. What makes mankind so cruel?

Ship life was as always…fascinating to me how strangers connect…sort of like the book/movie, Ship of Fools. I just loved the dynamics. People aren’t just quick to connect but they seem to share personal experiences that I wonder if they share at home. My personal favorites: Two couples in their 70s-80s, best friends, from Thibodaux, Louisiana. Frances is in her 80s…she came over to me in the bar the first day to ask about my port that she noticed. She is a breast cancer survivor…after that connection we were just sisters…but we never really did much with them until near the end of the cruise. Her husband gave me a sweet pink pearl bracelet as a talisman. We had after dinner drinks with them…she told me that she is so happy with this, her second marriage. They have been married 5 years. She summarized her first marriage something like this. “I was his slave. My parents sent me to a Catholic boarding school–I got pregnant when I was 15.” I think she had 8 or 9 children. Wow. We also met a divine couple…the Rosenthal’s from London. They have visited nearly all the concentration camps. They are just so precious. I hate it that there is little likelihood that we will ever meet again. BUT, meeting them gave Belinda and me hours of great commentary. I just love river cruising.

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I am going to post some photos…no particular order. DSC07400.JPG

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