August 27th, 2010 browsing by day


August 27 in Bratislava, Slovakia

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I left Tulln Thursday morning at mid morning, after doing grocery shopping. It was a nice hot day. Just one lock before Vienna. One of the very few impolite boaters I met along the way, except the power tripper without their rear view mirrors, was right in line behind me for the lock. An Austrian. He would have heard me ask the lock keeper on which side the floating bollards were. He raced right around and in front of me and took the only floating bollard. I could have killed the idiot. He had just a light small power boat with two crew and I had a heck of a time because there was a fierce wind keeping me struggling on the individual changes down the 10 or more fixed bollards. When I complained he just ignored me. But then waiting for the next lock, in Vienna, there was Peter a Viennese 60 year old out taking videos of  me while I was waiting along the side for my turn. He gave me a bag full of tomatoes that he had just gathered in his sister’s garden. So, I did not even make a stop in Vienna. I have seen Vienna on several previous trips. Beautiful city but, frankly, I prefer the smaller places like Bratislava, Passau, etc.

Vienna has the worst Danube presentation of any city I have so far passed through. Very unattractive river front. Just a pack of tour boats and unattractive apartment and commercial buildings. On the left bank, which is a peninsula between the old Danube and the dammed Danube, there are male nudist showing off their tans to the occasional boaters like me and the commercial river traffic and the tourist boats. Weird.

There were not a lot of moorages to puck from beyond Vienna and it was getting late and the weather predictions were for possible lightning storms. The river current kept getting faster. I tried to enter into a couple spots that would have been out of the current but was unable to power back into the current. I picked an anchorage spot and for a while it looked that I was set. But then I saw the anchor slipping and next I was hitting bottom. The current pushed the boat over on its starboard side. I had no way to power off. I was just getting ready to call for a rescue. But then the current pushed the boat back into deeper water again. The Danforth just does not grab into a gravel bottom. So, I changed to the heavier plow anchor. And then, it was getting dark now, I saw an abandoned gravel pit loading area. Two tugs were parked inside. I managed to turn inside and then sighed relief. A friendly push boat captain let me raft onto his tug. Here I was for the first time again in a country where I do not speak the language. But Marosi Frantisek and I had a grand evening. We finished off a fifth of Cognac. We used pen and paper to make some conversation. He had just lost his 27 year old son. This morning he had breakfast ready for me. What a guy! Dakujen Pekne! He showed me his two 12 cylinder diesels and his generators are bigger than most small tugs would have as engines…. It is incredible what these guys push up the Danube in this roaring current. Just before my anchoring mishap I ran into Leendert Hoogendoorn on “Volonta”. He is Marinus’s older brother.  It looked like he was carrying a load of coal back down (to New Castle?). But I am not sure he knew who I was.

So I was just a half hour away from Bratislava, last night and I arrived in the marina just south of the city at 8 a.m. I rode the bike into town. There are no cycle paths and it is a bit scary on the main highways. Even in the city itself I have to use the sidewalks. As you all know I have been in more churches than all the Popes put together. But Saint Martin dome has to be one of the finest. The stained glass is exquisite. The treasure chambers with the altar ornaments and vestments worn by the cardinals and bishops that have served here over the centuries are very well preserved and exhibited. The below picture of the glass covered hole in the church floor, down to the burial caves, underneath the church, which can also be visited. I also show the contrast of the many old historic buildings that have been totally left in disrepair during the communist rule.

The vision in my right eye is still blurred and I have trouble making out the color of the red and green channel markers. I must try and find a repair job for it. I shall stay here till Sunday and hope to be able to make another trek into town on the bicycle for mass at St. Martin at 9 a.m. Then Budapest is only two/three days flush away. I plan spend a few days sightseeing Budapest. Seth has purchased my new lap top.

I am now at KM 1865. So, about 1/4 done on the Danube. I have done about 1/2 the distance of the approx 3400 k.m. journey. But this last part is much faster than the earlier part. I should be done and in the Black Sea, at this rate, by the end of September.