We are venturing into unfamiliar territory. With all the changes these poor Iron Curtain countries have gone through, they
are probably unfamiliar even to the locals. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, we saw as we sailed by yesterday, so it’s still unfamiliar. We did notice that the condition of the barges we pass on the river has gone from ship-shape to rust-bucket. A “vintage” Slovakian dredge squalled for grease so desperately we heard it a mile upriver.
Budapest is another story. Cruisers are so anxious to get in that our ship is triple-parked. We walk through the two other ships’ lobbies to get ashore. I knew so little about the city (cities, actually, Buda and Pest) that I didn’t know I wanted to come until we got here. After two weeks of German/Austrian architecture, everything seems so wonderfully exotic here. It feels like there’s more breathing room too.
Gypsy women lurk around the Fisherman’s Bastion and Hero’s square trying to sell tablecloths and sweaters. Our guide discouraged us from buying from them, but I’ve decided that the tablecloths are pretty, and even if they aren’t handmade as claimed, mine will have been purchased from a real Gypsy–if I find one tomorrow.