SCENIC CRUISING AND BELFAST, HUNGARY
Before we post about the tour from Thursday afternoon we wanted to provide a few additional photos of our room.
The bathroom has terrific lighting including lighting on the two shelves below the two sinks.
The second two photos show the Toto Toilet including the remote control.
As we mentioned, we each have our own desk similar to the PH on-board Serenity. The desks are wider but not as deep. They did a nice job with the finish out inside each desk which is an upgrade from the interior of the desks on Serenity.
The safe has a nice digital readout and is wider than those on the Ocean Vessels and lights up when unlocked.
Another nice feature that is in the guest rooms on the River Cruise ships and the Yacht Esprit is an iPad. Anne Marie has been using this to look at menus, and newspapers and is a very nice feature. We remember this being considered for the Ocean Vessels at one point in time and are glad to see it available on the River Cruise ships.
A couple of photos as we arrived to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Yesterday afternoon, Anne Marie stayed on Mozart while Keith took a tour shortly after we arrived to Bratislava, Slovakia yesterday afternoon.
The tour was called Bratislava's Ultimate Survivor: Chatam Sofer Memorial. The tour allows visitors to explore the remaining portion of Chatam Sofer Memorial where hundreds of rabbis and teachers are buried from the golden age of Bratislava's Jewish Heritage.
It is considered to be one of the most important Jewish heritage sites in Slovakia and the only remaining portion of the centuries old Jewish Cemetery. It narrowly survived the construction of an underground tunnel in 1943.
The tour included discussion of the rabbi that the site is named after. The site was restored in accordance of the standards of Jewish law. Keith has never seen any Cemetery like this one. The Grave Stones were enormous with lots of writing in Hebrew on most of them.
All men on the tour were required to wear something to cover their head. A hat was fine. Jewish Yamaka's were available for anyone not having a hat.
Keith also visited the Bratislava Castle built in the 9th century which provides beautiful views of the Danube River and Slovakia. Its location provided an important vantage point for protecting the area. We also saw the gardens which were only redone a couple of years ago.
We visited the Jewish Cultural Museum. The size of the museum is not large but it is very impactful with the items on display. It tells many stories about Jewish life, customs and rituals. It includes Torahs, yads which are pointers for the Torah, the equipment and a bench used for circumcision, Chanukah menorahs, shofars which are blown on Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur along with some other items. There was a room with a temporary display of Jewish Bibles.
From there the tour visited the Old Town where we saw the Holocaust monument and the oldest Jewish settlement of the city. It is located in the center of the old town on the site of the former Neolog Synagogue demolished in 1969. It was erect in 1996 to commemorate the 105,000 Holocaust victims from Slovakia. Similar to what we said the other day to put this into perspective more deaths than the number of people living in our city back home and ten times+ the number of people living in our former town. Words cannot describe these horrific acts, the people who died, others who suffered, the loss of parents, children, siblings and the scars it left on those who didn't die.
As we walked the old town we came across a former house with our surname on the front where people lived before the Holocaust. Another reminder of the tragic impact the Holocaust had on so many families. As you walk the town it is easy to go back in time with many buildings in place as they were back then.
It was a very educational tour. We only had eight people on the tour including one person from the ship who was assisting a guest with some physical issues in lieu of her family member. Keith learned a great deal and actually wants to followup by doing additional research.
Throughout the tour we are reminded about how Jewish people were treated. This included a cemetery in an area near the Danube that would be flooded frequently, or the removal of Jews from their homes, their community where they were sent to concentration camps to die. It puts a lot into perspective and one of those items is that while there are ups and downs in most everyone's lives today we are have so much to be thankful for.
Before dinner we saw local entertainment that was brought on-board. Two brothers who sang and played musical instruments. It is not the type of show we would normally see but one that was enjoyable to watch. We've included a couple of short video clips.
This is the dinner menu from last evening at Waterside.
After the show we enjoyed dinner at Waterside with three other people.
We were joined by Josef Lumetsberger who is General Manager of Operations for Crystal Cruises River Cruises. Josef was instrumental in the rollout of this product including the deployment of the five Crystal River Cruises vessels which comprise Crystal's River Cruise fleet. We have known Josef for many years. He has held a variety of positions at Crystal Cruises for the Ocean Vessels including Executive Chef and Hotel Director. We last saw Josef on the 2015 World Cruise.
We were also joined by John Stoll who is Vice President of Crystal Cruises Land Programs for the Ocean Vessels, Esprit Yacht and the new Endeavor Expedition vessel planned for deployment in 2020. John is on-board for a vacation with his wife and his mother-in-law and they are celebrating a special wedding anniversary.
Josef is standing next to Anne Marie.
Dinner was terrific. Where do we begin. Well let's start with the appetizer. Anne Marie had the Caesar salad for her first course with Onion Soup as the second course. It was recommended that she have the salad first so she did.
Keith had a Herring Appetizer whose flavor was enhanced with the sauce that accompanied it. His second course was the Caesar salad.
We both asked for the salad with light dressing as we have learned to do at Prego on the Ocean Vessels.
On 10 day or greater cruises Fresh Lobster is brought on board for one evening and last evening is when it was featured on the menu. Keith had learned that the beef is from Austria. When he ordered he asked for the Lobster and asked if it would be possible to get a piece of the beef which was also on the menu. The Waiter said absolutely and he could make it a Surf and Turf and that worked out well for Keith. Anne Marie had the Lobster.
We had dessert which was Cheese for Keith and Ice Cream for Anne Marie.
We enjoyed non-stop conversation.
At the conclusion of dinner we learned after this was made public and the crew informed about the public not being able to book cruises on Mozart starting in 2020. It was a surprise since we have been enjoying the vessel and the itinerary and talked about taking the same itinerary on the ship in 2020 or 2021.
With that said there is a reason for most things to happen and in our case the good is that it will force us to select an itinerary on one of the four newer Crystal River Vessels.
Following dinner we toured around the vessel and we all went for a night-cap at the Palm Court. We even surprised Mark Farris showing up so late for a drink while he was entertaining. Yes, there is hope for us after all. LOL.
We got to sleep around midnight.
It was a fun evening.
Keith wasn't up as early as usual so when he got up he skipped the workout and had coffee, read and wrote and managed to speak with our son. We enjoyed breakfast in the room as we got ready to arrive to Budapest. This is our first time in Budapest and first time in Hungary. Most everything about this part of the trip is a first for us.
Because we have covered a lot in todays post we are going to stop for today. We will post all about Budapest tomorrow.
Anne Marie & Keith