September 5, 2023
We sailed this morning, and arrived in Vidin Bulgaria around 11:30am.
We had lunch in the dining room – there is a buffet at lunch time, and when I walked up and saw the pasta with broccoli, the chef said there were onions in it, did I want it? I said no, onions don’t agree with me, so he spoke to one of the other servers and had him go and make me one in the kitchen with no onions, and they brought it out to our table. The tomato sauce was absolutely delicious – I asked the chef if he made it, and he said he did and if I wanted it again during the cruise just let him know because he has a lot back there!
The tour options today were a hike to a rock formation, a visit to a modern winery, or a walking tour of the town and fortress in town, and they all left at 2pm. We decided to borrow the bikes and go to the fortress on our own. We borrowed one e-bike for me, so I could try it since I’m considering getting one, and one regular bike for Vic. The “Adventure host” crew member brought the bikes up the ramp for us, and gave us a brief instruction, and we were on our way. Yeah, shouldn’t have tried the e-bike, now I really want one! LOL!
It didn’t take long to get to the Fortress, and we got some local cash and paid to go inside. The fortress/castle was built in the 10th century, and at one time withstood an eight-month-long siege by Byzantine forces. It was enlarged and modernized in the late 14th century, when it was the capital for Czar Ivan Stratsimir. As of the end of the 18th century, it was no longer used.
After we explored the castle, we got on our bikes to head back to the ship, and saw the tour group from our ship coming toward us to enter the castle. We rode our bikes through town and through the main tourist/shopping area, and we were back at the ship by 3pm.
Since almost everyone was off the ship on excursions, I took advantage and took photos and videos throughout the ship. (Go see my separate blog post about the ship)
From 4-4:45pm today there was tea time, so I went down to see what it was like. Lots of tea choices, small sandwiches, and desserts. There was another woman there, so we each grabbed a dessert and sat down and chatted for a while.
September 6, 2023
We slept a little late (although luckily the time had changed and we got one more hour of sleep). We woke up to the ship entering a lock! I stayed in the room and got photos and videos, and Vic went up on the sun deck. We actually went through two rather quickly, on both sides of a very large dam.
When they built the dam, the level of the river had to rise over 35 meters (around 100’ feet), and some towns and islands ended up under water. Some of them relocated to higher ground. Before the locks, for 200 days a year this part of the river was not navigable due to weather.
We grabbed breakfast, and then went up to the sun deck to watch the ship sail through the beautiful landscapes.
There is an iconic stone carving on this part of the Danube – the rock sculpture of Decebalus. He was beloved ruler from around 100 AD, and from 1994-2004 by just 2 sculptors. It is 180’ high, and 82’ wide.
After lunch, we were free to disembark in Donji Milanovic, a small town in Serbia with a population of just 2400 people. We had chosen to do the hike in the Djerdap National Park, so the bus took us up part of the way, and then ew had about a mile hike up to scenic overlooks of the Danube.
Then the bus took us to the Kapetan Misin hill estate where we had snacks and got to try the honey brandy (Rakia, which we liked so much Vic got a bottle).
Then back to the ship, and while we were eating dinner, the ship moved to the town of Golubac, our last stop of the day.
After dinner, we were taken in groups into the fortress, which dates back to the 14th century (1335). It was closed, so we were the only ones in the castle, and after a short tour we could roam on our own.
There had been over 300 battles at the fortress, but no one ever conquered it. In one of the towers, they found over 7000 arrowheads. It fell into disrepair, and from the 1930s to 2016 there was a road that went through the fortress (you can see the marks left by some larger vehicles in the arches). Restoration began in 2014 and finished in 2019. There have been over 700K visitors already (the town only has 800 residents, but it is now growing). When the river level rose, the lowest level of the castle and cannon towers went under water.