September 7, 2023
We were going to do a bike tour at 8:30am, but when we both woke at 6:30, we looked at each other and say nah…. Turned off our alarms and went back to sleep.
After waking up, we got some food and walked to the nearby Fortress and park. It’s free to walk through – we thought about visiting the Military Museum, but they only took local cash, and we didn’t have any.
we walked into the Old Town area and had lunch. Just a margarita pizza, fruit juice, and beer, but it was nice, and cheap – including a nice tip, it was about $21.
We stopped at a bank ATM because we were next headed to the Nikola Tesla museum, and they also only take local cash.
They do tours once an hour at the museum, and we got to see the electricity demonstrations. Tesla was one of the smartest men who ever lived – he invented the AC induction motor (which he later sold to Westinghouse), worked with Thomas Edison, his designs were used at Niagara Falls, and he even pioneered wireless communications. He was born in Smiljan, which is now part of Croatia, and emigrated to the US in 1884 where he became a naturalized citizen. He lived in various part of the US, and died in NYC in 1943, and 2000 people attended his state funeral.
We left there and walked to the Temple of St. Sava, a beautiful Serban orthodox church, was under construction from 1935 to 2004.
Then we walked to the Hilton and had them get us a cab back to the river cruise ship.
We are tied up to AmaVerde (Ama Waterways river cruise ship), and had to walk through their lobby to get off and on our ship.
Totally ironic – in March 2022 we were going to cruise on that exact ship, the AmaVerde from Budapest to Giurgiu Romania, so essentially this same itinerary. The lines are very similar in their inclusions and quality, although after dining on board during the river cruise expo in March 2022 in Budapest, I (and my friends) preferred the food on Avalon over Ama. Their lobby is more ornate, and the crew wear a little more formal attire. They are generally more expensive than Avalon, and they do include prepaid gratuities. Vic swore the Ama ship was wider, but I didn’t think so. I looked it up – our Avalon ship is 443’ long and 39’ wide and holds up to 166 passengers with 47 crew members. AmaVerde is also 443’ long but 38’ wide, and holds up to 161 passengers with 51 crew members.
September 8, 2023
Today we have two ports – Novi Sad (Serbia) and Ilok (Croatia), with included excursion options in both ports.
Vic and I are fighting something (lots of people coughing on our ship), so we didn’t do the morning excursion (Days of Wine and Honey, which would visit a bee farm and winery), and instead we walked around the town on our own.
We were back on the ship by lunch. We were late leaving Novi Sad (Serbia) because of paperwork. The ship had collected our passports at the beginning of the tour, but when we got to Serbia we had to go to the front desk and claim our passports and carry them with us in Serbia. We had to give them back after Novi Sad today, and they will return them tomorrow before we disembark.
Ilok was our first stop in Croatia – a very small town, with only 5,000 residents in the village. Most of them work for wineries, since Roman times. The average salary is 650 Euros per month, and rent is 300 Euros per month.
We went into the longest cellar – 100 meters long, built in 1450. This winery was Queen Elizabeth’s favorite – she ordered 11,000 bottles of Trauminac wine for her wedding, for the wedding of each of her children, and each of her grandchildren.
There are some very old bottles in the cellar. When the Serbians invaded, a clever winemaker built a wall, painted it black, moved some mold onto it, and hid the wine behind it – and the bottles were never found.
We did a wine tasting of 3 wines. We were told there are three steps – first, look at the color of the wine; second, swirl it and then smell it, finally sip and let it sit in your mouth for 3-5 seconds, then swallow.
We tried the Riesling, the Trauminac (a Gewurtstrauminer, their most popular), and then a Capistran red.
Twice each year, this town hosts a wine marathon – all 21 wine cellars participate.
This is the last day of our river cruise. We prepaid the gratuities, and these are divided equally among all crew, from the captain to the dishwashers. We were going to tip the chef extra because of all the amazing dishes he made for me this week, but earlier today we noticed a different chef. We asked, and the previous chef had left for his time off.
Back to the cabin right after dinner to pack!