After three days in Budapest, we cruised during the night into the newly formed independent republic of Slovakia (1993).
Slovakia (or Slovak Republic) is a landlocked country situated in the heart of central Europe. It is the size of West Virginia. It was also the second half of the Czechoslovak federal state. In the 10th century, the Magyars conquered the Slovaks and they remained under the Hungarian or Habsburg rule until 1918.
After breakfast, we disembarked for a tour of Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, the famous Danube city with a picturesque setting at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains. Once the capital of Hungary, Bratislava’s history dates back to the Celtic and Roman times. Our tour of the city featured the Old Town, the historic heart of Bratislava where we saw the beautiful St. Martin’s Cathedral, built in the 14th and 15th centuries. We strolled down the Michalska, a pedestrian walk lined with cafes and charming bookstores. The thoroughfare lead us to Michael’s Gate, a remnant of the medieval fortifications. The 15th century tower offered us a magnificent view of the city. We also toured the neoclassical Archbishop’s Palace. In the Palace’s Hall of Mirros, we got to see where Napoleon and the Austrian Emperor Francis I signed the historic Peace of Pressburg after the battle of Austerlitz in 1805.
Bratislava is dominated by its massive square castle which was the favorite residence of the Halsburg Queen, Maria Theresa.
On board our ship, we were given an introductory lesson on the basics of the German language. That night, we passed through border formalities in Vienna, Austria. Think classic, musical Vienna!