In case you missed it, for the next few days I’ll be embarked on the Adventures by Disney Danube River Cruise and sharing my experience here. You can find my previous dispatches here as we dive into Day 3:
Today we got a bit of a later start by meeting our guides at 9:00 am. Breakfast was from 7:30 to 9:30 with Early Risers pastries from 6:30 to 7:30 and Late Risers from 9:30 to 10:30. We arrived in Bratislava at around 8:45, and following a briefing were on our way to explore the town with our local expert. We were told we would be passing through locks at 5:00 am so I woke up to see that. It was pretty cool.
Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is quite charming. Fun sculptures are located throughout the town including a man peeping out of the hole in the sidewalk. Another neat feature is some of the cannonballs used on the city by Napoleon are still lodged in the building.
After our tour, we boarded the buses to head to Devin Castle. The castle, which is at the river’s edge that divides Slovakia and Austria, has a long history, but is a ruin today. We started our visit with a climb to the top. Inside a cave at the top, was an interesting museum that was a fantastic respite on this 90-degree day. After we had time to survey the area, we got to participate in some interactive activities. First we took our hand at archery, which ended up not being as hard as it looked. We then took our turn at coin spinning, which was much harder than it looked. That being said, it made for a great souvenir. We then witnessed a fighting/stunt demonstration, which was some fun. We then made our way back to the busses to return for lunch.
While we had the chance to spend a little bit more time in Bratislava, I took the opportunity to cool down for a bit. There were two options for lunch. You could enjoy a barbecue on the sundeck or a curry meal in the main restaurant. Despite the heat, I opted for the BBQ, which ended up being quite expansive with various salad options, burgers, chicken, hot dogs, and fish. For dessert they had pastries, fruit, and a sundae bar.
We had some time to relax after lunch before our next departure at 3:00. We then boarded buses to head to Schloss Hof. This is Prince Eugene of Savoy’s country estate and is actually located in Austria. This meant we had about a 45-minute bus ride to the estate. On many of my journeys, people have compared places to Versailles (This is the Versailles of…), but most disappoint. That being said, Schloss Hof has been my highlight of the trip thus far. While not as expansive as Versailles, the grounds and staff were impressive. We were met with a themed guide who took us into the hidden tunnel of the estate. Apparently only special groups get to explore the Utilidor of Austria, but we enjoyed the cool temperatures and “secret passageway” vibe. Once we got to the palace, the place was beautiful. We were not allowed to take pictures inside the space, so please make sure you visit if you ever find yourself in Austria.
When we were in the main ballroom, we were given a baroque waltz lesson. The dance to a minuet was easy to learn and the group mastered it fairly quickly. The hardest part was the pairing up process. It was too bad that we couldn’t take pictures inside, as it would have made for a nice photo.
The gardens and fountains, while still under reconstruction, were also very impressive. It is not often you get to explore a baroque venue like this, so it was a neat treat. We then got to meet some of the animals of the estate. The team at Schloss Hof is trying to preserve the blue-eyed white donkey as well as the four antlered goats that roam the estate. There is even a gorgeous white peacock. A memorable moment is when we got to witness a genuine donkey fight, complete with donkey kick. (No donkeys were harmed during this Adventure by Disney).
I should mention, that while the adults were touring the various rooms, the Junior Adventurers were baking chocolate chip cookies and visiting the petting zoo. I am a bit jealous about the petting zoo. While I did get to see plenty of animals, we did walk past the petting zoo and it looks like a lot of fun. At the end, the grownups were given some schnapps to “freshen up” and some even enjoyed the cookies made by the Junior Adventurers. We then returned to the buses for our journey back to Slovakia and the AmaLea.
We arrived just in time to prepare for dinner. The dinner didn’t have a listed theme, but it was tasty. I also took advantage of being able to order off the kid’s menu, as their dessert sounded fantastic (it was). Here were my selections:
Appetizer: Pineapple Cocktail
Soup: California Cream Soup
Main: Course: Confit Chicken
Dessert: Ice Cup “Summer Time” (Banana Ice Cream, Caramel Sauce)
Following dinner, and about an hour break, there were local guest entertainers. “The Aphrodites” were amazing. This Salon Orchestra played everything from ABBA to Sinatra in a fun way filled with a lot of humor. I really enjoyed their rendition of the Pink Panther theme. Many folks were tuckered out from the full day, but they missed out. If you ever get the chance to see them, don’t miss it. After that, our resident Star Wars Adventure Guide George hosted a showing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but we had an early day the next morning so I returned to my room. There I found the pin of the day which featured Pluto waltzing the Blue Danube and a recipe card for Slovakian Pork Stew with Root Vegetables. Tomorrow… Vienna
FanBoy is a Disney dweeb who has worked at Disneyland and Walt Disney World