The Broken Dreams of Vidin

Vidin, Bulgaria: capsule to another time. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Vidin, Bulgaria: capsule to another time. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, July 9, 2016

It’s the middle of the afternoon on a Saturday. The temperature hovers near 32°C, and I can literally hear the sound of cheese pizza sizzling on the pavement. No, really: there are two slices of cheese pizza that someone has left on a concrete block next to a bench overlooking Vidin, Bulgaria’s main shopping street.

A shopping street that, I might add, is utterly deserted. Hostel-deserted. A few old men sit drinking beers at a café that looks as worn-out as they do. They stop talking as I walk past. Their heads follow me and then, once I’m safely out of earshot, they resume their conversation. Old habits die hard.

Good Morning, Starshine: the sunrise over the Danube near Vidin, Bulgaria this morning. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Good Morning, Starshine: the sunrise over the Danube near Vidin, Bulgaria this morning. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Sailing the Danube near Vidin. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Sailing the Danube near Vidin this morning. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Today, Viking River CruisesViking Embla arrived in Vidin as we entered our fourth day on this Passage to Eastern Europe river cruise. Up again just after six, I was greeted by another gorgeous sunrise. I enjoyed an early-morning stroll around the Sun Deck, and then headed down to the Restaurant at seven for the start of breakfast.

Breakfast has to be one of my favorite meals aboard a Viking River Cruises ship. The line makes its own yogurt onboard, which is the best I’ve had on any ship, period. It also serves up a wide variety of buffet items, including some Norwegian specialties (say hello to fish!), an assortment of cheeses, fruits, cold cuts, and fresh-baked breads.

Viking Embla's striking Dining Room. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Embla’s striking Dining Room. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

There’s an omelette station where you can have your own creation cooked-to-order. If you’d prefer, a menu is available from your waiter, and contains things like French Toast and pancakes.

Viking offered two tours this morning: an included, four-hour excursion to Belogradchik to see the Belogradchik fortress known simply as Baba Vida; or an optional home-hosted cooking excursion that offers up the chance to experience local cuisine and to make the traditional Bulgarian pastry known as banitsa.

Fresh apples are placed in hand-carved wooden baskets on tables....Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Fresh apples are placed in hand-carved wooden baskets on tables….Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

while additional menu items are available to order from your waiter off a small menu of specialties.

…while additional menu items are available to order from your waiter off a small menu of specialties. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

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Our Voyage Report from onboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Embla in Eastern Europe will begin tomorrow from the famous Iron Gates! Be sure to follow along on twitter @deckchairblog or using the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

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