Naked in Eastern Europe
Since the inception of MidLife Road Trip, we have always encouraged others to stretch their boundaries. It would be hypocritical of us to merely play the role of encouragers without ever stepping out of our own comfort zones. So when Viking River Cruises offered to host me on a trip to Eastern Europe, I decided that it was high time for me to face my fears, shed my inhibitions, and go naked.
By naked, I don’t mean without clothes. (insert sigh of relief emoji here) It’s a metaphorical naked, describing how I feel whenever I’m without my DSLR camera. As a travel journalist, my DSLR camera has been my primary tool of the trade and I’ve had one with me on each of my 10 previous trips to Europe. Though over time I find myself using more and more of my smartphone photos with my articles, the thought of traveling abroad without my “real camera” is as frightening to me as it would be for you to actually see me naked.
A trip to Dallas earlier this year allowed me to experiment with a Hasselblad True Zoom Camera Mod for my Moto Z Force smartphone and gave me enough confidence to make the trip without my big boy camera.
Following are some of my favorite photos from various stops on my incredible Viking River Passage to Eastern Europe cruise. All photos were taken and edited with the smartphone provided to me by Verizon Wireless. I was so pleased with the results that I plan to go naked on my trip to Tahiti next month:)
Our Viking adventure began in Bucharest, Romania where we explored the shops and restaurants of the Old Town district and the remains of the Old Princely Court of Vlad the Impaler a.k.a. Dracula!! Pictured below are the Palace of the Czech Bank, Casa Oamenjilor de Știință, and a montage of Old Town photos.
The Belgradochik Rocks are a geological wonder, stretching over 18 miles of the Bulgarian countryside. The rocks are home to hundreds of caves and a Roman fortress. A climb to the top offers spectacular views of the city below.
Golubac Fortress in Serbia
One of the most magical moments of the trip happened early one morning. Just after the fog lifted off the Danube, we sailed past the medieval Golubac Fortress. I was so thankful that the ship’s program director, Violetta, made an announcement that we would be passing by. I would have hated to have missed it as this is perhaps my favorite photo from the entire journey.
A couple of the highlights of our tour of Belgrade included a stop at the spectacular St. Sava Cathedral, the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Balkans, and a dinner and wine pairing at the Panajotovic Wine Cellars located in caverns beneath the city.
Confession time: Whenever traveling in Europe, I sign up for almost every wine excursion available because A) I love wine, and B) I love photographing wineries. Here are a couple of my favorite photos from the Ilok Winery.
Though many buildings in Osijek are riddled with bullet holes from Croatia’s War of Independence (1991-1995), the town is still quite charming.
Though we had tons of incredible cultural entertainment aboard the ship, my favorite by far was seeing the Horsemen of the Puszta. These Hungarian cowboys are unbelievably skilled and entertaining. Some of the horses from this picturesque horse farm have been used the HBO Game of Thrones series!
I first visited Budapest with Viking River Cruises in 2014 and was super excited to be back. The city’s architecture is a library of postcards waiting to be photographed. The morning we arrived, I opened the curtains in my stateroom and was elated to see that we had docked right next to the spectacular Chain Bridge! After a day of touring the city with Viking, I set out on foot to explore more on my own. The Buda side of the city is relatively flat and very walkable. I think I logged in over 5 miles on my FitBit that day. Below are photos of the Chain Bridge, the Train Station, and the famous Hungarian Parliament Building that you see in so many of Viking’s commercials and ads.
Have you ever “gone naked” in your travels?