A sad thing is happening…We’re traversing the last lock on “this” side of the cruise; when we finish rising up dozens of feet in this very tall lock, we’ll be on the “Budapest” side of the cruise and the remaining locks will be the “going down” kin. That means half finished. Do I hear any sympathizing sadness out there??? Please???
It’s hard to believe the cruise is at its midpoint. While I’ve already seen, experienced, tasted and enjoyed more than I could have imagined, this doesn’t mean I’m ready for it all to end—far from it. I think I could do this easily for at least another couple of weeks with no boredom or loss of interest in the passing scenery and activities. Bring on another “____burg” city (just fill in the blank) and I’m ready for it!
Cruise Director Caspar explained about locks and canals during an in-depth program yesterday afternoon in the lounge. He had all kinds of factoids and information about the locks we’re been through and are still to experience.
This lock is our third tonight in a three-hour time period. Locks on the canal and the Main are plentiful and after the first few, you become accustomed to the sensations of a lock passage. Even when I’ve been sleeping, I wake up a bit when we come to a lock; it just feels and sounds “different” than what I’ve become used to.
First you hear a difference in the ship’s engine, just a gentle lowering in speed (and you can see that speed reduction outside, if you’re looking). Then there’s typically a gentle nudge on one side or the other as the Atla moves into the narrow confines of the concrete lock. Since the regular cruising time on our ship is always so smooth and uneventful, you really notice that bit of a nudge or two as you enter a lock.
The ship moves into the lock, sometimes even floating backward a bit to jockey into position. If it’s daylight during the lock passage, it’s suddenly quite dark inside the ship: we’re at the base of tall, moist, grey walls on each side of the ship. I’ve stepped outside to our balcony on many river locks and been astounded at how very close the wall is. Looking down at the water there’s only a little sliver of dark splashiness visible between us and those mammoth, damp walls.
Once in place you may hear a bit of splashing as the lock begins to fill—and with that filling, the Atla begins rising. It goes pretty quickly, really, when you realize how much water needs to be added to the lock to bring our ship up to the next river “level.” As it rises, the wall appears to move in front of my stateroom window. The concrete is wet and there are spots of green mold in some areas and, in the upper reaches of the lock wall, sometimes a sturdy plant or two. The higher the lock’s rise, the longer it takes to pass through the lock machinery. As I write this, we are still rising in the lock—this one is a really tall one.
Then, sky re-appears (either sunshine or stars) and we once again can look down on the water and the shoreline. Once done, the captain seems to really put on the power to get us out and moving again on the canal or river—or maybe it just feels that way because we’ve been down in the lock’s depth for so many minutes.
So, tonight’s lock is our last, “Going up?” elevator ride. We’ll see you (too) soon, Budapest!
ROOM TIP: Locks have offices on them and offices have people. Live people. People who have eyes to see with. Can you imagine what they’ve seen looking out—quite closely, in fact—onto various river cruise boats? Don’t be unprepared for someone to be sitting in a lock office, able to look right into your stateroom. Just sayin’…
INTERNET TIP: Don’t count on having much wifi when traversing a lock. I think it just may be those thick concrete walls… 😉