Take me to the river

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

I AMa re­cent con­vert to river cruis­ing (of which more in weeks to come), not least be­cause there are no waves, just lovely rip­ples, and very lit­tle need to be equipped with a phar­ma­copeia of sea­sick reme­dies.

I am a rel­a­tively good sailor but have a slightly queasy stom­ach when it comes to tor­mented seas and rock-an­droll nights and have been known to turn a fas­ci­nat­ing shade of green dur­ing a thun­der­storm — or chun­der­storm, as they are known in my fam­ily.

My best friend and fre­quent trav­el­ling com­pan­ion Chris­tine suf­fers hor­ri­bly from mal de mer — we once agreed, over crisp green ap­ples and calm­ing ginger tea as we pitched around the Bay of Bis­cay, that sea­sick­ness sounds much more man­age­able in French, sort of like some­thing you would or­der in a Parisian brasserie.

Chris­tine boards ocean lin­ers equipped with all man­ner of mo­tion sick­ness reme­dies; oc­ca­sion­ally she has re­sorted to pow­er­ful in­jec­tions from the on­board med­i­cal cen­tre and has been conked out for a day, ris­ing with re­newed cheer to de­mand smoked salmon and cham­pagne. Ap­par­ently such cruise clin­ics do a roar­ing trade on stormy At­lantic cross­ings. When I sailed aboard Queen Mary 2 on its maiden voy­age from Southamp­ton to New York in 2004 there was a force 10 gale and tow­er­ing seas for about 24 hours. Air­borne deck fur­ni­ture went pirou­et­ting off to­wards New­found­land; main­te­nance crew were roped to­gether for safety as they se­cured the re­main­ing steamer chairs. In my cabin on sky-high Deck 11, it was a diet of salted wa­ter crack­ers and flat lemon­ade with just a lit­tle bit of whim­per­ing.

But last month on the Danube, there was none of that. As river cruiser River Cloud II made its stately progress from Bu­dapest to Vi­enna, the small com­ple­ment of pas­sen­gers tucked with gusto into cream-laden cakes and choco­late tortes and as we sailed through Hun­gary, Ser­bia and Slo­vakia into Aus­tria, hol­i­day­mak­ers skimmed past us in speed­boats, run­abouts and tiny fish­ing craft, rock­ing slightly in our wash.

Just past Bratislava, a straw hat went whoosh­ing by my cabin win­dow like a fris­bee. Soon ap­peared a mo­tor cruiser of tanned and par­tially clad Beau­ti­ful Peo­ple; it was a scene like some­thing out of one of those shiny old World of Peter Stuyvesant cin­ema com­mer­cials. They were in hot pur­suit of the er­rant cha­peau, wav­ing madly, their beers held aloft in sa­lute, flecks of foam spin­ning in the sum­mer breeze.

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