TFrom Grocka, Serbia
CRUISING DOWN THE DANUBE – THIS TIME ON A REAL BOAT
For Me, This Day Was the Pinnacle of Our Entire Trip
This was was my Numero Uno, the most favorite day, of the whole trip (#1 – ✮✮✮✮✮).
This day almost did not happen. When Elizabeth and I met Stasa at the Croatian border with Serbia on June 13, he told us that the company he had been working with trying to secure our sailing trip down the Danube to Tabula Traiana, the Roman Emperor’s stone plaque which I remembered from when I was 5, had bailed on him.
“They canceled us at the last minute,” he said. “But I still have another chance – with a hotel boat,” he added.
“No problem,” I replied. “If it is meant to be, it will be.”
And I knew it WAS meant to be. Our Spirit guides have done an amazing job clearing the hurdles for us on this entire trip. – Stonehenge, La Alhambra, Vienna, Salzburg, s sort of like the crown jewel of the entire expedition in my mind.
Sure enough, that’s what they did. Even before we got to Belgrade, Stasa got a confirmation from that hotel in Donji Milanovac that we are ON (!) for June 15 for a sailing trip in a private boat.
A PERFECT DAY!
Wow, what a day it was. PERFECTION from beginning to end. The grand finale of our journey down the Danube from Vienna to its tumultuous passage through the narrow gorge that separates Romania and Serbia. And then – Tabula Traiana – a marker, carved on a Danube cliff nearly two millennia ago to honor a Roman emperor who first conquered this part of the world.
It was a fulfillment of my dream and a 67-year old memory which inspired this trip down Europe’s mightiest river, and all the way back 2,000 years in history.
When I was about 5, my parents took me and my sister a Mississippi-style paddle boat down the Danube from Veliko Gradiste to the end of the two cauldrons where the Roman Emperor Traian’s plaque has been honoring his conquests since the 1st century AD. And my memory of it was as vivid now as it was 67 years ago.
And on June 15, 2017, Elizabeth and I and my nephew Stasa were able to experience it all in a 5-hour sailing in a private boat, captained by Sasa, a former Yugoslav Navy officer, and the boat owner Boban, both of Donji Milsanovac.
To start with, here is a 9-minute video I have just made about that marvelous sailing, capped by a scrumptious early dinner at a Donji MIlanovac restaurant. Throughout the video, you will hear the “Blue Danube” music I recorded in 2013. It was as if it was meant to be for this film.
SAILING DOWN THE DANUBE TO TABULA TRAIANA – A film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – June 15, 2017
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TABULA TRAIANA – “LARGER THAN LIFE”
Here are now some still shots from this wonderful day. But first, allow me one editorial comment about the Tabula Traiana – the final destination of this sailing trip.
Usually our childhood memories make the things seem LARGER than they actually are. I remember when I first returned to Belgrade in 1989, after a 20 year-exile, I was amazed how SMALL the capital of Yugoslavia was relative to what I remember when I lived there in my youth. Back then I thought it was a big city.
With this sailing trip down the Danube, and in particular with regard to the Tabula Traiana, just the opposite happened. The plaque I remember from when I was 5 was actually quite SMALL. This one, which my nephew Stasa and I climbed on on June 15, seemed “larger than life.” And it was… relative to human lives and sizes (Tabula Traiana is 4 m wide and 1.75 m high; the Roman Emperor’s mother Nerva erected it in his honor c. 105 AD).
I guess that’s because back in 1950, we could only see Traian’s Tabula from a distance, from a large river paddle boat. Either way, here are some pictures so you can judge for yourself.
In 1972, when the Iron Gate I Hydroelectric Power Station was built (causing the water level to rise by about 35m), the plaque was raised 45 m from its original location to the present place. It reads:
- IMP. CAESAR. DIVI. NERVAE. F
NERVA TRAIANVS. AVG. GERM
PONTIF MAXIMUS TRIB POT IIII
PATER PATRIAE COS III
MONTIBVS EXCISI(s) ANCO(ni)BVS
SVBLAT(i)S VIA(m) F(ecit)
The text was interpreted by Otto Benndorf to mean:
- Emperor Caesar son of the divine Nerva, Nerva Trajan, the Augustus, Germanicus, Pontifex Maximus, invested for the fourth time as Tribune, Father of the Fatherland, Consul for the third time, excavating mountain rocks and using wood beams has made this road.
And now, here are also some still shots from this wonderful day.
The rock sculpture of Decebalus (above) is a 42.9 m in height and 31.6 m in width carving in rock of the face of Decebalus, the last king of Dacia, who fought against the Roman emperors Domitian and Trajan to preserve the independence of his country, which corresponded to modern Romania. The sculpture was made between 1994 and 2004, on a rocky outcrop on the river Danube, at the Iron Gates, which form the border between Romania and Serbia. It is located near the city of Orșova in Romania. It is the tallest rock relief in Europe.
Photos of the Danube inlet near Veliko Gradiste, where my aunt and uncle lived. This where both Stasa and I recalled many fond, and some not so nice, memories.
Approaching Golubac fortress, with its tumultuous histeory. Prior to its construction over 2,000 years ago, it was the site of a Roman settlement. During the Middle Ages, it became the object of many battles, especially between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary. It changed hands repeatedly, passing between Turks, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Serbs, and Austrians, until 1867, when it was turned over to the Serbia.