Shortly before arriving in Vienna, our ship entered a large lock on the Danube. We had passed through one earlier at 6am, but most people, including me, missed that one. This new one was just after lunch, so many passengers came up to the bow on the ship on the sun desk to watch us pass through the lock. I was particularly interested, because each year I would teach my Year 9 students about canals and locks in the Industrial Revolution history unit. Now, for the first time, I would see one in operation with my own eyes.
Everything happened slowly, yet it was surprising how quickly the water filled our chamber and raised our ship to the level of the waters beyond the lock. We were all quite amazed with how close to the lock wall our ship was manoeuvred, as there was literally only a few cm between the ship and the stone wall. This precision, however, left plenty of room for a large freight barge to enter the lock alongside of us.
When our water level had reached the same level as the water we were entering, the gate was withdrawn and we were soon moving again. In the distance, the tall buildings of Vienna were visible. In about another twenty minutes’ time we were entering the Austrian capital city.
This was the second of sixteen Danube locks our ship will pass through between Budapest and Kelheim. Their depths range from 5.2 metres to 19 metres. There are quite a few more locks on the new waterways we will enter beyond that point.