The Blue Danube

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From the Black Forest in Germany to the Black Sea in Romania, the Danube flows and meanders “sparkling blue”, through fabulous European cities and countryside – farms, vineyards, and little villages. The Danube took me from Budapest in Hungary, to Nuremberg in Germany, and through other countries on the way, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia, unfolding storylines of kings and queens, ancient and modern – happy endings and some not so happy. I thought a river cruise would be relaxing and quiet, and for some it was, but for me, everyday brought a new adventure and a new place to explore and discover. And even while sailing, there was exquisite dining, a gym, a pool, a sundeck and the excitement of
numerous locks and bridges to pass through and under!

The main theme of the Danube is music, art, magnificent cathedrals and baroque abbeys – and some stunningly beautiful scenery. I chose to add two nights before my cruise in Budapest and one night afterwards in Nuremburg.

I was fascinated that Budapest was once two cities – Buda and Pest and the Danube flows through the middle. Buda was for the rich, as the architecture, houses and gardens show, while Pest was for the working class, flat and dull in comparison! I had a private tour to see the main sights in a morning. The guide gave us the history in a nutshell and explained the layout of the city. We even managed to fit in a pitstop to try Hungarian strudels, sweet and spicy. A visit to the Houses of Parliament is a must – oh! the treasures and the gold were dazzling! Red carpets, sweeping ballastrades and oil paintings. I watched in silent awe as the soldiers changed their positions while guarding the most famous Imperial Crown.

Vienna was not disappointing – not at all! And crowded! But I didn’t fail to catch the romance – horse drawn carriages riding through the city squares – at every turn grand buildings and facades. What a place to sit out in the street with a Viennese coffee and a famous Vienna pastry.

A must do treat in Vienna (apart from the many!) is to hear an orchestral concert. I was captured, and blown away by the magic, and surprisingly I even recognised a few of the pieces by Strauss! It was here that I first started hearing the name over and over, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – his life unfolded, his genius and his legacy. I spent a day in Salzburg, visited the house where he was born in 1756 and revered his violin in a glass case … it was small and to think that chin-rest cupped the chin of the 6-year-old maestro himself!

Apart from all things Mozart in Salzburg – there are many many references to the Von Trapp family and the Sound of Music. Even now 50 years later, the story is fascinating and the songs come to life at the fountains squares and steps where they set the film And there, up on the hill, looking down is the Abbey – Maria’s sanctuary! It’s a story of the trials of World War 2 and the occupation – and I would learn more of this at my journey’s end in Nuremburg.

I spent an afternoon at the Documentationsentrum. It’s a permanent exhibition of a time of terror for the world at the hands of Hitler. I read the scripts of the Nuremberg Trials, walked the paths of the Rally Grounds, where the National Socialists held their elaborate, annual propaganda spectacles. It was chilling, and irrationally a cold fear gripped me and I had to rush out into the warm sunshine.

But the memories of the Blue Danube are the best of all – the lazy days meandering its oxbow corners, twists and turns – sometimes wide, sometimes narrow – and always something new to look at and enjoy!

I stopped at delightful towns like Melk, Greinburg and Durnstein in the Wachau Valley. I always did the walking tours – listening to the local guides visiting the castles and the markets shopping for local ice cream and poking around in little gift shops.

My holiday was just a week and I travelled only about 700 miles – but in time I travelled from the days of Richard the Lionheart, held prisoner at Durnstein Castle in 1193 to modern day history with visits to both Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Bratislava, newly formed capital of Slovakia in 1993.

But I have a question … why is the Danube blue? In reality it’s not – it’s more a brownish yellow than blue due to the lime and mud stirred up from the river bed. Its romance is in the medieval castles, baroque churches and rococo palaces. But you will see it as blue if you are in love! So that’s all of us, right?

Come and share my experience of Mozart and the Blue Danube!
See you in the gallery! 

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No, I'm not a Travel Guru, but I have loved travelling since I was five years old, and more than love travel... I love to share my experiences... and show you our Wonderful World through my eyes!

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