It’s not about the destination- it’s about the journey.
Travel Quote- Road Trip America
Our journey took us on a cruise on the Danube River, through the countries of Hungary, Austria, and Germany. Like life itself, it had its ups and downs.
On the up side, our long ship was modern, sleek, and classy, the service impeccable, and the food and drink, delicious. What is it about European bread? The croissants, so buttery and flakey, and the wine, so light and fragrant?
On the down side, Europe was in the throes of a massive heat wave. Temperatures soared into the 90’s everyday. Thank God I packed some shorts. River levels were so low that we had to switch vessels halfway through the trip.
But we made the most of what was merely an inconvenience. At each stop along the river, we had signed on for an excursion. In each case, we were treated with more than just the stunning scenery.
A young Hungarian guide shared the history of his unfortunate country: invaded by the Romans, the Huns, the Goths, the Mongols, the Ottomans, the Nazis, and the Communists. He humorously questioned, who will invade next? The Americans? If so, at least we were bringing money!
The charming guide at Gottweig Abbey in Austria extolled the beauty and peace of the place. Monks who produce such excellent wine can’t be all bad.
The tour guide in Saltzburg, Austria, greeted us in lederhosen despite the heat. This disgruntled gentleman waxed on about Mozart but barely touched on the filming of The Sound of Music, which was one of the main reasons we had taken the tour. Apparently, many Austrians were not fans of the film, claiming that Hollywood had messed with the actual events of the von Trapp family.
At lunch, however, we were entertained by authentically costumed singers who performed every classic in the film from “My Favorite Things” to “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” At one point, they had us all singing “Edelweiss.”
The delightful town of Regensburg, Germany, was luckily spared of bombing during World War II and managed to maintain its Medieval charm. From massive cathedrals to window boxes to gelato on the street corners, we were even fortunate to catch a lovely bride and groom on the way to their wedding at the town hall.
Present day Nuremberg is noted for its colorful Christmas markets, or Christkindlmarkt,
but a tour through the city also took us past the somber sites of Hitler’s Nazi rallies.
The trip also featured some down time. One day, while relaxing on the ship deck, I overheard a couple talking with a familiar accent. “If you don’t mind my asking, are you guys from Wisconsin?”
They were! I explained that my Dad was from the Badger state, and my childhood had featured biyearly visits to relatives there. We made fast friends with fun-loving Diane and Greg, and enjoyed getting to know them. I have a fond memory of one glorious afternoon, chatting and sipping cocktails with them on the deck, watching castles along the Wachau Valley glide by.
Cruising the Danube was quite an experience. Yet, it wasn’t so much about the destinations, but the journey. It’s the places you see, but more than that, it’s the people you meet along the way.