We are almost done on the Danube. Next stop is Prague. We will need to take a bus from the river in Passau, Germany to the city. And I just found out there were two groups of travelers; the Regulars and the Leisurely List.
There are 174 “dear guests” on this Viking ship. We have all signed up for different excursions in the countries we visit; each port of call has something to offer. A fairy tale village, a concert in a palace, a cathedral or a beer garden.
For example, today we spent the entire day with an amazing guide named Johann and four other Americans from Minnesota! We drove out to the Austrian countryside to see an Abbey where cheese is still made and high schoolers parade through halls filled with Baroque gold and priceless paintings.
Next we visited an organic dairy farm. The 82 year old grandmother was bent over weeding the circular driveway the entire time, and she was thin and happy! The cows let me pet them and I thought I should be a vegetarian. When we sat down to lunch, I fed the farm’s dog, Silva, meat under the table. She was a cross of Rottweiler with white German Shepherd and I was instantly in love.
Then we drove through a mountain to Steyr. You want to sing all the songs in the Sound of Music. The city homes are magical and date from the 1600s. Two rivers converge on their way to the Danube. Finally Johann tells us how he became a tour guide.
He created a website for tourism and found that Holocaust survivors from the US were looking for their lost towns and homes. They wanted to bring their children back here. He pointed to a spot where Hitler spoke to 40,000 cheering people in Linz and said that Austria was NOT victimized. There were two concentration camps nearby. From such beauty we were swept into the hell of this country’s history.
From Wiener schnitzel to the Mauthausen Camp. We cannot escape our destiny. Soon enough we will be counted with the Leisurely List – those elderly who cannot walk quite as well as the other group of guests. But for now, we forge ahead.
We walk to the Farmers Market with the Slovakian Chef, and we climb the steps to the Monastery in Melk. We put one foot in front of the other. And try not to eat all the poppy seed strudel!