On Cruising the River Danube: Part 1 of 4

Our first river cruise was a good one, so thought I’d share a bit of it with you. My first thought was 2 posts: the Upper and Lower Danube – but those posts would be too long with too many pics in each post. (That’s a self-imposed standard.)  So, I’ve decided to spread this trip over 4 posts, but in order of occurrence. This post features Prague to Linz.

 

Prague, Czech Republic

Although not located on the Danube, Prague is a common beginning (or end) point for Upper Danube cruises. We first visited Prague last year at the start of our Rick Steves tour. Because we loved it this city by the River Vltava , we didn’t mind returning. For more details and images of Prague, here’s a past post.

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Terezin, Czech Republic

Until last year’s trip, I had never heard of Terezin until our guide mentioned it. After reading about it in Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter, and then watching a documentary on it, I couldn’t pass a tour opportunity to visit. Terezin served as a town and a military installation. The Nazis took it over and turned it into a “model city” for interned Jews. It is an interesting, yet horrific, story. I’ve very glad I visited.

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Regensburg, Germany

A bit more than a two-hour bus ride from Prague (and before boarding the Avalon Passion), we spent the afternoon in Regensburg. Because it wasn’t bombed in WW2, it’s medieval city is still intact – and vibrant!

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Passau, Germany

Our first cruise stop was Passau. This city of three rivers is where the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers meet. Interesting how the Inn’s murky water affects the Danube from this point and beyond. (From here down, it’s not blue.) Someone saved a young Adolph Hitler from drowning in the Inn.  After an Old Town tour, we hiked up to the castle for a scenic view.

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Linz, Austria

Linz is one of the larger cities in Austria. Although not one of my favorite stops, my dad was part of the army that liberated Linz in WW2. From Linz, some passengers went to Salzburg. Because my wife is a mega Sound of Music fan, she wanted more than a couple of hours.

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On Tidbits from Stramberk

The over 5-hour drive from Prague to Krakow is through the rolling plains of the Czech Republic. For lunch, our guide took us off the main highway and into the Carpathian foothills of the Moravian-Silesia region bordering Poland and Slovakia.

Arriving in the quaint town square of Stramberk, I wondered about the availability of restaurants because I didn’t see any people. It turns out that our group of 28 ate in 3 or 4 different places.

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After lunch, my wife and I explored the small town by walking up to the castle above the town. One of the unexpected surprises we encountered were the beautiful old homes.

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Stramberk Castle (also called “Trúba”) sits above the town, and easily reachable by foot. The castle was closed, but the views of the town and the surrounding valley were beautiful.

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Stramberk Ears are an acclaimed snack of the town – and the comes from a 13th century attack by the Tatars that you can read about here and/or here. These soft gingerbread cones are exclusively produced in Stramberk – and are an EU registered trademark. Made from the right proportion of flour, honey, sugar, star anise, clove, cinnamon, and more, they are soft like bread (not hard as a cookies). https://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/the-bloody-story-of-the-stramberk-ears
http://www.discovermoravia.com/our_man_in_moravia/places-of-interest/places-of-interest-in-north-moravia/stramberk/

Some fill them with whipped cream, others add a variety of toppings to them, and others eat them plain. My packaged served as a snack on the bus over several days. Yum.

 

Stramberk was a pleasant surprise for a 2-3 hour respite. Lunch was good and we enjoyed walking around. The 2+ minute video below is from a drone. Enjoy!

On Tidbits of an Epic

An art exhibition was near our hotel in Prague. An exhibition that we never knew. An exhibition that tells an important story that we knew nothing about. A story that is important to not only the Czech people, but one for an entire culture – so we went.

Czechs revere Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939). My recent stained glass post included some of Mucha’s work at St. Vitas Cathedral in Prague.

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From 1910 to 1928, Mucha created 20 paintings on very large canvases celebrating more than a thousand years of Slav history known as The Slav Epic. That was the exhibition close to the hotel – but with only 11 of the canvases.

Each canvas (some 18’ x 24 ‘ – 6m x 8 m) depict important events in Slav history – celebrations, battles, coronations, and religion. I admit knowing very little about this, and the exhibition reinforced that.

Here are three images I took at the exhibition. Below them are resource links to several videos and websites for those who want to know more.

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Resources to Learn More

 

On Prague (Czech Republic)


Click for background music of a very special song to the Czech people.

 

Prague – Praha to the Czechs

Prague – located on the Vltava River, the capital and largest city in the Czech Republic, the historical capital of Bohemia, and the place known as The City of 100 Spires.

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Prague – with its historic Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) providing much of the city’s charm. Once surrounded by a wall, now only a few towers remain. Old Town Square serving as its center while featuring a statue to Jan Hus – a Czech religious reformer who was 100 years before the Reformation.

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Prague – with the historic Charles Bridge connecting Old Town and the Little Quarter located across the Vltava, just below Prague Castle. The bridge served as part of Coronation Way during the days of the monarchy.

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Prague – the home of Prague Castle with the majestic St. Vitus Cathedral within its walls. At our first dinner, two members of the Prague Castle Orchestra (from the opening video – the flute and accordion players) – privately entertained our group.

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Prague – with New Town flourishing outside Old Town. A magnificent collection of Art Nouveau buildings dominating the eyes – as well as a pair of dancers (Dancing Towers) known as Fred and Ginger.

 

Prague – featuring Wenceslas Square as New Town’s main square – the place where thousands of Czechs gathered for 1989’s Velvet Revolution ending one-party rule (Communists). Yes – the square is named after the Good King (of Christmas carol fame) who is buried at St. Vitus Cathedral.

 

Prague, not only a wonderful place to start our tour, it’s a great city for visitors. If you get a chance, GO! Below is 3-minute video about Prague’s Jewish Quarter (in Old Town). Hope you watch. Have you ever been to Prague?

Next stop: Krakow