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Header for the Danube II Issue–pictures cruising the Danube River.

Danube River Cruise II

Enjoy the pictures of Wachau Valley, Melk, and Vienna.
Scenes from our Danube River Cruise.

Enjoying lunch at Vienna's oldest restaurant
..Opening Comments from Bob

......Pictorial Feast: On this page we are cruising the Danube River. Our focus is on a beautiful section of the river called ......the Wachau Valley, the primary vineyard region for Austria. We will pay a brief visit to Melk Abbey, an astounding ......place. From there we spend time in historic, gorgeous Vienna, once home to the powerful Habsburg Dynasty.


Cruising the Wachau Valley–the major wine growing region in Austria. The Pilgimrage church Maria Taferl at the top of the hill is an early creation of Jakob Prandtauer who also desigened and built the Abby at Melk. On a clear day you can see the Alps from the terrace in front of the church (The information on Prandtauer's works was supplied by a reader. Many thanks!)

............Two Poems this Month


The mere shadow of a person
.... drags himself
.... along the desert floor,
.... throat parched,
.... seeking water.
Within his befuddled intellect
.... he prays for relief
.... from this ravaging thirst.
Have days passed?
.... Or months? Years?
The mind is a fog of thoughts,
.... eerie, chaotic, and formless.
Lucidity is now history.

The journey began
.... in search of meaning.
But the wastelands
.... began to beckon.
He wandered
.... deeper and deeper
.... into their depths
.... inhabited by the frivolous and worthless
.... held dear by many.
Slowly, ever so slowly
.... bearings were lost
The once robust being
.... is ravaged,
.... the original destination
.... but a figment of his imagination.

Inch by inch he drags himself along
.... unaware that mere yards to the right
.... is a road that would lead him
.... to the light he once sought.

Comments: A rather dark poem with religious or spiritual overtones. Actually, I believe almost every thinking person has experienced times described above. However, I will leave you to interpret the ultimate meaning of the poem.

Tai Chi on the Danube

Red tiled roofs,
.... fairy-tale homes of Austria
.... drift by
.... as village church spires
.... reach toward the heavens.
Lush, green vineyards
.... climb up the steep hills
.... still not ready for the harvest.

On the top deck of River Concerto
.... a tai chi student
.... practices alone
.... at this early hour—
.... adjusting his weight
.... to the subtle roll of the ship.

He readjusts
.... to execute
.... a less than perfect kick.
He cares little.

He becomes one
.... with the land and the river,
.... flowing in synchronicity.
Lost in time—in the moment.

Comments: We all have special memorable moments in our life. I had a number due to my daily practice aboard the ship. Hopefully, all of you have some form of activity, be it tai chi, yoga, or meditation, that takes you to the moments described in the poem. By the way, if you want to learn more about how tai chi can benefit your life, go to taichiproductions.com

Vineyards on the hillsides along Wachau Valley
Another valley view
Relaxing on the Danube
Practicing tai chi on the Danube
My students' lesson was done so I practiced
the Yang 24, which I really enjoy. (Note the castle on the hill.)
Picturesque Village of Melk, Austria
The Benedictine Melk Abbey originally founded in 1089–entrance area.
Vignette: Some Thoughts on European Lifestyle

Over the years, I have been privileged to spend over fourteen weeks of my life traveling Europe. As a young man I biked through twelve countries. Being young, I didn't appreciate the slowness of restaurant service, the lack of cold drinks, and many of the different nuances inherent in European culture of that time. However, as I have aged, I have come to appreciate the savoring of life as exemplified by the cafe culture, e.g. an hour spent sipping coffee, eating a Danish, and watching people go by–no rush by the server to leave. Frankly, I may be wrong but people seem to enjoy life more over there.

Let's backtrack for a moment. When I shared this statement with a friend, he immediately took offense. "Sure, they don't work as hard as we do, and their countries are now bankrupt." I smiled, a typical reaction by many when complimenting another country's lifestyle. Yes, a number of European countries are in financial trouble but so are we. But let's look at how their woes developed. Let me name a few–for decades, people have had universal healthcare (France's system is ranked number one in the world.); 30 or 36 hour work weeks; strong worker protection policies; mandatory four week vacation, increasing in most companies to six and/or eight weeks after a few years of employment; and a very strong social support system. Hmm, not bad! Yes, individual countries in Europe will need to work out their woes, but I sense that their results will benefit the average worker.

Please don't misinterpret. I am not saying that everything in Europe is better. I am simply saying that we can learn from others. In short, "A slave to work does not a happy person make."

I had better end for now and go sip a cup of coffee.

Recommendations: Vienna
Hotel Sacher: One of the restaurants housed in this hotel is world famous among travelers in the know. It is a must stop for their chocolate torte (unique in the world) or another decadent pastry. The lunch menu is also reasonable for this level of hotel. While there, we enjoyed one of our best meals. Two of my readers recommended it as a must stop. Thanks, Bruce and Marcia!

Naschmarkt Open Air Market: This is another must stop for foodies. While there, I feasted on some olives purchased from a merchant who offered a variety of fifteen different kinds. Almost any kind of produce or meat can be found among the hundreds of stands.

One of the restaurants housed in the Hotel Sacher–
world famous among travellers in the know.
Naschmarkt Open Air Market –another must stop for foodies.
I feasted on some of the olives purchased at this stand.
Some of the ceiling motifs in Melk Abbey

Church worship area in the Abbey

Melk Abbey's English style gardens.
A reflection–looking down at a circular mirror that is
reflecting the Melk Abbey stairway above.
The picture was taken looking up at the stairway.
Unbelievable view. There are 999 steps to the top floor. Gets you in shape.
In the Vienna Rose Garden taking a break
Vienna State Opera House–considered one of the world's greatest acoustically designed theaters.
Building started in the 1860s.
One of the Habsburg's homes in Vienna–former rulers of Austria and much of Europe
Walking one of the side streets
Hundertwasserhaus–art deco apartments in great contrast to old buildings of Vienna
Common Baroque and Gothic architecture seen throughout historic area of Vienna
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