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On the left was the header picture for the August PJ.

Danube River Cruise I

Enjoy pictures and recommendations for Prague, Cesky Krumlov,
Schyrov Castle, Czech Republic and Salzburg, Austria

To visit the Wachau Valley, Melk, and Vienna, click here.

Enjoyed a pastry stop at this stand in Prague. Wonderful treat!
..Opening Comments from Bob
  • Another Pictorial Feast: This month, we traveled to Europe to cruise the Danube River on the ship, River Concerto. In the next few issues I will share with you some of the pictures and experiences we had while on this cruise. Traveling to foreign countries has always been a treat for me. I invariably leave with a deeper understanding of this place called Earth and the people who inhabit it. I hope you will enjoy my reminiscence and thoughts on the experience. This month's vignette provides some initial thoughts and background regarding the trip.
Overview of Prague, Czech Republic
..............Two Poems this Month (They also appear on the V & M page.)

Where's Jim?

Seated at V & M,
.... regulars everywhere,
.... I wait.
Did Jim remember?
We really hadn’t confirmed.

A line of youngsters
.... pass by,
.... all with ties
.... and freshly starched shirts.
One lone, smartly dressed female
.... is among the testosterone.
All eyes follow the youthful procession.
What is this
.... at laid-back V & M?

Where’s Jim?
So much of life
.... is about waiting,
.... whether patient or impatient.
Still no Jim

Wait! Is that him?

Comments: A rather lighthearted poem about my friend Jim with whom I have breakfast weekly. He didn't show due to a mix up in dates. I found out later that the young people in dress attire were on their way to a funeral for one of their friends. The poem also speaks about how much of life involves waiting.


I am seated in the familiarity of V & M
.... with its normal morning crowd.
The chatter and banter
.... common to my ears.
Ann, seeing my arrival,

.... brings my teapot of piping hot water.
Though Europe is thousands
.... of miles away,
.... the memories remain
.... ever present.
Much also can be said
.... for returning home,
.... the sameness,
.... the comfort–the common.

Yet, much can be said
.... for the ambiance of Europe–
.... its cafes with tables that bear no timecard;
.... where rich, dark coffee flows
.... and memorable Danish
.... are served with real whipped cream.
A place whose history dwarfs
.... our young country’s.
.... where strange words
.... roll effortlessly off foreign tongues.
Much can be said
.... for the uncommon
.... the differences
.... new situations that stretch the personage.

The familiar and the unfamiliar
.... serve as the catalyst
.... that synthesize who we become;
.... each complements the other.

Comments: Every time I travel to foreign lands I realize that despite the differences in cultures we are one human family who had better learn to live together on this planet or we will cease to live.

Long climb up to the Prague Castle grounds
One of the stained glass windows in St. Vitus Cathedral (Prague)
Gardens as part of the Castle area (Prague)
Grand Circle Travel, the tour company we used, encourages
interaction with the people of the country. This is a picture
taken during a home visit in the Czech Republic.
Red roofs of Prague, Czech Republic
St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague
Getting There and Back

Ask me about Dulles Airport and I can give you every detail you need. How did I come upon this knowledge? If you spend from 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 P.M. in an airport waiting for your departure flight to Europe and upon your return spend from 2:30 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. in the same airport, you become very knowledgeable about that facility. Frankly, I am not enamored with it. I would have much rather have spent those hours at an airport such as in Minneapolis or Amsterdam. However, those long stays in Dulles were my fault as at the last minute we decided to fly from Columbus to D.C. rather than drive as originally planned. By the way, if you need plug-ins for your electronics, go to A Terminal Air France departure gates. They remain empty until late afternoon. Via the free internet I was able to update my webpages in my Journey 4 Health Now website, this website--Poetical Journeys, work on my novel, plus answer many emails. So the time was not wasted. Going and coming, Janice caught up on some of her sleep. I did the same on my return while waiting for the flight to Columbus. We had been up about 30 hours by then.

Once we boarded KLM for Amsterdam and then Prague the good part of trip began. KLM Dutch Royal Airlines is a wonderful one with friendly, helpful, and smiling flight attendants as well as reasonably good food. You also have many free entertainment options on the seatbacks. Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport is a busy place with hundreds of food and shopping options. You will clear customs there. On the return to Schiphol we took advantage of the option of a private waiting lounge, Schiphol 43, which provided excellent food and internet service–all at no charge.

Upon arriving in Prague, we were met by Grand Circle Travel representative, Kristina, who also served as our program guide throughout the river cruise. This was our second trip with Grand Circle. In my estimation they provide the best overall service and value for the money. Everything possible is done to make your trip pleasurable. Kristina even called us several days before the trip to answer any questions we might have.

Tidbits of knowledge and observations: 1) I am sure most of you know this, but we told friends that our river cruise would start in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia has not existed as a country for over eleven years. The country peacefully divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Thus, we were going to Prague, Czech Republic. 2) While traveling in the Czech Republic you will use Krona and in Austria, the Euro - a bit of inconvenience but really no problem. Besides, it helps your math skills. 3) In both countries you can usually find English speakers, especially in metropolitan areas. 4) The Czechs are really trying to develop the tourism industry. Though at times reserved because of their history, they will be helpful and provide a wonderful touring experience. 4) When you cross the border from the Czech Republic to Austria, you immediately notice a change in farm layouts and improved standard of living. The Austrians have been doing the tourism business for quite awhile. You will see some increase in cost after crossing the border.

In the September and October issues, I will provide more information about the culture and destinations we experience. If you have questions, please contact me.

If you have a guest vignette you would like to submit, please do so. Not only will I enjoy reading it, but if agreeable with you and space permitting, I will print it in a future issue. The vignette should be written in paragraph form and relate a personal story or event. Equally important, it should fit the overall tenor of this newsletter. Ideally, it should not exceed twenty lines. Please send to bob@poeticaljourneys.com.

Recommendations: Danube River Tour, Prague
Fly: KLM Dutch Royal Airlines – outstanding service, decent food, and many entertainment options to make the 7+ hour flight less painful. On the return my seatback broke due to the fellow standing up behind me. The purser profusely apologized and moved me to business class. Sadly, it happened an hour before landing. Why couldn't it have broken earlier–another world up there? Suggestion: If you have long legs like me, pay extra for the economy plus. Well-worth it! Even though I was seated on the return in one of the better economy seats, it was tight, especially when the young woman, whom I had other names for during the flight, reclined her seat all the way back.

Tour Company: As mentioned in the vignette above, check out Grand Circle Travel when planning an organized tour either by river cruise, bus tours, or other options. We have found the services to be impeccable. Many of the travelers we meet on this tours are making anywhere from their third to tenth trip with them. The company has a very loyal following. You deal directly via phone with them. Be sure to tell them that Bob sent you if you book. You will receive a $100 discount as will I.

Places to See: The pictures in this issue give you some hints. If traveling on your own, buy Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door 20112: The Travel Skills Handbook. A very helpful tool! If you are traveling with Grand Circle, they take care of it with options to be on your own during most afternoons. In my opinion, the best of both worlds. (Steves' book is also useful for planning those afternoons.) By the way, the subway is easy to use in Prague as well as the public tram system. No need for a car. Be sure to have Czech Krona.

Food: The European Cafe Culture is wonderful. When you sit down to order, there is no rush. When the server arrives, expect a wait for the food. Feel free to sit and relax, people watch, and enjoy the delectable food and drink when it arrives. You will not be rushed to vacate the table. Savor the moments of respite. Americans find this very difficult due to our fast-food culture. However, this American adjusted quickly! In the Czech Republic, enjoy one of the beers brewed there. The Czechs are the number one consumers of beer in the world–132 liters per person, which converts to almost 35 gallons. Their beer is excellent; I especially enjoyed Pilsener Urquell. While there are an abundance of places to dine, I will mention one: The Rose Garden Restaurant in the Villa Hotel close to the Zelivskeho metro station, Prague. A small restaurant serving fresh, quality food. The server was very friendly. The salmon - superb and the dessert panna cotta custard with berry topping - to die for. Also, be sure to stop at one of the street vendors in Prague and purchase Trdelnik, a traditional cake and sweet pastry. One ring will easily serve two. Yum! Oh yes, we had no problem with the drinking water during our travels there.

The citizens of Salzburg have made dining at cafes an art form.
It is not unusual to spend an hour enjoying coffee or tea along
with a decadent pastry. No waiters rush you. Just take your time!
Some of the street entertainment on the square in Prague. We spent time at a cafe sipping and enjoying the music
mere yards away.

Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic–voted as one of the most beautiful villages in the world

A different view of Cesky Krumlov–note how narrow this ancient street is.
Salzburg, Austria is one of the most beautiful European cities that I have visited. Here are the gardens of the former
monarch and now the headquarters for city government.

Potpourri of Shots while in Salzburg

Many of the cities including Salzburg have open-air markets
with an abundance of fresh produce.
The locks are a symbol of a couple's love. Lovers place a lock
on the fence of one the pedestrian bridges. The key is then
thrown in the Danube.
The citizens of Salzburg love classical music. This well-
preserved apartment was once home to the city's favorite
son, Mozart.
Decisions can be tough. However, you can't go wrong.
Look carefully and see the McDonald's sign. Shop
owners in the historic district are required
to have a historic style sign hanging in front of their stores.
The original castle can be seen on the hilltop.
Mimes are plentiful in the historic area. This one appears
to be suspended in mid-air. A tourist posed
for the picture.
This statue appears before the Salzburg cathedral–note the golden
crown above the Virgin Mary. The sculpture was designed in
rebellion toward the rulers of that time who grasped for power
over the church.
Go to the next picture to learn more.
The statue was designed so that when you step back to a certain
point the crown looks like it is on the Virgin's head. This was the
sculpture's way of indicating that God still ruled Austria.
Sychrov Castle in the Czech Republic
(really a beautiful chateau)

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