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Tales of the Traveling Tote: The Romantic Danube

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Hello, My Lovelies!  Welcome to the June 2024 Edition of Tales of the Traveling Tote!

In this post I'm sharing photos from our Easter Holiday cruise on the Danube River.  When I started writing this post, I got a bit overwhelmed, so I decided to only focus on one maybe two sites per city we visited.  When we were in New Orleans visiting friends last summer, we all planned to go on the cruise together.  There were ten of us, plus Shanley Belle and Christopher.  Christopher had FOMO so badly, he stalked the Viking website and got on their waiting list.  At the last minute there was an opening, so they crashed joined our party.  ;P

Here are a few bullet points about the trip in general:

  • Favorite city:  Prague
  • Favorite church:  St Stephen's in Vienna
  • Favorite church art:  The mosaics outside St. Vitus's, Prague
  • Favorite food:  Hungarian, especially chicken paprika
  • Favorite tour:  Operation Anthropoid in Prague
  • Biggest surprise:  Smallness of Salzburg
  • Biggest laugh:  Czech Easter traditions (the Easter whip)
  • Favorite museum:  Albertina in Vienna
  • Favorite coffee shop:  Café Demel, Vienna
  • Favorite Restaurant:  La Degustation, Prague
  • Unexpected discovery:  The popularity of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the region

Easter Market
Old Town Square
Prague, Czech Republic


Before our cruise we went to Prague in the Czech Republic.  It was my favorite city of the trip, and I would love to visit again one day.  I loved the city, and it is especially beautiful at night.

One of the highlights was a visit to the Museum of Communism; every American should visit it.  Three words greet visitors upon entry:  Dream, Reality, Nightmare.  I also liked the people in Prague, too.  My favorite of all the tour guides was in Prague, and he was the young man who took us step-by-step through the Operation Anthropoid sites. Operation Antropoid was the plot to kill the Holocaust's architect Reinhard Heydrich in 1942.  It was the only successful assassination of a top Nazi officer during World War II.  We went to all the sites of this operation, and if you haven't seen the movie about it starring Cillian Murphy, I highly recommend it.  We also had fun visiting the Easter markets, and you can see more photos here.

The architecture and colors of the buildings in Prague are exceptionally beautiful, and I loved the Art Nouveau influence of artist Alphonse Mucha.
The Municipal House, above, houses one of Prague's best restaurants and opera.

We were within walking distance of Old Town and Prague's Astronomical Clock.  
The blue trim on the lower instrument has names all around the face.  These are the government approved names for newborns, and if parents want to name their child something else, they must get special permission from the government.


We were in Regensburg, Germany on Easter Sunday.  It was beautiful, and everything was in bloom.  The gardens and the patrician houses were fun to see.  Regensburg is an ancient city, and there are still Roman ruins on display to remind the tourists of its Roman heritage.

Porta Praetoria
It was built in AD 179 by Emperor Marcus Aurelius as part of the Castra Regina. 


We visited Salzburg on Easter Monday, so many of the shops weren't open.  I was okay with that because we were able to go on a Sound of Music tour and visit many of the pretty parks.  The Sound of Music is my favorite movie.

Mirabell Gardens
This location was used in the filming of The Sound of Music.

Wachau Valley

One of the highlights of the cruise was seeing all the castles, churches, and towns in the Wachau Valley in Lower Austria.  The tour guide did a fantastic job describing what we were seeing and sharing historical anecdotes.  

Ruins of Dürnstein Castle
The legend of Richard the Lionheart says that upon returning from the Crusades, the English King tore up the Austrian flag and refused to share his spoils of war with Leopold V. Consequently, Leopold V held the English King prisoner in the castle from 1192 – 1193.

Göttweig Abbey, Krems, Austria

One of the happiest surprises of the trip was the excursion to Göttweig Abbey,  a Benedictine monastery founded in 1083.  The complex overlooks the Wachau Valley, and woodlands and vineyards surround it.  Known for growing apricots, the monks make preserves and wine from the fruit.  One of the things that interested me the most was the Baroque architecture of the imperial apartments (now a museum) used by the Hapsburgs.  The centerpiece of the building is the monumental Baroque imperial staircase.   It is the second largest Baroque staircase in Europe.  Above the staircase is an incredible ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger in 1739.

Apotheosis of Charles VI
Ceiling fresco
Göttweig Abbey Imperial Staircase
Paul Troger, 1839

Apotheosis means divinization, referring to the ordination by God of Charles VI to lead the empire. The central theme is an homage to the Habsburg dynasty and its role in fostering knowledge and the arts.  Many of the figures in the fresco are participating in creative pursuits, like visual arts and music.

The Baroque grand staircase in the imperial apartments

Pilgrim's Shell architectural feature on church


The favorite thing we did in Vienna was our visit to the Albertina Museum,  I'm working on a separate post for it, and I will post it in a couple of weeks (I wanted this post to go live first).  We also loved visiting the Spanish Riding School and seeing the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions.  This facility is located inside the Hofburg complex.  The Spanish Riding School is "Spanish" because the lineage of the horses are Spanish.  One of the Hapsburgs was fostered at court in Spain and brought a few of the horses back to Austria with him.  The school was founded in the mid-sixteenth century and has been training these beautiful horses in dressage maneuvers ever since.

Show arena

One of the arena's chandeliers

Inside the tack room

The stallions are extremely docile.  I was shocked about that, and their size: They are only about fifteen hands.  If they were just slightly shorter, they would be considered a pony rather than a horse.
Riders can't be taller than 5'8" or so.


Mr. Bookish's favorite part of the trip was Budapest.  The Hungarian people are the best, and we enjoyed their culture while there.  One of the most heartbreaking monuments is on the Danube River.  Called Shoes on the Danube, the monument commemorates the horrific murder of 20,000 Jews who were brutally shot along the banks of the Danube River. The victims were forced to remove their shoes at gunpoint (shoes being a valuable commodity during World War II) before their executions.  The monument consists of 60 pairs of 1940s-style shoes, true to life in size and detail, sculpted out of iron.  

On a lighter note, we did visit the Herend flagship store.  I do not collect Herend, but a few ladies on the trip do collect it.  I did purchase a mug as a souvenir.  

This is the "Tree of Life" fountain outside the Herend store.  It's at the end of a pretty square, and it is made from Herend porcelain, probably the finest porcelain in the world.
The "Tree of Life" is an important symbol in Hungarian culture and mythology. 

We loved everything about the longboat.  We are already planning another river cruise with Viking.  They truly have river cruising down to a fine art.  

I hope you enjoyed my tour of Prague and sites along the Danube River.  Please use the links below to read the other Traveling Totes' posts.

Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths 
Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
 Patti with Miss Kenzie @ Pandora's Box
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie and Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Ricki Jill and Countess De Monet @ The Sketchy Reader (You're here!)

Emily is hosting our giveaway this quarter.  Check out the prize, below!

We will share our next adventures on September 1, 2024.

Until next time...

Ricki Jill



  1. Ricki Jill, what a fabulous trip! Your photo overview is perfect, my friend. Love your skillful eye! Thanks for taking us along. You make me want to plan a river cruise. Happy summer.

  2. What a fabulous cruise Ricki Jill, I have always wanted too do a river cruise~ The architecture you saw on your trip is incredible, I can't believe how old some of these buildings are, it must have felt like you were stepping back in time and history! I know you must have seen some amazing art too~ I'm glad you had good tour guides to share facts and point things out. So interesting about the Lipizanner Stallions, I always imagined them as very large. The show arena is breathtaking! I have seen photos of the Shoes on the Danube monument, that must have quite chilling... Thank you for taking us along on your memorable cruise!

  3. I'm back to scroll through this amazing trip again. I have to share this with Jim, only problem with that he'll want to plan a trip now! We'd planned a trip to Prague but it just got shuffled around with other destinations and never made the cut. Maybe we will someday, I do love to dream. Glad you enjoyed this trip with your family, that's always special. I hope we can all have lunch together soon..........

  4. I definitely have too go back and look thru your photos - the architecture, art work and churches in this area are amazing! What a fabulous trip (and how exciting that one of your daughters could come along! I want so badly to return to Europe! The shoes on the Danube brings tears to my sad. enjoy your memories of this trip!

  5. Glad you had this fabulous trip with your family and friends! Thanks for taking us along, and I love that you were there during Easter. The Shoes on the Danube monument is so heartbreaking. I'll try to watch Anthropoid since you recommend it. Have a wonderful summer at the lake.

  6. Ricki Jill, we took this exact river cruise last September! We did not add on Prague at the beginning but we did add on more time in Budapest at the end. I loved every stop along the way. Your photos are outstanding. I blogged on each city and the Wauchau Valley. I will look forward to any more of your travel posts!

  7. Ricki Jill, such an amazing trip with family and friends. The architecture is so lovely. The building s a church have quite the story. You have a keen eye for photography. So much to see and explore. Thank you for taking along on this wonderful trip. Happy summer.

  8. I absolutely loved how you summarized your list of experiences on your river cruise, RIcki Jill. Fabulous. I did not know Alphonse Mucha was from Prague, but have always admired his recognizable Art Nouveau style. Is that astronomical clock with names still a matter of "law" for naming newborns??! That staircase and that show arena - WOW! The chandelier.....and I'm sure you enjoyed the tack room and horse encounter. Did both your girls ride?
    I look forward to your art museum post. Several of my purse collecting friends have taken Viking river cruises (many of our beaded purses are fashioned from the castles along the Danube and Seine rivers). Many of the experienced bead artists were from Austria and Germany, as well as the petit point artists.
    A fabulous spring trip for you, and thank your for sharing. A Viking River cruise is definitely something I would enjoy, and the way you did it with friends was fabulous to share the experience.

  9. Wow, what an amazing trip! You were able to see some stunning sites. I would love to visit Europe someday. The teacher I work for is taking an anniversary cruise on the Danube River this summer. Small world!

  10. Wow what a great trip. Prague is on my bucket list. One of my favorite dishes to make is Chicken Paprika. It is a family favorite. Glad you had such a touching and wonderful trip. Hugs. Kris


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Hello, Lovelies!

I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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