An account of a cruise up the Elbe

Earlier this month (October 2012) J and I enjoyed a Viking river cruise on the Elbe from Berlin to Prague.  In response to several requests,  J has written an account of the trip, including some of the personal and historical events of which we were reminded on our visits to some of the towns and cities along the way — not only Berlin and Prague, but also Wittenberg, Torgau, Meissen, and Dresden in the former East Germany, and Litomerice in the Czech Republic.

J’s article is at  Do spare a few minutes to read it if you have any interest in this part of our old war-torn continent.  (If you haven’t, don’t bother!)  The article ends with a link to the web album of photographs taken during the cruise — we used to call them ‘snaps’, less grandly and more appropriately in my case — which, having read the article first, you’re also welcome to browse through.

Please append any comments, corrections or other reactions as Comments to this blog post, not to J’s article.


6 Responses

  1. Peter Harvey says:

    By travelling from Dresden to Prague you went through Anthony Hope’s Ruritania. I hope you enjoyed it.

    Brian writes: Thank you for this, Peter. We were aware that it was Sudetenland and Bohemia, both evocative names, but A Hope’s Ruritania never occurred to me. I used to love the Prisoner of Zenda and Rupert of Hentzau but suspect I never read the middle one, for some reason.

  2. Brian says:

    Two comments so far from private emails:

    “Thanks for this fascinating account.  It sounds a really great trip.”  (SP)

    “A really fascinating account of a trip which J has inspired me to try to take.”  (RMcC)

  3. Peter Harvey says:

    The Heart of Princess Osra was middle in publication but is in fact a prequel set 150 years earlier. It is, ahem, not widely read.

  4. Tim Weakley says:

    I had always visualised Ruritania as being in the Balkans, well south of Vienna and ouside the old Austro-Hungarian domains, but I suspect Peter Harvey is right. 

    Anyway, the trip sounds fascinating and you obviously had a good time! 

  5. Peter Harvey says:

    The films do usually place it in the Balkans but the geography in the book is clear. Strelsau is between Dresden and Bohemia.

  6. Jill Greenwell says:

    What a fascinating trip, from Berlin and your very insightful reminiscences – right back to the NAAFI store (source of ‘naff’ ?) – all the way to Prague.  It struck John and me when we were in Prague last century that our historical education – in Australia at least – focuses on events west of ‘Czech’. We all know about Luther but Huss? Whose sprawling monument in Old Town Square commemorates his burning as a heretic a hundred years before Luther. There’s an austere little church, Bethlehem Chapel, where Huss preached, still extant. We were also impressed by the Art Nouveau restoration of Obecni Dum, the town hall. It had not long been completed when we were there, and the Czechs were very proud of the restoration of their cultural past after the drabness of the Soviet era, apparently still in evidence outside the main tourist centre.

    And you say the English find the complexity of European loyalties confounding! What about us in the antipodes? I am now scurrying to my library to find out more about the Stettin, Sczecin past. A friend of mine says, “I don’t read to travel; I travel to read”.  

    Brian writes: Thank you very much for this, Jill. It’s good to have a perspective from Down Under — or Up Top, depending on where you are at the time! Those of us who live on islands, whether big ones like Australia or little ones like the British Isles, do find it difficult to comprehend the totally different attitudes of our continental European friends to land borders, relying for their security on their durability and respect for them on the part of their neighbours, while often resenting the injustices that their borders have set in concrete and dreaming of restorative justice one day by getting them changed. (And I confess to being unforgivably ignorant, even after visiting Prague, about Jan Hus, who — judging by his Wikipedia entry — was a far more important and tragic historical figure than I had imagined.)

    As to reading and travelling, we read after travelling, if at all, invariably carting truckloads of reading matter plus heavily loaded Kindles all round the world with us and never succeeding in reading any of it until we get home.