The Wonderful Danube, Queen of the Rivers

“Where would I be without Johann Strauss’s beautiful ‘Blue Danube?’
Without this piece of music I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
It’s a tune that brings out the emotion in everyone
and makes them want to waltz.”
André Rieu

“Danube Love Medley”, performed by André Rieu and Johann Strauss Orchestra (courtesy of Sergei Egorov):

 

Beautiful Attractions and Landmarks Along The Danube River - The Geographical Cure

“The rhythm of the ‘Blue Danube’ waltz rippled and rang and sang in his head,
the lights of a thousand chandeliers glinted and prismed,
and for a heartbeat Shadow was a child again,
and all it took to make him happy was to ride the carousel:
he stayed perfectly still, riding his eagle-tiger at the center
of everything, and the world revolved around him.
“American Gods”, Neil Gaiman

 

Courtesy of Little Big World:

 

A river that is unusual, to say the least, flows through ten countries in Central and Eastern Europe.  In each country, it has a different name and has witnessed over the centuries a different history unfolding. This river is Europe’s second-longest one, after the Volga, and it is the Danube. Its length is an impressive 2,860 km.

Courtesy of Kwik Facts:

 

There are various theories as to the origins of the Danube’s name. One links it to the old European German name for river – Donau. Another originates from a mythological source – the Latin Roman river god known as Danubius. Others point to the ancient indigenous Slavonic tribes who called the river Great Water.

The Roman god Danubius

DanubiusRomanGod

The Danube was once a long-standing frontier of the Roman Empire.

Courtesy of romanfrontiers:

 

The Danube flows through the countries: Germany (Schwarzwald), Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. The cities it touches are Ingolstadt, Linz, Belgrade, Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest.

Below is the city of Linz in Austria:

LinzDanube

Linz from the air, courtesy of Skyviews 4K:

 

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“The Danube in Serbia” (courtesy of National Tourism Organisation of Serbia):

 

The Danube starts in Germany and after a lengthy journey ends in the Black Sea. The most important economic use of the Danube is the movement of freight. It is a well-known fact that out of all the cities connected with the Danube, Vienna is the most liveable capital city in Europe and in the world. After watching many documentaries about Vienna, I had to agree. It also reminded me of the extraordinary story about the way coffee was first introduced to Europe. It was during the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire led by Suleiman the Magnificent. A Polish man, Jerzy Franciszek Kulczycki, a traveller and an explorer living at the time in Vienna, decided to help King John Sobieski to repel the siege. As he spoke eight languages, including Turkish to perfection, he dressed in Turkish clothes and during the night left Vienna for the Turkish camp. Talking to the men in the camp he was able to find out what was planned. Back in the city, he was able to warn the king and prevent problems during the attack. After the siege was destroyed and the Turks repelled, the King asked him what he would like to have as a reward. To everyone’s surprise, Kulczycki asked for a huge number of bags of brown beans. No one could think what they were for. In a short time, Kulczycki opened a shop/drinking establishment, called The Blue Bottle where he served an aromatic drink – coffee made tastier to European likings by the addition of milk and honey. Everyone, including the King, loved the beverage, and that is how coffee conquered Europe.

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The Turkish invader – Suleiman the Magnificent

A whirl around Vienna’s coffee houses (courtesy of The Guardian):

 

Vienna gave the world two other gifts. The Austrian composer, Johann Strauss II, composed the waltz ‘By the Beautiful Blue Danube’. In the beginning, it received a lukewarm reception. When in 1867 at the Paris World Fair the waltz was presented in an orchestrated version, it become a worldwide sensation. It became the unofficial Austrian national anthem. And the other gift? Why, the famous patisseries about which I can hardly write without drooling onto my laptop.

JohannStraussII

VienneseCakes2

VienneseCakes

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What did I tell you? Who would resist the temptation?

Courtesy of Cookist, how to prepare Danube Wave Cake:

 

This waltz also made the fortunes of a violinist André Rieu.  For many years he has delighted audiences all over the world with his enchanting version of waltzes, the Blue Danube, and many others. Not quite knowing why he was so popular, one day I had the chance to see a whole concert of his, and it was a revelation. He and his artists, singers, and dancers perfectly represent sunny, happy Vienna. His message was obvious: be happy, enjoy life, it is the only one you will have. Others have written about him – he is quite simply a musical phenomenon like no other, a true King of Romance, having sold a massive 40 million CDs and DVDs and having had 30 Number Ones.

AndreRieu

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“The Beautiful Blue Danube”, performed by André Rieu and his Johann Strauss orchestra:

 

The Danube bisects the Hungarian capital, Budapest. The two parts of Budapest, Buda and Pest, are connected by the 19th-century Chain Bridge, which connects the hilly Buda district with the flat Pest. The imposing buildings of the Hungarian Parliament framed by the vast expanses of the Danube are the only thing I can mention of Hungary. In contrast to joyous Vienna, Budapest has a tragic history from the time of the Communist regime.

The Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial erected on April 16 2005, in Budapest, Hungary. Conceived by film director Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the Danube River with sculptor Gyula Pauer to honour the Jews who were killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. It represents their shoes left behind on the bank.

Courtesy of Discovering Travel:

 

BudapestParliament

The other thing worth mentioning is Hungary’s world-famous culinary invention – goulash. If you don’t know the taste of goulash – you have not lived! Here is the recipe for Goulash from The Hairy Bikers:

Ingredients:

  • 1kg good braising steak, preferably chuck steak
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 medium onions, cut into 12 wedges
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 beef stock cube (Oxo works well here)
  • 600ml cold water
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • flaked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/Fan 150°C/Gas 3½. Trim any hard fat off the beef and cut the meat into rough 4cm chunks. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish. Add the steak and fry over a high heat until nicely browned all over, turning regularly. Tip the onions into the pan and cook with the beef for 5 minutes until softened. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring regularly.
  3. Sprinkle both paprikas over the meat and crumble the beef stock cube on top. Add the water, tomatoes, tomato purée and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and bring to a simmer. Cover with a tightly fitting lid and transfer the dish to the oven. Cook for 1½ hours.
  4. While the beef is cooking, remove the core and seeds from each pepper and chuck them away. Cut each pepper into chunks of about 3cm. When the beef has cooked for 1½ hours, carefully remove the dish from the oven. Stir in the peppers, put the lid back on and put the goulash back in the oven for a further hour or until the beef is meltingly tender.
  5. Serve with small portions of rice and spoonfuls of soured cream if you like, but don’t be too generous – soured cream contains less fat than double cream but still has 30 calories per tablespoon!

HairyBikersBeefGoulash

The Danube flows through the Black Forest, a beautiful part of Germany, Bavaria. The district capital is Munich which was originally a duchy, established in the 6th century, and between 1801-1918 was the Kingdom of Bavaria. Years back, I was passing through Bavaria with my family and I was very impressed. The little towns, colourful and so clean that you might think they were only built yesterday, the noisy pubs full of happy people, the tables groaning with plates of sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes, sublime crusty rolls, and of course the beer. The forests envelop the Danube and the towns; it is a lovely place to visit.

A charming polka inspired by the Black Forest: “Im Scharzwald, Polka Francaise Op. 164” by Carl Michael Ziehrer (courtesy of ziehrereien478):

 

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The Black Forest and the source of the Danube (courtesy of zitania):

 

BavarianFood

BavarianFood2

 

BavarianFood4

I have a reader in Germany who writes to me often, always commenting very positively about the weekly posts in the blog and reading the latest one first thing on a Saturday morning (when it is published), with a cup of coffee. I thank her.

Danube, Europe’s Amazon (courtesy of ScienceVision Filmproduktion):

 

For those readers who have time to immerse themselves longer….

Courtesy of Nedercondor:

 

“The Voice of the Danube” (courtesy of The Secrets of Nature):

 

I also recommend the stories to to be found at the Route of Emperors and Kings blog:

routeofemperorsandkings.com/blog/

 

56 thoughts on “The Wonderful Danube, Queen of the Rivers

  1. I always learn so much from your beautiful posts, Joanna. Thank you so much for sharing all of this wonderful information. It truly is a treat.💕

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Grace, for your wonderful comments.
    Thank you again, Grace, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very welcome.My pleasure.💕

    Like

  4. Thank you very much for your kind comment!
    Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  5. Very interesting — and especially moving memorial, Shoes on the Danube Bank.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Diana, for your kind comment.
    Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  7. So much interesting information, beautifully presented. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your kind comments. Greatly appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is one more enlightening post of river series. The stories of national anthem of Austria and entry of coffee in Europe were quite interesting ones. The fact about the Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial is really painful. I was not aware of it.

    This post has some alluring recipes for gastronomes or foodies – wave cake and goulash. Have you tasted goulash? It’s prohibited for me. Incidentally in Hindi, gou also pronounced as Gau, means cow.

    The pics and videos are excellent, as always. I liked most the video on Danube, Europe’s Amazon. The Voice of the Danube is a bit long, but worth watching. Thank you, Joanna for publishing this informative and interesting post.

    Like

  10. Thank you, Kaushal, for your wonderful, as always, comments. As now I am a vegeterian, goulash belongs to my sinful past. My heartfelt apologies to the cows! As I don’t have sweet tooth, the cakes are of the menu but I wrote for the benefit of the travellers who love cakes. Thank you for adding to my knowledge of Hindi – gou/gau means cow.
    Thank you again,Kaushal, greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is a beautiful post, Joanna! I love the phtotos and the music! So much great music came out of Vienna. The shoes memorial is a very touching and sad story. A wonderful way to never forget the holocaust!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Dwight, for your generous comments. I agree, we must never forget the atrocities of wars.
    Thank you again, Dwight, greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It makes me wish I was young again just so I could navigate down the river, exploring all the amazing history and wildlife. The first video gives me such pleasure as I have always loved swans. They are so magnificent, the cranes also. The other videos are just lovely too. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you for your very kind comments! I love birds too!

    Thank you again, Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  15. You’re always welcome, Joanna!!

    Like

  16. You are very welcome!

    Like

  17. Great post Joanna! So much to learn, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you, Jyothi, for your kind comment! Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You write amazing stuff
    Thanks Joanne🥰

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you very much for your kind comment. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. You are always welcome ❤️

    Like

  22. With you Jo ❤️ one can go on an adventure on a long river, dance with birds to the rhythm of wonderful music, enjoy the views, gain new interesting knowledge 🙂 To eat a cake and drink a coffee 🙂 or even bake a cake, each to their own, ha ha. Go to a concert, dance waltz 🙂 And then immerse into thought by reading about more difficult topics. Thank you for the goulash, I don’t eat meat :-)On Sunday I like to calmly and without rush delve into your post 🙂 Thanks to you I can see even more of the abundance that surrounds us 🙏😍🍀🌻🦋

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank you, Jo, for your wonderful comments! As I explained in my previous comments to KK I am a vegetarian now and bigos belongs to my sinful past. I don’t have a sweet tooth wider so no cakes but I wrote about the foods for the travellers to Viena.
    I have just left a message on your website/blog about my origins.

    Thank you again, Jo. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  24. 🙏😍🍀🌻🦋

    Like

  25. JoAnna, So much culture and history and natural beauty along the Danube! My late husband and I went on ten cruises, a few of them to Europe, and we did some touring along the way. We always talked about a European river cruise, but never quite managed it. This post is the next best thing. Thank you so much! ❤

    I especially enjoyed the Roman ruins and the information about the time of the Roman empire. The beautiful birds along the river were delightful. It is interesting how we have many similar birds here in Florida, such as cranes, herons, egrets, and pelicans, but there are subtle differences.

    Though I can no longer indulge in most of the foods you featured, I found them very interesting. The beautiful Viennese pastries reminded me of the French pastries I saw when I was in Russia to adopt our kids.

    I wondered about the shoe memorial. Was that a special event or a permanent installation? It reminded me of a similar exhibit in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. What a poignant story!

    I liked your comment about Andre Relieu. I think you are right that the reason for his popularity is because the informal concerts are all about having a good time and enjoying life. I also admire the beautiful gowns! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Thank you, Cheryl, for your wonderful comments! I wrote about the food for the travellers to Viena, not from my perspective as I am now a vegetarian. The display is permanent as we must not forget the atrocities of the past. Thank you again, Cheryl. Greatly appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. This one is so informative and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Brings back some memories and now, reading your post, I appreciate them even more. ! Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you, Leah, for your kind comments.
    The pleasure is mine! Greatly appreciate your appraisal.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Such a informative and stunning post Joanna, thank you for sharing. The Danube river is beautiful, and to read and see how it flows so impressively through many countries, is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Thank you, Henrietta, for your lovely comments! It is something very special about the big rivers in the way they developed the fate of humanity.
    Thank you again, Henrietta. Greatly appreciate your appraisal.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  31. What a wonderful post: so varied and complete!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Thank you, Luisa, for your kind comment. I am glad that you like it. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  33. It’s well deserved praise! 🙂

    Like

  34. It is very generous of you, Luise! Very much appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Interesting history with a well written post. I love the way you compiled the information, images and videos and add different flavours to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Thank you, Rupali, for your kind comments. If you have time, please look up my post “The Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way”, and you might understand why we had our disagreement.

    Thank you. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  37. I checked that post before i clicked the like button.

    Like

  38. If you read it then you understand my principle of not hating or killing any animals. I share the Hindi diet of vegetarians, and what I have written in my post about food is for the benefit of the travelers to Viena.

    Joanna

    Like

  39. Oh now I see the point. Shooting for me is the act of photographing or filming.
    I am happy to introduce my neighbours – https://mazeepuran.wordpress.com/2022/01/26/wordless-wednesday-4-22/

    Like

  40. In that case, we are friends, Rupali!

    Joanna

    Like

  41. Wonderful writing, informative, and interesting.
    What to say about photos and videos –Sup pub
    My one of favorite author is Anne Appelbaum. Two of her books I like most Gulag and Iron curtain Due to read these two books, I was aware of Hungary and Budapest, a few days ago my sister went to visit Hungary, she sent me a photo of the chain bridge, knowing my interest, I also got a coin of the communist regime from her as i told her to send me which is still kept in my library
    Got a lot of new information from your post thank you very much

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Thank you for yourgenerous comments, Nitin! It is good to know how wide are your interests and knowledge.
    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  43. It’s beautiful and wise words. Great job dear

    Like

  44. Oh wow, that was so beautiful, I played it twice. Once to watch the beautiful scenery and again with my eyes closed sipping my tea. I love Andrè ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  45. Thank you so much for your quick response and lovely comment! As I still don’t know your name, I cannot address you properly. Andre is a joy!
    Thank you again. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  46. Bernie, please to meet you,Joanna. 🥰

    Like

  47. Thank you, Bernie, pleasure is all mine. I just hope we can be friends.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  48. These are beautiful. I lived in Hungary for four months in 1997 as a civilian volunteer with the US Army. It was a fascinating country–almost everybody had cellphones but people still scythed grass to cut it in the meadows. Hungary had what looked like California poppies growing wild on the side of the road in May. The young girls were gorgeous with heads of white blonde, fire engine red or coal black (I’m sure all colored to be fashionable.) The young men looked runty in comparison.

    Like

  49. Thank you so much for your interesting addition to my knowledge of Hungary!
    The other cultures are always interesting.

    Joanna

    Like

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