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Blue Danube, “stop your tides at Vienna, / it loves you so much!”, and at Budapest as well! Please let me contemplate your unrivaled gorgeous waves! This is what I secretly wished in my mind, after having had the chance to look at the Danube from a political and economic point of view. Danu (Danuris), the goddess of the Thracians, makes its way though seven countries, springing from the heights of the Black Forest Mountains in Germany, creating a wild defile and a splendid Delta, eventually becoming one with the Black Sea in Romania. I will show it to you when it generously embraces the romantic landscapes of two capital cities Budapest and Vienna.
It is a shinny May Day and I find myself in Budapest, the twin capital of Hungary. Over centuries, the Danube has been splitting the city into two architecturally different settlements, Buda and Pest that nowadays are linked by Széchenyi Chain Bridge. After walking on the banks of the Danube, part of the UNESCO World Heritage, I get on a lovely cruise at sunset. Champagne and delightful entries follow, while the boat floats, swung by the lazy tides. Music begins and a band of what I will find out to be Romanian musicians play a Romanian well-known composition, “Waves of the Danube” (Iosif Ivanovici). Some Spanish travelers start dancing. I am invited too. For some minutes I float in the glowing light and catch a glimpse of the best of Budapest: Matthias Church, Fishermen’s Bastion, The Parliament, Margret Island, Gresham Place and the National Theatre. Already dreamy, I lose myself and live the moment, mixing in my head the reflections of the day. But Budapest is already another story that I will tell you some day.
Next, I see a completely new face of the Danube in Vienna, or Dunaj in Slovak, named after the river. The Austrian Capital is cloudy and rainy so it is useless to make the cruise I have planned. Instead, I give rendezvous to Strauss’ Blue Danube at the Orangerie in Schoenbrunn, the sumptuous palace where Mozart started his career at the age of 6, by playing in front of Empress Maria Theresia. The divine performance captures all senses, starting with a dinner in Café-Restaurant Residenz intended to appease the taste and smell of the guests. Then we move to the hall and the curtain rises shifting me to another era. A highly elegant orchestra dressed in opulent costumes announces that it’s time to enchant the guests’ listening with the superb pieces or Strauss and Mozart. Then, it’s the sight’s turn to be amazed by an extraordinary ballet performance of the Blue Danube, which I consider the finest moment of the evening. It has a Proust effect on me: it reminds me playing Cinderella and dancing on this waltz many years ago. The concert ends in a wave of applause for a dream that has carried us over the world like in a cartoon where birds and dwarfs harvest Nature’s blue in the tides of the river. The Danube has been my goddess of music for one night, and has marked forever my memories of Vienna. But this is again another story.
After two days of having been delighted by the Danube, I leave with a nostalgic heart and a tune resounding in my mind:
The Blue Danube