The Gift of Travel – Part 3 – Getting to the Boat

Sunday morning, May 12th, we boarded one of three buses to begin
the trip to the Clara Schumann — the river boat that would be our
home-away-from-home for the next week.
We stopped at this bridge, a meeting point during
the cold war, for spy exchanges.

 It was a beautiful location, there on the outskirts of Potsdam, a place
which has become a vacation spot for many Berliners.

Just outside the city is the home that Frederick the Great built for himself.
His wife lived elsewhere.
They had no children.
Are you surprised?

The palace is small as palaces go — 12 rooms — but the grounds are stunning.

He named it “Sans Souci,” ‘no worries’ – I think he and Bobby McFerrin
would have gotten along well, don’t you?

Next stop – lunch. Released from the bus for 75 minutes, we first explored
the church next to the bus parking lot and then we found our
way to a charming outdoor cafe in the Dutch quarter of town,
enjoying tuna salad and the view.


 Lovely shared gardens carved right out of the sidewalk on some streets,
and a delightful floral border at the city park,
which also housed a cemetery where all inscriptions were in Russian.

Next stop, the gorgeous Tudor styled ‘palace’ and grounds
where the Potsdam agreement was signed.
The guide was so intent on giving us as much info
as possible, that we stood in a driving rain
outside this place, listening hard.
Don’t think I can recall a single detail,
except that half of Europe ended up with Stalin.

Driving to our final destination — our ship! — we passed through
the first of many, MANY fields of this stuff.
It’s called rape seed and its ground up with a few other things
to produce canola oil and — get this — ethanol, at least in Europe.
Never noticed any vehicles reeking of veggie oil, however.

At last, the Elegant Elbe was in view — and the Schumann.

Our luggage had already been delivered to our room,
and we gathered for what would be a daily briefing
about the next day’s travels.
Then we had the most sumptuous welcome dinner,
complete with roses for Mother’s Day
and a 50th Anniversary celebration for our tablemates.
We began to move on the river just as dinner began,
and we remembered why we love this mode of travel so much.
These boats move slowly but steadily and
the landscape is always lovely to see —
even if it’s only the water, a bridge or two, and acres of flat farmland.

At the end of the day, we headed
to bed in our tiny, tiny, but oh-so-welcome room.

Next installment: Worlitz Garden and Wittenberg.

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  1. I kid you not, Diana, that blond baby made me do a double-take. I would have mistaken him for one of mine. I showed my 2 yr old the pic and asked him who it was and he said “En” which means “Kevin” his 4 yr old brother’s name. Uncanny!
    I love all the flowers. All the buildings. Especially the ones with faces. 🙂 Beautiful! And that boat ride sounds like the highlight. Can I be you when I grow up? 😀

    • Nah, Jamie. You really do want to be YOU, hon. And I shot that picture because he almost could have been one of my grandkids – the eldest one was a towhead like that, but he had no curls. He was just a darling little boy and I was tired of shooting buildings. :>)

      • 🙂 Yes, I do want to be me. Embracing life no matter what it hands. The breathtaking anticipation is both scary and exciting. I think what I mean is I want to live well and fully, as you seem to do, even when the times are hard. Your testimony is an inspiration.
        You made a wonderful photo story. I felt that I could have been there, breathed the air, smelled the flowers and the musty old architecture. My travels outside the U.S. have been limited to Ghana, London and Wales. I long to see more of my Father’s world, in His good time.

        • Thanks for those kind words. We have tried to hang onto grace and joy, even when days have been dark. It’s not easy and we haven’t done it perfectly, but God is faithful and this world is an amazing gift. I’ve never been to Ghana — so you got me there!

  2. Well…I suppose you know that my favorite is the gardens and flowers…and there’s something about this post that transitions away from the disturbing holocaust and the magnificent architecture and into the peaceful flow of the river…and I can feel my heartbeat slowing down. And that certainly was a tiny room. =)

    • That’s pretty much the effect that river cruising has on us, Patricia. Everything slows down and it is wonderfully relaxing. This was the smallest room we’ve ever had – primarily because this boat is a bit smaller than most because the river isn’t as big as the Danube/Rhine/Seine/or Rhone. So they have fewer large rooms (large being a very relative term). We tried for 2 years to book a bigger room but were never able to do so – they want your money a full 12-15 months in advance to guarantee the bigger room and we weren’t willing to do that, so we opted for the next step down, which was small but at least had a full sized window, which the lower floors did not.