ISSUE 15, October 2005
Editorial
Historic: Nelson and Freemasonry
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's Speech
Grand Lodge: Quarterly Communication
Hurricane Katrina: Grand Charity Relief Chest
Royal Arch: John Knight
Masonic Embroidery: A stitch in time...
Travel: Walzing along the Danube
Specialist Lodges: Martial arts
Library & Museum: The two Freemasons' Halls
    Anniversary: Jersey's Liberation
Anniversary: Dorset's 225 years
Obituaries: Lord Swansea OSM
Pro Grand Master: Whither directing our course?
Charmian Hussey: A Mason's wife on Masonry
International: The Grand Lodge of Israel
Education: Sheffield's big plans
Education: Forthcoming events
Education: The Second Degree
Masonic Charities
Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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Above:
A monument to Waltz King Johann Strauss in Vienna

    This journey was an eight-day cruise along the Danube starting and ending at Passau in Bavaria, visiting a different destination everyday while travelling through Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.
     One of the advantages of this mode of travel is that towns tend to flourish near rivers, and therefore except for Vienna, we were within walking distance of the centre of wherever we visited. Even so, for anyone taking one of the optional extra daily tours there was a coach provided.
     As people were arriving on different flights from all parts of the country, I found I had several hours before departure to walk around the pretty town of Passau, and even visit the cathedral. At that time, I didn’t realise just how many churches we would be visiting on our trip!
     What is fascinating is seeing the traditional Bavarian costume of white-laced blouse under a scooped low cut dress, being sold in many of the clothes shops, and indeed being worn by several of the locals.
     Our first stop was at Melk in Austria, at one time the most northern part of the Roman Empire. The ornate Melk Abbey, considered one of the most beautiful and important Baroque buildings in Europe, is still part of a working monastery.
     The scenery everywhere while cruising is just beautiful, at times breathtaking. The cabins all have floor to ceiling sliding glass doors which can be opened so you can lie in bed and watch the ripples on the water.
     Although one thinks of it as blue, it is, in fact, the colour of all rivers, a murky brown. At some of our destinations, as we were cruising at a busy time of the year, when mooring up, it often meant being alongside another vessel.
     As one of my travelling companions commented: “It can be rather embarrassing opening your curtains of a morning, only to find yourself staring at a complete stranger, with both of you in a complete state of disarray!”
     One of the delights about the Danube is that it winds through various countries. Our next stop was in Hungary in the old town of Esztergom, which has the country’s largest basilica, part of which dates back to the 1500s.
     Unfortunately, the tour itineraries weren’t that clear. With only a short time at some of the destinations, and a packed itinerary, some of us would have preferred time exploring the area rather than spending it looking at religious artefacts. There were also those who couldn’t walk too far or manage the cobbled streets who had to return to the ship early.
     Budapest is split into three, with the River Danube conveniently dividing Buda and Pest. Hungary is well-known for its thermal spas. I was mortified not to have brought a swimming costume as we moored opposite the Gellert Hotel, which is renowned for its extensive therapeutic thermal spas.
     I did, however, have time to visit the synagogue, the second largest in the world, and to pay my respects at the Holocaust memorial commemorating the 600,000 Jews who died under the Nazi regime.


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