Making friends along the Danube 3/7

Written by Harold McNeill on April 13th, 2012. Posted in Travelogue

Photo: This crew of women opened the dance floor each evening, then closed it at some point after midnight. It was a great cruise for the men, for, as the old fifties song goes, “Two Girls for Every Guy”‘

Brazil, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, England and Scotland as well as a sizable number of people from the United States and Canada, were just a few of the fifteen countries represented by guests on the River Beatrice.  Everyone we met, and we met many of the 133 guests, brought special stories of their lives which they freely shared over meals, while touring and, later, over drinks in the lounge. It was a family atmosphere, filled with good cheer and conversation, as we might expect back home during a holiday celebration with guests enjoying the freedom of sharing with family members around the dinner table.

Among the guests:

A young woman nearing the end of her second trimester sharing the trip with her husband, mom and dad; A couple from Sao Paulo, in a tender story of a lost love rekindled; Sisters separated by half the world reunited for a cruise: A Book Club of fourteen women on their annual trek, and no, they assured me, it was not a run through of Eat, Pray and Love.

An unlikely ‘Elvis’ from Australia and his lovely wife; Several travel consultants, many with spouses or friends, on a familiarization cruise and enjoying life to the fullest; A fun loving Doctor and his wife explaining how he was coming to terms with a world of changing technology (a hilarious rendition); A couple from California with whom we shared the polar opposites of the political spectrum and a fine dinner (and no, I was not the Republican);

A distinguished couple from South Africa whose home skirts the Kruger National Park; Two friends who could be sisters (besides Lynn and Esther); A woman whose travel companion had to suddenly cancel, decided continue on her own, was having a great time and was heading on to spend a week of discovery in Paris. The stories go on with each being unique and each just as interesting.

With a median age somewhere in the mid-fifties (of a scale of thirty to eighty), it was a wonderful mix where mobility issues for a few passengers did not create any barriers.  It seemed most would be back for a return engagement at some point in the near future. To meet any of these fine people again on another trip, would be like a home-coming.

The following photographs captured a few of the moments.

Note: While I love my little Panasonic for daytime and low light scenery, the flash is just not able to catch people in night scenes in a manner that would give a clearly, focused picture (hdm).

Good to have the family over for dinner. Grandpa Jay, always stage centre.

Twins birthdays but the dominant twin stole the cake and candle.

“Now here’s the plan.  You girls go and distract the Monks while I make my way to the rotunda. I can then catch a few pictures before they are any the wiser…”


I know you girls are all eager to get back to the dance floor, but Harold and Garth are plan tuckered out, so, please, just pace yourselves.  Remember this is only day three.

Pull out a camera and these two start posing.  We stopped along the streets one day and soon several locals gathered thinking the two must be celebrities from one of the yachts parked down at the river. Well, close. It was not long before there was a massive crowd clamoring for pictures and autographs. The police had to intervene and escorted the two back to the ship…

I wonder who invented dance? It seems it is the one way we can jump up, act silly, chase each other around a hardwood floor, scream and hollar (if we wish) and walk away happy. Sometimes we wake up not feeling nearly as good as we did the night before and I am curious as to why dancing should cause one to feel that way…

 “Listen, you don’t know how hard it is being ‘Elvis’ and living in Australia.”


This, of course, would be our reading group. What, no books in hand?

 Could this be our lovers?





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Comments (1)

  • Esther Dunn
    April 17, 2012 at 4:36 am |

    Such a wonderful group…so many great memories…Thanks for posting Harold!!

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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold