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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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

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    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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