DAY 21, JUNE 14: DAY OF R&R IN GROCKA ON THE DANUBE

This was Elizabeth's second-most favorite day of the whole trip  (#2 – ✮✮✮✮). "It was so beautiful, so relaxing," she ruminated at the end of our trip about this June 14 day we spent in Grocka (pronounced Gro-tz-ka). "Everything was so serene. Like magic." The day started with music, had music in the middle, and tennis, cherries, watermelon, and a pink Danube sunset in between.  It WAS "like magic," as Elizabeth put it. 

DAY 20, JUNE 13: OUR DANUBE “CRUISE” CONTINUES IN SERBIA

Our "Cruise down the Danube of Four Wheels" is continuing from Serbia. We started our trip in Srem Mitrovica with visit to my sister and our joint visit to our parent's gravesite. We also paid our respects at her husband's grave and that of a close cousin of ours. I felt like a "designated survivor." We then continued driving through the beautiful Fruska Gora mountain which lies on the right bank of the Danube as Europe's mightiest river winds its way through Serbia. That drive evoked many memories from my youth. Finally, we took a leisurely walk though downtown Belgrade and capped it with a late dinner at the old town's favorite dining district - Skadarlija.

DAY 19, JUNE 12: REVISITING MY CHILDHOOD IN CROATIA

DARDA This is where my family lived between my ages of 3 and 8. This is where I started school -  first grade, of course. This is where my father was imprisoned on Tito's orders by his communist government and falsely accused of planning to assassinate the Yugoslav president. My father was eventually released after spending nearly three years in a communist prison in Slovenia. But not before being severely tortured in an unsuccessful effort to extract a confession from him. This is also where I and a Hungarian girl next door made our first attempt at sex. I was seven at the time. She may have been a year or so older. Vukovar is the town where the Yugoslav civil war started in earnest in 1991. For us, it was the rest point and the last overnight stop before crossing into Serbia. There are still some scars left. But overall, Vukovar is today a beautiful little town on the Danube, looking across this mighty river into Serbia.

DAY 18, JUNE 11: BUDAPEST AND SZENTENDRE (SENTANDREJA)

The idea about this entire trip was conceived last fall (2016) as a possible cruise down Europe’s longest river. When that did not pan out, Placido Domingo’s AIDA became the magnet that drew us to Vienna. Spending some quality time with my family there was an extra special bonus. And then when we sold my Rainbow Shower property in Maui, having worked like slaves for a month to make it happen, Elizabeth and I decided to go on this European trip and take this “cruise on 4 wheels” as our “reward” for all the hard work.

“STORIES FROM VIENNA WOODS” – AS I HEARD THEM

This is where Napoleon on bended knee asked for hand in marriage of Austrian emperor’s daughter

Imagine a splendiferous imperial throne room, glittering jewelry on beautiful ladies wearing their finest evening gowns during the grand gala balls and receptions for foreign dignitaries.

Then imagine a solemn ceremony in which the Emperor bestows knighthood onto some lucky landowner or worthy citizen.

Then imagine Napoleon on a bended knee asking for the hand in marriage of the Austrian Emperor’s daughter.

That’s what the Throne Room of the Hofburg imperial palace had been used during the last 200 or so years.

And this evening, Elizabeth and I took two of my grandchildren there to a concert at the Ceremonial Hall of the imperial Hofburg Palace.

DAY 18, JUNE 11: START OF OUR “SALING DOWN THE DANUBE ON FOUR WHEELS”

The idea about this entire trip was conceived last fall (2016) as a possible cruise down Europe's longest river. When that did not pan out, Placido Domingo's AIDA became the magnet that drew us to Vienna. Spending some quality time with my family there was an extra special bonus. And then when we sold my Rainbow Shower property in Maui, having worked like slaves for a month to make it happen, Elizabeth and I decided to go on this European trip and take this "cruise on 4 wheels" as our "reward" for all the hard work.

DAY 17, JUNE 10: CONCERT AT THE CEREMONIAL HALL OF HOFBURG PALACE

This is where Napoleon on bended knee asked for hand in marriage of Austrian emperor's daughter Imagine a splendiferous imperial throne room, glittering jewelry on beautiful ladies wearing their finest evening gowns during the grand gala balls and receptions for foreign dignitaries. Then imagine a solemn ceremony in which the Emperor bestows knighthood onto some lucky landowner or worthy citizen. Then imagine Napoleon on a bended knee asking for the hand in marriage of the Austrian Emperor's daughter. That's what the Throne Room of the Hofburg imperial palace had been used during the last 200 or so years. And this evening, Elizabeth and I took two of my grandchildren there to a concert at the Ceremonial Hall of the imperial Hofburg Palace.

DAY 16, JUNE 9: VISIT TO SALZBURG, MOZART’S BIRTHPLACE

From Vienna, Austria OUR VISIT TO SALZBURG, MOZART’S BIRTHPLACE, HOHENSALZBURG CASTLE Elizabeth and I just got back from a day’s trip to Salzburg. We visited Mozart’s birthplace in the old town, and then took a ride on a funicular rail to Hohensalzburg Castle, which towers above the city (originally built in 1503). For those who have not been here, Salzburg is about a 3.5 hour car ride from Vienna. So we’ve had a full and busy day, both in Vienna city traffic, on the freeways, and in Salzburg. The most amazing thing is that we did all that basically solely on intuition. Our Vienna city map did not cover the area through which we were driving. So we had to rely 100% on divine guidance. And what guidance it was!

DAY 15, JUNE 8: “SWAN LAKE” AT VIENNA STATE OPERA

We just got back from a marvelous experience at the Vienna State Opera. This evening, the Austrian ballet company performed the "Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky. Elizabeth and I had seen this ballet once before in Phoenix, Arizona. But this performance was simply stunning in all respects - the quality of dancers, the choreography, the costumes, the orchestra - all superlative. At the end of our trip, this evening was Elizabeth's five-star, #1 experience overall.

DAY 14, JUNE 7: VISIT TO FRANZ LISZT’S BIRTHPLACE, NOW MUSEUM, EVOKES STRONG EMOTIONS

How do you begin to write a story about revisiting a lifetime as HUGE as that of Franz Liszt? I know, I know... we are not supposed to have any attachments to our past lives. "Been there, done that, and move on" is what our spirit guides tell us. "Get on with new experiences and lessons." And that's exactly how I feel about some of my other "big" imperial or royal or religious past lives (like Constantine, Theseus, Saint Philip, Pope Julius II, King Phillip II, etc.). A shrug. "Been there, done that." But there is something about my Franz Liszt and Prince Albert lifetimes, both running in parallel in the 19th century, that has always had a strong emotional element attached to them.