A Danube river cruise with the National Review gang preceded the spring trip Debbie and I took to France this year. We traveled from Bucharest, Hungary, to Slovakia and Vienna, Austria, before ending our trip in Germany and taking a flight to Charles de Gaulle (Paris) out of the excellent, courteous Munich airport.
Earlier this year National Review expended much time, energy and political capital on a strong anti-Donald Trump campaign. Cruise attendees were in large measure not buying into the anti-Trump message, and were surprisingly vocal about their feelings. I could not tell whether the pro-Trump contingent actually outnumbered the anti-Trumpers, but the pro-Trump crowd was certainly bold with their opinions and unafraid to buck National Review’s stated anti-Trump mission. (Quite honestly, a bit of a surprise to me and I think also to National Review leadership.) I spoke in some length with publisher Jack Fowler, a real nice guy who handled his tough position in resolute fashion. It was no easy task, and I was glad not to be in Jack’s shoes.
Vienna, along with the Austrian lakes region, was the highlight of the trip. If you get an opportunity to visit Vienna, do not miss the chance. What beauty and history.
The river cruise was run by AmaWaterways, of which Debbie and I cannot say enough good things. A beautiful, comfortable boat with excellent food and a top-flight energetic staff from countries all over Europe. We were especially fond of the cheery Romanians.
We did not see or hear a lot about the Muslim immigrant issue with two exceptions. A high-ranking Hungarian official made it clear that Hungary would maintain its hard-line stance against taking in Muslim immigrants, who they believe do not assimilate well. Austria has a far more liberal stance, but the political winds are shifting fast. The coalition government that had governed Austria since the end of WWII did not even make it out of the first round of presidential voting. In the end, the hard-line, Glock-toting, anti-immigrant right wing candidate for president lost by a hair to the Green Party candidate. Mailed in ballots held sway and ruled the day. To say I am suspicious is being kind.
In Part II—on to Paris, where there will be a presidential election in 2017. We again were hearing the name Sarkozy.
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