That ship had sailed, they told me.
It was in Germany now, in Regensburg. It had become the MS Regensburg and was making pleasure trips to The Walhalla Memorial, a building modelled on the Parthenon that stands high above the Danube filled with busts of remarkable Germans.
At the bus stop as I was leaving Schengen, resolved to visit the boat in its new home, a car pulled over opposite me. It had a picture of a Viking ship sailing past the Valhalla of Norse mythology painted on its side. I still find it hard to believe that this was a coincidence.
I eventually made it to Regensburg where fragments remained in the train and bus stations, and in the squares of the old town, of the legions who had fled Syria and elsewhere in previous months and had crossed into Germany in their thousands at nearby Passau, although the queue at the quayside betrayed little of this.
On the boat at last, I spoke with Martha from Canada who told me of her excitment at seeing Wagner and Bach and that how, after Regensburg, she and her husband would make a road trip in their honour and would visit Leipzig and Bayreuth before joining their daughter at her home in Berlin.
When I told her of the boat’s previous life as the Princesse Marie Astrid, and of its claim to fame, she was delighted and suggested that perhaps now it had come home.
We disembarked and joined the many others congregating at the foot of the hill. As we prepared to make the climb to Walhalla we seemed another legion entirely, our prize never in doubt.
Image credit: Valhalla on fire. Scenography for Act III of Twilight of the Gods from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Max Brückner. 1896.