That ship had sailed they told me.
Later I learned that 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.
As I was leaving Schengen that day, waiting at the bus stop, 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 and I still find it hard to believe that this was a coincidence.
I eventually made it to Regensburg where fragments remained in the train station, 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. The queue for the boat betrayed little of this though and 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. When I told her of the boat’s previous life as the Princesse Marie Astrid, and of its claim to fame, she suggested that perhaps it had come home.
We disembarked finally, and we joined the many others congregating at the foot of the hill with Walhalla towering above us, and we were another legion entirely.
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.