I have never been able to take an ocean cruise because of my penchant for motion sickness, but when the possibility of a river cruise presented itself, I decided to take a chance! It turned out to be a good decision.
In the Feng Shui Five Element Theory, I am a Water; the other Elements are Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal. The Chinese believe the Five Elements govern our physical, emotional and spiritual existence, just as they regulate the cycles of growth and change in the external world. Each Element has a color, shape, season, direction, virtue, and emotion. They also represent internal organs, body shape and personality traits, as well as areas in our homes.
While we each carry traits of all the Elements in our personalities, one, or perhaps two, will be dominant and one barely visible. So, how interesting that Water is my dominant Element; I never learned to swim because of a fear of having my head under water and I get motion sick on moving water! On the other hand, I love to be by the water; I can walk on a beach for hours. I can even enjoy short boating excursions on calm waters, but traveling for days on a ship in unpredictable waters is not possible; I even get motion sick while traveling in a car! And, yes, I’ve tried a variety of motion sickness remedies. They don’t work for me!
We traveled the Danube River, visiting Germany, Austria and Hungary. The following is a sampling of our glorious trip through the lens of the Five Elements.
Our first stop was Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city. Surrounded by massive walls, it is filled with gates, towers, medieval churches and a grand castle. In this beautiful Water reflection are trees (Wood), the long, flat roof line (Earth), the building’s peak, shaped like a triangle (Fire) and the graceful archway under the building (Metal).
Regensburg is considered to be the best preserved medieval city in Germany and the oldest city on the Danube. Its picturesque atmosphere is enhanced by Wood and Water! Located on four rivers and with gorgeous greenery in well-kept parks and a mediterranean ambience, Regensburg is nicknamed “the northernmost city in Italy!” The Gothic architecture of the stunning Regensburg Cathedral, dedicated to St. Peter, is Regensburg’s most important landmark. These cathedral arches represent the elegance of the Metal Element.
Passau is a German city on the Austrian border; it is known as the Three Rivers City as it lies at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and llz rivers. With its jumble of cobbled lanes, underpasses and archways leading off the main thoroughfares, it was beyond charming and our favorite place. We loved the gingerbread demonstration and tasting – a very nurturing (Earth) experience!
Krems, our entrance to Austria, has a rich history of wine production. We were treated to a wine tasting in the 900-year-old Gottwieg Abbey, served by Benedictine monks. The Abbey boasts 260 acres of vineyards and wine has been produced there continuously since 1083! Wow! The architectural pillars of the Abbey stand like strong, sturdy trees (Wood).
Ah Vienna! It is like a crown jewel! Once the seat of the Hapsburg Dynasty and the center of the Holy Roman Empire, it is a one of the world’s greatest centers of art, music and architecture. Because we were there in November, it was Christmas Market time! We toured the stunning Shonbrunn Palace, and had the opportunity to visit Vienna’s most scenic and cozy Christmas Market. Held directly in front of the Palace, the scent of mulled wine and gingerbread, the throngs of browsing people and the festive decorations created a Fire energy, uplifting our Chi and creating a mood of excitement and enthusiasm!
Our last destination was Budapest. The capital of Hungary and home to 1.7 million people, Budapest spans both sides of the Danube River – historic Buda on the east bank and cosmopolitan Pest on the west. It is filled with baroque, neoclassical and Art Nouveau architecture. We were fascinated with Fisherman’s Bastion, a 19th-century fortress with 7 turreted lookout towers, viewing terraces, many stairs and walking paths, and panoramic views! It was breathtaking and a fine example of all Five Elements. Can you identify them?
The sole purpose of Feng Shui and the Five Elements is for creating harmony and balance in our lives – our homes, our health, our possessions, clothing, emotions, and experiences.Travel can be a powerful way to rebalance and harmonize. When we travel with alertness and awareness, we are better able to connect to the energies of the world. Understanding the inter-connectedness of everything around us helps balance the Elements and regulate our personal Chi. A river cruise provided an opportunity for me to connect with my Water Element in a way that I had not been able to before.
“Water never waits. It changes shape and flows around things, and finds the secret paths no one else thought about – the tiny hole through the roof or the bottom of a box. There’s no doubt it’s the most versatile of the five elements. It can wash away earth, it can put out fire; it can wear a piece of metal down and can sweep it away. Even wood, which is its natural complement, can’t survive without being nurtured by water.”