Jean Croker Petke

The WOW report

The WOW report

As I promised, I kept a WOW journal while I traveled. Every night I jotted a few things in a tiny notebook — the best things of the day, the surprises, the joys. To be honest, I listed more than three items most days. I promised to share some of these moments with you, though I’ve shortened the list for the sake of brevity:

  • Saturday & Sunday (overnight flight from Charlotte to Prague)
    • warm moist towels between drinks and dinner on the plane
    • babies on the plane were quiet
    • hotel electrical plugs that worked with our adapters
    • Schindler’s name on the Munich airport escalator

  • Monday
    • buffet breakfast with croissants and sparkling water
    • great night’s sleep
    • “The Moldau” playing as background music on my audio tour player
    • after-lunch concert at castle beneath painted ceiling

  • Tuesday
    • The river in Prague is called The Moldau in English. I’ve known this music and it’s story since 10th grade; never thought I’d see it myself.
    • feeding pigeons in the park
    • having beer at the monastery reminded me of my first taste of beer at Shakey’s Pizza Parlor decades ago.
    • ice cream in bread cups
    • dappled grey carriage horses

  • Wednesday
    • sharing last night’s dinner leftovers for breakfast in our hotel room
    • Diet Coke in the cafe — like exquisite champagne, full of bubbles
    • salmon with crab for dinner
    • ice cream bar at a gas station
    • driving the Austrian countryside in a big yellow bus, hearing about World War II and seeing where the Iron Curtain really existed
    • all the cows resting on the ground
  • Thursday
    • St. Stephen’s cathedral in Passau
    • raspberry & vanilla ice cream, purchased for me by a fellow tourist because I lacked the correct currency
    • cobblestones
    • pink champagne
    • salmon on crostini
    • roast lamb at lunch
  • Friday
    • hot shower
    • bus ride through the Austrian countryside
    • ship’s coffee station: sparkling water on tap and mochacino
    • bread making and farmer’s dinner at a local farm

  • Saturday
    • a hillside castle perfectly framed by the opening lock gates as we waited to exit
    • terraced vineyards along the river

  • Sunday
    • the tolling of St. Stephen’s church bells
    • the cloud sculpture in St. Stephen’s sanctuary
    • cold bubbly Coke
    • my first espresso
    • Mozart & Strauss performance in a golden concert hall, with dancers and singers


  • Monday
    • home tour: baby kittens, art studio, lavender lemonade
    • berry sorbet
    • Hungarian tea on the ship: cucumber sandwiches, salmon sandwiches, ham sandwiches, trifle, shortbread cookies, poppyseed pinwheels, apricot cake, and zserbo

Shortly after I returned home, a friend asked, “What was the best and worst of your trip?”

“There was no worst,” I replied. “I only had good things.”

In that moment, she proved the value of keeping a WOW journal. If we focus on the good stuff, that is what we remember — all the rest fades into the background. The reverse is also true: focus on what goes wrong or doesn’t meet our expectations, and the trip becomes a disaster of one kind or another.

Cold bubbles to you, whether it’s diet Coke, pink champagne, or sparkling water, for your upcoming adventures. Let them WOW you on a warm summer day while you explore the universe.

Until next Tuesday . . .

2 Comments - Leave a Comment
    • jcpetke -

      It was a very good trip. Actually I’m hoping to get back to Budapest one day — for at least a week.

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