Monday, 12 October 2015

10.11.15 Home

Totally uneventful trip. Thank goodness for a direct flight from Amsterdam to Salt Lake City. I'm always flabbergasted at how it requires that I get up at 5 am to make it on time for a 10:30 flight from a hotel next to the airport.

Despite no lay overs and plenty of room in economy plus bulkhead seats I was exhausted. The kids came over for a couple of hours and by 5 I was sound asleep in bed.

10.10.15 Getting booted off the ship.

We had to vacate our cabin by 8:30 but were able to leave our suitcases on board until we were done exploring some more. They offered us the noon day meal as well but both Joseph and I had had enough ship board food and weren't going to pass up a last chance at lunch on the canal.

We did go see an exhibit that had just opened on the Dam square (Nieuwe Kerk). It was about Constantine's Rome. A little more strolling and off to the airport Hyatt.

The leaning facades on the front of the buildings with the hooks on top for hauling stuff up.

Reportedly the smallest house in Amsterdam.

Tomorrow we are off for home. No more pictures of buildings, mountains, countryside or food. I'm ambivalent about returning home. Except for hanging out with the kids and walking the dogs which I've missed a lot I think I'd prefer to continue to travel. In the past I would be anxious about doing things like going back to the gym and yoga. The upcoming ski season. Now I have my walking stick and escalating doses of medication.

I'm going to reiterate what I've said before. I am so appreciative of my husband who has been amazing at organizing this trip. From the big things like hotel and cruise reservations to the small where he is frequently checking in with me, taking care of the boarding passes and pass ports. Asking me how I'm doing and adjusting outings accordingly. All I have to do is follow along and enjoy my self. I love you Joseph Broom.


10.9.15 Amsterdam

Just a couple of quick posts. We are in the wind down of our odyssey. We woke in Amsterdam and we're off on an excursion first on a couch and second on a canal boat cruise. The weather was perfect and we spent free time strolling around before cocktails and dinner on board.

Must say a few words about the bicycles in Amsterdam. The Dutch people take some degree of pride in their bicycles. However they also take a large degree of liberties and you'd better not get in their way. Yelta, our guide from our first time here, informed us that nobody buys a nice bike for fear of theft that sounds pretty common. It also means that the Dutch like the Mormon church who speak of numbers of members, they speak of how many bikes they have per capita. The reality is that for every bike that appears rideable there is at least one that is clearly not.

I do applaud them for showing the rest of the world how it can be done in a large city not to mention the tram and bus system.


Friday, 9 October 2015

10.8.15 Cologne to Amsterdam

Misty morning in Cologne. We pulled in early in the morning. Had a guided walking tour in the rain under our umbrella. There were little bits of interesting facts about the age of the city - 2000 years - settled as a Roman outpost, 95% destroyed in WWII, cultural center with lots of museums and galleries although now most artisans have moved to Berlin because it's way to expensive to live here, highest consumption of alcohol per capita, lots of wet weather, and of course the famous Cathedral.

The Cologne Cathedral was of the gothic style of architecture (between medieval and Renaissance period). Construction started in 1240 and completed in 1880 - over 600 years. The building halted because of finances until the 19th century. It was largely left intact during the war despite a devastated city around it some think to serve as a navigational point.

Germany of course is famous for not only their sausages but their pretzels and something to wash it all down - beer. Love sausage as Deb and Neil can attest to and I do enjoy a beer on occasion but I've never been fond of pretzels - ever - until I ran into these babies in Cologne. It's a clue to my palate. If you drench anything in chocolate and sugar and almonds I'll think it's amazing.

After leaving Cologne the landscape shifted to a very serene flatness. All along the riverbanks people were out marching their canine companions. It makes me anxious to walk mine. Dogs love being walked.


Wednesday, 7 October 2015

10.7.15 The Rhine River

We stopped in Rudeshiem this morning after sailing all day and night. We passed a town where some of Joseph's ancestors hail from. He is a romantic that way.

We are now in Riesling country. Not a wine to my taste. I'll still take a perfectly aged gin any day.

We took a trip to the music museum. It was surprisingly very nice and interesting. Not a museum of particular of instruments but more the machines that play themselves. Something you would find on a carousel and some organ grinders. The ones with collared monkeys that in movies always get in some kind of mischief. When I posed the question which came first the monkey or the organ he thought the monkey. People would often display exotic animals in the markets. Google says the monkey was added to hold the tin cup for donations freeing up both hands for the organ grinder.

We took the chairlift from the center of the town over the vine yards - some still being harvested. At the top is a monument from 1880's commemorating the unification of Germany.

Then it was up to Koblenz. The stretch between Redenshiem and Koblenz is essentially what the Rhine River tour is about. It is one medieval castle after another tucked up in the hills surrounded by vineyards and stands of trees with the brilliance of fall colors. Most of the structures have been restored from previous conflicts. When first entertaining the idea of a river cruise I imagined it would be 7 days of castles perched on hillsides. It's certainly been beautiful and relaxing. The reality is that there is one stretch of castles all destroyed and rebuilt - turned into hotels and youth hostels and towns that thrives on tourist trade.

I'm pretty sure I prefer the cycling way of seeing Europe. Out of the way back roads with great views, crazy ascents and descents, small and uncomfortable rooms,mediocre food and not another foreigner encountered in days.

But I'm grateful that I get to do what I get to do with my husband - making memories.



Tuesday, 6 October 2015

10.6.15 Locks

It's a good day to post something about the locks. I opted out on the short excursion to Miltenberg.

In total we will go through approximately 34 locks while on the Main River and once on the Rhine we have no more locks. A canal ties the Main River to the Danube creating a continuous waterway from the Black Sea to the North Sea.

The locks allow the river be used for hydroelectric power generators.
We are heading downriver so the locks lower us to the next level. This ship is heading out of the lock.

Our turn.

The gate in back closes and the water then evacuated.

Water level reached, gates open, and away we go.


10.5.15 Rothenberg

Today was a much warmer day especially if standing in the sun. We chose the Rothenberg excursion . It's another well preserved medieval city and extremely picturesque. It's also become ground zero for stores specializing in Christmas ornaments.


Most of you probably know that Joseph is a great collector of Christmas ornaments which is perfectly fine by me. It's a creative outlet for him plus it gives him a chance to reminisce about past Christmases and past travels. The rest of the year he is like me and not prone to having knick knacks and clutter around the house. For some reason the spirit didn't move him and he only bought one ornament.

We were pleased that for the most part the town was very quiet. Off season for tourists.

The surrounding wall and city left intact for the most part. Rebuilt from public donations.

The brothel built outside the city walls.


Sunday, 4 October 2015

10.4.15 Bamberg

It's raining this morning and chilly. According to the map we went through 6 locks during our overnight trip. I think I was awoken by each one.

Unlike Nernberg which was 80% destroyed by allied bombing Bamberg was left alone. Legend has it that's because there are 9 breweries in this town of 70 K and nobody... I mean nobody wanted to destroy beer.

The city has some of the oldest intact medieval structures in Europe.

It's reported that during its early days the sewage system was the river. There is a slaughter house (medieval) built over the river and of course that's where the offal ended up. Where did they get their water then? They made beer and everyone drank it even the kids. Of course a much lower alcohol level - just high enough to make the water disease free through the brewing process.

The Reformation occurred here as well however the ruler at the time wanted to keep the town Catholic so had a huge cathedral built and discouraged the reformist as much as possible.

The other story was of course the Jewish story. I imagine not unlike the Jewish story everywhere in Europe. The Jews came and went throughout the history. Our tour guide explained that there were 3 reasons why the Jewish people were removed from communities. The first was because of religious intolerance. Secondly, they as outsiders would inevitably became the scapegoats for everything that went wrong - bad crops, poisoned wells, murders. The third was that they were generally wealthier because of better business sense and where as the Christians couldn't loan money the Jews could. It was a form of reverse bankruptcy. Just kick the creditors out of town.

There were approximately 800 Jews living in Bamberg during the Nazi regime. After Kristallnacht approximately half escaped to the United States and the other half were exterminated. Now Bamberg has a progressive Jewish community with a modern synagogue and a female rabbi.

There will be a quiz tomorrow.

Once again I have to credit my husband for most of these outstanding photos - great eye and editing skills.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

10.3.15 Emerald Sun

We boarded our cruise ship. A sparkly thing that was launched new this year. We've had 3 knocks on the door already from people bearing gifts of food. At 4:00 tea there were cakes and sandwiches. I can barely fit into my 32 waist pants (the size I've worn my entire life) as it is from all of our food indulgences the past 5 weeks without any exercise. At least I have a pair of lululemon pants that are extremely stretchy that I can wear home where I will start my new diet called "The Starvation Diet".

I bought a wool hat at the market. What do you think? Me? Not me? It's certainly warm.


10.2.15 The AutoBahn

I was disappointed when I realized that the top of our car folds into the trunk meaning we weren't going to be able to go topless on our trip from Fussen to Nurnberg unless we wanted to leave all of our luggage behind.

The little Z4 has a zippy engine and with low profile tires handles the curves beautifully especially at 120 mph. I'm not used to traveling at that speed but apparently others are since we were passed frequently despite the speed. In any case I drive a Tacoma so I know not of what I speak.

Love Nurnberg. Beautiful old town with magnificent looking churches and architecture. Tomorrow it's on to the last portion of our trip - a river cruise.

Fall is certainly here.
So many interesting looking places to eat sauerkraut and bratwurst but my abdominal girth is already growing unchecked.