Friday, July 27, 2012

Death on the Rhine

Well, maybe not death, but certainly suicide on the Rhine. We went up to the Aquivit lounge this morning and found piles of thousands of dead mayfly bodies. They covered everything--floor, tables, chairs. Everything. Musta been quite a party last night.

There was great rejoicing at the announcement that the sun deck was finally open. They have to close it all through sailing the Main (several days) because there are so many low bridges they have to remove all the guard rails, chairs, etc. But we are now off the Main and on the Rhine, finished with locks and with low bridges. The crew was busy setting up deck chairs again.

Happy people were walking laps around the deck again and everyone was settling into their own little nests to watch the scenery.

And let me tell you, there was scenery aplenty. As we began our tour through the Middle Rhine, people were all rushing to the rails to take a picture of the next castle. One woman, who was making a circuit of the deck, getting her walking in, said on one of her passes that she would walk until she saw a castle, then she'd have to stop and take a picture.

I felt like I'd come into Castle Commons, the housing development where every mountain peak had its own castle, some crumbling, some in good repair. After more than an hour of this delicious scenery, the thrill of seeing a castle had faded. I overheard one woman looking ahead and moaning "Oh god, another castle. I'm going downstairs to take a nap."

It was gorgeous scenery, with one picturesque village after another, flashing their half timbered fronts for the passing ships, church spires reaching up to the heavens. We even passed the smallest village on the Rhine, so small that the church and the local pub shared the same building and the only way you can get into the church is through the pub. Sounds like one stop shopping!

I was looking forward to sailing around the Lorelei (or Loreley in German)

The legend of Lorelei says that when the rocks in the Rhine Valley glowed in the evening sun or when the rugged cliffs were reflected by moonlight in the swirling waters of the river a slight figure could sometime be seen on the hilltop and a mysterious voice could be heard echoing through the rocky landscape. It belonged to the enchanging maiden Lorelei. The heart of countless men beat found.

The idea is to check her rock and see if she is sitting there, combing her golden hair. Not bloody likely on this trip.

Whoda thunk there would be scaffolding on a rock???

At noon, one of the lunch options was "A taste of Germany" on the upper deck. I went on ahead and saved a table for us, and then got myself some Germany hamburger, some pork on a bun, German potato salad, and some great pretzels.

I sat there, drinking my beer and waiting for the others, but it turned out they had chosen to eat downstairs in the dining room, so I sat there like a little wallflower, watching everyone around me partying. (some appropriate hearts and flowers music, please!)

When we arrived at Braubach, Walt, Mike and Kitch and the other "physically fit" travelers got off to explore the Marksburg Castle, while Joyce, Char and I stayed on board. On hearing later of the steep hill to be climbed to reach the castle, the uneven path and the steep claustrophia-enducing stairs to get into the castle, I decided I was happy to have stayed on board, where I took a shower, took a nap, and watched Idea of March on TV.

When the travelers returned to Koblenz, a town founded by the Romans in 9 B.C., where the boat had sailed in their absence, Branislav lead a "stroll" into the city center. Not a walking tour, we were reassured, but just a pleasant stroll. We started out at the monument which is at the meeting of the Rhine and the Mosel.

I'm afraid I can't remember anything about this monument except that it is surrounded by 16 flags, representing the 16 states of Germany and that in 2001, they added a U.S. flag, indicating support for the US after 9/11.

This was to be a 20 min leisurely stroll, but as it started getting longer and longer, and the temp was about 86 and where we were headed was the shopping street, which didn't interest me anyway, I left the group and headed back to the boat. I was followed soon after by Joyce, who had also opted to return to the ship and we had a lovely visit as we walked back together. At the cocktail hour, Walt opened the bottle of sparkling wine he had won the other night and we shared that.

It was then time for dinner.

We started with something mixed with cream cheese squirted onto a thin slice of a heavy dark bread (probably pumpernickle), then had a clam chowder, which was quite different from either Boston or New York clam chowder, but very good. I chose the duck breast with duck confit for my main course, It was delicious. And for dessert, I had the chocolate mousse.

We skipped the after dinner showing of pictures of this cruise, taken over the past 2+ weeks by Viking crew and instead the six of us took a ride on a gondola up to the top of the hill opposite where the ship is docked.

From there we were able to watch the sun go down on Koblenz.

Tomorrow we will be in Cologne. I really want to see the cathedral there, so I have signed up for the "leisurely tour," designed for the "not physically fit," and maybe it won't be quite so difficult on my feet and knees. At the end, as a reward, will be a tour of the chocolate museum near the ship.

1 comment:

Kwizgiver said...

Oh, those castles are gorgeous!