Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 13: Rhine Castles and Koblenz.   The first part of the day today we sat on the top deck of the boat, drank coffee, sat in the sunshine and sailed past 22 castles.  All the while, the program directors gave us a running commentary on the juicy stories associated with the families who built them. We took a million pictures and won't remember which is what, but it doesn't matter because it was lots of fun and very relaxing.  After lunch we took a walking tour of the town of Koblenz in the pouring rain.  We headed for our cable car ride to a fortification and the sun came out.  Mom and I walked around, then made an executive decision.... we would go back to the ship, get a manhattan from the bar, take showers and relax!  It was great!  One of the best parts of the second half of this trip has been the walking and observing time.  Usually families are out having fun together while we are walking back to our ship.  Hopefully I will be able to post pictures soon so you can see what I mean.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 12:  Mainz and Rudesheim.  Today we went to Mainz.  It was very different front the other towns in that it is a successful mix of Gothic, Baroque and ultra modern architectures.  Mom and I were in different groups.  She got a great guide and I got one that was not so good.  Then we got back on the boat, ate lunch and travelled to Rudesheim.  Mom watched the demo on making apple strudel.  I stayed in the cabin and read my book (read that... took a nap).  We arrived in Rudesheim in time to take a train to a restaurant, where we ate and drank, then watched the sad demise of the German team. One exciting update to my yoyo-ing education..... I can throw the yoyo out in front of me and catch it! I feel pretty darn good about that!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 11:  Heidelberg  Today we were in Heidelberg, which is known by some as a tourist trap.  I thought it was very interesting.  We went to a piano recital at the University of Heidelberg in a chapel.  We heard pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, and more.  The pianist was very accomplished, but "sturdy" in his technique.  Mark Twain was suffering from writers block and visited H. He finished Huckleberry Finn here. It seems that many famous people came to this town to complete or recover from something.  We saw the largest wine barrel in the world, which contained the worst wine in the world!  Not only were peasants required to pay large amounts of money in taxes, they were also required to give a part of their grape harvest.....of course they gave their worst grapes, hence .....  We also heard the shortest legend in the world: A lord asked a lady to be his bride. She turned him down and ......he lived happily ever after!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 10: Wertheim Today is the first day off we have had.  We had nothing to do and nowhere to go, although we did have a morning walking tour of the town.  It was very cool that the ship docked right at the edge of town so we could go into the city and then wander back to the boat many times during the day.  You could really get a lot of shopping done without realizing it, because you could dump off your bags and keep on shopping!  They had a euro store (dollar store), a terrific grocery store, and lovely outdoor cafes which were just perfect for trying the different brewers types of beer.... pilsner, wheat and land ...... today the pilsner won. This is a glass blowing city.  We had a wonderful demonstration by a very well known glassblower on the boat, then we saw the the shop of the glassblower in the town.  Some serious shopping happened in the glass shops :-)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 9: yoyos

Day 9: Gerlachshausen/ Wuerzburg/ Yoyos One of the best parts of our trip is our program directors!  They are very experienced and funny.  You can tell they are friends, because they are always playing tricks on each other.  They come up with skits for us, teach us phrases to use when we go out into town, solve problems effortlessly.... all the while making us laugh.  They are Daniel, Daniella and Steven, alphabetically.   The guide for our group is Steven, patient, knowledgeable, cheerful and unflappable.  Every town seems like his hometown because he appears to have the inside scoop on everything.  All of the program directors must do their own research and come up with their own tour information.  It is fun at dinner to sit with people outside your group to hear what the other PD's have said during the day.   Daniel loves to yoyo and he carries two yoyos on his belt in specially made yoyo holders. His favorite brand is Henry, a German brand.  After a tutorial, I decided to try my hand again at yoyoing! What a blast! I can now use both hands at the same time AND I am learning the cool way to rewind the string.  I am now the proud owner of two brand new yoyos, thanks to Daniel, who found some in the town today.  Several people  indicated that they also are experienced yoyoers and were happy to show me their skills, which upon execution, appeared a little rusty, but enthusiastic none the less.  Today we toured the loveliest town, Gerlachshausen. I think this would be a wonderful place to live.  We had a delicious lunch in a local restaurant, which is the first place off the ship that we have eaten a meal.  We went to a famous Christmas shop, where we purchased the obligatory tree ornament with the town printed on it. Then we walked around the town for the afternoon, peaking in shop windows. European soccer championships are being played right now and Germany is going into the semi-final round.  Everyone here is going nuts with flags flying on cars, hanging over balconies and soccer stuff in all kinds of unlikely places like bank, pharmacy and bakery windows! I guess pictures will have to wait until I get home to add them to the blog.  My computer will not boot up and I can't load pictures to the blog from my iPad.  Smooches to everyone!

Day 8: Bamburg

Day 8: Bamberg Today is Sunday.  It is a beautiful, sunny, cool day.  We went on a walking tour of the city with a local guide.  We have these lovely headsets which lets the guide carry on a dialogue without having to yell and it also let's you straggle back and take pictures, but still hear what is being said.  The headset idea is just awesome! Bamberg is a beautiful city which dates back to AD 902 and is one of the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites that we have seen.  What I found most interesting was the information we learned about tanners, which was a huge industry in Bamberg.  Their homes were 3 or 4 stories and were built along the river so they could use the water to clean the hides after tanning and dry them in the upper story of the house where it was warmest.  In the shop windows we saw beautiful leather goods, but because it was Sunday..... all the stores were closed.... so sad.... Saved a lot of money! This afternoon we are traveling to Rothenburg, it must be a long way because we got under way right after lunch but usually we travel at night.

Day 7: Nuremburg

Day 7:  Nuremburg For some of you the name Nuremburg is vaguely familiar.  Especially if you are an old movie buff, this city will ring a bell.  But many will not remember that this city was the site of the Nuremburg trials of the Nazi leaders from WWII. The city still lives in the shadow of their  past.   We saw a building honoring Hitler, which was under construction at the time of WWII but never finished, left as a dump rather than a rallying point for Neo-Nazi groups.  Our guide said that the largest groups they teach at the Nuremburg memorial center are students and military personnel.  The military are requiured to be educated in all parts of military history.  We were taken on a bus tour around the city by a very witty, very knowledgeable, local guide.  We also visited the courtroom used for the trials of the highest ranking prisoners of war.  Our guide said the movie, The Trial at Nuremburg, with Spencer Tracy, is an extremely accurate account of the trial. They played it on the ship last night and it was startling. Today is Mom and Dad's anniversary.  It has been a little tough for Mom, but as you all know, Mom is not a whiner and she never let on.  Another couple was celebrating their anniversary and asked us to sit at their table and share a bottle of champagne. We also toasted Mom and Dad, which was nice.  There was dancing in the lounge this evening and Mom danced with one  of the gentlemen on the ship.  I think that really made her happy.  She came back to the cabin smiling from ear to ear. Everyone on the ship loves Mom.  They all admire her spirit and grit.  They look at her age and say, "wow, If Jeanne can do it, so can I!" This also goes for me!