Thursday, September 14, 2017

20 Years and Counting Chapter 4

Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
August 29, 30 and 31st.

Mannheim                  Koblenz
Speyer                        Cologne

Heidelberg Castle as backdrop for our selfie

The Largest Wine Barrel (Heidelberg)

The Castle has an amazing balcony that overlooks the town and Philosopher's walk, a prestigious area of this college town.  Steffi Graff owns a home here. You can spot some of the homes across the Neckar River, hillside.

Heidelberg's Monkey on the Old Bridge
 You can read about this monkey here.

The river cruise offered various tours for its guest.  It went from Active to Regular, and Easy tours for the older crowd.  We did the Active and Regular tours depending on the town.  Most of the time we were bike riding along the countryside.

John was having such a fun time.  I haven't seen him relaxed like this in many years.  It was a true vacation for both of us.  We only had two other riders with us on this trip.

A Counts home that now is a venue/winery

I could write endlessly about all the fun places we visited and history lessons we learned on this trip. But what really made our trip enjoyable is spending quality time with each other and meeting some really nice people.  Many couples were our age and were celebrating either birthdays, retirement, or like us Anniversaries.

The night of our true anniversary date we made reservations at the Chef's table.  We shared this special evening with 3 other couples. One from Oklahoma, Karla and David, and a couple from Washington D.C., Tracy and Susan.   The dinner usually takes about 2 hours max.  We were laughing so hard and enjoying ourselves that we spent 3.5 hours dining.  Those poor waiters!

My only regret is that we didn't take a picture of our table.  These folks made our anniversary oh so very special!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

20 years and counting Chapter 3

Monday, August 28, 2017,  Strasbourg

As John and I are enjoying new cities our own city is being bombarded with rain for 4 straight days. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.  Houston underwent a horrible deluge of rain from Hurricane Harvey.  Many creeks surround Houston and its suburbs and when 50 inches of rain fall these creeks overflow, and overflow, and overflow.  

By day two we upgraded our phone plan to keep in contact with everyone back home.  Harvey made the world news and everyone in every country asked us how our family and home were once they found out we were from Houston.  It was surreal.

Only one person in our family took in water.  Luckily she only received inches of water and not feet, like many others.  It was still hard to enjoy ourselves without thinking of all the water our poor Houston was receiving.

Back to Strasbourg.....We woke in this city and opted for a bike tour.  Unfortunately, so did 26 other riders.  And some of them should not have been on bikes.  It was a busy bustling city and I would not recommend a bike tour here.  We didn't get to see everything we wanted to see and decided to go back after lunch into the ship to further explore the city.

The great part of this city was it was very bike friendly in some parts. It actually had a meter to register how many bikes came in and out of the Cathedral area.

Cathedral of Notre Dame de Strasbourg
We climbed up the 332 steps to see the city view and it was worth every step.
The city is behind us.  We are a park across from city buildings that were both occupied by German and France.
As much as I enjoy history, I know very little of European history.  For example, many cities along the Rhine for the past 75 years have been properties of France and Germany.  Which explains how many cities in France have German sounding names.

Strasbourg Astronomical Clock

One of the Four Towers that made up a defensive block, built in the 13 century
Another fascinating fact according to the tour guides is that very few places fly Germany's Flag. According to them, Germany is still very ashamed of what they did in World War I and II and try to 1) never forget and teach its lessons to today's' children and 2) not take national pride since they feel that is part of what encouraged them into the WWII.

We had the best time speaking to locals and learning their way of life.  Such beautiful landscapes and bridges throughout this city.

We were very fortunate to have missed Harvey and come back to a city on the mend full of amazing stories full of grace, kindness, love, and giving.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

20 Years and Counting.....Chapter 2

Killing time barside
After seeing a few museums in Amsterdam and also visiting the Ann Frank House we flew over to Basel and had some time to kill.  We checked into the AmaKristina and requested two bikes to go into town.  It's great having GPS on your phone to get us around town.

Most streets in Europe, imagine riding a bike on these cobblestones.

It was a very unseasonably warm day in Basel and everyone was in the water.  Apparently, this part of the Rhine is acceptable for swimmers and boaters.  We found a little floating island curbside that locals would swim and sunbathe.  There are no beaches in the area so they made a man made one.

Because the weather was warm, I packed all the wrong clothing for our trip.  I made due with what I had and mixed and matched the best I could.  Good thing the ship had laundry service at very reasonable rates.

Amawaterways did a great job welcoming us onboard and our fellow shipmates were a blast. Several from Canada, Mexico City, Oklahoma, Dallas, and Brazil.  It was a new experience to listen to all the different languages on board.  As well as seeing the staff speak all of them fluently.  French, German, English, Spanish.

We sailed at night and arrived into Breisach the next day on a beautiful Sunday morning.  This town was the model for Disney's Beauty and the Beast's provincial town.  They definitely lived up to the task.  What a gorgeous little town.  Shop windows full of pastries and bread, a Christmas store, and numerous other mom and pop shops.

Breisach, France

Every day we would return to the ship for lunch, a nap and then for some socializing on the sun deck or poolside.  What a life those two weeks were.  Meanwhile, back in our home state, all hell was breaking loose.

Chapter 3 to follow.....