Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rudesheim, Wednesday May 11, 2011

 We sailed all morning and finally reached the Rhine River. It is much larger than the Mainz. We docked in Rudesheim about 1 pm and they took us in these little mini-trains through town and up to a gondola ride that took us up above some vineyards to a huge monument that was erected to commemorate the unification of Germany after the war in the late 1870's. I obviously didn't pay enough attention to the guide because I don't remember all what she told us about it.

Rüdesheim Coffee, which is exclusively made with locally distilled Asbach Uralt Brandy,
whipped cream and traditionally served in an authentic Rüdesheim Coffee Set

Georganna, enjoying her Rudesheim Coffee :)

We rode back down to the town and walked around, looking in the various shops in the tourist area. I have to say out of all of the towns I've been to so far, this one is my least favorite. It is very touristy and commercialized and doesn't seem to have much historical significance. This photo is one example... This glass top table with a dragon body was being sold for 395€, which is about $600.  My daughter-in-law bought one from a "nik-nak"catalog last Christmas for about $100. 

We came back to the boat and changed clothes because it was much hotter than we were dressed for; they had told us it might rain today and it was windy and cool out on deck this morning, but it definitely wasn't windy and cool this afternoon!
We sailed past a huge "herd" of swans!
They were beautiful.
This evening is the dinner in town at a local restaurant with entertainment. I am looking forward to doing that!
Yesterday I copied all my pictures onto a thumb drive just so I would have a back up in case something happens to my netbook. I was looking at a picture of a duck that I had taken and tried to find it in the bird book onboard the ship. I think I found it, and if I'm right, it's not a duck, it's a grey egyptian goose. I can't wait for Dan to look at the pictures and tell me if I'm right!
YAY, I guessed right :) My brother said it's
a grey egyptian goose
They have the IT people onboard right now trying to figure out why the internet has been so bad. I hope they fix it. I was able to upload a couple of pages to my blog but I still can't access Facebook or AOL.

Miltenberg Tuesday May 10, 2011

We are sailing toward Miltenberg today. Still on the Mainz River, I guess we won't hit the Rhine until tomorrow or the next day. There is so much beautiful scenery that it's hard to resist taking a million pictures. We sailed past castle ruins and quaint little villages, and a couple of campgrounds. Those made me think of Snowflower because the campers had their trailers, screen tents and all their camping equipment set up like they planned on being there awhile. Anne, our cruise director, said they purchase the site and rent them out when they aren't using them.

We are scheduled to dock in Miltenberg at 2 pm and are apparently ahead of schedule so the captain pulled over and stopped the boat for an hour since we can't get into our docking spot til 1:30 at the earliest.

Grey Egyptian Goose??

Tonight is the Epicurean adventure! They are bringing a glass blower on board to give us a demonstration. Then at dinner there will be "wine pairings" with each course. this should be interesting!

This morning I was finally able to connect to the internet for a few minutes and get some emails sent. I haven't been able to access Facebook or AOL but luckily I have a yahoo account and was able to let family know what is going on.

It's now Wednesday morning  and we are headed to Rudesheim. Although I enjoyed Miltenberg, it was not my favorite of the towns we've visited so far. I returned to the ship in time for the glass blowing demonstration, which I surprisingly enjoyed. Apparently Miltenberg is well known for its glass blowers and this gentleman was very entertaining. He told us there were seven generations of glass blowers in his family, and how they escaped from Eastern Germany right after the War when he was a child. His father had put tape over his mouth and told him it was a game to keep him from talking and getting discovered. They settled in Miltenberg and have been there since. He also said he worked on the beautiful blown glasswork at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and went to the West Coast to teach glass blowing at a school in Oregon.

He invited a passenger to come up and join him for his demonstration. He said before you can blow glass, you have to have a shot of Jaegermaister Schnapps. He had these great shot glasses that can double for napkin rings; you stick your finger thru the hole to hold the glass. So they each had a shot and then he proceeded to heat up the glass, and let the passenger blow it.


Jaeger shots!
the finished product
He made a beautiful glass ornament right there before our eyes.

I later had dinner with this guy and his group and it turned out they are from San Jose, California! The couple with them were from Sonoma County, and they own a winery up there, so we talked alot about wine last night! Dinner was our Epicurean Adventure and the Restaurant Manager said he had tasted 20 white wines, 20 red wines and 10 dessert wines trying to pick out the wines to go with dinner! They were all very good. I actually had lamb for dinner and it was quite good.

After dinner they brought onboard a "zither" player to entertain us. A zither is similar to a harp but they lay it down and play it. He was very good! By the time he finished, we were already sailing, so he had to literally jump off the boat! He waited right outside the door in the lobby until we came to a lock and when we got to the same level as the wall of the lock, he and two of the sailors took all his equipment and he just stepped off the deck and onto the sidewalk.

We passed another Uniworld ship
the River Princess
A glimpse of Frankfurt

I woke up this morning in Frankfurt. This was the largest city we've seen so far. It was interesting to see all the old churches mixed in with the fancy architecture of current times.

We are now sailing until about 1:30 when we should dock in Rudesheim. They will take us on a gondola up to the top of a hill to see a monument and then into town for more sightseeing and shopping. I signed up for a special optional evening out at a local restaurant where we're supposed to have local foods and entertainment. I'm looking forward to it!

Wurzburg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber Monday May 9, 2011

Guanaja Chocolate Dome sprinkled
with tangy fruit sauce
Last night they had the Captain's Welcome Reception and dinner. We all gathered in the lounge for champagne and they introduced the crew with much pomp and circumstance. Then the Cruise Director gave an overview of what we could expect for tomorrow. She does this every evening before dinner.

After the reception it was time for dinner and I sat with a group of ladies from Canada. I don't think they all knew each other before the trip but had become friends while onboard. One of them is a nice gal named June who is also traveling alone; she and I hung out together in Bamberg. Two of the ladies had been invited to dine at the Captain's Table so there was room at their table for me. (There are no seat assignments, all meals are open seating.) After dinner she brought the Captain over to our table and we chatted with him for a few minutes. He is only 33 years old!

Today I hung out with the couple and their sister from Rochester, NY. The same folks that I met in Nuremberg. In the morning we loaded onto the buses and headed to Wurzburg. We visited a palace called the Residenz where the Prince/Bishop lived. This palace was in the Baroque style of architecture similar to the palace in Ludwigsburg, and quite ornate. They wouldn't allow pictures inside.

A German duck 

After the tour we visited the gardens and then went down into the cellar for some wine tasting! This region of Germany is known for it's Franconian wines. They had long banquet-style tables set up in the cellar and it was all lit with about 400 candles, on the wine barrels as well as on our tables. There were baskets of rye bread and water to cleanse our pallets. We were served three wines, a dry white wine, a sweeter wine and a Reisling. I was shocked at how much wine they poured for each tasting! It was a full glass, not the little sampling you usually see at wine tastings. I drank the first glass and sipped a taste of the other two. Mind you, it was only 10:30 in the morning.

We went back to the ship for lunch and then got back on the bus for a one hour drive to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is an unbelievably beautiful mideival town completely surrounded by a stone wall. Cobblestone streets and half-timber houses. We had a quick walking tour and then about an hour to shop.

Schneeballen! Pastry strips made into balls and deep fried with  various flavors of toppings

Kathe Wohlfahrt's famous Christmas Store

One of the shops is owned by a sweet little lady named Annaliese Friese. She and her shop were written about by Rick Steves, the well known travel-guide author. Apparently he met her as a young man and he highly recommends her in his travel books about Germany. I bought some souveniers from her and she chatted with us for a bit.

Me and Annaliese

Everytime we return from an excursion, we are greeted at the door by a young man with a basket full of warm, damp hand towels to wipe our hands, and a young lady with a tray full of glasses of fruit juice. They sure know how to make you feel special. Another thing I forgot to mention is the hand sanitizers. At the entrance to the ship and at the entrance to the dining room, they have these round ball-looking things on a brass pole. When you put your hand underneath, it automatically squirts hand sanitizer into your hand. They are very conscientious about keeping us germ-free!

At dinner Christie and I sat with a nice couple from Southern California. They had just spent a couple of days in Rothenburg visiting a distant relative and had talked Christie and her sister into going on this excursion so we wanted to have dinner with them and let them know how much we enjoyed the town.

A local swing band was brought on board to entertain us after dinner. They were very talented and everyone enjoyed their show.