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River Boat Trip 2016


Diary of Roger's trip from Amsterdam to Budapest with Conrad and Kathy Evans-May 2016


05/21/16 Left San Diego this morning at 8:45am via American Airlines to Philadelphia and Amsterdam Netherlands for my River Cruise.

 

05/22/16 All went well on both flights with no delays and I arrived in the Netherlands on time. The Amsterdam airport is very modern and well designed. It is the 3rd biggest airport in Europe. I met Uniworld cruise company in the airport with no problems and was bused to the ship by 11:00am. Unfortunately I could not get into my room before 2:00pm. Had a sandwich and waited for Conrad and Kathy who arrived around 1:00pm. My ship state room is small but extremely well decorated and it has all the latest electronic toys and eco friendly lighting and air conditioning equipment. The TV is built into the mirrors including all the news channels of the world but no US sports channels, so unfortunately I will not be able to see the NBA playoff finals. Had a great sit down dinner in the ship dining room tonight. I had Graff lox appetizer and steamed fillet of sole. The price includes free premium wine paired with the dinner menu. The portions were small but excellent. Yum Yum I think I will enjoy the food on this trip. The ship holds 140 passengers but is large enough so one does not feel crowded. I believe it has 4 decks total. The top deck is a sun deck with a running track and is very pleasant place to view our river progress. Plenty of room for photography and general lounging up there. There is a small pool but no jacuzzi. We have free wifi which works OK for e-mail but too slow for You Tube streaming. So far the boat is a very smooth sailer with virtually no wave action. I would guess that the ship is about 60 yards long and is quite spacious for only the 120 passengers we are sailing with.

 

05/23/16 I went to bed right after dinner last night, trying to get rid of my jet lag and extreme fatigue of 12 hours of flying and layovers. I woke up at 4:00am and am doing this dairy right now. We sailed at a fast clip all night on our way to Cologne. We are going to get off the boat today at 11:00am to be bussed to Cologne for a city tour guided hike and lunch. The boat will then meet us in the city. Apparently this will be the longest boating distance in one day on the curvy river hence the bus which will take a straight route to Cologne. The city tour of the World Heritage UNESCO site was bit strenuous but was awesome. Our guide was very knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. The Cologne Cathedral was very impressive and definitely worth visiting. After the tour I went to the Hard Rock Cafe with Conrad and Kathy. Conrad has about 35 T-shirts of theirs from all over the world. We also had lunch there and then walked along the river to ron de vue with our ship. Had an excellent captain’s fixed menu gourmet dinner on the ship with Conrad and Kathy and another ship board couple from New York City. The ship has a white Grand Piano and a professional player from Germany was brought in to do mostly Chopin selections.

 

05/24/16 Had an eggs Benedict breakfast alone this morning at 7:30am. The riverside scenery is getting more interesting now. The weather has been overcast or light rain the whole time I have been here. Our destination today is the small town of Rudesheim, the most visited small town on the Rhine River. We passed by many very old castles along the river here. Barons owned the castles and charged boaters fees to pass by. They made lots of money doing this and were often called Robber Barons. I situated my self near an exit where I could go out to photograph the castles. The very scenic River here was lined by high hills which were terraced for wine vineyards which were very photogenic. Of course the castles were usually located on one of these high hills. Had a lunch of various German sausages with sauerkraut. Yum Yum
When we arrived at Rudesheim in late afternoon it was raining so Kathy and I did an excursion into town to see the “Siegfried’s Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments “ which was very impressive. The quaint houses were mostly of the old architecture still intact because they were not bombed in WW2.
Conrad and Kathy dined at special dinner for Suite holders this evening. I joined two very friendly couples - one from New York and the other from Manhattan Beach California. They both had businesses and were seasoned contractors so I enjoyed their stories about the woes of contracting a lot. Listened to a concert pianist for a while after dinner.

 

05/25/16 Our destination today was Frankfurt Germany. A fairly modern city because it was pretty much leveled by WW2 allied bombing. I decided to go on free full day excursion to Heidelberg which is the oldest and most prestigious University in Germany. I am glad Conrad and Kathy picked this excursion as it was one of most interesting and entertaining excursion I have ever done. The operetta the “Student Prince” originated here. The architecture of the city was of the old style because, again the allies decided not to bomb this beautiful small city of little war strategic value. An hour plus was spent touring the castle at the University. The architecture, art, and green countryside made for extraordinary photography. Our male guide was excellent. A well educated engaging person who seemed to have a endless database of German History both old and new. He answered well countless questions about life and politics in Germany. His second job was as a art historian working for museums. He also knew a lot about photographic composition and gave me some good tips. The trip also included a fun culinary city tour tasting products of a few restaurants and candy shops. Mark Twain visited this city in his travels and loved it. He decided to stay and try to learn German, but then decided that it was miserable and terrible language to master. After WW2 the US troops set up a camp here to administer the end of war details. It was name the Mark Twain Camp. The US has now left and it has recently been used to house about 3000 Syrian refuges. We had lunch here at a small German Cafe. I had Wiener Schnitzel and a Porter beer for lunch which was good but very filling. On the way back to Frankfurt our bus encountered 1.5 hour delay because of an Autobahn accident. They still have no speed limit, hence occasionally have very bad accidents. The ship waited for us downstream a bit and took us back on board.

 

05/26/16 Destination today is the town of Werthheim in the Bavaria Region. Slept great last night and got up about 5:30am to work on my diary. Unfortunately I never got my lap top card reader working so I cannot work on processing my photos. I lost my camera strap/harness, so I have to be very careful carrying Canon camera without dropping it. It is a foggy cloudy day so far and I have shot a few photos of river in the eerie looking fog. We have started going through some major locks now and there are lots of low bridges for the next 2 or 3 days so they will not let us go up on the sun deck while moving to avoid decapitation. The food continues to be great. This morning, I had made to order eggs with home made bread toasted, delicious cheeses, and to die for jams and preserves. After breakfast I ended up sleeping for about 2.5 hours and was awoken by Kathy for lunch. At 1pm we did a guided hike of the local town which was again very old and scenic. It turned sunny and was a beautiful day, great for photography. At 2:30pm we were bussed across the river and did another hike through vineyards to a local winery. It turned out to be about 3 miles mostly down hill and I was worried that we had to walk back out. But at the end we arrived at a winery for wine tasting and a home made pretzel making demonstration. The wine was average to bad, but the pretzels were excellent. The owners of the pretzel bakery and winery put on a nice comical show for us in an outdoor environment of the winery. I was going to skip dinner tonight, but decided eat lightly with Conrad - Kathy, and the nice couple from New York. I had rutabaga cream soup, rack of lamb, and pineapple ice cream desert. Yum Yum.

 

05/27/16 Got up at 5:00am doing my e-mail and diary. The internet works great at this hour of the morning. Studied some Adobe “InDesign” tutorials. Our destination today is Wurzburg. I had a lox onion mushroom omelet for breakfast this morning. It was delicious. Kathy and I did a couple mile walk up a hill looking to get into the grounds of an old Fortress Castle, but could never find the entrance into it. I thought we were lost and whined to Kathy to return to the ship which we did. It was great exercise even though we did not get into the castle. Got back to the ship and had lunch. At 2:00pm we left on an excursion for a castle called the Residence. The Barons were unbelievably rich in the day medieval times. The placed compared to the Vanderbuilt mansions in Newport Rhode Island. I took the bus back to the ship, as I was tired and had done 2 hikes already today. I slept a couple of hours resting up for dinner. Conrad and Kathy woke me up for dinner or I would have slept through it. The dinner tonight was another culinary delight. I had the “Million Dollar Salad” consisting of shrimp, prawns, white asparagus (grown locally here in Germany very expensive and delicious), and a collection of local delicate greens coated with very light mild vinaigrette. Next I had a sauerkraut soup that was also delicious. The main course was con fit of duck with a light orange sauce prepared to perfection. There were several choices of fresh bread with butter provided at all meals. I topped dinner off with an apple cobbler and homemade gelato. The best thing about this river cruise is the food. Virtually every meal is to die for. The house free wine provided is also very drinkable. A white and red wine is provide every meal to match the food being served.

 

05/28/16 Got up again early to use the internet. I had trouble using my automatic last pass security password program as it did not like the country connection being used and locked me out of several web sites I wanted to enter. In general the internet connection on this boat sucks as it does not have enough bandwidth for the number of clients being served. I decided to not go on the excursion tour to Rotherburg today as it cost money and worse yet it is a 10 hour day off the ship. Our destinations today are Rotherburg and Schweinfurt, Germany. We arrived in Schweinfurt sooner than schedule around 5:00pm local time. We took a walk into the very modern town watching the locals all having dinner mostly outside. I bought a brush in a huge drug store as I forgot to bring my comb and have been using a wash cloth to groom my air. It is Saturday today and many stores were closed including the camera store so I still do not have camera strap. We got back and listened to the tour directors talk about activities tomorrow. Had another enjoyable dining experience with Conrad and Kathy.

 

05/29/16 Got up about around 6:00am. We are docked at the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg today one of the largest intact medieval town centers in Europe. I did a city walk at 9:00am taking the bus to down town. I then did about 2.5 miles walking guided tour around the medieval city. The old houses and business establishments were very photogenic. Unfortunately because it was Sunday no shopping was available. The best most interesting part of the tour was the river which lots of swans, ducks, and various water birds on it. In the down town area the old city hall was built on a very small island right in the middle of the Rhine River with foot bridges to the building. At 2:00pm, I did a bus tour to visit a Franconian farm and village. The drive to the farm along the river was a beautiful drive with mixed forest here and there, small towns, small farms, and la large farms growing barley and wheat to make beer(considered food in Germany) and bread. The farmer having a great sense of humor could not speak a word of English so our guide had to interpret all communication to us. We used wireless head sets on all tours that worked quite well. The farmer raises hogs, grows wine grapes and makes wine, and grows wheat. His farm is a special eco government support farm. Many school groups and other eco groups visit his farm to get educated on his eco methods of farming. We first did a tractor and wagon ride through forested, wheat & barley fields, and then into a beautiful terraced wine vineyard. The scenery was beautiful for photography and it was a rare warm sunny day. When we got back to the farm we visited his friendly Golden Retriever dog a lovely friendly very small therapy horse. Next retired to his basement where we were served a finger type sandwich with German cheese and cold cut meats. Next we were served 3 different wines that he produced along with a wonderful rye bread loaf that he had blessed before cutting it up. All during this time a German Umpa band played popular German music. The tour was a very entertaining experience and I was happy that I did it. After 45 minute ride back to the ship I listened to a very interesting lecture by a local Ph.D.. political science speaker about various events leading up and ending of WW2.

 

05/30/16 Arrived just outside Nuremberg, Germany this morning. Between 9:00am and 12:30pm I did the free “City Tour”. The original city was 95% destroyed in WW2. I was pleasantly surprised with the charm of this old medieval city which was pretty much all reconstructed in the 1950’s. The wall was all rebuilt from the original rocks. The main castle on the highest hill looked impossible to penetrate as the walls were very high and the tunnel over the moat had openings above to throw rocks and hot oil on the invading enemies. This city is definitely worth visiting. We drove past all the old Nazi land mark buildings and the location of the war trials. Returned to ship for lunch and a lecture at 2:00pm about the river locks and the watershed of Germany. Spent an hour on deck outside watching the procedure to go through one of the higher locks on the canal. The land scape keeps getting prettier as we proceed toward Austria. I photographed a awesome rainbow from the ship this afternoon. It seems to sprinkle lightly on and off most days. The max speed limit here on this canal is a lowly 8 knots per hour.

 

05/31/16 Our destination today is Regensburg, Germany. I decided to do the city walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage - designated medieval city center. The hike was billed as a 1000 years in 1 hour, so the hike was a very short one. This town is nice but I do not think it deserves a UNESCO rating. I looked for a camera strap for my Canon 5D but could not find one. We are now on the Danube River which is quite high and running rapidly. We will be able to travel more than 8 knots per hour now. We have to negotiate 68 locks all together on our trip to Budapest. I sure would not want to be piloting this ship with all the tedium of negotiating these locks. Had a nice lunch on board of German sausages, sauerkraut, mustard, on Rye bread with a Porter German Beer. The Danube river is high and moving fast. At 3:00pm the captain notified us that we would not be leaving here this afternoon. The water level is 2’ too to high to pass under the bridges. They told us that they will bus us tomorrow morning to our next destination at Passau Germany and do our excursions we had planned for tomorrow. Kathy talked Conrad and me into doing another 2 mile hike to some active castle. The entire town including residential appears to be very old structures. We came back through a shopping district and I finally found a camera shop that had a suitable camera strap for my 5D miii. Had a nice dinner with Conrad, Kathy, and a nice couple from Los Angeles area.

 

06/01/16 Got up at 5:30am and to my surprise the boat was moving on the river, so I am not sure what is going on. The boat stopped out near a rural town where two buses where waiting for us. At 8:30am they transported on 2 hour ride to Passau. It rained on and off the whole ride. Passau is a beautiful old city surround by high hills on both sides of the rivers. Actually 3 rivers run into the Danube here. One of the rivers coming in was near flood stage. The water was 2’ higher than recommended for riverboat travel. We were met by local guides who gave us a 2 hour walking tour of the pretty city. We had to stay here about 6 hours total waiting for our boat to arrive. After the tour I did another hike in the rain up to a high fortress castle which was mostly stairs and straight up. I did not make it to the top. It was one of the best and most scenic castles I have been to. I slowly returned back without Conrad and Kathy taking many photos in the rain of the city and rivers below. When I got back to a river bridge, I watched a large tour boat try to get under the bridge. There was metal on metal noises with a huge crowd watching the spectacle. After 4 tries the ship abandoned the bridge and went a bit down stream and moored. I walked more of the city and finally picked a Bavarian style restaurant for lunch. I picked 13.4% alcohol dark wheat beer that was excellent. I decided on potato salad, and German meatloaf with sweet mustard and rye bread. The meatloaf was nothing like US and actually resembled Spam. I was hungry and did actually consume half of it. That meatloaf was a bad choice indeed. I drank my beer slowly as I had to do something waiting for our bus. It finally arrived but then made us wait another hour or so to get coordinated with our ship which was mooring near by. Some how the ship got through the bridges and locks to meet us. Finally got on board. I felt really lousy and fatigued with the chills, so I immediately went to bed without having dinner. About 10:00pm they captain again advised us that the boat is stopped because of high water preventing us from going through a lock. He also advised us that there would be excursions tomorrow, but via a 2.5 hour bus ride each way. I moaned and went back to sleep.

 

06/02/16 To my surprise at 5:00am we were again steaming down the river in the right direction. Must wait and see if bus rides will be shorter and if so I may consider taking an excursion. Our original destination today was to be Weissenkirchen & Vienna, Austria. The boat did not get through the locks last nigh. I decided to take the excursions and the long 2.5 hour bus ride. Kathy joined me, but Conrad stayed on board with cold. The country side scenery was beautiful. Our first stop was Melk Abbey, the most elaborate beautiful monastery I have ever visited. It is still in full operation and they make the majority of their revenue from the tourists. Our guide was again excellent. They even had a restaurant here and lunch was included. The weather turned sunny while we were there and my photos got to be good with the clear crisp air and beautiful clouds. We then went to a small town along the river for a tour of the town and wine tasting. It started raining again so hard that I had to put my good camera into my back pack. I used my Iphone instead which survived the rain. Went through another church and fortress structure that was impressive. We were then bussed back toward the ship which was only an 45 minutes away as the ship was finally able to negotiate the bridges and locks. I decided to cancel my Mozart & Strauss concert in Vienna because I was dead tired and it would have been another hour plus bus ride. I had dinner and went to bad early.

 

06/03/16 Arrived in Vienna, Austria on the boat early this morning. Yah Yah we are back on schedule again and it appears that I will get back home on time. The high water should not be any problem as we continue to Budapest, Hungary. I did another City tour with Conrad and Kathy. The old city is an awesome place and includes the exquisite Winter Palace of Prince Eugene. The palace was beautiful and huge and the gardens were amazing with a collection of healthy large roses like I have never seen. At the end of the 3 hour tour I stopped at a local candy store which had chocolate wafers filled with apricot, marzipan, and hazel nut cream layers. Yum Yum Returned to the boat for lunch. I then decided to do another walking tour use alpine walking sticks lead by the ship wellness person (a massage person). The walking turned out to be too fast for me and I returned to the ship after 20 minutes of fast walking. Slept for 2 hours and then got up for the farewell cocktail party (two days before departure) and the disembarkation lectures. I will be leaving the ship at 5:00am on Sunday morning to make my British Airway flight to London. After the lectures we then went down to the dining room for the farewell dinner. The food again was great. Dinner include fillet Mignon, lobster, and baked Alaskan desert

 

06/04/16 Got up a 5:00am today to get acclimated to the early time I must leave tomorrow. We are scheduled to dock in Budapest at 10:00am. The city called the “Queen of the Danube. Budapest is an enchanting city that vibrantly mixes East and West - medieval and modern. Made up of 2 parts - Buda (the hills) and Pest (the flatlands) - and divided by the Danube. The city is the capitol of Budapest. I left on my city bus panoramic and walking tour at 10:00am. This is another amazing European city worth visiting. The tourist area was quite crowed but definitely worth visiting. Wished I could stay 3 or 4 days to enjoy the city, but perhaps next time. I started packing all my dirty clothes in the morning before leaving on the tour. I am glad I took my first river boat trip and would recommend it to others. The overall pace is slower and 120 passengers is sure more pleasant than 3 - 4 thousand people. I am sure that I actually talked to 1/2 of the people on the tour and had dinner or lunch with quite a few of them. My friends Conrad and Kathy are good companions to travel with and I enjoyed their company a lot. The ship left the dock on a night cruise to get closer to the airport for disembarkation tomorrow morning. Most every one walked up to the top deck number 5 to take night photos of the Budapest city lights on the castles and various bridges all lit up big time. What a site.

 

06/05/16 Will get up at 4:00am to catch my transfer to the airport which leaves at 5:00am for the 1/2 hour ride. Have to have my suit case outside the door at 4:30am.

 

06/06/16 Made it home on time with no problems. It was a long gruelling trip however and it took me almost week to get rid of my jet lag.





Last updated on September 24, 2016