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EV Day #36 – Miltenberg, Germany and Swans

Last night, after leaving Rudesheim, we left the Rhine River and went onto the Main (pronounced “mine”.) It’s a much smaller river, with low bridges, so we now have no access to the upper level of the boat, and even the captain’s lookout can be lowered as needed. We are continuing to climb up towards the Continental Divide.

Our first stop of the day was in Miltenberg, Germany.

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By the dock we got our first close up view of the swans we’ve been seeing on the river. They are one of my new loves!

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Aren’t they just gorgeous creatures?

Miltenberg is a cute little town with cobblestone streets and gabled, half-timber houses, built from the 15 – 17 centuries. Our walking tour was short, but fun – full of fun things to photograph.

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Soon it was “all aboard” and we were off to our next stop, Wertheim. There was no formal tour in Wertheim, and we toyed with the idea of just going in to town and wandering. But, our guides were making a presentation on the architecture of Europe that sounded interesting, so we stayed onboard for that.

Next stop, Wurzburg!

EV Day #35 – Rhine Gorge – Castle Day!

Today was the day I’d been looking forward to most – the day when we get to see all the castles on the side of the river. We’d actually been here on a day trip 14 or so years ago, and enjoyed it, so we were kinda excited to see it again, this time with a better camera and lens!

But it didn’t go quite as planned.

The sky was overcast, so the photos are pretty marginal, and you know how I feel about marginal photos {grin.}

I could have gone inside and pulled out my art supplies (yes, I’ve hauled them all across Europe, and no, I haven’t even taken them out of the suitcase…) but when you pay to see scenery, you kinda feel like you ought to be looking at it, or you’ve wasted the money.

So I did a lot of sitting (and walking around the deck) and there may have been a pout or two.

This was the best I could do…

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After lunch we pulled into Rudesheim, and boarded a little train/tram for the short trip up to the Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. I can’t say I was excited about the tour, but it was nice to be walking around. As these things often do, it surprised me, and turned out to be pretty interesting. It was not only in a cute little old building, but the instruments were kinda cool.

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Walking back down to the boat we meandered through the cute little town. Mr. Tattered was on a mission to get back to the boat (I can’t imagine why – I was glad to be off and moving around!) so I didn’t get to dawdle as much as I would have liked, but I did take a few photos of the cuteness, which lifted my spirits a little.

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There’s nothing scientific about our feelings about this cruise. There are several factors contributing to our discontent, and I can’t be sure that we are being fair, but I find it interesting that we’re BOTH wishing we were somewhere else (although Mr. Tattered is wishing he was home, and I’m wishing we were on a different trip. Heeheehee! So he’s thinking we need to limit our away time to 4 weeks, and I’m thinking we just need to do slow things first, if at all, and speed up as we go.)

For starters, we had so much fun with Mike and Mary Jo in Italy, and we haven’t found anyone to pal around with on this trip. Then the food is marginal instead of the fantastic food we had for the first 4 weeks. And we’re just not finding Germany all that interesting (with a few exceptions.) And even if we were, we’re mostly watching it go by instead of being “in it.” Does that make sense? And we need more exercise.

Anyway, we’re in beautiful country and I’m bound and determined to improve my attitude. It’s just not right to be in a new place, seeing new things and wishing I was somewhere else.

 

EV Day #34 – Cologne, Germany

Well, we didn’t sleep terribly well last night. There is a lot of noise during the night on these river boats. Not just engine noise, which is fairly substantial as we chug up-stream, but each time you go through a lock the boat bumps on the side…kinda crazy.

This morning was spent just cruising the river. It’s pretty scenery, but not much going on, and it is very overcast, causing photos to be underwhelming. The internet is spotty, so I spent some time catching up on my journal and Mr. Tattered read. After four weeks of go, go go this seems really slow and we’re wondering how we’re going to last 2 whole weeks.

We were glad to see lunch time roll around just to have something to do…

After lunch we docked in Cologne and set off with our fellow Road Scholars for a walking tour of the city, which was to end at the Cathedral.

Cologne was a part of the Roman Empire back in the day, but it was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during WWII. The population was reduced by 95%, and nearly the whole town was destroyed. The tour guide who lived in the city, was pretty matter of fact about it, saying “we started the war and got what we deserved, so I’m not trying to make you feel bad for us…”

When the city was rebuilt, part of it was reconstructed following the plans of what had been there before, and some was just new construction. There was very little to see that was from antiquity. It was a pretty short walk.

Most of the small amount of time we were to be there was spent at the Cathedral.

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By the time we got to the Cathedral it was raining and we were glad to get inside.

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It was really quite lovely. But in comparison to what we’ve already seen, I can’t say it was any better. Or even quite as good. If it hadn’t been raining, we probably would have stayed and walked around a bit. But it was really messy, and we were just glad to get back to the boat.

Meals are becoming a bit of an issue. The chef doesn’t seem to know how to fix anything vegetarian except pasta. Some days it’s interesting, some days it’s pretty marginal. But pasta for lunch and pasta for dinner is getting tiresome.

And the desserts cracks me up. For some reason, the desserts in Germany LOOK fabulous, but aren’t very sweet. Probably better health-wise, and for me, it makes it really easy to have a bite or two and quit.

But the wine is good! Too good.

 

 

 

 

 

EV Day #33 – The River Cruise begins

If you’ve been hanging out here at all over the past 32 days, you know I’ve been on a European Vacation (EV) to London and Italy, and now I’m on to the last two weeks – a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, hitting 5 countries (Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary) in 14 days, via the Rhine, Main, Main-Danube Canal and the Danube.

The reality is, I’m home now. Because of internet issues, I was unable to post every day while we were gone, so now I’m “catching up.” I may slip in a few “non-travel” posts, here and there, but I’ll continue with the travel saga, as well, and then wrap up with a few observations about traveling abroad, types of travel, and the impact it has had on me. And somewhere along the line, I hope to get back to doing some art, and posting about it.

Thanks for hanging out with me!

So, Day #33 of the big adventure is day #1 of the river cruise. And it begins in Amsterdam. We got here a couple of days early because we knew we wanted to spend more time in Amsterdam than the cruise alone offered, but it still wasn’t enough. We’re going to need to come back.

This morning we took a canal trip with our group. It was a quiet day on the canals so we got to go a little further, through some different routes than normal, and spend a little longer, so that was nice. I don’t think I ever knew there were canals in Amsterdam. Where have I been? The city center is ringed with them, and they face some interesting problems as a result.

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Just love the architecture in Amsterdam.

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Once we finished the tour, we had about an hour or so to wander on our own before meeting up with the group to head back to the bus. We’re glad, because we hadn’t made it to this part of town when we were on our own.

In Amsterdam, if you want a cup of coffee, you go to a cafe (which we did!) and had a lovely espresso served with a little spice cookie (nice touch!)

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If you want weed, which is completely legal, you go to a coffee house.

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That just cracked us up.

We had been told you just can’t leave Amsterdam without trying their maple syrup waffles, so of course we’d been on the lookout, but never found them until RIGHT before we left. It’s probably just as well. I could live on them, I think.

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I also picked up the waffle cookies. You’ve got to try the things these areas are known for, right?

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Turned out I didn’t care for the cookies so much, and Mr. Tattered was glad. He liked them a LOT and didn’t have to share!

So, while we were touring and wandering, the boat left port and headed up-river a ways, and we met them up there.

I thought it was a little odd, but we got to see some of the countryside outside Amsterdam, including a real live windmill, so the oddness was worth it.

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The skies here are soooooooo dramatic. I love that.

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So, we’re now cruising. We’ll be going through something like 67 locks (I had no idea!) so that should be interesting. I think there are over 80 from the North Sea at Amsterdam to the Black Sea at Istanbul, but we’ll be ending our portion of the cruise in Budapest. I’m kinda wishing we were going all the way to Istanbul. Neither one of us remember why we aren’t. Silly us.

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The boat we’re on is really nice. It’s called the Amacerto (pronounced aw-maw-cher-toe.)

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It seems to have a lot of amenities, but is waaaaaaaaay smaller than ocean cruise ships. Although there are many fewer people, as well, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of interior “get-away” space. Quite intimate. Not sure yet what I think of that yet, but time will tell.

I love this photo of the hallway.

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So, tomorrow we go through the Rhine Gorge. We went there the last time we were in Germany just for a little day trip on the river and loved it, so we’re excited to return.

Oh, and you know my white wine saga in Italy? Well, it’s continuing in Germany. Seems I’m a real fan of German Riesling…Good Lord. Just what I need! At meals it’s pretty much a bottomless glass at no charge. I didn’t need to know that. Oh, my poor aching liver!

 

 

 

EV Days #31 and #32 – Amsterdam

With sad hearts and great hopes for returning soon, we left Venice and headed on to Amsterdam. Note to self: Next time take the train to Florence or Rome to fly out. “Quaint” and “airport” don’t belong in the same sentence! “Nuff said about that!

Once we got in the air, all was well. We flew to Heathrow, then on to Amsterdam. Luggage arrived with us, and it was just a matter of grabbing a cab and off we went to our new home for 2 days.

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“The Fusion” is a nice B&B in the outskirts of Amsterdam. Our hosts (Alex and Sharmilla) are nice, speak English well, and are very helpful. They pointed us to a neighborhood Indian Restaurant for dinner where we had a good meal then headed back to settle in and plan the next day.

One of the things that struck us immediately is that there are bicycles EVERYWHERE! And they are crazy drivers. We cracked up seeing people cycling by while texting. What part of that could POSSIBLY be a good idea?

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Anyway. Breakfast came with our room, and was DELISH! Alex made the lightest crepes which we filled with yogurt and fruit.

We’d plan to go to the Ann Frank Museum, but turns out tickets are sold out weeks in advance, so instead we opted to go to the Rijksmuseum.

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Mr. Tattered wanted to see some of the works by Vermeer, and they had a few. I wasn’t all that keen on going to another museum, but I figured we’d probably just be there a couple of hours and I could survive that.

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Who knew I’d love the late 1600/1700 Dutch Masters? We ended up having lunch in the museum cafe because we weren’t ready to leave by lunchtime! Then it was back to it and by the time we were tired, we’d seen little more than one floor! I loved the way they had “cheat sheets” that pointed out the interesting parts of some of the paintings that helped you “read” them – so much more interesting to understand why a painting is special than to just look at it and think, “that’s pretty.” Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” was one of those.

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I came away with artists I want to know more about, including Johannes Verspronck…

 

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and Willem Heda.

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Aren’t they amazing?

We wrapped the afternoon up with a quick “big bus” tour for an overview of the city, but with the top up (a little drizzly out) my photos, what few there are, aren’t worth sharing.

We’d planned to go back to the Indian Restaurant for dinner again, but they were closed, so we expanded our horizons and tried something we’d never tried before…Indonesian. Wow! Since we confessed to our waiter we’d never had Indonesian before, he suggested a sampler plate with small amounts of 10 different menu items. Turned out to be a good plan. We got try a lot of different things, and they were ALL delish!

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I’m loving all the new things we’re tasting, doing, learning…

 

EV Day #30 – Another Busy Day

Well, sad but true, we’re winding down our Italian adventure. Today was our last full day in Venice, and we were determined to make the most of it. So even though we had a light day with group activities, we were up and out on our own early.

Before I start with today, though, I have to tell you about the fabulous meal, or rather “dining experience” we had last night.

We have come to appreciate the joy of “dining.” We don’t do that so much in the US. The restaurants need to turn the tables so they can get in a second seating. You barely put down your fork after your dessert, and the check is there.

That’s not the case in much of Europe. When you sit down for the evening meal, the expectation is that the table is yours for the duration of the evening, no matter how long that is. Most times you have to ASK for your check. That’s one of the things we love about Europe.

Tonight we “dined” at a place called La Columbina.

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Mr Tattered found it on Trip Advisor, having been given just tons of positive reviews.

Our new friends Mike and Mary Jo, joined us.

Our hostess Adrianna and her son, the chef, run the small, quaint, cozy, inviting restaurant that is off the beaten path. You could easily miss it if you didn’t know it was there.

We were greeted warmly, seated, then invited to look at the display case of appetizers. They explained each one, and we were able to choose which ones we wanted.

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I opted to have a glass (or 2 – or was it 3? I forget now!) of Proseco. The other 3 are red wine drinkers and they discussed the benefits of several with the chef before making their selection. We were all very happy with out choices.

From appetizers we moved on to the most delicious soups.

The star of the evening was the Crispy Fried Canneloni, basically ricotta rolled in lasagna noodles, fried on the ends, tied together in darling little packets and topped with a delicious red sauce.

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Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. Oh, and did I mention, yum?

We knew we were going for gelato for dessert, but we wanted to try their version of Tiramisu, so we ordered one to share for the table, and were glad we did.

Between every course, the chef came out to see if we were pleased with his efforts. It was so sweet. And so, La Comumbina will be getting a glowing review from us, and by the time we get back, we may need a reservation a week in advance!

So. Back to today.

We had so much fun in the Rialto area, we headed back there, and I decided to do something a little crazy (who, me?) The last time we were there, I saw a little shop offering “fish pedicures.” Yeah. There was a girl inside with her feet in a glass tank, little fish fish swimming around nibbling at her feet. I laughed and continued on, but the more I thought about it, the more fun it sounded, so000000…I did it!

And it WAS fun! The whole idea is just a little gross – fish nibbling the dead skin off your feet – but then it’s kinda gross that a person would touch your feet and grind it off, so whatever!

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It tickled at first, but you get used to it, and the very idea of trying something so off the wall was enough to make it a blast!

While I was enjoying it, 2 little girls about Hannah and Bea’s ages saw me and started begging their dad to let them do it. He said no and they walked off, but they apparently kept nagging and within a few minutes they were back signing up! I wish the girls had been there. I’m still wondering if they would have tried it!

Then we roamed around enjoying the area again…

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Before we knew it, it was time to meet up with our group and catch the vaporetto for Murano and a tour of the glass-making school.

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As a part of the tour, some of us got to try it, me included, and let me tell you, it’s way harder than they make it look!

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Murano glass is beautiful, and the Chinese are making wonderful copies, but our guides showed us how to look for the real deal. I had hoped to buy a necklace made from it, but was unable to find any that was “me,” so I “settled” for necklace that was made by an Italian designer, and is made of Italian glass, but NOT Murano, just because I LOVE it and will think of Venice every time I wear it. Mr. Tattered encouraged me to get earrings to match (I think I’ll keep him!) but, in my own crazy way, I’m thinking I need to modify them just a bit (don’t tell the designer, K?)

Tonight was supposed to be our “good bye” dinner with our group, but were feeling like a romantic dinner alone for our last night in Venice, and scooted over to see if Adrianna could fit us in again, and she did, so we did a repeat of the night before.

We are so sad to be leaving, but also excited to begin our next adventure! Amsterdam, here we come!

EV Day #29 – Busy, Busy Day!

Heading for the vaporetto this morning to go to the Rialto Market.

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Fun place. If I lived in Venice, that’s where I’d go for my fruits and veggies.

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But wandering around the neighborhood was fun, too…

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Then it was off to yet another church…The Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, or more commonly, the Frari. I keep thinking I’m churched out, but they keep surprising me! More super cool stuff!

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Today was our group gondola ride. We were going to pay extra and go by ourselves for a romantic little get-away, but the truth is the IDEA of it is better than the reality. We were checking them out on the canal, and the gondoliers don’t seem to give a darn whether you’re having fun or not. So glad we went with the group and saved the money. Ours spent most of the time either smoking or checking his phone. BUT, it was fun and we laughed a lot with the 2 couples we rode with. We bought a little black glass gondola with 2 red hearts on it to commemorate that the THOUGHT was there! And Mr. Tattered volunteered to buy me a little trinket (the jewelry kind!) instead…win-win!

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Busy, busy day. Next up, the Doge’s Palace, which meant another trip to St. Mark’s Square. What a great place, full of amazing history.

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Instead of going back to the hotel, we jumped on the vaparetto ourselves and took a little water tour of the city. Took about a gazzillion pictures, but I’ll save them for another day (Through a Tattered Lens Venice Part II, maybe?)

We went to a highly rated restaurtant for dinner with Mike and Mary Jo. Wow! Some of the best food and best service of the trip. We’ll probably go back again tomorrow night, so I’ll tell you about it then…this is turning into a day of epic proportions!

 

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