Day 3–Cruising through the Rhine

I figured this is the best way to title the river cruise is by the day we are although my postings maybe a little late.

We’ve been river cruising since Sunday. We started out in the upper Rhine and are now in the middle Rhine. We cruised straight from Amsterdam and spent the day in Cologne yesterday. We toured a local castle called Drachenburg Castle and then did a walking tour of the Old town and cathedral. The castle is actually a palace and we had a great private tour of the place.

Today we are cruising the Rhine Gorge and viewing all the different castles along the Rhine.

The first night a group of us participated in a music trivia contest. We called our team “Different Countries” as we were a mix of Canadians, Aussies, US and British. We did pretty darn good, we came in 4th place.

You will notice in the picture of the vineyards they are planted opposite of how you see normally see vineyards planted. In this area of a Germany they are planted this way to get the best sun exposure and also to prevent soil erosion due to the steepness of the hills. This area is known for their Riesling’s. And their Riesling’s are not always sweet as we are familiar with in the states. They have sweet, semi dry and dry Riesling’s.

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The Beginning

Well we have boarded our River Cruise ship. We are sailing the Emerald Sky with Emerald Waterways. They are an Australian company and the make up of the passengers is: 69 Aussies, 42 New Zealanders, 22 Americans, 18 Canadians and 9 from the UK. Thought I would share a couple pics of our ship. Oops forgot to mention we are river cruising from Amsterdam to Bucharest

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Final thoughts on Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a city that we always enjoy. The people are wonderful, helpful and there is so much to do here. However, once a person gets on a bike in this city they become a whole different person. You as a pedestrian are a moving target. There are actually bike lanes about the same size of a city street. So as a tourists you must become aware very quickly of the car road, bike path and then the sidewalk. Oh yes there are the very quiet electric trams. They even have multi layered bike garages.

We stayed outside of the Dam square area and used the local transportation which was fabulous. Ate at some local restaurants and took in an excellent food court for lunch one day. Oh how I wish our food courts in the US had this many great food options. We ended up sitting next to a young couple from NY who were in Amsterdam for the weekend as the GF works in London and her BF flew in. Oh to be this young and able to bounce back with time changes for love, laughing out loud.

So we are now on our River Cruise and soon will be in Cologne in a couple of hrs.

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Last day on our own in Amsterdam

On Friday, we did one of the local Free tours of Amsterdam. It was called the classic tour and we did the Red Light district, Central District and talked about the Marijuana industry.

First we learned more history on the beginning and establishment of Amsterdam from our guide. She is a native of Amsterdam, as our both of her parents and grandparents so she is very well versed as to it’s history. We were a very diverse group, us from CA, NM, Boston, Germany, Australia and London. Loved the fact they split us up into 2 small groups. Daphne our tour guide asked a very nice lady to take a group pic of all of us.

Fun facts, we asked where Amsterdam gets their weed and she explained to us it is imported from northern Ca, so 4 of us said out loud “Humboldt Gold”, laughing out loud. Learned that Coffee shops that are spelled as “coffeeshop” no space between the 2 words are where you can buy your weed. While it is actually illegal to sell weed in Holland, the authorities just kind of look the other way.

We toured the Red Light and learned how this area was first established with the local priest, sailors and the ladies of the evening. The ladies were servicing the sailors who needed some female affection after being out at sea for 8+ months or more. The local priest would want to have the sailors pay their penance by working at the church only to realize they were usually shipping out the next day, so he decided it was just best to charge them a fee which would be donated to build his church. Then the ladies got smart and decided to become their own business person. If you are ever in Amsterdam you must visit this area as it is quite interesting no matter how you feel about the ladies services.

Afterwards we took in a canal boat ride around the area and later that evening we went out to dinner and had some awesome mussels.

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No Better to End the Day

We have enjoyed where we are staying as we are out of the crazy tourist as (of which we are 4). Learning how to do local transport, enjoy some of the local restaurants. Ron has become our resident human GPS guy and map reader. The guys are finally learning to appreciate and believe me when I say this is where we get off the electric tram based on what Cathy and I recognize as focal points, laughing out loud.

So there is nothing better way than ending the day at a local pub near our hotel than a Heineken. And guess what they also serve Lagunitas IPA.

However, this is what I so enjoyed….

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Out and About Day 1 in Amsterdam

As this was our 3rd time in visiting Amsterdam and trust me we did quite a bit the first 2 times, we decided to take in some things we didn’t have the time to do in the past.

Today we took in the Rijksmuseum, which is dedicate to the Art and History of Amsterdam. The museum has on display 8,000 objects of art and history from their total collection of 1 million objects from the years 1200–2000, among which are some masterpieces by Rembrandt, Fran Hal and Johannes Vermeer. The museum also has a small Asian collection, which is on display in the Asian pavilion. As it has been 350 years since Rembrandts passed away the museum is showing events and activities dedicated to Rembrandt.

We spent about 4 1/2 hrs exploring the museum and I have to tell you it was a huge wow factor. Not only did we view many different pieces of art and paintings but we also learned quite a bit of Dutch history.

Unfortunately the Night Watch is going through a huge renovation not only at the museum but also up on line so it’s currently behind a glass enclosure. However, as I wanted to take a picture of this particular painting it is not good for picture taking, laughing out loud.

Took a number of pictures but just sharing a small amount. Think you might find the one taken in the New Age painters section interesting it’s called “The Womb.”

After we finished with the museum, we got on the Hop On/Hop Off and rode around Amsterdam to get our bearings.

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We’ve Arrived

We made it to Amsterdam all safe and sound. Plane ride was great just a couple of bumps. The great news instead of a 10.5 hr trip we made it it here in 9.5 hrs. The captain said we had some strong tail winds.

So we are all checked in. Have to take a picture of where we are staying as it is an old church and yes the church bells ring during the day and into the mid evening.

As we were all a bit tired with our body clocks still on CA And NM time we just had dinner at the small restaurant right next door to the hotel. What a little gem. Dennis and I had the Grilled Octopus (we are always the adventurers) and the meal was fantastic. Cathy had a pretty tasty veggie dish. Dennis and I gave the chef a thumbs up and told him how much we enjoyed our grilled octopus and he told us, it was made with love….

Also thought you might all enjoy the “No Signs” in our room….

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