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European Vacation – Day 10 – Amsterdam

The ms Inspire cruised all night from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam.  We arrived two hours early.  There are two locks that usually drop the riverboats 3’ each to sea level.  Since the water level on the Rhine is so low the locks are not operating and saved the time usually required to transit the locks.
Our afternoon activity was a canal luncheon cruise.  Amsterdam is called the Venice of Northern Europe because much of the city is accessible by canal.  We cruised the canals and learned about the history of the city and country.
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The 17th century is considered Amsterdam’s Golden Age, during which it became the wealthiest city in the western world. Ships sailed from Amsterdam to the Baltic Sea, North America, and Africa, as well as present-day Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, forming the basis of a worldwide trading network. Amsterdam’s merchants had the largest share in both the Dutch East India Company and the Dutch West India Company. These companies acquired overseas possessions that later became Dutch colonies. Amsterdam was Europe’s most important point for the shipment of goods and was the leading Financial centre of the western world. In 1602, the Amsterdam office of the international trading Dutch East India Company became the world’s first stock exchange by trading in its own shares.  The Dutch had over 5,000 ships which more than England and France combined.
Many Dutch families live on canal boats in the central city.
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We witnessed a bachelor party with all of the participants dressed like Superman.
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Amsterdam is famous for the coffee houses that legally sell various drugs.  Only 10% is sold to citizens.  90% is sold to narco tourists from other countries.  What is that smell?
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Throughout Europe love locks are the ultimate symbol of unconditional love forever.  Every bridge over the Rhine has literally tons of locks hanging on the railings.
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 Tonight is our last night on the Tauck tour.  We will spend one more day and visit our friends Reinout and Irma Klapwijk in Dordrecht, Netherlands.  That will be a 1.5 train ride each way.   We will spend our final night in the W hotel in Amsterdam.
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We will be home in Lake Bluff for Halloween.
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European Vacation – Day 9 – Düsseldorf

The ms Inspire is docked in Remagen just south of the famous bridge from World War II.  Operation Lumberjack was a military operation during World War II with the goal of capturing the west bank of the Rhine River and seizing key German cities, near the end of World War II. The First United States Army launched the operation in March 1945 to capture strategic cities in Nazi Germany and to give the Allies a foothold along the Rhine.
One unexpected outcome was the capture of the Ludendorff bridge, a strategic railroad bridge across the Rhine, in the Battle of Remagen. Despite German attempts to destroy the bridge, Allied forces captured it intact and were able to use it for ten days to establish a beachhead on the far side, before it finally collapsed at 3:00 PM on 17 March 1945 after months of aircraft bombing, direct artillery hits, near misses, and demolition attempts.
The battle was depicted in the novel The Bridge at Remagen by Ken Hechler, which was later adapted into the film of the same name.
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Sunday started with a presentation and sampling on the history of beer at 10:00 am.
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 Beer tasting with our tour director Paulo and Joe.
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Brunch was served at 11:30 am as we cruised north on the Rhine River.  Our riverboat arrived in Düsseldorf at 1:00 pm.   Priscilla and I went on the beer tour.  Each brewery makes only one beer and that is what they sell in their beer hall.  You choose your beer hall depending on which beer you like best.  Their advertising is clever – A day without beer is a health risk.  Flush your kidneys with a minimum of 2 liters of beer per day. The beer is served in 10 ounce glasses and costs $2.50 per glass.  When your glass looks empty the waiter brings you another and another until you put a coaster on top of your beer glass.  The waiter marks your coaster with an ink line to keep track of how many beers he has served to you.
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We have spent some time on this cruise with Joe and his wife Nita.  They are from Oklahoma.  I asked Nita about her name and she said it was short for Juanita.   When she was born in Oklahoma her mother wanted to name her Virginia but her grandmother said if you want to name your daughter after a state then you should name her Kentucky.  The compromise was to look at a list of possible names and they chose Juanita.  When she moved to San Antonio twenty years later she had  to continuously explain why she did not look Mexican and shortened her name to Nita.
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At 5:00:pm we cast of the dock lines to cruise north to our final port of call Amsterdam.  We will arrive in Amsterdam at 1:20 pm.
Priscilla is the Halloween pumpkin carving contest winner (1st place) with her entry “Stary, Stary!”  Who is that handsome (hairy) gent holding the winning entry!  There were 12 other entries.
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i will let you decide what this piece of artwork depicts.
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European Vacation – Day 8 – Shot-ski

 

On Saturday we departed the ms Grace at 9:30 am to visit Rudesheim.  Another group departed at 8:15 am for a bicycle tour on Mainz.  After our tour of the Musik Kabinett with its collection of massive music making machines such as carillons and harmoniums we will have wiener schnitzel (veal) for lunch at the historic Rudesheimer Schloss.   Germany has a wide range of cuisine which includes pork, swine, pig and occasionally veal.

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We will board the ms Inspire in Andernach which is located at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers.

All went as planned.  We arrived in Rudesheim and took the German version of the conch train up the hill from the parking lot to the Musik Kabinett.  It has the most amazing collection of data driven (scrolls) music machines I have ever seen.  Most were built in the late 1800’s and were originally designed to be operated by hand by turning a crank handle.

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Priscilla and I ducked out of the Musik Kabinett tour part way through so we could take the gondola to the top of the hill for an amazing view of the vineyards and river valley.  There is a large monument to Kaiser Wilhelm II at the top of the hill.

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Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albert; 27 January 1859 – 4 June 1941) was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia, reigning from 15 June 1888 until his abdication on 9 November 1918. He was the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe, most notably, King George V of the United Kingdom and Emperor Nicholas II of Russia.
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Portrait of Wilhelm II in 1902, by T. H. Voigt

Acceding to the throne in 1888, he dismissed the chancellorOtto von Bismarck, in 1890. He also launched Germany on a bellicose “New Course” in foreign affairs that culminated in his support for Austria-Hungary in the crisis of July 1914 that led in a matter of days to the First World War.

Bombastic and impetuous, he sometimes made tactless pronouncements on sensitive topics without consulting his ministers, behavior which culminated in a disastrous Daily Telegraph interview in 1908 that cost him most of his influence.[1] His leading generals, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, dictated policy during the First World War with little regard for the civilian government. An ineffective war-time leader, he lost the support of the army, abdicated in November 1918, and fled to exile in the Netherlands.

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A view of the valley.

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Lunch at the Rudesheimer Schloss was a treat. It was a traditional German four course meal followed by shot-ski.  Shot-ski is a board with five shot glasses attached and filled with schnapps.  Everyone drinks at the same time.  Priscilla was among the first to volunteer.  This works best if everyone is approximately the same height.

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After lunch we were served Rudesheimer Kaffee which is a flambeed liquor coffee.  They set the liquor on fire and then add the coffee.

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The ompah band played Margaritaville and Waltzing Matilda.

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After lunch we boarded the bus and drove north along the Rhine River for two hours.  There were dozens of old castles along both sides of the river.  We arrived at our originally planned riverboat the ms Inspire at 4:00 pm.  By 4:45 pm we had cast off the dock lines cruising north at 15 mph to Remagen where we will dock for the night and set sail at 5:00 am for Düsseldorf.  All is well.

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