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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European Vacation – Day 7 – Pumpernickle

A tour group departed for Heidelberg at 8:45 am and the ms Grace cast off her mooring lines at 9:00 am.  We traveled south going backwards (stern first) for a about a kilometer to find section of river wide enough to turn around.  Upon completion of a 180° turn the ms Grace headed north.  We cruised for five hours to Mainz, Germany which is at the confluence of the Rhine and Danube rivers. I am finally starting to get a sense for the geography we are covering.  If you turn (right) west on the Danube River you will go to Frankfurt Germany, Vienna Austria and Budapest Hungry.  When we turn (left) north on the Rhine River we will travel to Cologne, Düsseldorf and Amsterdam.
Here is a photo of ms Grace.
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While Priscilla and I stayed on the boat for the cruise to Mainz you, our gentle readers, should still get the full tour.
Here are photos of today’s tour highlight – the Heidelberg Castle.
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A close up of the Heidelberg Castle.
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The University of Heidelberg has a long tradition as a center of learning, but students at the 500-year-old university have often taken the view that “All work and no play makes Hans a dull boy.” As long ago as the 16th Century, citizen complaints about carousing students led the university to open a Studentenkarzer, or Student Prison, where academic miscreants were kept off the streets for three days to four weeks at a time.
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Being jailed in the Studentenkarzer couldn’t have been too unpleasant, because time behind bars was a rite of passage for many students. The offenses included crimes such as disturbing the peace, womanising, unruly drunkenness, and setting the townspeople’s pigs free.
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For those of you that enjoy dark bread but never stopped to think about the derivation of the name, Pumpernickel is a German verb meaning “to fart,” and Nickel, like Old Nick in English, was a name for the devil, so it actually breaks down as “farting devil.” … Fortunately, though the name stuck, pumpernickel bread evolved into something much more palatable!
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Our tour guide had some good advice regarding how to remember to empty your room safe of your passports and wallet when you depart the ship.  Put one of your shoes in the room safe.
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Our Tauck tour groups are not the only ones being inconvenienced by the low water levels on the Rhine River.

Low water levels on Rhine River disrupt petroleum product shipments ahead of winter

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Low water levels on the Rhine River in Europe have resulted in transportation disruptions for shipments of petroleum products by barge, which in turn have resulted in higher freight costs and higher prices in markets upriver, such as southern Germany. These disruptions are occurring at a time when these markets typically build inventories of distillate fuel for space heating ahead of the winter.  The lowest point of the Rhine River is at Kaub..

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The ms Grace is just south of Kaub and the ms Inspire is just north of Kaub.

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Dinner was another magical event at the Schloss Johannisberger winery.  This is the oldest Riesling winery in the world.  In 1420 the Bishop decried this winery should only produce Riesling wine and 300,000 vines were planted that year.

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The Schloss Johannisberger Riesling Winery

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Some celebrities were sighted at the winery.

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Tomorrow we will transfer to the ms Inspire which was our original riverboat.  The tear in the fabric of the universe has been mended.

 

European Vacation – Day 6 – Liederhosen

On Thursday our bus departed the riverboat at 10:00 am for Speyer, Germany to see the spires on the Speyer Cathedral. The Technik Museum is also  in Speyer.  We visited the museum first.  On display is a fleet of full sized airplanes including a Boeing 747 and the Space Shuttle. The planes are open for you to tour including walking on the wing of the 747.  You can also stand in the payload bay of the space shuttle.  There are 100’s of classic cars, trucks, busses and other vehicles beyond description.
The Boeing 747 is staged in take off position.
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It might be hard to see that I am standing on the wing of a Boeing 747.
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We had lunch at a hoffbrau house and dined on beer, pumpkin soup, sausages and sauerkraut.  Very traditional.
Our next stop which was right across the square from the restaurant was the Speyer Cathedral.  This cathedral claims to be the worlds largest Romanesque church.  It was built between 1030 – 1124.
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Life on the ms Grace is magical.  Tonight Tauck hosted a formal seven course meal. It was poetry in motion with perfectly choreographed plating and serving.  The highlight of the evening was a lederhosen clad band with a saxophone player that looked like Fabio and an alpine horn player.  This band knows how to get geriatrics up on their feet and dancing.
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There is an Aussie couple from Melbourne onboard Iliana and Anne. We were chatting about the song Waltzing Matilda.  I looked it up and realized I knew nothing about it.  How sad the swagman (hobo) committed suicide for stealing a lamb while waiting for his bulli tea to boil instead of being hung by the police.  His ghost haunts the billabong to this day.
This is a billabong
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A billabong along Scrubby Creek at Berrinba Wetlands in BerrinbaLogan City.

billabong (/ˈbɪləbɒŋ/BIL-ə-bong) is an Australian term for an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course.  Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead end. As a result of the arid Australian climate in which these “dead rivers” are found, billabongs fill with water seasonally; they are dry for a greater part of the year.

Many of my blog readers are familiar with Gabe and Angela’s adventures to circumnavigate the world in their Island Packet 47 sailboat Pilar.  Priscilla and I joined them for the first leg of their cruise from Miami to Cuba and Jamaica.  They continued on through the Panama Canal to the Galapagos and crossed the Pacific Ocean. They are currently in Coomera on the Gold Coast of Australia which Is just south of Brisbane.

Gabe and Angela are the red dot.

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Through some miracle of navigational planning the ms Grace will cruise the Rhine River tomorrow.  We will move from Mannheim to Mainz.

The captain must have seen the commercial traffic that was transiting the Rhine.

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