27 August 2023

My Great Rivers of Europe Adventure

If third's time a charm, what is the fourth time called? My husband and I had planned on taking a once in a lifetime trip for our 40th Anniversary, in 2021. We decided to take a Christmas Market river cruise along the Danube in December 2020. We would travel from Nuremberg, Germany to Vienna, Austria. Well, a little thing called COVID 19 got in our way. The trip was cancelled. Okay, no big deal. We wouldn't want to travel during a pandemic, we would wait until 2021. 

We signed up for the same Christmas market tour in 2021 and one week before our trip was to happen, Austria closed its borders and Germany followed soon after because of Covid. Dang! 

My husband and I talked and we thought maybe it would be better to travel in the Spring when we could be outdoors more. The river cruise company was offering a Springtime in Belgium and Holland tour. Perfect! There was even one day where we would be close to where Kirk's ancestors lived. I was going to hire a guide to drive us around South Holland. Covid didn't get us this time, but Kirk's heart did. We had to cancel our trip so Kirk could get treated for Atrial fibrillation. The cardiologist felt he may have gotten it due to his second covid vaccine. Who knows? The doctor wouldn't clear him to travel.  

Luckily, we had trip insurance for all three reservations and we weren't out any money, but we had to use the money before December, 2023. We looked over the trips available and decided on The Great Rivers of Europe tour. It was a 16 day river cruise that started in Amsterdam and ended in Vienna. It was kind of a combination of the three trips we didn't take, minus the Christmas markets.

It was a glorious trip. We traveled the Rhine, Main Danube Canal, and the Danube Rivers with a short time on the Mosel. The cities we stopped in included:

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Leaning Ladies in Amsterdam

Cologne, Germany

Koln Cathedral, Cologne, Germany

Koblenz, Germany

Pieces of the Berlin Wall, Koblenz, Germany

Winningen, Germany

Winery Tour and Tasting

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg Schloss

Wertheim, Germany

Museum in Wertheim

Wurzburg, Germany

The Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge) in Wurzburg

Rothenburg, Germany

Rothenburg Tower and Walls

Bamberg, Germany (No pictures)

Nuremberg, Germany

Nuremberg Rally Grounds

Regensburg, Germany

One of the entrances to  Old Town Regensburg

Passau, Germany

St. Stephen's Cathedral where we heard a pipe organ concert.

Melk, Austria (No photos)

Vienna, Austria

Riverboat Adagio

We traveled with Grand Circle Cruise Line and a group organized by Travel with Scott and Curtis, in Kalamazoo. Most of the people in our group were from Michigan. Grand Circle hires program directors who are with you throughout the whole trip. There were four program directors. Ours was Bob, he was fantastic. Young and energetic with a great sense of humor. 

Bob, or Bop as the Germans called him, our group's program director

Grand Circle is known for its educational component of the trip. We met a lot of teachers on the boat. The program directors went with their group on every stop we made and talked about the history of the place we were. Each person had a set of headphones. On board activities included a trafficking discussion, glass blowing demonstration, apple strudel making experience, kitchen tour, Ukranian refugee talk, and more.

The Amsterdam Replica

Although, it wasn't a genealogy trip, there were times we were able to think about our ancestors. Kirk's father's family was 100% Dutch. I have never found them living anywhere other than the Netherlands until his second great grandfather immigrated to New York. One of the experiences we had on our time in Amsterdam was a canal boat tour. While on this tour we saw a replica of the ship "Amsterdam". The name sounded so familar to me, but we were in Amsterdam so I figured it was just that. When I got home I checked my research and saw that Kirk's second great grandfather, Marinus van den Bos, his wife Lena, and daughter, Neeltje, arrived at the port of New York on 12 March 1881 aboard, you guessed it, The Amsterdam. They traveled in steerage. I wish I had remembered that because we would have toured the replica. Oh, well, it gives us an excuse to go back, which I would enjoy doing.

The closest I got to where my mother's family came from, a small village near Rockenhausen in the Rhineland-Palatinate, was when we were in Heidelberg, Germany. Heidelberg is about an hour away from Rockenhausen. We took a bus from Frankfort, Germany to Heidelberg. The drive through wooded areas reminded me of Northern Michigan. 

I enjoyed all the cities we visited but I did have two favorites, Rothenburg and Nuremberg. Rothenburg was a medieval walled city. In Nuremberg, we got to see Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg trials were held. I could write a blog post on each city we visited, but I won't bore you. I took over 700 pictures and editing them down to a few to make a Shutterfly book with was hard. 

It was after Nuremberg that things got hard. A lot of people were packed into the courtroom and no one was wearing a mask, me included. A day or so after Nuremberg I got a sore throat. I wasn't too worried because any cold I get starts that way, it moves to the ears, and then the chest and it is gone. This one went that way as well. Many travelers were having the same symptoms. Mine was mostly a cough. In Germany, you go to an Apotheke and talk with a pharmacist and they give you the meds they think you need. I needed a cough syrup. Of course, Kirk followed with similar symptoms a day or two later. We were tired and tried our hardest to make it through. We did quite well. We wore our masks. We didn't go to the after dinner activities as we needed our sleep. I forgot to set the alarm one night and we missed the bus to Melk Abbey. The only other thing we didn't go to was Bamburg. Kirk woke up in the morning and said I am not going anywhere today. I didn't feel comfortable leaving him alone so I stayed with him. 

Sacher Torte, one of the many excellent desserts on board ship.

It was a great trip and I am already looking at what other trips we could take with Grand Circle. They are a great company. The staff was exceptional, the food unbelievable delicious.

All the cancellations were worth it. It was a trip of a lifetime. We got home safely and two days later tested positive for Covid. Yes, it finally got us. I guess our 40th anniversary will be remembered as the Covid one, from start to finish. 

No comments:

Post a Comment