Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Speyer, Germany

All aboard but on a bus 
The water levels are the lowest in a decade. The riverboat companies have had to make huge changes in their itineraries and many boats just stopped and docked for the season. Since river levels are low cargo ships with petrol can not deliver to the riverboats. Today while we were being bused for a day excursion the captain had to take the boat on a 6 hour detour to get petrol in a canal. Then we were picked up and currently the boat is turning around to go back another 6 hours to the river and then continue on the trip. Cruising past the castles on the Rhine will not be part of the trip as we will be bused to another town and picked up by another boat to continue our trip on the river. All of this is so unfortunate, but was expected. It is really staggering how much money tour boat companies are losing with cancellations and adjustments.. We are told it would have to rain 2 weeks straight to make a difference. And with winter coming the water needed to raise levels may not happen until late spring. Many compensations have been made to the passengers but then again costly for the tour companies. 
So by bus we arrived Tuesday in Speyer, Germany (a few hours from Strasbourg) 
Located beside the river Rhine. Speyer was founded by the Romans and is one of Germany's oldest cities. Speyer is dominated by the Speyer Cathedral (inside beneath the high altar, are the tombs of eight Holy Romans and German Kings), and the Altpörtel (old gate). 

.
Speyer is famous for the 1529 Protestation and the invention of the German Bavarian pretzel. 

There is religious symbolism (The Trinity) attributed to the pretzel made by the monks. For more detailed information go to https://bookofthrees.com/pretzel-trinity-symbol/
We spent a lot of afternoon time exploring the huge Technik Museum  Speyer.
This technology museum is so full of items ranging from vintage boats, ships, planes, cars, bikes, musical organs, space travel and locomotives. You can purchase coins and insert them into some of the exhibits to hear the sound of the train, musical organ etc. The exhibits are both inside and outside. Some of my favorites in the vintage car section are pictured below.  And I might add all items in this museum were in mint condition.  

 My husband once owned one of these vehicles, a Karmann Ghia.
The exhibits outside - boats and planes and a Russian space shuttle were some you could actually go inside and look around. This may be the closest I will ever get to the moon. 
Next door to the Technology Museum is the Whelmsbau Museum exhibiting thousands of dolls and more musical organs and costumes from the last hundred years or so. There is also a room displayed stuffed animals.
Little time for shopping on a tour as choices have to be made about what to explore in a town. These two very fashionable items caught my attention. 




Just in case you are wondering what are the "popular " womens fashion items for locals- it's puffy quilted jackets black or blue accessorized with short skirts, black tights and boots. For men short puffy quilted jackets and the scarf still remains supreme as a staple fashion attire for men and women.  







I continue to be dazzled by the ship's food presentation. I have seen the galley and it certainly is not large by American standards to put out 125 food creations for lunch and dinner. 
Chocolate Banana Crepes with Coconut Ice Cream on a Cookie 
Veal Wellington (Puff Pastry) and Duchess Potatoes
Next Stop Baden-Baden, Germany
home to Europe's oldest casino-the most opulent stop of the trip  


Monday, November 12, 2018

World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day November 13th need not be just one day but should be practiced every day. Here's some ideas to keep the kindness going... 

31 Acts of Kindness : November Challenge
1. Donate to a local food pantry
2. Volunteer for a worthy cause
3. Start a gratitude journal
4. Shop handmade on Black Friday
5. Make someone their favorite meal
6. Donate a coat
7. Compliment a cashier
8. Give yourself a yes day
9. Pay for someone’s meal
10. Thank a veteran
11. Show your gratitude to a loved one
12. Jot down 30 great things about yourself
13. Give something to a homeless person
14. Let someone else have the parking spot
15. Donate to Toys for Tots
16. Invite someone new over for a meal
17. Make someone a handmade gift
18. Email an old friend
19. Donate to a local rescue or animal shelter
20. Thank you local police or firemen
21. Thank your delivery drivers
22. Leave unused coupons at the store
23. Let someone checkout before you
24. Bake something for a friend or loved one
25. Return someone’s cart for them
26. Compliment a loved one
27. Send flowers to someone
28. Hold the door for someone
29. Celebrate world kindness day (Nov 13)
30. Leave kind notes in library books

31. Make Snicker Turtles and give someone an unexpected gift

Riquewihr

Riquewihr
A medieval village with loads of rustic charm and colorful painted  homes. It is renowned for its picturesque hillside vineyards. The 16th century village is nestled between the Vosges Mountains and some of the most famous vineyards in Alsace.


Gewurztraminer wine is unique to this region. For me it could also be called home of the gingerbread with a capital G.  In Riquewihr one can find every conceivable type of gingerbread from edible

to non edible items. Huge blocks of nougat (candy) were also available in slices at the patisserie (bakery shop).
 The houses were brightly colored looking like a Santaland without the snow. 

Narrow cobblestone streets wound throughout the town. 
Food Presentation 
The food presentation on the boat is almost beyond description. Each item is a creation in itself. Here are a just a few to whet your appetite. 
  Cherry sponge cake served with a side of pistachio ice  cream on a cookie.
A veal dinner with a potato shaped like a pear and asparagus bundled with a bacon strip. 

 
Bruschetta appetizer with baked Brie served with a strawberry. 

Next Stop Speyer, Germany

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Strasbourg, France

  SECOND STOP Strasbourg, France 
Strasbourg is the second most popular tourist city in France, after Paris. The city has been both French and German throughout its history. Signs are printed in both languages and you can find both German and Alsatian delicacies. 

There are three main attractions. First the Gothic Cathedral, the second most visited French cathedral after Notre Dame de Paris;

front
back side
secondly the picture-book historic quarter of Petite France, with its half-timbered medieval houses and its quays overlooking branches of the river
and thirdly the Strasbourg Christmas market which they were just getting started setting up so no photos to show except the festive window dressing above the hat shop. 
The city can be easily covered on foot and by tram. Since parking is at a premium many use their bicycles to get around. Sunday proved to be a beautiful fall day perfect for exploring the town. It is Armistice Day so many shops were closed. Fortunately cafes and bakeries were open and doing a brisk business.  Lots of  German influence in the foods and we loved the hot homemade pretzels. 
This one was hot off the press!










Street entertainment was plentiful. 







My favorite part of the day may surprise you. I so enjoyed being outside and enjoying all the best nature has to offer. 

city park
stork's nest on top of a chimney

My husband was able to zoom in on it and capture the stork nesting.
For some  inexplicable reason swans love the Rhine River as they were everywhere.
These swans clustered near the walking path seemed huge to me and were rather annoyed I disturbed them for a photo. 


Food Presentation and next stop Riquewihr, a picturesque medieval French village in the Haut-Rhin region.  

In France November 11th is a huge commemorative day for
 and for us

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Basel Switzerland

The Joy of Discovery Along the Rhine
The Rhine River is central and Western Europe's second longest river which flows 764 miles from the Swiss Alps to the Netherlands into the North Sea. It has been an important transportation route since the days of the Roman Empire. 

Did You Know
In 1986 a chemical factory fire in Switzerland resulted in severely polluting the already polluted Rhine River. The toxic chemicals killed millions of fish and wildlife that lived in and along the river. It only took 10 days for the toxic chemicals to reach the North Sea.
The Rhine Action Plan was put into place to improve the quality of the Rhine after the 1986 disaster. Although today it is not pollution free the concerted efforts have  resulted in the return of the salmon,  The Rhine River is a popular tourist river cruise route today. 

In Basel we were able to catch the remnants of fall. 











I am intrigued with the doors in Europe. They are ornate and often have identifying carvings above the door  that indicate the family's  last name and house location. It is a precursor to house numbers. 
The historic Marketplaza was lively on a Saturday morning with entertainment (xylophone with gourds) , lots of people, baby prams and strollers. This bicycle design for carrying a baby was quite unique.
Basel is known for banking and is home to many chemical and pharmaceutical companies. 

Next the food scene with a stop in Strasbourg, France