June 8, 2019 Rudesheim, Germany

William the Great Statue

Lorelei Statue

Sigfried’s Musikkabinett Museum

Music Museum Instruments

Music Box

Kent in Rudesheim

Rudesheim Restaurant

This morning was spent onboard our ship scenic sailing in the Upper Rhine Valley. The river banks are filled with lush green landscapes, hillsides of vineyards, charming villages and towns and enormous castles perched atop the hillsides. We passed the German Corner at the town of Koblenz where the Mozelle and Rhine Rivers merge. The corner features a large monumental statue of William the Great on horseback.

The Upper Rhine Valley is considered the most scenic stretch of the river, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along this stretch we saw many castles, as well as the famous Lorelei Statue and Rock. In 1801, German author Clemens Brentano composed his ballad Zu Bacharach am Rheine as part of a fragmentary continuation of his novel Godwi oder Das steinerne Bild der Mutter. It first told the story of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On the way thereto, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine once again. She does so and, thinking that she sees her love in the Rhine, falls to her death.

Due to the historic nature of this area of the Rhine, there are no bridges over the river and the area is preserved in its current state. People take water taxis across this part of the Rhine.

We arrived in Rudesheim early in the afternoon where we took a tram shaped like a small train to Siegfried’s Musikkabinett Museum where they have about 350 self-playing instruments from the past three centuries. We were given a 45-minute tour of the museum that included the playing of a variety of the historic instruments. The museum is housed in an architecturally interesting 15th century knight’s manor house called Bromserhof. The structure is two stories tall with many large rooms featuring ornately painted murals on the walls and ceilings, a stone wine cellar and a lovely colorful garden.

Rüdesheim is an ancient little town, with a population of about 10,000 people, known for outstanding Riesling wines and places to drink them. One charming little street, the Drosselgasse, is lined solidly with pubs and wine taverns. There was a local band performing in the town square as people wandered by or pulled up a chair to enjoy the music while sipping a glass of local wine. The town’s winding streets are very charming with most buildings having colorful flower boxes in the windows and filling any open space.

High above the town and reached by cable car is the colossal Niederwald Monument, which was built in 1877-1883 to commemorate the unification of Germany. Built at an estimated cost of one million gold marks, it stands 125 feet tall. It is a popular spot for superb views of the Rhine Gorge. The monument features a 34-foot-tall Germania (The personification of the German nation or the Germans as a whole depicted as a robust woman with long flowing hair and wearing armour.) figure holding the recovered crown of the emperor in the right hand and in the left hand the imperial sword. Below the statue is a relief of William I riding a horse with nobility, the army commanders and soldiers.

October 17, 2018 – Yokohama, Japan

Tokyo Street Corner

Nezu Jinja Shrine Gate

Nezu Jinja Shrine Grounds

Nezu Jinja Shrine

Fukagawa Edo Museum


Kiyosumi Gardens

The weather on this day started out beautiful with sunshine and temperatures around 70 degrees. By the end of the day it began to rain slightly and the skies had turned gray and dark. The sun is rising early about 5:45am and setting about 4:45pm with it getting dark by about 5:00pm.

Our tour on this day was titled “Old Town Tokyo”. We headed to the Fukagawa area, east of the Sumida River, called the Shitamachi (Old Town).

Our first stop was at the Fukagawa Edo Museum, nestled in a narrow, tree-lined street among numerous temples and shrines. The museum was established in 1986, and here we saw a display from the Edo period, including everyday items and a reconstruction of Fukagawa Saga town. The town from the 1800’s was very interesting in that they had a full-scale neighborhood with homes and shops that would have existed at that time. We saw typical one-room homes with mats on the floor, a corner carved out for the kitchen and everyday items that would have been in a home at the time. They showed the watchtower that would have existed at the time to watch for fires and the fire brigade buckets in the event of fire. The homes often served as the family business as well selling things like noodles, vegetables or household items.

Our next stop was at Kiyosumi Park, near the Sumida River where it is easy to imagine you are far from the bustle of the city. The site of this park was once the site of a mansion owned by a wealthy merchant. By 1878 the surrounding area was acquired by Iwasaki Yataro, the founder of Mitsubishi. The garden served as a place for recreation for the family’s employees as well as a place to entertain dignitaries and distinguished guests. In 1923 after the great earthquake the Iwasaki family donated the land to the city of Tokyo. After restoration the property was opened as a public garden in 1932.

The gardens are extremely beautiful with immaculately manicured pine trees trimmed into topiaries. The large lake has several islands and is home to a variety of fish, turtles and birds. Unique rocks gathered from around the country create a walkway around the lake and there is also a teahouse and iris garden.

After lunch at a local restaurant we visited Nezu Jinja Shrine built for Shogun Tsunayoshi Tokugawa. The shrine has been designated a National Cultural Asset. Families visit this site when children are born and when they turn 3, 5 and 7 years old to give thanks to the gods for healthy children. The locals practice Shinto religion that believes in gods of all types including the god of the moon, sun, house, trees, and most anything that the locals come in contact with. They also believe in the Buddhist religion from India while Christians represent only about one-percent of the population.

Next, we were off to Ueno, which is a district in Tokyo’s Taito Ward, best known as the home of Ueno Station and Ueno Park. Some of Tokyo’s finest cultural sites are found here, including museums and a major public concert hall. Here we headed to the Ameyoko Discount Market (a very crowded local market area) near Ueno Station where we were given some time to shop. The streets were filled with vendors selling fresh fish, toys, shoes, clothing, food items and more. The vendors would often stand on stools hocking their goods with signs stating what type of discount or price they were offering on something they were selling. We helped our friend, Bryan, find some Bonsai pruning shears but could not find his wished-for Sandalwood soap.

The evening’s entertainment was a saxophonist, pianist and singer by the name of Craig Richard. Craig is from Colorado Springs and was featured in a television show about people who should not be alive. He is a rock climber and broke his leg while rock climbing and had to crawl for 18 hours to get out of the mountains. He was also a finalist on American Ninja’s last year. We thought that he was a very accomplished musician but his show was lacking a spark.

October 17, 2016 — Arnhem, The Netherlands

Arnhem Stately Home

Arnhem Stately Home

Arnhem Shop

Arnhem Shop

Arnhem - Bridge Too Far

Arnhem – Bridge Too Far

This morning some onboard visited the National Liberation Museum in nearby Groesbeek. The Liberation Museum is set in the beautiful landscape near Nijmegen, Arnhem and the German border, a unique location: Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in history took place here in September 1944 and Operation Veritable, the Rhineland Offensive, the final road to freedom in Europe, started from here in February 1945.

The museum brings the historical events of the liberation by the American, British, Canadian and Polish troops back to life. In the museum they saw the period preceding the war, experienced the occupation, celebrated the liberation and witnessed the rebuilding of the Netherlands and Europe after the war. Aromas, interactive presentations, diorama’s, models, original films and sound fragments captivatingly depict the liberation. The museum shows both young and old the current value and importance of democracy, freedom and human rights.

Not wanted to be depressed by memories of war, we chose to take an alternative panoramic bus tour of the Arnhem area followed by a walking tour in the heart of the city. Our tour took us through some stunning scenery from simple country cottages to large stately homes. Everywhere we went, there were lush green trees planted in rows surrounding each plot of land and many just beginning to turn colors in the fall air. We did drive by the fields where some 25,000 allied soldiers parachuted into the area in a failed attempt to take control of the bridges (one was the famous Bridge Too Far) crossing the local rivers.

In town we heard about the history of many of the old buildings and shops lining the pedestrian only streets in the heart of town. The shops used to have three dimensional figurines mounted on the front of the shops to tell passers by what they sold inside. For example, a pig’s head might indicate that it was a butcher shop where they sold pork, while a cow might indicate that it was a Jewish butcher where beef was sold but no pork.

We returned to the ship about 12:30pm in time for lunch and to begin sailing towards our next port of call Koblenz, Germany. Due to the low water levels and heavy traffic on the river it would take us about 28 hours to reach our destination. In addition to the many tourist river boats there are many commercial goods transported on the river.

For dinner, the ship had prepared a special captain’s welcome cocktail party and dinner for us. They served a four course dinner including lobster soup, veal tenderloins and crème Brule. After dinner they showed a film about the Andre Rieu Concert. Andre is a violinist and conductor who is trying to bring classical music to the masses by making it entertaining. In this case the concert including vocalists, ballroom dancing, ice skaters dancing, elaborate costumes all in a fairy tale setting of a stately manor home. We were not familiar with him but others said that he is often shown on public television programs.

February 2, 2016 Sea Day

We attended a coffee chat with the cruise director and the nautical department. Four of the ships officers were on stage to answer guest’s questions about everything related to the navigation of the ship.

Brian Stoddart lectured on India’s Global Business and Labor Empire. He discussed how India’s population has migrated over the last 150 years, providing labor around the world. Indian’s have created great wealth by inventing many drugs, products and services around the world.

We had lunch with Gail in the dining room prior to doing our daily walking on deck in an attempt to ward off some of the extra pounds.

The afternoon brought a lecture by Werner Salinger about Africa and its fastest growing economies in the world.

We were invited to dinner at the Canaletto Restaurant with John and Steve from San Francisco. Following dinner we enjoyed an internationally acclaimed trumpet player and vocalist by the name of Chuck Curry. He was a public school music teacher in Scottsdale, AZ before the district discontinued the music program. He had a nice voice but not much stage presence.