21 Aug 2014
The day started with a wine tasting near Rudesheim at Schloss Vollrads (one of the worlds oldest wine estates going back to at least 1211), which is known for outstanding Rieslings.
Most of the day was spent leisurely cruising the Rhine Gorge and taking in many castles and countless vineyards.
Contrary to what it may appear, the castles were not built for the vineyard owners.
This area has been a major transportation route since Roman times. River barons staked out their territory and extorted toll from the ship captains.
19 Aug 2014
Strasbourg - The day started with a relaxing canal tour of Strasbourg.
Their Notre Dame Cathedral was the world’s tallest building until 1874. It’s the highest standing structure built entirely in the Middle Ages. This gothic masterpiece is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful buildings that I have ever seen.
It is the capital and principal city of the Alsace Region and the official seat of the European Parliament and dozens of international organizations, which makes it politically one of the most important regions in the European Union.
The Parliament Building looks unfinished on purpose symbolically saying that European unification is still work in progress.
Black Forest - A half day of touring was fine for me, but Allyn wanted to continue on to visit the Black Forest and have a piece of cake.
She liked the trees too. I guess I’ll have to take her to the Cascades sometime.
Besides cakes and trees, they are known for their cuckoo clocks. This is the world's biggest. The people and animals are life sized.
Alsace history – Being a baby boomer, I was raised thinking of Alsace as strictly French, although in the East with wines similar to one from nearby Germany.
It turns out they are a strong mixture of both of the two countries and have been back and forth for centuries due to war results. They speak their own language. Since 1871 they have been French three times and German twice.
18 Aug 2014
Colmar, in Northeast France, is the capital of the Alsatian wine region.
Its “Little Venice” area and quaint cobblestone squares make it quite photogenic.
Their most famous sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi has works all over town. However his most famous piece is in New York – The Statue of Liberty.
I love the solarium area in our cabin where the entire window drops to become an outdoor balcony.
Here I am at the first of many locks we will be passing through this week. Leonardo da Vinci invented the miter lock that even today is used round the world.
It's so peaceful being on the water.
17 Aug 2014
We are in Basel to start our first ever river cruise for a week on the Rhine River. It terminates in Amsterdam where the river flows into the North Sea.
This spot marks the convergence of Switzerland, France and Germany. For a couple days France will be on the west side of the river and Germany the east.
We are on Uniworld’s beautiful S.S. Antoinette, a ship obviously designed with Versailles in mind.
The elegance stage is set upon entry seeing the 10-foot Baccarat blue sapphire chandelier originally from New York’s Tavern on the Green.
Meetings, entertainment, cocktailing, tea and other activities center on The Salon du Grand Trianon, which was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
The Restaurant de Versailles was taken from the ornamental gardens there.
Cabins are small but quite plush with extras such as heated floor, L’Occitane products, and monogrammed towels, robes and slippers. Suites have different soft decors.
16 Aug 2014
When I was here 50 years ago, Zurich was all about prosperity, craftsmanship, confidence and chocolate; even if it was a bit stodgy.
Nothing has changed except now it is a young and fun too.
Allyn, Southern California bred, thought the clouds and drizzle are fun, pretty weather. I thought I saw plenty of that my first 50 years living in Seattle.
It is a nice, safe city for strolling around.
The double rainbow outside my window was quite amazing I must say.
So was the meal at the world famous Kronenhalle.