The Romantic RHINE
We enjoyed a terrific day yesterday.
While docked near the port of Speyer, Germany the majority of us picked the morning’s Exclusive Doktorenhof Vinegar estate excursion. This is a family run operation – a very classy place. We wore monk robes for our tour of the candle lit cellars. The Benedict chats that we heard in the background added to the glamorous atmosphere.
Our guide was a celebrity German chef who did a great job convincing all of us that we should be drinking health vinegars daily.
The vinegar tasting was great fun – we tried 5 different unique kinds produced from premium wines aged with a century-old vinegar “mother” and flavoured with a variety of herbs and fruits. We were also served speciality breads and gourmet chocolates between the tastings.
Their gift shop was impressive too. Everyone walked out with a bag of goodies.
Some of my group headed to the Carnival in Speyer and rode the Ferris wheel. Others went to the world class transportation museum and finally many of us roamed into a German University town to shop. The temperatures rose into the 20C’s. We were shopping with the locals so prices were much more affordable than the tourist towns. I’m now going to have to check another piece of luggage for the flight home – too much shopping!
Last night there was a special “Sharing” dinner arranged just for us. This was held on the top deck of the UniWorld river boat. My group was served an 8 course German meal – every course was more scrumptious than the last. Most of the courses arrived in Staub Cast Iron Pots, which we passed around. That is why it was called a sharing meal. Thanks to Thomas, the head-chef and the maitre d too, for making sure our evening was very special.
A local band was brought on board to entertain and the dance floor was jumping until 11pm. Roy, Harry and Keith kept the ladies dancing. I’m surprised Roy didn’t get on stage to yodel – we found out he has this hidden talent when we visited Switzerland.
This morning after breakfast we boarded coaches for a short journey to the Schloss Vollrads Castle nestled in the rolling, vineyard covered hills of the Rheingau. This Castle was owned by one family for centuries – generation after generation lived her, but the final owner was on the brink of bankruptcy plus he was enduring a broken marriage – he sadly ended up taking his life at the age of 57. A small town bank now owns this estate and it’s highly regarded wine operation. As we toured we enjoyed three German Riesling tastings. The final room in the castle we visited is known for its leather wallpaper – one of a kind in Europe.
We then headed to the beautiful, tourist town of Rudesheim. We strolled down many narrow streets filled with reasonable priced German restaurants, wine cafes and tourist shops before heading to our river boat for lunch.
This afternoon was a true “highlight” as we sailed down the most scenic 31 mile stretch of the Romantic Rhine. This castle dotted landscape has inspired many painters, composers and poets. Each bend in the river offered a new delight and the steep riverbanks were covered with sloping fall, orange touched vineyards. Many scenic small towns are found along this famous winding river.
Today while roaming around I started to create a NEW tour that I am SO excited about. This is the big advantage I have when I travel with my groups around the World as it’s a perfect opportunity for me to meet local tour reps to develop relationships and experience first hand what I am going to be offering my passengers. I challenge you to ask, “other” travel company planners if they have been to the destinations they are promoting – I think you will be surprised with how few have….
It’s intriguing to watch on, “CNN International” the Scenes of Sorrow but Hope during the current Kenya National Election. My passengers that, a few weeks ago visited Kenya with me fell in love with this country and we all hope that calm can prevail.
Others were with me earlier this year when we visited Bangkok, Thailand. Their King has passed at the age of 88. We were surrounded by images of the Thai Royal Family during our visit and the Kings daughter walked right past me with her Secret Service in tow.
We have started to sail into Koblenz – this is where we overnight. The original plan was to stop in a community close by but due to low water levels we need to dock in progressive Koblenz – the cruise staff is excited to be here and plan to go out on the town tonight – they work so hard – I wish them a good time.