The last two days on the Oasis we spent taking pictures of parts of the ship we thought or heard would be changed while it was in dry dock, saying goodbye to passengers we had spent good times with and repacking our suitcases for our travels across Europe.
We said goodbye to dinner tablemates Jim and JoAnne. They would be disembarking in Rotterdam and staying in Amsterdam for an extended vacation and would return to the states from there. It was fun that we were able to celebrate Jim’s birthday. Our head waiter, Stephan and several others joined us singing a great rendition of happy birthday before Jim blew out his candle.
I also continued my search for ‘small wonders’ art work around the ship. I discovered one with beautiful shells. The plaque read, “The spiral beauty of gastropod external skeleton has infinite variations in the many types of sea shells. Spirals occur in nature from the tiniest of shells and plants, to hurricanes and galaxies”. I hope to find all 42 of these wonderful ‘small wonders’ before we return home.
We arrived in Rotterdam to the same curiosity and commotion as our other ports-of-call. As we gathered to wait for our buses a news crew came along and interviewed our Legendary Journeys representative, Elaine Wilson.
Randy and I were on bus 2 along with Doug, Sue, Paul and Rachel. Tom and Barbara were on bus 4. Our tour guide, Remo (Raymo) explained that it would be a long day’s ride traveling East across Holland then cross the border into Germany. There would be a lunch stop in Cologne, Germany and then on to Eschborn to check into our hotel for the night.
The ride was pleasant as we passed tulip and flower farms in Holland and the scenic Rhine Valley. We arrived in Cologne and followed Elaine to the center of a very busy section and the site of the beautiful Cologne Cathedral.
Randy, I, Doug and Sue walked around a bit looking at all the wonderful bakeries and other shops before deciding to stop for lunch at the Café Reichard. What a great choice. We took a seat in the sidewalk café right under the shadow of the Cathedral. There were flowers all around. It was just a beautiful setting.
Of course, whenever we travel we always find out what is the local beer. We ordered a glass of Sion touted as ‘fresh from the barrel’. We looked over the menu and had a hard time choosing because it all sounded delicious. I finally chose the ‘Apfelpfannkuchen’, a pancake with sliced apples, cinnamon and sugar. Delicious!
I have to tell you about the bathroom at the café. It was beautiful. Marble sinks, beautiful faucets but the sight to see was the doors to the stalls. When I walked towards the stalls I saw that the door was clear glass and could see the toilet. I stood there and thought: Really? I walked in and locked the door and violá , the door misted over making the stall completely private. Now I thought: How cool is that. When I saw the door misted over on the outside there was a silhouette of a beautiful woman. The ladies room was just beautiful.
We spent a few moments walking through the cafés bakery and sweet shop trying very hard to resist the temptation to buy everything we saw. Doug and Sue wanted to do some shopping before getting back on the bus and we wanted to walk through the church so we went our separate ways.
The Cathedral was so beautiful. Looking at the cathedral it was hard to believe it had suffered so much damage during WWII. Randy said, “I remember when I visited the cathedral as a teenager that both the towers were missing”. We walked around the cathedral admiring its architecture, beautiful stained glass windows, and all the beautiful artwork.
We had just a few minutes before having to get back to the bus so we ran quickly to a shop Randy had spotted earlier. The Merzenich bakery was filled with a deliciously beautiful array of breads, buns, biscuits, pies and pretzels. It was hard to choose but Randy finally settled on a baked good and we were on our way again.
We spent the rest of the day on a scenic ride along the banks of the Rhine River to Eschborn. We stayed at the Mercure hotel. The hotel was modern and lovely. As soon as we checked in it was time to go to a wonderful dinner in the hotel’s dining room.
It was a long but wonderful day. We retired early because tomorrow will be another long day as we head to Seefeld, Austria.