The next stop on our itinerary was Rudesheim, Germany. We had the morning onboard as we sailed along the Middle Rhine Valley en route to Rudesheim.
Loreley is a 433 feet high slate cliff towering above the narrowest part of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen. It became famous for the tale of Loreley, a beautiful but melancholy siren who would sit on the rock and sing as she combed her golden hair. Her beauty and mesmerizing song distracted sailors from the strong currents and their ships smashed to pieces against the rocks. As we sailed past Loreley, we listened to Ella Fitzgerald sing her rendition of the George and Ira Gershwin classic, Lorelei. We continued to sail down the Rhine and the foggy morning turned into a beautiful, chilly morning.
Our first stop was Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a unique, private collection of automated musical instruments – over 350 mechanical music boxes from the 18th to the 20th centuries.
Late in the afternoon, I checked my credit card statement online, as I do every few days. I noticed a large charge from the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam and couldn’t imagine what the charge was from. The hotel was to be paid for by Tauck and the only thing I charged to my room was the postage from a fairly small package that I shipped home that contained tour books, maps and a few items I had purchased along the first tour. I figured it would be easier to ship it home than to carry it all with me for the next month. Let’s just say that I won’t be doing that again! It cost me an arm and a leg and I was the topic of conversation at the dinner table. It was humorous to the other staff that I made such a rookie mistake and I laughed a long for a while….but after a while, it got to me and I excused myself from the dinner table. Two lessons learned: 1. Don’t ship packages home. It is cheaper to pay for a second suitcase. 2. If you make a rookie mistake, you won’t forget it. I called it an early night and for the first time since leaving home, I found myself a tad bit homesick. If you know me well, this won’t come as a surprise….I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. I do love my sleep! I slept well until 4am when I was jolted awake by a rather large bump. Another lock….some captains navigate the locks better than others. This brings me to the locks along this itinerary. There are 68 locks along the Rhine, Main and Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest…..yes, 68!
As I mentioned in a prior post, a lock is a place where boats that are traveling up or down a river or canal can be raised higher or lower. Locks are built in places where the level of water in the river or canal suddenly changes. The lock is like a big chamber with gates at each end and the lock gears fill or empty the fill chambers with water. Locks help a river to be more navigable or for canals to be built across land that is not level. The whole process of going through a lock may take 15-20 minutes, depending on river traffic….and we have 68 to go through! Wednesday was a sailing day along the Main River (Main is pronounced like “mine”)….a bit of a lazy day. It was cold and wet morning, with a 40% chance of snow, so everyone was content staying on board with a warm cup of Gluewhein. Gluewhein, also known as mulled wine, is made with red wine long with mulling spices and raisins. It is served warm, specifically during the winter season. I tasted the Gluewhein and it was not my thing…I cozied up in the lounge with a warm cup of hot chocolate. The morning was filled with wheelhouse commentary from Kati…boatloads (no pun intended) of information and facts about the history, towns and scenery along the Main River. Guests can listen to wheelhouse commentary in the main lounge, on the sun deck or in their cabin (the volume can be turned off in the cabin if they do not want the commentary piped into their personal space). There was quite a bit of river traffic, specifically as we approached various locks. Late morning, Anke gave a lecture entitled “Dutch Liberalism.” Towards the end of lunch, we crossed paths with the MS Treasures and there was a scheduled captain swap. We docked just before one of the locks and the MS Treasures literally pulled up right beside us and one of our captains jumped onto their ship and visa versa. And apparently, the other ship was low on a certain beer and we were low on tomatoes….so those were swapped as well.
The staff of the two ships were excited to see each other and the entire exchange was quite humorous. The staff said that in all the years they had been doing this job, it was the first time they had seen that happen. After lunch, everyone enjoyed a lazy rainy afternoon. Around 4pm, we went through another lock (imagine that!) and a famous glass-blower hopped/rolled onto the ship with all of his gear for a glass-blowing demonstration. Usually people can’t just hop on and hop off a ship at a lock….it’s good to know the lock masters! The glass-blower, Karl Heinz, is world renowned and has worked with Chihuly.