Sunday, December 30, 2018

Home of the Bouncing Urine--Nijmegen, Netherlands

Casa Grande, Arizona

I'm still having trouble finding the time to blog about our recent river cruise last month--The Romance of the Rhine and Mosel.  I'll just highlight a few things that occured.

Breakfast in the dining room is 7-9 every morning.  Even though we usually arrived at 7 we still didn't make it to the morning stretching at 8 am.  However, we were ready to follow our program director on a walking tour of Nijmegen.
Jorn kept reminding us that the Netherlands were the most beautiful country in the world.  Did I mention he was from Antwerp, Netherlands?  He also told us that the tallest people in the world were from the Netherlands.

As we followed him through the narrow cobblestone streets, he pointed out things along the way.  Here's a car for someone who is handicapped.

Jorn led us up some back steps to the town square.  He told us not to touch those metal triangles in the corner of the staircases.  When we stopped to talk to some small children (who knew English) in the playground, Jorn explained why we shouldn't touch those pieces of metal in the corner.  It seems that when the town folks go out and have too many beers, they would stop in the corner and urinate.  Of course, we're talking about men here.  Now it might also have to do with the fact that it now costs 50 cent in euros in some areas to use the restroom, if you can find one.  The town installed these so that if someone peed on one, they were sloped so that the urine would bounce back on themselves.  

These are the kind of things you can't learn about without a knowledgeable guide.

These towns are nothing like you'd see in the US.  Jorn knew all the details of how the buildings were constructed.  I wish I could remember what all those spires represented on the building.

St. Nicolas Chapel was built in the 11th century.  Now that's old!

The town square was beautiful and the cobblestone streets were so clean.

Jorn also showed us how the Dutch eat their favorite food, herring.

Jorn ordered a platter of herring so that everyone could try it.  I thought it was okay, but wouldn't be number one on a menu for me.

Jorn then talked about marijuana in the Netherlands and took us to a shop.  Because the shop was small, he went in to buy some and we listened from the street.  We could hear the exchange between Jorn and the shopkeeper because of the headphones and receivers everyone is supplied with during the trip.  I thought it was strange that you couldn't go in and smoke a cigarette at the tables in that shop but you could marijuana.

Some of the people returned to the ship and took the supplied bicycles out to tour around the town.  After all the walking and climbing steps we just went back to the ship and took a break in the lounge.  I didn't care that the bicycles were electric assisted.  It wasn't long before it was time for lunch, but we had enough time to play rummikub with Maureen and Russ.  

The ship departed for Remagen while we were walking to the dining room.  We sailed the rest of the day.  The ice cream party was fun, even though we were stuffed we still managed to enjoy it. 

Here's the view out our balcony as we sailed.

We sat on the deck for awhile and just watched the scenery.  There was a gallery tour going on, but we've done those before.  I'll blog the next stop at a late date.

Friday we spent the day with John and Karen Knoll.  She reminded me that the White Elephant thrift store is only open until noon so we headed out early so we'd arrive in time to visit it.  It's a favorite place to visit when we are in Green Valley.  The parking lot was packed but we managed to park in a nearby parking lot.

Karen had been wanting to try an Italian restaurant at the golf course.  It changed management and is now called Dominick's.  

Bill could only eat half of his Italian sandwich, but the rest of us cleaned our plates.

It was great visiting with John and Karen as we hadn't seen them since the Escapade in Sedalia.

Yesterday, we visited with Vern and Polly. 

We mentioned that we want to do a trip to Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.  Vern brought out his souvenir from when he served in the military.  He had no desire to return to Vietnam.  If you see him, ask to see his cigarette lighter.

Turtle Safely....... 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Our River Boat Cruise continues to Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Casa Grande, Arizona

Those of you who read yesterday's blog are probably wondering where I ordered the Christmas dinner.  Now you might want to record this date in history as I actually cooked the prime rib, green beans with tomatoes, scalloped potatoes, rolls, broccoli salad, and deviled eggs.  I didn't even burn the rolls.  For dessert I made pumpkin rolls.  Everyone that knows me, knows I hate to cook but it was actually fun to cook for the Schoolcraft's and Morey's.

Okay, I promised I'd finally get down to blogging about last month's river boat cruise.  Our next stop was Kinderdijk, Netherlands after we sailed from Antwerp.  

Here's a few facts that were published in our daily news    After a massive flood in 1421, someone on the dyke saw a cradle floating in the floodwaters.  As it came closer, a cat was seen jumping side to side to keep the water out--inside with the cat was a baby sleeping soundly. This legend became the foundation for the English folktale, "The Cat and the Cradle,"  and gave the city its  name, which translate to "children's dyke."

     The iconic 19 windmills of Kinderdijk were a  
     rudimentary pumping system that helped to keep the  
     land behind the dykes dry, even though it is lower than 
     the water level of the      river.  These 19 windmills in one place make for the highest concentration of windmills in a single area in the world.

Shortly after breakfast our program director led us on a short walk to the windmills which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  

These windmills are massive but very easy to hand turn them.

The interiors were furnished very nicely.

Our first glimpse of the wooden shoes.

You can see Jorn at the front door.  There is also a back door on the other side.  The families that live here seem to enjoy it.

Cooking was done in this little out house due to the fear of a fire.

All of the families had a vegetable garden.  You might wonder what the weather was like.  The forecast was a high of 55 and a low of 44. When you consider the latitude is about the same as St. John's, Newfoundland it wasn't bad.

After our tour of the windmill we walked over to a dock and took a small enclosed boat.

Our local guide told us how the people live and socialize.  The windmills are positioned a certain way to communicate with the others.  

After our boat ride we walked the short distance to the MS Rhapsody as she was sailing again at noon.  Lunch was at 12:30 instead of the usually 1 pm.

We docked in Willemstad at 2:15 and immediately got on the bus to depart for the Delta Works.

I wasn't exactly sure what the Delta Works were other than a flood control.

Once again we had a local guide to explain everything.  I might mention that the Delta Works stayed open longer for us.

Our itinerary explained the Delta Works this way:

Originally, Zeeland was a collection of islands--easy prey to the sea.  Inhabitants still remember the destructive tides that flooded the islands in 1953 and claimed the lives of 1,800 people.  Since then the gigantic Delta Works have prevented a recurrence.  Now the islands are connected and protected by a series of dams, dikes, and bridges.  This tour shows you several ingenious technical achievements designed over the past 65 years, giving you an impressive idea of how the Dutch have claimed, reclaimed, and protected their homeland from the threat of the sea.

By the time we returned to the ship it was dark, but what a welcome back we received.  Sergio, the musician was on the upper deck playing the saxophone.  The staff greeted us with hot wine and hot towels.  

We were just in time for the 6 pm cocktail hour with our nightly port talk at 6:45.  We were told about the next days adventure.  7 pm was dinner followed by dancing for some.  Bill and I were ready for bed.  It had been a wonderful busy day.  Next stop will be Nijmegen, I'll continue the blog tomorrow.

Turtle Safely.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

In Answer to the Christmas Cards

Casa Grande, Arizona
I've had numerous calls, emails, and texts from my readers that I never posted anything from our river cruise on the Romance of the Rhine & Mosel.  You asked for it, here's an abbreviated post.  Of course, I've already forgotten a lot of the information we were given. 

Our flight from Phoenix via Denver and Toronto had a few hitches resulting in sprinting through the airport to make our connections but we arrived in Antwerp on the morning of November 11.  One of the places I wanted to visit was closed because of the holiday but we wouldn't have had enough time to visit it anyway.  

Jorn, our program director, took  us on a walking tour of Antwerp after breakfast.  It was raining, but not hard enough to use our umbrella. 

The shopkeeper of the chocolate shop came out and gave everyone samples of their chocolates.

It didn't take long before we were enjoying Jorn.  He had a way of telling you the "whys" of things we saw.

After showing us this keyhole, he told us this was for the drunks that came home and couldn't find the hole for the key. Your key naturally falls down into the correct spot.

Bill and I walked back the few blocks to the ship to have lunch.  We had some free time to rest or go back and explore the city on our own.  Naturally, there was too much to see, so we'll rest later (in 15 days).  

The oldest wooden escalator in Europe was right next door to the boat so we decided to take a ride on it.  It is free and we saw people taking their bicycles on it.  

At the bottom of the escalator was a big clean tunnel where families would be walking.    

I thought it was strange that people took their bicycles up the escalator when there was an elevator, but people in Belgium are different. 

The tunnel took you under the river.  The wind was blowing and I stayed here long enough for a picture of me with our river cruise boat on the other side of the river.  It didn't take long to walk back under the river in through the tunnel.

It was time to get back to the ship as it sailed to Kinderdijk at 5 pm. Looks like the weather is clearing. Just enough time to enjoy the lounge before the port talk for the following day and of course followed by dinner. 

I'll blog about Kinderdijk later but wanted to put in this picture of our Christmas Day with our friends, George and Linda and Harry and Carlena.  We enjoyed the day so much.

Turtle Safely,.......