Thursday, June 20, 2013

River Cruise Poem (aka the Flood Fahrt)

May 30th we boarded the Uniworld, River Princess for the "European Serenade"  cruise.  The planned cruise was  from Vienna to Amsterdam by way of the Danube thru the Main-Danube Canal to the Rhine.  Due to the worst flooding in Central Europe since 1501 our itinerary was drastically altered.  We had expected the cruise to be a vacation of a lifetime and it was.  One of my favorite sayings is; "Shit happens, it is how you handle the shit that matters." The entire Uniworld staff and our fellow passengers handled the situation with grace and good humor. We know there were many Uniworld employees behind the scenes putting in long hours to enable us to continue with our vacation and everyone appreciated it.   The passengers remained upbeat and made the best of the situation.  Bart Roelofs, the cruise manager, was amazing. He was under tremendous pressure and never let it show. He kept a sense of humor which had us all laughing no matter the circumstances.   I found him to be inspirational.  Below is a poem he wrote about the cruise.  I have inserted some photos so you can get a visual of our journey.

River Cruise Poem (aka the Flood Fahrt)

By: Bart Roelofs

 Uniworld Cruise Manager

In Vienna we all came on board of the wonderful River Princess, this cruise was going to be a big success.
Captain Anton and HM Silvia run a tight ship, a lovely Vienna city tour but then the rain started to drip.
From Tulln we sailed up the Danube River, pouring rain & rising water made us shiver.
Walls were erected by the Austrian fire brigade, hopefully our trip would not be delayed.

Our first stop was the town of Melk in the Wachau, from here we went to lovely Český Krumlov,
Fabulous town in the Czech Nation, too bad that the lunch @ the brewery got lost in translation.

The river was still rising, all hands on deck,  as fast as we could to Krems we sailed back.
We found shelter in the industrial port, here we would always to go and come back on board.

We drove back to Melk to visit "Dear Abby", in the afternoon the wine tasting made us happy.

Salzburg was next in line, this city of the "Sound of Music" and Mozart was far but therefore might fine.

Meanwhile in Krems the same old tune, looking at containers and sand dunes.
This could not go on forever and something had to be done, eventually we would have to move on.

Leaving Krems & the ship was painful and hard to do, though finally reaching Germany was like a dream come true. 
Going to Nuremberg on 3 buses and CM Bart, it looked it would be a magnificent autobahn fahrt.
Oops, the Danube flooded the highway; scenic driving thru the Bavarian hills meant a 6 hour delay.
Just before midnight we arrived at the hotel, little time left for dinner, so please "mach schnell".

Next morning we had the ultimate shock with cold showers and festival hard rock.

Nuremberg was lovely though and the day was fine, we experienced rare weather phenomena called, "sunshine"!

The German language proved to be pretty hard, we learned all about einfahrt, rundfahrt, & "where the hell is ausfahrt".
Rothenburg was next and the town was just right, 100 years of history in that medieval gem are a delight.

Finally our bus ride was no more, in Strasbourg we were boarding the River Ambassador!
The question was whether we would grab our last chance, and actually be able to leave France.
And yes, just after we came on board the ships engines did start, we could finally enjoy the magic of a river cruise fahrt.

Sailing on the Rhine felt so good; walking thru Rüdesheim in the sun surly improved our mood.

Onward we sailed and started our Castle Rally, dozens of spectacular castles in the Lorelei Valley.

In Cologne we hit the town for a drink in a pub, unfortunately the town was pretty dead so we came home & gave up!

Morning walk to the catherdal of this magnificent city, as it is Sunday all shops were closed, what a pity!
the local bathroom industry we did admire, several grumpy grandmas earned enough to retire.

Amsterdam in the Netherlands our last port of call, soon it will be time to say auf wiedersehen to y'all.
HM Jan arranged at night free booze, with a minor hangover we started our lovely Amsterdam canal cruise.

Rembrandt and Van Gogh, now we know it all, some guides explained every paintbrush in great detail.

If you want and still have energy left you can come with Bart, for an after dinner Red Light District Fahrt!

We now have passed the last river bend, and our Cruise/Bus trip thru 5 countries has come to an end.
In spite of the worst floods since 1501 we were prevailing, and at the end of the day we were even sailing.
The chemistry within the group was wunderbar, whenever help was needed: Martin and Petra were never far.
Captains Evert & Anton, HM Jan & Silvia just to name a few, but all crew members loved working with you. 

After this grand trip parting ways is hard, don't forget you'll always have a friend in Bart.
Cherish these memories, we did have a ball, Have a great life and may God bless y'all.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

St Sebaldus Church

St. Sebaldus Church is a medieval church in Nuremberg, Germany.  It is one of the most important churches of the city, and also one of the oldest. It is located at the Albrecht-Dürer-Platz, in front of the old city hall. It takes its name from Sebaldus, an 8th-century hermit and missionary and patron saint of Nuremberg. It has been a Lutheran parish church since the Reformation.

The construction of the building began in 1225. the church achieved parish church status in 1255 and was completed by 1273-75. It was originally built as a Romanesque basilica with two choirs.  The church suffered serious damage during World War II and was subsequently reconstructed. Some of the old interior did survive, including the Shrine of St. Sebaldus, works by Veit Stoss and the stained glass windows.

The exterior is undergoing extensive renovation and was covered in scaffolding. The only exterior photo I took was of the entrance.  

The organ was installed in 1975.

The Monument of St Sebaldus, a work of Peter Vischer the Elder and his sons.  
Begun in 1508 and complete in 1519.

The Crucifix

Works by Viet Stoss

The archways are beautiful.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic where Český Krumlov Castle is located. Old Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was given this status along with the historic Prague castle district. We visited the city on Saturday and I am sad to report it is flooded today. As you can see below the water is high and moving very fast. There were people canoeing on this river.

This is the water mark from the 2002 flood of the century. We understand the water is much higher than this today.
Hal & Beverly
The square.


The Castle
Enjoying a beer.





The Austrian National Library

The first excursion of the cruise took us to the National Library. There are over 7.4 million items in the vast collection. We didn't read them all.

The Austrian National Library is the legal successor to the Imperial Royal Court Library of the Austrian Empire. The beginnings of the former court library go back to the second half of the 14th century when the Habsburgs began to collect manuscripts or to commission them. The splendid baroque library constructed between 1723 and 1726 at Josefsplatz housed all the court library's manuscripts, incunabula, autographs, printed books, maps, globes and copper engravings until the late 19th century.


The book shelves are stocked in the Christmas tree configuration with the tallest on the bottom and the smallest on the top.
The ceiling is a beautiful fresco

Love this globe.

This represents the building of the library as it is being presented to the city of Vienna, the lady in green with the cross on her chest.


This is the first time I have used my zoom lens in such a low light situation. I think it did a great job


One of our new friends, Kathy Cook, who was a Librarian so I had to get a photo of her in the library.



Sunday, June 2, 2013

We Are Safe or Rain, Rain Go Away

Have you heard about the flooding on the Danube? We sure have!!! You can believe what you hear and our itinerary has become a victim of the flooding. We were supposed to travel to Passua Germany by Saturday morning. The old town section of Passua is under water.


Fire Brigades working on flood control. Taken from the terrace at Melk Abby.

A reality of life is stuff happens which is beyond anyone's control. It is how the stuff is handled which makes all the difference. Uniworld, our cruise line, has handled the situation beautifully. First and foremost, they have kept us safe. We are docked at the commercial port in Krems. While not scenic it has a water gate that will keep it from flooding. Believe me when I say the power of this river is impressive.we have experienced it science our first day on the river. We have been sailing upstream and the current was amazing.

The captain choose to move the ship to a safer port and they still manage to come up with nice excursions for us. Yesterday we all went to Cresky Krumlov in the New Czech Republic. We really enjoyed it and I will post on it later. Today we went to the Melk Abby (in the pouring rain) and to a wine tasting. Surprise we enjoyed that as well. We know we will stay in Krems through tomorrow when the river will crest. They are saying we will take the bus to Salzburg but we understand there is flooding there as well, so not sure what they will have in store for us. The cruise director, Bart said he is working on plan K.

The road we took to Melk this morning was closed this afternoon due to flooding.
The town of Melk
Melk Abby courtyard. See Hal and Beverly?
The light shinning behind Christ represents the promise of heaven.
The 7 stations of the cross.
The ceiling is flat. The painting gives the illusion of a curve.


Wine tasting at Winzer Krems a wine co-operative with over a 1000 vineyards.
We are having a good time a little flood will not stop that!! I know this will shock you, I am writing this in the Piano Bar while drinking a lemon drop with Jim, Hal and Beverly. We all say, "Cheers!"