Here are my thoughts on my last few days in Europe.
Rudesheim was a cute place. We went up the cable car to the top and saw a huge statue that was built in commemoration of the union of Germany. Here we visited Siegfried’s musical instrument museum where they had old musical instruments that played by themselves using punch-hole strips of paper. They had lots of music boxes there of all kinds. We sailed through the Rhine Gorge that had many very old beautiful castles. Some are ruins and some are used as hotels today. Also, I saw the rock of the legendary “Loreley”. Luckily our captain didn’t get wooed. Haha.
Cologne was nice and more modern than what we were accustomed to seeing. The Cathedral there is very large and was hit during WW2 but is still standing and has been restored. My favorite thing about this city was the Lindt chocolate museum the Schokoladenmuseum,haha. During our free time we went to the museum and it was interesting to see the whole process from beginning to end of how they make the Lindt chocolate we see today in stores. We even got to sample some fresh made chocolate while there. YUMMY! ☺ We saw a bunch of different molds of all sizes. I went to the gift shop and bought some very delicious chocolate items.
In Amsterdam we hopped onto a canal cruise to tour some of the older downtown part of the city. I got to see houseboats where people live on the canals. I can’t imagine living on a boat but at times it was more cost effective for the inhabitants there. The canals are small and parking is very limited. The most used mode of transportation in Amsterdam seems to be bicycles. The streets are very crowded with cyclists and bikes parked everywhere.
We had a lovely lunch at a little local restaurant called Haesje Claes. It had traditional Dutch food and was very good. I would recommend it. We also did a windmill tour in the afternoon at Zaanse Schans – not far from Amsterdam. I learned a lot about using windmills as a power source. My favorite part of this tour was seeing the demonstrations. We saw limestone grinding by using a complex gear system using wind power. There was also a Gouda cheese making demo. Best of all was seeing how they make their world famous wooden clogs. It used to take a while with knives and other tools. Now it takes about 5 mins as they have a machine that is similar idea to key cutting machines to form the outside of the shoe. Then they have a tool system to cut out the hole for the foot. Apparently these shoes are very comfortable and wearing wool socks inside is definitely the best. The shoes are water proof and like steel toed boots for protection as they are very hard.
At the end of the cruise we had to say goodbye to our new friends and to all the wonderful staff on the ship who catered to us hand and foot. I was sad to leave Europe as this whole experience was such a wonderful adventure and felt like going back in time in a sense.
For those who may have concerns about sea or motion sickness on a cruise, there are no worries about this on a river cruise as you don’t feel it at all. I do recommend getting a cabin around the middle of the ship. At the back you get more of the noise and vibration from the engine, at the front you can hear a lot of people traffic and music from the lounge in the evenings.
My overall experience with Avalon was phenomenal. The staff were great and got you whatever you needed. The ship, cabin and amenities onboard were wonderful. The cities we visited were all interesting and amazing in their own unique ways. This trip was definitely a great combination of relaxation, friendship building, amazing architecture and education about history.
It was recommended to me that if you want to upgrade to a higher cabin category (if available), do that before you leave home as it is much lower in cost than if you try when onboard. When considering booking a river cruise, the best pricing and availability are available further out from departure. The earlier you book the better.
A few tips about travelling to Europe:
- It costs money to use public bathrooms most places I travelled to in Europe this trip.
- Remember to ask about tax free purchases when shopping.
- The weather is best over the summer as some places get colder and even have frost or snow during the winter.
- Bring Forint (HUF) when travelling to Hungary and Crowns (CZK) for Czech Republic. Euros were used everywhere else I went.
- Make sure to bring an adapter with 2 round prongs in Europe. A converter may be needed as well as their power is 220Volt.
- Pack for all types of weather, shorts and t-shirts, to pants and warm shirts. Make sure to bring a light jacket as the wind can be cool and it rains from time to time. A small umbrella could be useful as well.
If you have any questions about Avalon or just River Cruising in general please feel free to reach out to me! You can call me in Saskatoon at 306-934-3400 or email email@example.com.