Well our trip has turned out to be a disaster. We had a great time in Amsterdam, after that it went south. High water on the Rhine has prevented us from going any further south than Cologne. We have been here for two days. After a tour of a cathedral in the city which was great and a made up tour of a castle we sit in a basin off of the Rhine River looking at oil tanks and rusted railroad cars. Cologne was bombed out during World War II so I don't consider it anything special. All new buildings built after 1945. Tonight Viking has informed us that we will go down the river a few more miles then we will be transferred to another ship which cannot proceed any further north. Oh boy, just what I wanted, a bus ride along a highway in Germany.
We saw a castle today. Two hours to it and one hour and forty five minutes of pure hell for me on the return trip. Could you please turn down the air, Lisa my wife called out to the driver, my husband is sweating, some relief, not much though. Sitting there and now starting to fume over not having any control over my comfort I finally lit a match to my slow burning fuse. Another person spoke out......could you please turn down the air. I'm thinking, as I mop my head, maybe he just doesn't understand English. I remember the tour guide, a young Mexican fellow who spoke English, appeared to understand me when I approached him before we got on the bus for the return trip. I think this was clear. Tell the driver to turn down the AC.
We arrive at the parking lot in front of our ship and surrounded by a waste land of oil tanks. It reminds me of the Houston, TX ship channel.
We disembark from the bus and I proceeded to the tour guide. Who had no idea that my fuse had finally hit its end and I unloaded on him. I was tired of not being informed of what was going on nor would I sit on a bus tomorrow, estimated time of four hours, and sweat. I huffed off as my dear Lisa was there to hand out band aids to the guide who had just had his butt chewed. Off to the gang way to be greeted by the Captain who was there with a smile, as I walked past him looking for my next victim. With the hotel manager in my sights, she is the one who reads the prepared statements from Viking corporate head quarters every night, with a smile on her face, explaining that this flood is a 500 year event. Europe has better weather forecasters than we do. We can even predict the rise and fall of the Mississippi River above New Orleans. So I don't buy it when she tells me Viking didn't know this would happen. In my opinion Viking knew there would be a problem before we left Amsterdam. I told the hotel manager what I expected to hear in the nightly briefings. I left heading down the hall to our room. Lisa lingered and probably repaired the damage.
The food has been good, but not great. The red wine, house wine from Austria, is about a 3 on a scale of 10. None of us want to drink it and it is free.
I'll keep you informed.
Stuck on the Rhine Part II
June 8, 2013
Well, we did make it a little further south on the River Rhine to a city that
has a large statue of William the First. We will leave the Viking Sun and travel via bus to Heidelberg and then on to our new ship, the Viking Helvetia II on the Rhine River at Kehl. We will be able to get back on schedule and have a tour and time for ourselves in Strasbourg, France so far my favorite city.
Our nightly briefing is still the same just enough info to keep you in the dark. We leave here tonight and will dock at Breisach, Germany which is a scheduled stop. We elected not to go see the Black Forest. Lisa and I were not interested in another bus ride.
When we arrived at our new ship after a long bus ride and sight-seeing in
Heidelberg. We were greeted by the new crew holding up a sign which read WELCOME BOARDA. It was corrected as we walked up the gang plank. I noticed that it felt like we had entered the botanical garden in Denver. You could cut the heat and humidity with a knife. I thought it is hot because they have had the door open in order to greet their paying customers. I was wrong. This ship is the sister of the last ship so our cabin is the same. As I walk down the hall toward our cabin the temperature increased every step of the way. I turn right into our cabin number 216. I feel myself looking for a match in my shorts pocket, in case I have to light my fuse again. IT'S HOT! Houston hot as in August and that is why we live in Colorado. I turn toward the AC control box to check to see if it is working. Guess what? It is on and you guessed it, only hot air is coming out.
As most of you are aware I don't sleep well at night anyway so this going to be unbearable. I strike the match which was hiding in my pocket. I take a deep breath and put the match to my slow burning fuse. I'm off to the front desk only to he joined by a number of other guest standing around and individually asking about the AC. The reply was pleasant and in a soft voice by the young woman behind the counter, but the answer was puzzling. Because the "ship hasn't moved for the last three days that is why the AC isn't working". I think back to the days when I worked in HVAC (heating ventilation air conditioning) business. If you need to circulate more water through the condenser Viking should have rented a pump. So the system works fine in the lounge, where they could harvest more of our money. Who would stay in a hot room? At this point I don't put anything past Viking. I snuff out the fuse and head back to the room hoping it is cooler, it's not.
We are off to dinner. I know we will have a cooler room when we return. Dinner is the same, beautiful presentation, but nothing to write home about. Lisa and I are pretty good cooks and are disappointed. At these prices we thought we would be wowed.
We return to a hot room, too tired to do anything about it. I open the window, it is cooler outside and decide to leave it open.
I'm losing track of my days. Our dinner last night, the second night on this
Ship was another experience. It took an hour for the entree to show up after the salad. I guess you could call this poor service. While waiting, the table next to us was having the same problem. I walked over and announced that I was going to KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) and got three orders. If we were out for dinner we would have simply gotten up and left. Lisa ordered French onion soup. She was disappointed that there wasn't any onion or cheese in it. When the wait staff asked if she enjoyed her soup she said she didn't. "There wasn't any onion or cheese in the soup". She was informed she should have ordered it that way. OK, maybe it is how things are over here. Let me see if I understand. You order French onion soup and you must request onion and cheese.
Before the dinner we had another briefing. This ship would not go any further
south on the Rhine River. We would be bused to Basel, Switzerland in order to make our train connection. That is par for the course. The program director asked that like everyone fill out a survey; I almost laughed.
I overheard a crew member telling a fellow passenger that they would have another group arrive the day that we leave. This confirmed my belief that Viking knew we wouldn't go far down the Rhine nor would the new group sail up the Rhine. Once on, Viking has you. If given the option I would have taken the full credit in cash.
Stuck on the Rhine Part III
June 9, 2013
Our last night on the Rhine, relief is in sight. It's a big night, The Captains Dinner. We have brought a set of clothes that are dressy casual. We decide to skip the briefing and Captains toast. We opened a bottle of Alsace white wine and a bottle of Pinot Noir in our room and enjoy a glass or two with our dear friends before heading to the dining room. We notice it is getting a little warmer in our room. Nothing unusual, but I hope it is only because I'm wearing a silk shirt. We head off and are surprised to see a number of other passengers who had the same idea and skipped the toast.
We sit at a 6 top table and are served promptly. We still think the wine will be better tonight. Wrong, it was the same red which we don't like. Another couple joined us. They are really fun. They complain about the wine to the Maitre d' and we are upgraded to another bottle, a California red (Hacienda. I really can't understand the wince selection. We are traveling through the best wine region in the world and Viking serves below average wine. The meal is good and the conversation great. I ask, is anyone getting hot? Dave thinks it is warm.
Connie, the hotel manager, introduces the entire staff. I feel sorry for a few who will not receive the tips they normally get. No one is in a generous mood. The suggested tip is 12 Euros per person per day.
I ask again, is it getting hot in here? I get more nods at the table. I'm now using my cloth napkin to mop my bald head. Something my mother would disapprove of. I'm ready for this to end.
We go to the room. The luggage has to be in the hall before 6:30 AM. We have a 7:30 AM bus ride, about 45 minutes to the train station in Basel, Switzerland. I open the door and feel the warm air. We quickly take our clothes off. Dave, our friend, calls and wants to know if we would like to have a beer at the beer garden. It is next to where we are tied up. We enjoy a beer and are ready to get in bed. It will be a short night. I open the door and feel the warm air. It's cool outside so I open the window and get on top of the covers. Right down from our room are vents and a loud noise. It is some kind of engine or generator running, about the same noise level of a 4 cycle grass mower. I'm tired and fall to sleep.