Saturday, December 18, 2021
Have I wasted this unique opportunity to experience the Pandemic Era in Europe, by focusing too much on precautions and not enough on cruising? What about the Christmas markets? What about the sights? And what about that lost passport?
A river cruise is a much more intimate experience than an ocean cruise, especially with only 65 passengers. On board activities bring us together to decorate gingerbread cookies, trim the Christmas trees, and enjoy entertainment in the lounge. In Amsterdam, Angelique interspersed a variety of songs with humor about the Netherlands. I loved her wooden shoes peeking under her sparkly gown.
Christmas markets are everywhere, in large towns and small. The biggest ones so far were in Cologne, featuring gluhwein, hot chestnuts, and my favorite, hot sugared almonds. Signs everywhere remind us that masks are required in the Christmas market areas and compliance is high.
Of course we went in the renowned cathedral in Cologne which houses relics of the three Wise Men. Masks and distancing are required inside. Later that night we had hot chocolate on the upper deck and looked out over the city lights on shore.
The next morning we cruised through the Rhine Gorge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which could be viewed in the lounge, but which we preferred to see from the upper deck with a few other hardy souls wrapped in jackets and blankets. The castles and villages are picturesque even in winter.
And there are choices— last night John and Christo joined the group in Rudesheim for some of their famous flaming coffee with brandy, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I stayed back, took a nap, and went to the Neil Diamond tribute show on board.
Tomorrow we’ll see my friend Carine in Strasbourg. She has a full day planned for us!
The fact is, we’re having a wonderful time!
As for that passport: we’ve decide to take a train to Bern when we disembark on Tuesday and go to the American Embassy for an emergency passport. Our flight home takes off Thursday morning from Zurich. Hopefully we’ll all be on board.
Why am I doing this?
The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. I intend to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, as a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis.