DANUBE & RHINE BLOG 04

(Apology: Sorry if these blog-entries have been delayed and less-frequent than you’d like. We’re experiencing ongoing problems getting internet access from the ship. Hopefully things will improve.)

Wednesday May 12, 2010

We woke up yesterday in our lovely Amadeus Elegant cabins … shared a finger-lickin’-good breakfast in the restaurant … then drove into the countryside to a quaint one-time-fishing-village-now-famous-tourist-attraction. Volendam hugs the shoreline of a vast lake, the Zuider Zee – which used to be a shallow inlet of the North Sea, before the enterprising Dutch closed it off with a massive dam.

We wandered through the beautiful town … sampled its coffee and apple cake (applegebak) … and then sampled cow, goat and sheep cheeses at a nearby cheese factory.

Then it was back into Amsterdam and back on board, where we set sail at last along the Amsterdam Rijnkanaal, through the flat polder landscape of Southern Holland to (as night fell) the old Hanseatic city Nijmegen.

We were tempted to sleep-in today and sneak an extra hour or two under our nice warm duvets. After all, the temperature outside was a bone-chilling 8ºC. But we resisted the urge, because shortly after midday we docked in Cologne. This famous city, founded by the Romans, has long been an important trading centre – and is dominated by its vast Gothic Cathedral, started in 1248 as a pilgrimage church to house the relics of the three Magi. The two teetering spires (which weren’t completed until 1880) are 157 metres high!

We walked the cobbled streets of the old town and marvelled at the Cathedral (outside and in) – before returning to the Amadeus Elegant for our evening dinner.

Which reminds me: it has not been hard finding something to eat on board. For example …

LUNCH today was a four-course affair offering the following choices:

Appetisers

  • Asian Beef Salad with vegetables & sprouts in sesame dressing
  • Country Baguette with beans, bacon & chilli

Soups

  • Cream of Spinach Soup with chopped eggs
  • Clear Chicken Soup with peppers & spring onions

Mains

  • Pan Fried Fillet of Hoki served with almond butter, buttered carrots & steamed rice
  • Traditional Konigsberger Klopse (poached veal meatballs) in creamy caper sauce served with beetroot & salted potatoes
  • Spaghetti with vegetable Bolognaise sauce & parmesan cheese

Desserts

  • Crème Caramel with fresh fruit salad
  • Pistachio Ice Cream with blackberry sauce

Then at DINNER tonight it just got worse:

Appetisers

  • Roulade of Smoked Salmon with sour cream & mustard-dill sauce
  • Chef’s Salad

Soups

  • Cream of White Bean with roasted bacon
  • Beef Consommé with carrot juice & port wine

Mains

  • Grilled Fillet of Ocean Perch on Asian vegetables, snow peas & Basmati rice
  • Whole Roasted Turkey Breast on cranberry sauce served with grilled oyster mushrooms & mashed potatoes
  • Quiches Lorraine (leek & onion tart) with chives & sour cream

Desserts

  • Black & White Chocolate Mousse with fresh fruit salad
  • Rum & Raisin Ice Cream with caramel sauce & whipped cream

It’s a tough life, I tell you, and I’m not at all sure if our brave Kiwi adventurers will last the distance. Spare them a thought and a prayer, will you?

PEOPLE NEWS: Another one bites the dust …

* The ‘Amazing Grace Award goes to Edgar – who went AWOL in the Cologne Cathedral and had everybody looking for him. Turns out he had climbed 550 steps up inside the tower for a bird’s-eye view, and eventually arrived back happy as a sand-boy. Another case of “I once was lost but now am found …”?

TOMORROW: We continue along a spectacular stretch of the Rhine, past castles galore, and do some leg-work in Koblenz and Rudesheim …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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