Saturday June 2, 2018

ON THURSDAY, WE TRIED SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT. While hordes of Koningsdam passengers visited the German resort-town/port of Kiel, or toured the handsome city of Hamburg, we Kiwis enjoyed a 90-minute countryside-coachride to the Free Imperial & Hanseatic City of LUBECK – steeped in history and tradition, and once known as the Queen of the Hanseatic League.

We took to our feet along the quaint alleyways of the Old Town, with its impressive collection of medieval Gothic architecture, stopping en route at a one-time Seamen’s Guildhall, built 1535, the ceiling hung with dozens of ancient model-ships. (See Robyn’s photos, which turned out better than mine!) Lübeck’s proud old patrician houses and redbrick churches are a UNESCO World Heritage Site … its well-known Holsten Gate is one of the few relics of the original fortress … and its Gothic Rathaus (City Hall) plus its Heiligen Geist Hospital are among the oldest homes in Germany.

Given that we’d had nothing to eat for at least 30 minutes, highlight of the day turned out to be the Niederegger Café – where we sampled generous slices of gateau topped with the town’s famous marzipan. It was awful … (not)!

FRIDAY FOUND US IN A CHARMING DANISH CITY that few of us had heard of and none of us could pronounce. ARHUS – try ‘Orhoos’ (with the ‘double-o’ sounding like the ‘oo’ in foot) – boasts the second-largest university in Denmark … a virtual open-air museum, Den Gamle By (the Old Town), with a collection of half-timbered medieval houses … and quaint cobblestone streets crammed with Danish handicraft boutiques.

Our focus was actually out of town, at the not-much-left-to-see archaeological remains of an old Viking ring-fortress – built around 980AD by King Harald Bluetooth. (Yes, his name features today on our hi-tech phones and laptops.) In peacetime, the fortress with its four wooden longhouses (excavated in the 1950s) was more of a village in which warriors, craftsmen, women and children lived and worked.

We went from there to a recreated Viking farmstead, where we sampled the everyday life of Viking farmers from that period. Fun? For sure! And the ice-creams the ‘Vikings’ sold us were delicious!

COMING UP: We’ve got a leisurely day at sea, plus a leisurely day in Amsterdam, plus another leisurely day at sea. Lots of leisurelys. When you next hear from me, we’ll be in the drop-dead gorgeous Norwegian Fjords! Eat your hearts out …

PEOPLE-NEWS: After a quiet period in which barely an oink could be heard, our chubby Pink Pigs are now flying out the door/gate …

  • BETH ran off with our ‘Barbarian Award’ – for making a brief but unmissable appearance on the World Stage wearing her colourful Viking helmet (complete with horns) and scaring the daylights out of several more elderly passengers, who thought the ship had been overrun by pirates.
  • JUDY took away a breeding pair of young piglets – the first, our ‘Trump Award’, for making a less-than-complimentary comment about the US President while talking with some Americans, who promptly informed her that they voted for him (whoops) … and the second, our ‘Groping Award’, for mistaking the man she was standing behind in the ice-cream queue as one of the blokes in our group, giving him a two-handed tickle.
  • DIANNA sneaked off with our ‘Houdini Award’ for her now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t display at lunch the other day. Needing to leave the table, she discovered she was cornered by several other rather large guests and an equally large pillar; however, without a second thought, she escaped by dropping down under the table and crawling between random legs to freedom.
  • CATHY scored our ‘Weight-Watchers Award’ – for mistakenly thinking the electronic talking scales that appeared in the corridor on each deck were there “to help us control our eating – isn’t that thoughtful of them, Laurie!” The scales were actually there so people leaving the ship could check the weight of their bags. And when Kathy stepped aboard to check her increased kilos, the voice said, “One at a time, please!”

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to receive future Mad Midlife Travel Blogs in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription! And if you’d like to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your comments! (Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.)