September 28, 2015

Amsterdam: Hungry Birds Walking Food Tour

We spent our last day in Amsterdam on a "Hungry Birds" walking food tour. Our guide always offered seconds and thirds. After at least a dozen stops, we were transformed from hungry birds to stuffed birds, but we learned a lot about tasty food options in this multi-cultural city.

FEBO Vendomat

Yoghurt Barn
Tjins Surinamese
Good Kibbeling (whitefish) but closed my eyes to eat herring
Fresh Stroopwafels
 Fries with Chili and Onions
 Van Stapele makes only one type of cookie - chocolate with a white chocolate center
 Jenever (national drink and precurser to gin) to be followed by Amstel beer

September 27, 2015

Amsterdam: Canal Tour, Biking, Museums and a Specialty Drink

We said goodbye to Avalon and toured the canals.

 In the afternoon we biked more than 12 miles in North Holland. Our guide confirmed that the 
Shell office where I worked for 3 months in 2000 is closed. There are miles of bike paths, farms, and even a golf course. At one point, we watched cows grazing in polders which are over 15 feet below sea level. 

Can't visit Amsterdam without seeing the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh!

 Our Hoxton hotel lobby bar is ultra-cool and always busy. Their "Picante de la Casa" has quite a kick. Recipe includes Patron Reposado tequila, chili, lime, agave, and cucumber.

September 24, 2015

Rhine Cruise: Cologne

So happy we signed up for the Jewish heritage tour although it was hard to listen at times. Persecution of Jews began as early as the medieval ages and they were blamed for every bad thing including the Black Death and World's War I - even though their population was always small. During WW II, bombs destroyed 95% of the city.  Our guide interspersed sad stories with lighter locales such as an amazing Roman mosaic tile floor and where eau de cologne was invented in 1709.

We climbed the 500+ steps of the spire of the stunning Gothic Cathedral. 


 Our reward was a tasty grill lunch and a local beer on the sundeck of our ship.


September 23, 2015

Rhine Cruise: Rhine Gorge and Koblenz

We cruised for hours past picturesque towns, castles and vineyards until we reached Koblenz at the confluence of the Mosel and Rhine Rivers. 

Our guide pointed out some quirky features of the town including a clock tower where a head sticks his tongue out at you every hour and where horses licked off portions of religious murals INSIDE a church.

 We ended our visit by travelling by cable car across the Rhine up to a great fortress. We only had time to walk to a lookout platform, which afforded great views despite the rain.

September 22, 2015

Rhine Cruise: Rick Steves "Don't Bother" #3 Mainz and #4 Rudesheim

About 80% of Mainz was destroyed during WWII, so much of the city is new. 
But the Mainz Cathedral still stands!

The Gutenberg Museum was founded in 1900 and we were treated to a demonstration about how printing was done at the time of Johannes Gutenberg. The museum also owns two Gutenberg bibles from the mid-15th century.

In Rudesheim, we took a cable car with open side during a torrential downpour. Richard got drenched and opted to warm up on the ship. I opted to warm up with the local coffee laced with brandy and topped with whipped cream and chocolate while listening to live local music. 

September 21, 2015

Rhine Cruise: Rick Steves "Don't Bother" #1 Speyer and #2 Heidelberg

Rick Steves has strong opinions about "Don't Bother" destinations on the Rhine - but our cruise stopped at FOUR of them.  We are happy we did.

 A pretty walk brought us to Speyer with its pretty medieval cathedral, pleasant shopping with the locals, and people-watching on the plaza. 
 Unlike Rick Steves, we loved wandering around the ruins of Heidelberg Castle with its expansive views of the Neckar River.