Published on July 24th, 2010 | by Ann Rickard0
On the river in Germany
Obviously we found out the name of the ship (Amadolce) and where it was berthed in Trier (Zurlaubner Ufer) – and what can I say, my friends, what an extraordinary surprise! The whole river cruise experience was absolutely gorgeous.
I had no expectations other than we would be gliding down a river on some sort of boat. This is the good thing about not knowing where you are going and putting your trust in a reputable cruise company. In this case it was APT and I knew they were credible and Australian and that’s why we made the booking and didn’t thoroughly look at the details of the ship or the itinerary or what facilities were on board. (In my defence, travel writers rarely do a lot of homework, we just take off and go.)
So, as we went down to the port, a mere five minutes from our hotel, and came upon this long, loooooooooooooong ship called Amadolce, I was thrilled. New and sleek and state-of-the-art, we stepped on board and were immediately greeted by super friendly multi-lingual staff welcoming us, even though the ship had 12 hours before departure time and at least 3 hours before we could get into our cabins. (It had just disembarked the previous lot of passengers.) We were offered cold towels, iced tea, soup, sandwiches (all complimentary) and full bar facilities (at our cost of course) in this beautiful big lounge area.
Floor to ceiling windows gave a picturesque view out to the gorgeous German buildings on the river banks on both sides. Surreal it was. I thought we were a postcard. It was all so very unexpectedly delightful I didn’t know what to say. But not one for being long without words, I munched on my sandwich, sipped my soup, and said to Geoffrey: “Christ, this is good.”
He agreed and immediately helped himself another bowl of soup. At this stage we were the first passengers to embark and the lovely crew told us to leave our baggage in the elegant foyer and do whatever we wanted until our cabins were ready. So we sat sipping soup and eating petite little sandwiches of the kind you expect at high tea in the Savoy or Dorchester and decided, we liked this river cruise caper very much indeed.
Trier it transpired, was a delightful old town, in fact, the oldest in Germany with Roman remnants of walls and other historic fabulousness. We had a little wander in the afternoon in the heat and admired all the prettiness and the old bits of Roman wall.
By now, the football fans had calmed down a little and would have calmed down a lot had they known that euphoria at winning a World Cup final would soon result in disappointment.
Back on board before we realised it we were being shown to our cabin along a very long alleyway (alleyway: ship talk for passage) and into our beautiful quarters. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous is all I can say. A beautiful suite with big picture windows (French balconies these windows are called, they actually slide open to give the illusion you are sitting on a balcony as you glide along the river, even though they open to just a railing.) Double bed, big bathroom, quality toiletries, much wardrobe space, fresh clean linen, flat screen television, internet access…could you possibly ask for much more in a cabin? We were really bowled over.
After we’d settled in and checked out our surroundings we went back to that lovely lounge for the Captains welcome cocktail party and to check out the rest of the passengers now on board, and they were almost entirely American and Canadian, all speaking loudly and twangy as Americans and Canadians are want to do, and amongst their twang were a number of Australian twangs.
Dinner time: down to the salon with me whispering to Geoffrey: “Don’t want to sit with twangy Americans and we definitely must run away from the Australians, quickly.” Wrong of me, very wrong. But when I am in Europe I get embarrassed by fellow Australians. I don’t know what brings this on (but could be ‘cos they always ask “where are you from?’ with a kind of conspiratorial camaraderie they think makes us special, or something like that.)
So it was that we asked for a table for two in the dining room and sat together looking out through more big windows to the gorgeous river banks with their half-timbered houses and picture-book appeal and ate four courses of wonderful food while all around us new passengers were shyly getting to know each other and then, as the generous wine (included) was poured, they started laughing loudly and bonding closely while Geoffrey and I had to pretend that we liked being snobs sitting at a table for just us two, when really, we wanted to be with them.