Published on July 25th, 2010 | by Ann Rickard1
Still cruising in Germany – in 40 degree heat
Our delight in the river cruise on board Amaldoce continued for seven glorious days. We sailed through gorgeous countryside, first on the Mosel River flanked by vine covered hills. It was so pretty we sat up on the sun deck all day gasping and saying: “Is this real, or what?” It looked like a glamorous travel brochure. The vines covered the steep hills on both side Neat, orderly as though it had been ordained, this was stunning countryside and the beautiful Amadolce glided like a swan along the calm Mosel River.
The cruise director, Maddy, gave us updates all the time so we knew exactly what to expect as we cruised along. It was all very efficient, so organised and friendly. And the food just kept on getting better and better beginning with eggs Benedict for breakfast and then going to to luscious pastries for morning tea and home made chocolate chip cookies and little chocolate crunchy things and then fabulous salads and fish and chicken dishes at lunch and always, big rich desserts, and then little sandwiches for afternoon tea and then five or six courses at dinner and then late night snacks. At every turn there was food, food, food.
First stop Bernkastel-Kues, which I am going to guess you’ve never heard of, but oh my, what a pretty town. Walking tours were organised at every stop and while I can’t say I took in much of the history – there was so much of it – I enjoyed the guides’ commentaries, but above all I just couldn’t get over the picturesqueness of it all: quaint timber houses, green vine covered hills, serene water of the the river, hundreds of churches, lots of lush green and endless caravan parks on the banks of the rivers. The caravans, tents and motor homes line the banks with contented looking people sitting in their swimwear outside their caravans waving us. Much waving was involved.
Every day became a highlight. Sitting up on the sun deck while castles and villages pass by is something to dream about, no? Add to that attentive service of the crew (especially the hot young dining room waiters) and lots of little shipboard highlights throughout the day – ice-cream parties in the afternoon, special chocolate treats, piano tunes at cocktail time…oh, in heaven I was.
But…we had set a pattern on our first night of sitting in the dining room alone. There was a policy of free seating so as you went down to the dining room each night, you gravitated towards tables with the new friends you’d made, but seeing as we hadn’t made any we gravitated towards the table for two. I think after that first night everyone on board thought Geoffrey and I were either (a) snobs, or (b) famous Australian celebrities who wanted privacy or (c) fifth time honeymooners. They just left us alone. Dinner time anguish it was. While around us friends shared tables and laughed and sang and talked, we sat alone. For six long dinners. Our fault, our fault. Entirely. We could easily have joined others at tables for six or eight, by after that first night we had set a pattern.
We loved going up to the lounge bar after dinner (relieved of the stress of eating alone amongst a sea of revellers) and the on-board entertainer, forgotten his name, sorry, a Romanian man, had a thing for Elton John and kept on playing all his tunes. He was very good and had a lovely voice, but he kept on murdering the lyrics. He just made up words as he went and even though they made no sense, he kept in tune – and his voice did sound very much like Elton John’s.
There were two couples on-board – Canadians – who were divine dancers. They glided across the little dance floor in the big lounge every night with all the elegance of Fred Astair and Ginger Rogers…but – hate saying this, it sounds awful – they didn’t look good. They wore sweat pants, shorts, running shoes, long socks, big tank top thingies. They looked as though they were dressed to go on a hike and yet there they were dancing as gorgeously as though they were on Dancing with the Stars. We, of course, found this very entertaining, and seeing as we had no friends on the ship, we sat mesmerised by them every night.
(Note: Very important that you don’t think Amaldoce shipboard life was unfriendly. Not so. Au contraire. It was super friendly. I must stress this. The crew were gorgeous and encouraged everyone to be friendly and the Americans and the Canadians and the Australians were all so happy together. It’s just that Geoffrey and I had got it all wrong on day one by sitting by ourselves and not introducing ourselves to anyone and we became stuck in a barrier (of our own creation) that we couldn’t seen to break through.
(Another note: Geoffrey was very content to be friendly just with me, said I was being paranoid about everyone else bonding and us not. Kept telling me to go forth and bond.) (But I didn’t.) (In some situations I am very shy.) (No-one believes this, but it is true.)