David R. Miller


David R. Miller

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam June 20th 2018

Last day in Amsterdam and last day of this trip, as we leave tomorrow morning for home. Over breakfast, we decide what we want to do today. Violet is interested in a tulip museum and I was just reading about the area of Amsterdam known as Jordaan, close to the Anne Frank House. Serendipitously, that's where the tulip museum is, so that's our first destination for today. Alighting from the tram, we decide to explore Westerkerk, the huge church in the square near Anne Frank that we saw two days ago. To be truthful, I am lured in by beautiful organ music wafting out to the street. This is the largest Protestant church in the Netherlands, consecrated in 1631, and has the highest bell tower in the city. Inside it is very open and filled with ... read more
Tulip bulbs for sale
Another view of Jordaan

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam June 19th 2018

Up at 8 am. Decent buffet breakfast at the hotel. Now, last night we had made reservations at the Van Gogh Museum for 11:45. That museum is located in the same museum quarter we visited yesterday. We decide to make our way there early and see what else we can see. It's a dreary day, so museums seem a sensible choice. Single tram stop and some walking. A word about bicycles in Amsterdam. As I may have said earlier, there are not only more bicycles than cars in Amsterdam, there are more bicycles than people. And bicycles appear to have the right of way over both pedestrians and motorized vehicles. Major streets have a bicycle lane in the middle of the sidewalk. Pedestrians are supposed to walk on either side and leave the centre free. This ... read more
Diamond-encrusted gorilla skull in the Diamond Museum
Entrance to Van Gogh Museum
Royal Concertgebouw

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam June 18th 2018

Up at 7 am, bags out at 7:30. We had said a lot of good-byes at the party last night, but over breakfast and while waiting in the lounge for our call, we chat with our fellow cruisers and exchange contact information. Truly a great bunch of people with whom we have been privileged to share the ship these past two weeks. We transfer from the ship at 9 am. Both boarding and disembarking are quick and easy on a river boat compared with the mammoth undertaking of loading and unloading passengers on big ocean cruise ships. Here you just walk down the gangway. We share our cab with an older couple whom we have not met before. They are going to a hotel near ours. Only about 30 minutes until we reach our hotel, the ... read more
Amsterdam canal scene
Rembrandt himself at the Rijksmuseum

Europe » Netherlands » North Holland » Amsterdam June 17th 2018

And now we are in Amsterdam, the terminus of our river cruise. We still have one more sleep on the boat, however, before we disembark tomorrow. Because we will spending a few days seeing the sights of Amsterdam on our own, we have opted for an excursion just outside Amsterdam to a place named Zaanse Schans. Zaanse Schans is an open air conservation area and museum on the bank of the Zaan River. It displays the traditional architecture of the area and has several functioning windmills and craftsman's workshops. Our guide is a friendly lady with an infectious laugh named Rita. She provides background information on the historical relationship between Amsterdam and the sea. As is commonly known, most of the Netherlands, and in particular Amsterdam, is below sea level and is protected from flooding by ... read more
Windmills on a polder
On the second level of the windmill
Cheese Market square

Europe » Germany » North Rhine-Westphalia » Cologne June 16th 2018

We arrive in Cologne (Köln in German) around 8 am. It's beautiful day weatherwise. By 9, we are beginning a walking tour of the city. My guide is a young man named Chris who likes to keep us amused with odd little stories. Cologne (Köln in German) is one of the country's largest cities. For much of its existence it occupied the west bank of the Rhine only. In fact, during Roman times it was a bastion of civilization against the Germanic tribes on the opposing bank. The city now straddles both sides of the Rhine. Cologne was heavily damaged, in fact almost levelled, during WWII. Its famous centrepiece, the Cologne Cathedral, is so large that it was used by allied bomber crews as a key landmark. The cathedral itself sustained heavy damage but remained standing. ... read more
Heritage homes in the Fish Market
Old Market, with Cathedral spires in background
Interior of Cologne Cathedral

Europe » Germany » Rhineland-Palatinate » Koblenz June 15th 2018

Shortly after breakfast, the ship docks at Rüdesheim. By 9 am we are on board a mini motorized "train" that drops us off at the town's signature attraction: Siegfried's Music Cabinet. This museum is devoted to mechanical musical instruments and it's one of the largest such collections in the world. The collection and the museum resulted from the singular vision and passion of one Siegfried Wendel, who travelled the world collecting self-playing instruments and painstakingly restored them to working order. Our guide takes us through dozens of rooms, each filled with a variety of pianos, "orchestrions" and other contraptions that play by themselves. Most are wind-up instruments. Many of them use some type of perforated paper rolls to dictate the notes to play. Most are ornately carved and some feature mechanical figures that move in time ... read more
Mechanical instrument
Mechanical instrument
Detail of mechanical instrument

Europe » Germany » Baden-Württemberg » Wertheim June 14th 2018

14 June 2018 Today is spent entirely on the river. For me, it's a chance to try to catch up with the accursed blog. We have now entered the Main River and are officially over the continental divide. Consequently we are travelling downstream, heading basically westward in long serpentine loops. The terrain here alternates between flat areas that are extensively farmed and more rugged areas. The principal crop is grapes for wine. Even on the steepest slopes, terraced vineyards of mainly Riesling grapes predominate. We stop briefly in Wertheim to pick up our evening's entertainment (more about him later). Other significant towns we pass include Miltenberg and Aschaffenburg. It's hard keeping the "bergs" and the "burgs" straight. As I somewhat vaguely knew before, "berg" means mountain and "burg" means town. But the choice for German place ... read more
Castle along the Main River, this one a fixer-upper
Tomy Temersen plays the Ither
Closeup of zither playing

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Rothenburg ob der Tauber June 13th 2018

We get to sleep in this morning, which is nice. Around noon, the Scenic Ruby arrives in Wurstburg. We have elected to take a day trip to nearby Rothenberg. It's about a 1 1/2 hours on the bus. Our guide, Monica, springs an endless stream of stories and facts about our destination. Rothenberg is one of the luckiest towns in Germany. In the Middle Ages it was spared the plague of the Black Death through prayer (or perhaps isolation). It was rescued from total destruction at the hands of the conquering Catholics in 1631 when the mayor wagered the city's safety against his ability to drink 7 pints of wine in one go—and won. It was bombed once during WWII (and sustained some damage) but a second sortie the next day had to be scrubbed due ... read more
Rothenberg's prize delicacy, "snowballs"
Old city hall with watchtower
Rothenberg from top of the watch tower

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Bamberg June 12th 2018

We arrive in Bamberg around breakfast time. In contrast to Nuremberg, Bamberg managed to largely escape bombardment during WWII and thus has retained a variety of original historical architectural styles. The Old City area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It turns out to be an incredibly charming city. We're bused to the city and meet our guide. Buses are not allowed in the Old City, so a 15-minute walk bring us to the old city to start our guided walking tour. We first climb to the highest point of the city. Bamberg does not have a castle on the hill like many of the cities we have seen. Instead we reach a square that is actually on a slant. On one side is the renaissance-style 15th-century Old Court and on the other side is the ... read more
New Residence
Rose garden in courtyard of New Residence
Bamberg from the hill top

Europe » Germany » Bavaria » Nuremberg June 11th 2018

This morning is spent on the Main-Danube Canal. This constructed waterway will take us over the continental divide and back down to the Main River on the other side. Consequently, there are serious locks to traverse as the ship is lifted higher and higher. We arrive in Nuremberg around 1:30 pm. We have selected yet another walking tour of the city. The alternative is a tour focused on World War II, including a visit to the city's WWII documentation centre, but that will be for another time. Nuremberg has been an important cultural and political centre in Germany for centuries. It is the birthplace of Albrecht Dürer and the setting of Wagner's Die Meistersinger. German kings from the 14th century onward traditionally held their diets here, and for over 300 years it was the keeper of ... read more
View of Nurember from Imperial Castle
All along the watchtower
Bavarian-style homes

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