Five European Countries in Eighteen Days

November 25th 2014
Published: January 28th 2016
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Lucerne Lucerne Lucerne

Panorama of Lake Lucerne from our room in the National Hotel!
We're over a year tardy on blogging about the individual cities visited on our November 2014 foray to Europe. Here are the highlights while the FAB memories are still somewhat fresh. The flight from JFK to Heathrow (London) was uneventful and London's gracious and well-located St. Ermin's Hotel surprised us by allowing early check in. We broke the "no nap" rule and by shortly after 12 noon hopped aboard a "hop on ... hop off" bus with live commentary to introduce ourselves to London. Wes had been here before on business but it was all new to me. Love the city. An amazing highlight was the art installation of thousands and thousands of ceramic poppies "planted" in the moat at the Tower of London in memory of those who lost their lives in WW I, WWII and more recent conflicts. The sight was amazing.

Three days later we were back at Heathrow for a short hop to Amsterdam. First time for both of us in this amazing city where the Park Hotel Amsterdam served as our base of operations for the next three days. Amsterdam was FAB - lively, colorful, interesting and YOUNG! We loved our boat ride through the
Joanne With VanGogh SunflowersJoanne With VanGogh SunflowersJoanne With VanGogh Sunflowers

Amsterdam's VanGogh Museum is FAB! This is the only photo that can be taken here. Love it!
canals and the museums including the Ann Frank House. We met up with our friends Paula & Doc and embarked on the Viking Helvetia for an eight day tour on the Rhine. This was our first Viking booking and it held itself in good stead against the somewhat pricier Uniworld trips we had taken previously.

Ports of call along the Rhine included Kinderdijk, with its fascinating working windmills; Cologne, which was in celebration mode (November 11 marked the end of WW II) where costumed young (mostly) people packed the streets from early morn toasting, parading and acting way more frivolous than the stereotypical German countryman; Koblenz where fellow travelers toured Marksburg, a 700 year old hilltop castle above the Rhine; Rudesheimer where we walked to an amazing "music box" museum after dinner; Manheim where we were motorcoached to Heidelberg to visit the castle; Spyre, which our party of four skipped in favor of a private wine party on the sundeck; Strasbourg, a French town so delightful that we decided to stay in town for lunch, a canal boat ride, and a museum tour; a Black Forest excursion out of Breisach; and Basel, Switzerland where we said "ta ta" to
Wes Windmill Wes Windmill Wes Windmill

We couldn't visit Holland without this iconic scene.
Viking and took a walk to old town with the Taylors before we parted to catch trains - them for Zurich and Logan and us for Lucerne. A stay at the ultra lux National Hotel in Lucerne was a perfect way to unwind on our own before heading by train to Zurich, JFK and HOME! Great trip; but isn't it always FAB to come HOME!

Additional photos below
Photos: 12, Displayed: 12


Poppies at the Tower of londonPoppies at the Tower of london
Poppies at the Tower of london

This Veteran's Day art installation was amazing.
Wurst SharingWurst Sharing
Wurst Sharing

This goes along with a carnival atmosphere in Cologne on November 11. The natives got pretty silly and we followed suit.
Reflection LucerneReflection Lucerne
Reflection Lucerne

This wooden bridge is a Lucerne icon. On Tuesdays a Farmers' Market lines both sides of the river.
Lucerne View  Lucerne View
Lucerne View

The first snowfall greeted us. Amazing view from our hotel balcony.
Dinner on VikingDinner on Viking
Dinner on Viking

Joanne, Wes, Doc, Susan, Gil, Paula - a fun crew!
Public TransportationPublic Transportation
Public Transportation

Wes, Paula, & Doc figuring out the train schedule in the Basel Train Station. I must say we did pretty good.
Stern Look Viking Helvitia Stern Look Viking Helvitia
Stern Look Viking Helvitia

Clouds over the Rheine

29th January 2016

Viking Rhine Boat Ride
Hi Joanne, So many memories reading about your cruise! I took my dad on this cruise in 1993 for his 90th birthday, a few years after my mother died of lung cancer. He was born in Germany and had never returned after he came to NYC when he was 14. I had to get out my pictures when I read your comment about the music box museum. Fascinating! Geri
29th January 2016

Your thoughtful comment
Thanks for the feedback, Geri. I always hope that these little spigots of info that I post are helpful and not braggy - yours is a perfect example.
29th January 2016

Exploring Europe
So glad you finally blogged on Europe. We were eager to find out what you saw. So many things to see and so little time.
30th January 2016

Short on details😍

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