This morning at 4 am we released from our mooring site in Strasbourg and headed back to the German part of the Rhine.
And yes, that means we were up at 3:30 am. Practice for my 3:00 am interview on Thursday morning for practicum. I am hoping to do well and impress, even if it is an ungodly hour for humanity.
We were in classes this morning with Wally Cherwinski (video) and Josimar King (Tell Me a Story), where we got to learn a few new things. The new Final Cut Pro X really looks like software in which we will invest when we get our new MacBook Airs. Seems as though I’m going to have an Air to donate within the family some time in the not too distant future.
While we were in Wally’s class, we were passing through a very narrow lock, and we felt bumping and scraping on the boat. Turns out that we were clearing on the starboard side, but the port side was not faring quite as well as there was not another pair of eyes there. According to Chris Marquardt, one of our lecturers, the captain said (in a thick Bulgarian accent), “Not good.” And that was it. Not one for words, and not one who was happy.
We wound up delayed getting into Breisach, a city halfway between Colmar, France, and the Black Forest. The city itself used to be in the middle of the Rhine after a flood until an engineer named Johann Gottfried straightened the Rhine. The city was almost entirely destroyed by the Allies as they crossed the Rhine during WWII, but has largely been reconstructed. Its main industry is wine, which is of the white Alsatian variety.
Anyway, we were delayed by two other ships in front of us, so our buses had to come and get us about 20 km outside the city. We then went into Breisach and picked up our guide. By the end of the day, I wished we had left her there!!! Especially when she started talking politics, and the French ruling prohibiting burkas in public -- “we are saving these women!” “No one forces these Muslims to go to public school, even though there are no Muslim religious schools here...” and so on.
We went to Colmar, which is on the Alsatian Wine Route, and is considered the capital of Alsatian wine by its inhabitants. The city itself is filled with the beautifully colored houses and traditional German architecture styles. There are many cobblestone streets, and many pedestrian walkways. The churches have galleries (since we were late, we were not able to go in to any of them, or do any shopping =p) with some spectacular paintings, so we were told. We went through la Petite Venise (little Venice), and visited the outside of the home of Frederic Bartholdi, the sculptor who designed the Statue of Liberty. His bronze pieces decorate the city, and are lovely.
From our abbreviated Colmar trip, we went to the winery Wunsch et Mann (last names, a 3 generation wine making family, with the 4th generation “in the making”) to taste wine. We had a Petit Blanc, Riesling, and a Gewurztraminer. All were nice, but nothing to write home about. The vintner then brought out a bottle of his sparkling, which tasted like a fizzy candy apple.
From there, it was home to the ship for our last night. We were treated to a farewell cocktail by the Captain, and then had a Chaine de Rotisseurs dinner - oh my goodness. I had a vol au vent (turkey), some of Wayne’s cream of escargot soup (c’est formidable!), and lamb shank for dinner. We were treated to a nice Alsatian burgundy (only 10% of the wines are red here). La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an international gastronomic society founded in Paris in 1950. The Chaîne is based on the traditions and practices of the old French royal guild of goose roaster, whose authority gradually expanded to the roasting of all poultry, meat and game. It is dedicated to fine cuisine and promoting and developing the gastronomic values while at the same time widening its focus to table art. For over four centuries, the brotherhood of the Roasters cultivated and developed culinary art and high standards of professionalism and quality—standards befitting the splendor of the "Royal Table"—until the guild system was disbanded, together with all others, in 1793 during the French Revolution. The Rôtisseurs were almost forgotten until 1950 when Dr. Auguste Becart, Jean Valby and “Prince” Curnonsky, and chefs Louis Giraudon and Marcel Dorin resurrected the Society and created La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs. Since its rebirth, the society has grown dramatically, spreading its influence and presence worldwide. Today, the Chaîne brings together professional and non-professional members from around the world who share in the "spirit" of the Society and who appreciate and enjoy wine and fine dining.
We had dinner with Sue, Ivan, Josimar and Marcia, and we are planning on some future travel with Ivan and Sue outside of MacMania. At the very least, we are hoping we have them in Hawaii for the week prior to their next cruise, which is in Australia. If it weren’t during a bad time of the school year, I’d wish to be with them on that, but we will already be traveling to London for Dad’s birthday and San Francisco for the AACAP conference. Have to stay home for my last year of school at some point!!!
At the end of the dinner, we spoke with the CEO of InSight Cruises, who was really very considerate of and concerned with our displeasures. In addition to taking in and executing on the majority of our recommendations, we were offered 25% off our next seminar, which, I’m happy to say, will be a trip down the Rhone River, starting in Lyon, and winding up in Barcelona in December 2013.
All in all, I have to say I have really enjoyed river cruising, as has Wayne. The ship is much smaller, only 140 passengers, and the atmosphere very intimate. Dad would have to watch his head entering doorways, but for the most part it wasn’t too bad. Ivan, at 6’4”, didn’t have that much difficulty in getting around. The ports of call were nice, the food and crew were absolutely fantastic, and it was good to be with friends. That will be the hardest part about leaving tomorrow, disappearing to the four corners of the world and hoping to meet up again in 2013.
And now it is time to try to register for fall classes, and get in enough sleep to take part in a 5:30 am conference call. Good practice for the 3:00 am on Friday!
Schlafen gut, alle.