Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Walks in the wood, Reisling on the river, and...uh, pig knuckles.

I fell asleep blogging last night so when I woke at 5:20AM I opened my computer back up and picked up where I left off.

At 7:30AM I meandered downstairs to meet the tour group for breakfast. Our first stop was at a traditional windmill in Amsterdam. The bus had to gas up so we were left here for a good 30 minutes.

As opposed to the other truck stops there wasn't really a lot to see after this one monument. While others stood in place or walked in circles, I found a path through some woods. It wasn't a long walk but it was enough to take some time for solitude and reflection. It made me think of borogoves and tulgey wood and I found myself singing quietly to myself. I considered sitting by a tumtum tree but continued on the trail until it opened up to a bridge.

Those two shots show the less traveled areas (by our group specifically I mean) and marks really my favorite moments on large, fast, tour group outings that my mom likes to go on. It is, for me, really the time on my own that sells the trip.

On the other side of the windmill, there were some sheep milling around. This was picture worthy to the rest of the group, so I snapped a picture of it myself. At one point a mother sheep broke away at a fair pace from the others with her offspring running to catch up. Once she stop the child immediately tried to nurse again. The mother kicked and tried to walk away. Damn kid.

Once the bus returned we loaded up and drove to a diamond cutting factory. It's a pretty popular place for tourists. We were told they average 40 tour buses a day. When we arrived they had JUST opened and already there were two other tour groups.

The rain had started up again and the 120 or so tourist were squeezing to get out of the rain and into the lobby area. Our tour guide called for us to go through the main foyer and into an inner lobby. Unfortunately this meant we had to maneuver our way through another group. The guide of that group, who spoke with a thick French accent, started speaking loudly and with distain to our guide. "That is really rude. That is cutting our group. It is rude. I hope you don't think that you can just do that again. You better not behave like that again. So rude." Taking the higher road our guide said nothing. He was, after all, just trying to separate the groups and let the third group in out of the rain. There was really no foul play on his part.

We waited patiently in front of their group until she was done ranting and then allowed her group to continue up the stairs. I considered sticking a foot out to trip her, perhaps starting some tour group on tour group steel-cage-match-action at the diamond factory, but decided against it.

We were given a little demonstration about the steps it takes to cut and polish the diamonds and then we were shown several samples of different carats, colors, and cuts. But in the end the diamonds I find to be most beautiful (bluish, princess cut, etc) were too low class for this diamond shop. They pride themselves on the 121 cut so about 95% of their diamonds are round.

Eh... I was okay not buying anything.

We drove on to another truck stop where I again passed up the paprika and cheese&onion flavored Pringles. Interestingly, at this place (on the boarder of Germany) they were playing P!nk on their overhead speaker. I get playing imported music at a swanky clothing store or something but American music at a rest stop?

I suppose, in hindsight, they were pretty swanky. It did cost a Euro ($1.60) to use their bathroom after all.

Our next stop was a Cathedral in Cologne. It was situated nicely next to a McDonald's in a pretty skethky part of town. We were warned of pick-pocketers. Although I rarely take these warnings to heart.
This particular Cathedral our tour guide says in the tallest in the world. Wikipedia says it's the fifth tallest. It is the tallest twin tower Cathedral though... so there's that.

Sufficiently filled with a McDonald's McDouble (and not the veggie burger as advertised) and some pretzel bread from the bakery on the corner we headed down the road to our next stop... a cruise on the Rhine River.

I snapped a picture of a sign laying on the grass before boarding the boat. I am not quite sure if dogs are not allowed on the boat, the grass, or perhaps they are just not allowed to squat on the grass... either way the makers of this sign are very serious about their all caps "nein!"

Again we were given options of an indoor or outside sitting area. My parents again chose indoor and I went outdoors. It started to sprinkle a little and a majority of the people on the top deck went down below. As you can see I was quite comfortable though and stuck it out until it was shining brightly again.

Kiana soon joined me on deck. And then a guy from out group, Jason did. Shortly there after Stefanie came up and ordered a beer from one of the two bars on the boat. Two brothers, Raymond and Eric, joined us while I went to the bar and got myself a bottle of Riesling. And soon there was a small group of us enjoying some adult beverages and partaking in some good conversation.

Uh... we passed some castles and stuff. And I was the first to finish my beverage which caused an applause to erupt from our group that probably confused the other passengers who weren't exactly sure what they should be taking pictures of.
Docking the boat, it was quick five minute bus ride up to the restaurant where we ate ham hocks. The tasty meat did wonders in soaking up the alcohol in my system. The picture to the right shows what I found to be the "perfect" bite. For as good as the meat was seasoned it was still a bit thick and dry. With a bit of sauerkraut and rice, it was quite pleasant. Having said that, I ate less than half of the whole dish. That there is a LOT of meat.

We checked into the hotel in Frankfurt around 8:30 PM where I proceeded to plop down on the bed before even removing my shoes. Stefanie at one point mentioned checking out the pub across from the hotel and I may or may not have grunted about doing it after a little nap. I *thought* it, but I don't believe words came out. When I woke at midnight, Stefanie too had crashed out on her bed in her day clothes as well. By 12:30AM we were both in pjs and down 'till morning.

Side note... by morning... Sponge Bob and then Ren and Stimpy were playing on our TV in German. "It's Log" is a great catchy song in English (it's log, log, it's big it's heavy it's wood. It's log, log, it's better than bad, it's good.)

1 comment:

Auntie Kiki said...

I love the picture of your parents at the windmill. Awww... ;-)

Oh, and cute purse!