TM Logo new Amsterdam Boats Bikes Canalsflower marketCanal Houseboats

Inaugural Voyage of the "Scenic Crystal"

Introducing the most revolutionary floating hotel in Europe

click on tab to read the days adventures and events
Introducing the most revolutionary floating hotel in Europe

The Scenic Crystal , the newest addition to the Scenic tours -Space-Ship fleet

This 9 Day Inaugural Voyage of the Scenic Crystal departed from Amsterdam, a city of canals, and will end at the cross roads of Switzerland, France and Germany , Basel. On this Scenic Tours European River cruise, you will see Europe at its most beautiful time. Extraordinary colours of spring along the spectacular waterways of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. This 9 day adventure is a mini-version of our 15 day Scenic Ruby group departure in October of 2013

ScenicCrystalScenic Crystal


Itinerary and Map

Amsterdam ; Cologne ; Cochem (Moselle River) ; Trier or Luxembourg ; Rudesheim ( Rhine Gorge); Rastatt Palace ,Heidelberg ; Strasbourg ; Black Forest ; Basel Our adventure begins on 18 April 2012 when we depart Edmonton and will end on 30 April when we return.

8day Crystal Rhine River

18 April 2012 Our adventure began today, a travel day to Amsterdam where we are on Air Canada (AC) to Toronto and then Lufthansa (LH) connecting via Frankfurt.
We found the leg room on this Lufthansa flight to have less room than the AC flight, this did surprise me as I was expecting something better than AC. Surprise. Total traveling time was 18 ½ hours , a little longer than the 17 ½ hours since AC was 1 hour late from Edmonton. We had to do some fast walking in Toronto to make the connection from the domestic to international flights. A good surprise was the complimentary wine and spirits on LH., now AC did not offer that.

More links and smart phones display click here for blog
19apr-Amsterdam Half day

Today we are covering a lot, as it was a very busy day.
More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Starting off with the connection at another large airport , Frankfurt. Walked and long distance from the international to the domestic departure gates and we even took the short cut via underground tunnel between the concourses. Moving sidewalk went on and on. Here is where I tried to make a connection to the Wi Fi, turns out the free is only for 30 minutes and you have to sign in and provide information your home the telephone service provider you use for your regular cell phone. Frankfurt had T moble as their link. Frankfurt to Amsterdam was a short 45 min. flight.
Schipol airport in Amsterdam turned out to be another long hike, however it was like going through a mall, you could probably do some good shopping here while waiting for a departure flight. I did say good, not low priced. Ground transportation to downtown Amsterdam is easy. Taxis Eur41 to euro 48, or you may take a train right into central station runs about every 20 min, costs between euro4 and 7 one way per person.
Since we wanted to go direct to the hotel we used the “Connexxion” airport to hotel shuttle euro16 pp one way. They even had wi fi on the shuttle that connected with no problems. ( except Skype) Connexxion shuttles departed from the A7 position which was outside the main entrance for the terminal.
This took about 30 minutes to get to our hotel the NH Amsterdam centre, a great location , with the Singelgracht (gracht =canal) just across the street. The Leidseplein district ( theatre, entertainment and restaurant district) is just a 3 min walk from the hotel. This hotel has a modern feeling and the staff are very attentive and helpful. They have a nice restaurnt where they offer a morning buffet. Continental euro17 and full Hot euro 22 per person. The buffet looked good.
The Rijksmuseum , Van Gogh Museum , Stedelik Museum and Heineken experience are only 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel.
Our Adventure really begins after we checked into the hotel which was very easy and quick.
Amstil and Dam, the dam on the Amstil river…Amsterdam.
So Sherry and I looked at several ways to get around and decided on using the Hop on Hop Off Canal Bus Cruise and Hop on Hop of Bus for euro 32 per person. This was for 48 hours, the ticket agent recommended that for another euro 4 we could also include the Hop on Hop Off Bus. Also note they have a 24 hour ticket. The Canal cruise had 3 different routes and 17 stops, the Bus had 10 stops. They covered almost everything you would want to do or see. Both are narrated as they travel through their routes. The total cost for 2 tickets was eur72 , we put this on a credit card and it did the exchange PLUS 3% service fee.
So for cad$46 per person we decided on taking both. Important to keep in mind is that the hours for both the bus and canal boat are limited 9 40 am to 5 40 pm and watch for the * on the schedule you might miss the boat/bus as weekends operate with different times.
We found a wine and cheese tasting store "Reypenaer" towards the center of the Old town and hopped on the canal boat to go there, it took about 10 minutes. We had to get there for 4 pm and we arrived with time to spare so we walked a canal over and another street and got to Dam Square where we found them setting up for a carnival. It was quite the sight to see these large Ferris wheel rides infront of the Queens Palace. Our building codes would never allow this.

Damn Square

Leaning buildingsA little lean to these buildings

The Reypenaer Cheese tasting, they have been around for over 100 years and are a family run company. We paid euro30 for the cheese tasting and were surprised, along with the 6 different cheeses we got 3 glasses of wine. The basement had the wine tasting area that could seat about 20 guests. They had a brief video and then the lecture was very informative. We now are experts in Gouda cheese tasting, our Tasting Certificate is our proof....

Cheese tastingCheese tasting cellar

Afterwards we took a little time to price out the cheese , aged 4 month , 1 year , 2 year and 2 1/2 year and bought some cheese for home. prices were around euro 9 to euro 18.
Our plans were then to walk over to Central Station and hop on the Bus but reallized that the last bus already left. ( Watch out for the * on the maps )
Now we are using the most reliable mode of transportation , our feet so make sure you take good walking shoes as 90 % old town is bricks or cobble stones. Our walk took us along the Herengracht where we arrived at our hotel 40 minutes later.
Don in Amsterdam 19 AprilHerengracht CanalSherry 19AprSherry found some sunshine

After a brief stop at the room we decided to find a restaurant not far from the hotel. Should not be a problem wth over 1250 to select from. Just up the road from us was a Thai restaurant, “Sawaddee Ka “did not look like much from the outside but we thought we would take a peek inside. It was 8 pm and the place was full, held about 50 seats and we found the last 2 . Reasonable prices , with over 85 selections. We selected a Shrimp Pad thai eur14.50 (5 large shrimp, with noodles, bean sprouts, onion and peanuts with sauce. The other dish was Chicken with green beans and yellow curry sauce eur12.50. The yellow curry sauce was medium in flavour and blended very well with the chicken and green beans. Two bottles of water were eur5. Everything had lots of flavour and would recommend this as one of those surpise places to eat at. Got back to the hotel just after nine and settled in for the evening. Tomorrow will be a full day.


20apr-Amsterdam Full Day
Amsterdam, over 1100 bridges.

More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Started today early, up around 5 am, headed to the lobby for the free wi- fi . Worked so-so but could not up load onto the web site. So I found out that there is a Starbucks in the Leidseplein (Theater district) walked only 5 minutes away. Had a coffe , did a few things online and then went back to the room. Sherry was ready to we went back to Starbucks , got 2 breakfast sandwiches, and 2 Grande coffees . euro13.10. Then headed to central station. .
Our plan is to take the Blue Line canal bus on the full 1 ¾ hour circle tour. It started at 9:40 am from the Central Station. Figured it would take about 1 hour to walk along the Leiderstraat and there was plenty of time as we had 1 ½ hours. Took the ponchos ( light rain on and off all day) and headed out through Leidseplein to Koningsplein where we found the Flower Market stall all along the canal. Many of the merchants were just opening and putting out their flower bulbs, cut flowers and tourist “ Netherlands” souveniers. Picked up a couple wooden Tulips for a couple euros each.

WoodenFlowersWooden Flowers

Walked down Rokin street to Damark street which is the main street along the old town to Central Station, passed the Dam Square where the carnival was all set up. There were a good number of people by this time of the morning.

beer by horse cartMorning beer run

We found the Blue line canal bus on the west side of the station. Waited till 10:15 as they were late.

canal boatsCanal Bus

This canal boat cruise was great, narrated and covered informaiton and history of dozens of places. Even saw a bicycle parking garage for 2,500 , but packed with over 10,000 bikes. The canal boat followed the Oosterdock harbour for a bit, found the PTA ( Passenger Terminal Amsterdam ) for ships, next was Nemo science center, 17 and 18 century restored buildings, bridges, windmills, Heinekin Brewery, Rijksmuesem and more. There were 8 stops where you can get on and off, a Canal boat would come by every 35 to 40 minutes. ( Between 9 40 am and 4 10 pm) The PTA was were the Scenic Crystal will be docked tommorrow . It was 12:30, lunch time, so now to find a place to eat. With over 1250 to select from we found a place called Global Restaurant on a side street off Rokin , 5 min. from the Station. It was cold out so we wanted a hot soup. Prices were good, selection was varried and we had soup, salad, hamburger, hot chocolate & tea. Everything was good, fries were great but the hamburger was from frozen patties. Soup euro4.50 , Greek Salad euro 5.95 , hot chocolate euro 2.60 tea euro 2.50 and hamburger euro 8.95 It seems pizza is a favourite , everywhere you turned was pizza, 24 /7 pizza , american pizza, 10 cheese pizza. Got onto the hop on hop off bus, saw the only windmill in Amsterdam - not open to the public. There are onlly 8 large windmills left in the Netherlands.

windmill amswindmill in amsterdam

We then made our way to the Rijksmuseum. Entrance euro 14 and if you wanted a headset it was another euro 5. Stayed for 1 ½ hours, looked at hundreds of 17th and 18th century paintings. Painters like Jan Vermeer and Rembrandt where we viewed the Night Watch. You really need more time to take in all the history that these paintings represent.

night watchNight watch

Walked back to the hotel, 10 min.. Got ready to go out to Leidseplein to find a restaurant. Here there were several dozen to select from, food from all around the globe. Found an Italian place, Ristorante Peppino, it could seat around 80. They had everything on the menu along with a couple 3 course combinations. Selected the baked chicken parmesean wth eggplant, salad , pasta and either a glass of wine, glass of beer or glass of coke. All for euro14.50. The meal was good, excellent service and great value. Walked back to the hotel hundreds of people out and about. Most of the clubs opened at 10 pm and closed at 4 am……. Not us, the last couple days have been long and busy. Tomorrow we board the Scenic Crystal.

CanalBoatsCanal Tour Boats

21apr-Amsterdam PTA boarding Scenic Crystal to Cologne
Boarding the Scenic Crystal this afternoon

More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Up early, put on my rain poncho and headed over to Starbucks where I was able to get online, check e mails and did a short update our blog.
Took a couple tall coffees and an all day breakfast sandwich euro 8.40, back to the room for Sherry and me. Our blue line Canal bus pick up was at 10.50 am, just across the road from the hotel, so we had about 1 hour to wait around. So I went next door to the Marriott hotel to check out the lobby and check in desk. It was nice, a little smaller than the NH Amsterdam Center. I asked about internet and they do not have any free WI fi access. It was around euro 13.00 per day.

canal amsCanal Keizersgracht


Made it onto the Canal bus and it took about 50 minutes and 3 stops to get to the PTA. The Crystal was about a 10 minute walk, it was nice to have good wheels on our suitcase. The PTA is still being developed, and will have many offices and retail shops here. I think with the current economy it may be another 5 years or so before this space fills up.
The Crystal is a sleek design , a spaceship on water. Walked on board and was greeted by the Hotel Manager. Checked in , left our passports at the desk. Our butler and cabin steward took our bags and walked us to our balcony cabin 222. Really nice, enough room to lounge around and not really bump into each other BA222. Large closet space, in room safe, mini fridge and space for your luggage under the bed. A good sized bathroom with shower , bigger than what we have had on the Carnival, Costa and Royal Caribbean cabins.The Balcony -Sun room, has a couple chairs and small table. This is the new enclosed balcony where the top portion opens and closes so you may open for fresh air or close when it rains.
It is 1 pm so off to the Crystal Dining room, it was well organized and very nice. Tables for 2, 4, 6 and 8 with the serving station/buffet area in the center of the room. Floor to ceiling windows, so you have a great view outside. Staff were very friendly and always asking if they could get something. You could have beer, Red or White wine with your lunch.
After a quick lunch we went on to explore some of the cabins and other areas of the ship before more guests arrived.
Ahoy there Captain Sherry welcomes you on board... captainsherry

anyone seen that color map with all the pictures ? i can not figure out these nobs and things.... out map


Moselle -Lower deck cabin type E and D, Rhine deck and Danube Deck - balcony cabin PA, A, B, BA . Later on I got to see a Jr. Suite.

PA-A cabinA-PAA & PA & BA & B

BS singleBS single

D-F..D-F-room D-F-bathroomCabins D and F Moselle Deck


They have a self-serve tea and coffee area. Teas are mostly loose , about 8 types and they also have 2 types of teas in bags. The coffee, well it is a pretty fancy machine that you place your cup under the spout and select your type of coffee and it grinds, steams, pours water/milk and ?? Tastes real good too!
We departed around 5 pm to travel from Amsterdam to Cologne.
Welcome Gala Dinner, they introduced all the crew and officers. Captain Plamen, Hotel manager was Igor ( about 6ft 6 , you could not miss him) and the cruise director, Sylvie a very good planner and organizer.) captain plamen
Evening entertainment was with the Musician Martin.
Around 10-10:30 pm we were at our first river lock. From the forward web came we watched the water rising on the IMAC TV in our room as well as looked out the balcony to see our ship rising. There was less than 1 foot on each side of the ship and the lock side’s, real different experience as you cannot look up out of the balcony to see the topside of the lock. locks going up
It has been a long day and not sure what time we will get up the next day...

Saftey Drill this morning and then a short Guided tour of Cologne this afternoon

More links and smart phones display click here for blog

I was up real early and headed to the Crystal lounge where I got a Cappuccino and took another back to the cabin. Tried to get on the Wi-Fi but no luck.
Most of this morning and early afternoon will be cruising along the Rhine to arrive in Cologne around 4 pm. After the Safety drill we are asked to meet in the Crystal lounge where the Cruise Director Sylvie will give an overview of the cruise and how to book the Scenic Free choices.
Our first official morning breakfast. All the staff where ready to look after whatever we wanted. There is a full buffet with everything you could want for breakfast, even had a chef ready to cook your eggs the way you like them. If that was not enough you could still order off a small menu: hot waffles , poached eggs, eggs benedict and minute steak. I did notice that you had to ask for a bagel and remember to ask them to slice it for you. They had a toaster that everyone put higher and lower and higher etc, watch so you do not burn any buns, bread or bagels. There were lots of spreads, fruit and cream cheese on the buffet.
We noticed that the coffee and tea had a chlorine taste, I guess new equipment, so we decided to ask for bottled water "still water" otherwise you got a sparkling water. For coffee and tea we figured out that we should pick that up at the tea and coffee station in the lounge before we head to the dining room.

They have an exercise room on the Moselle deck, rowing machine, elliptical, bike and walking equipment. They mentioned that this will be added to all the other space ships as this exercise facility is the first one in their fleet.
gymGym ready for rain
Cloudy and rain for most of the day, arrive in Cologne and got ready for the walking tour. All the cabins have a large Scenic tours umbrella so you do not have to take one with you.
Sunday- shops are closed , this is common throughout most of the towns and cities along the Rhine and Moselle.
Cologne was founded in 38 BC , so there is plenty of history to explore, over 28 main attraction. The Cologne Cathedral, with its Gothic interior, would be the featured sight to visit. Started in 1248 , abandoned for about 300 years and then finally finish in 1880 when the two 510 foot tall west spires where completed.
Cologne CathedralCologne Cathedral cologne stained window
It was cold and raining so we were glad the walking tour was only about 1 1/2 hours . Cologne is on the 8 day tour not the 15 day tour.
Back to the Scenic Crystal and headed to the lounge. With spirits included , hot Blueberry tea was in order. ( Amaretto, grand Marnier and hot tea). Time for Dinner. Every evening has a different menu , Appetizer, Soup/salad , Entree and Deserts along with , wine, beer , and beverage.( No spirits) If you did not see anything you desired you could also order from a standard selection of : Salmon , steak , chicken , hamburger , Service was good.
This section , Amsterdam to Cologne , is the longest distance covered on this cruise. Depart for Cochem at 7 30 pm tonight..

23apr-Cruise the Moselle-afternoon in Cochem

More links and smart phones display click here for blog

This morning cruise the stunning Moselle River, where you go through a few river locks. riverlock moselle. bargeRiverlock
Later this morning , nestled on the banks of the river is the romantic town of Cochem a medieval gem, where we will do an afternoon walk and tour. It will make you feel as if you are stepping directly off the ship and into a fairy tale. A beautiful setting with several historical sights to see such as: the 3 Medieval town gates (1332), Gothic parish Church of St. Martin (founded in the 9th Century), Alte Thorschnk, historic half-timbered house (1665) and
visit the Market square where you will find many shops offering wine , peach schnapps and other items of the region.
Cochem. wine tavernwine tavern market squaremarket square Reichsburg
The afternoon tour includes a visit Reichsburg Castle, soaring above the township. The castle was built around 1000AD , destroyed in 1689 by the French and restored by Jacob Ravene in 1868. As you walk through the Castle, you can see why the restoration cost him the equivalent of 5 million gold marks. Dining room had all wooden Cabinetry, chairs, fireplace and these were all elaborately decorated. You will see stairways to nowhere and doors to secret rooms. Knight’s armor and beautiful dance hall.
R dancehall. R armour
You need good pair of shoes here, cobbled stone walkways and several steps to traverse.
Back to the Scenic crystal for a coffee and ... coffe and ...
We depart around 8 pm to Bernkastel


Luxembourg – Trier – Bernkastel
More links and smart phones display click here for blog

This morning is a Scenic choice program- you may select from 1 of 3 tours offered. It will be busy As we have to be back on the Scenic Crystal as it sails to Rudesheim at 2 pm. Sherry and I selected the Luxembourg tour as it was cloudy and we could have showers, so we thought that maybe the weather would be better going West. But that did not happen.

We were up really early and had a coffee and tried to get online with no luck. We checked out the Early Riser Breakfast menu, It was continental style: Yogurt – plain or flavored , muslei , fruit pastries and muffins. Since it was going to be a full day we headed to the dining room for a full breakfast.
Departed for Luxembourg around 8 am for a 1 ½ hour motor coach ride west . The city is also the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. For more than a thousand years, the city has developed into thriving member of the EU.
It is one of the three official EU capitals, hosting the General Secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice and the European Investment Bank. Modern office buildings stand beside thick bastions and battlement gates- structures of the former Luxembourg fortress. Started in 963 it was continually extended of the subsequent centuries by foreign powers among others Spanish, French, Austrian and Prussian rulers. Today’s population of 92,000 is 60% foreigners contributing to the international culture as experienced in restaurants, cafes and shops.

So we arrived at the Statue Geile Fra, by the bus station, and headed out for our walking tour. Boy was the umbrella a good thing to take. It was a cool day with wind and on and off rain showers. A note, for most of Europe you have to pay for public washrooms ( WC-wash closets). Average prices are around euro .50.. The tour was interesting, however because of the weather most of us were not very attentive. We did visit the Cathedrale and a few other places, it was not busy with tourists.
Lux-cathedral. lux-romanwall roman wall
Our tour guide was going to take us to more Roman fortifications but we were cold so I spoke up and said it would nice to get a good hot chocolate or coffee. The guide asked everyone and it was unanimous , hot chocolate instead of Roman ruins… Well, she took us to a fantastic pastry and coffee house, “Chocolate House-Nathalie Bonn", it was right across from the Palais Grand-Ducal. (Palace –residence that was used occasionally by the Royal Family.
chocolate. chouse
Everything decadent was here- cakes, pastries , all forms and shapes of chocolate. The hot chocolate was solid chocolate on a spoon – Chocospoon with around 50 flavors you should find something you will enjoy. They steamed the hot milk and you put the spoon into the cup and swirled it around.

With this stop we were late in leaving for the 1 ½ hour drive back to the Scenic Crystal and the bus driver made up some time and we were back at 2 pm. Sylvie , our cruise director, was happy to see us and rushed us onboard and away we went at 2:30.
We went up to the Sun deck to enjoy this beautiful stretch of the Moselle Valley. Along the way we were told to sit down as the crew took down shade umbrellas and the wheel-house lowered itself – low bridge ahead. All you had to do was stand up and stretch out your hand upward and you would touch the underside of the stone/brick bridge.

This afternoon included a demonstration of various glass blowing techniques, of course you could purchase many items that were made. Very interesting to see the expertise required. Tried the Bitburger beer and was pleasantly surprised, a light beer with a slight taste of hops. We also tried “Underberg” , a digestif bitter. Made of aromatic herbs from 43 countries. Ok but would not rush out to buy some.
Dinner at 7 pm . Tomorrow will be cruising through the Rhine River Gorge to Rudesheim for the afternoon Christening Ceremony of the MS Scenic Crystal.

25apr- Rhine Gorge - Rudesheim

Rhine Gorge - Rudesheim
More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Rhine Gorge - Rudesheim

We cruised all night back down the Moselle to Koblenz where we re-entered the Rhine River. All along the river are kilometer markers, Scenic Cruises provides us with a detail booklet of all the towns, castles and information on the area we are cruising through. They also have a commentary with the headsets that they provide in the room. These are tuned to GPS markers along the way. Very neat system. ( I will add the booklet information later on.)
stgoarSt.GoarTown St Goar Rhineon the rhine LoreleyLoreleyCastleKatzCastle KatzMouseMaus

The counts at the Castle Katz used to joke that they would eat the rival inhabitants of the Castle Maus just up the valley.

Breakfast was early and we ordered off the menu today, Eggs Benedict. Brought to us in a glass with Hollandaise sauce, different presentation.
Our cameras are ready today..., this morning we cruise through the spectacular Rhine Gorge, with its stunning vistas of castles perched above steep vine-covered slopes. While cruising along they serve a Rudesheim coffee around 10:30 am, ummmm. (One teaspoon brown sugar, one shot local Rudesheim liquor-Asbach-. coffee, whipping cream, sprinkles of chocolate and now just to sip slowly.
The information and KM markers start at Koblenz, about KM 592, and end up in Rudesheim (noon), about KM 526 . After we dock we head out for a tour of the city , several guests board the ‘Winzerexpress’ mini train for an Included guided visit of Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum where you can then take a cable car to the Niederwald Monument.
Instead we head out for our own walking tour. Many shops, restaurants and christmas stores. Of course wine shops all over as this is an area where wine vines cover the valley slopes.
Around 4:30 pm will be the christening of the Scenic Crystal. Here are a few pictures.
Tonight we dine at the Portobello's restaurant. Six course meal, it was very good. Afterward off to the lounge 9; 15 pm, where we experienced a Zither concert.


More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Dock at Speyer to travel to -Heidelberg

This morning we are up early for early coffee and then to the Dining room for full breakfast.
Choose from one of the following Included Scenic Free Choice activities: (1) a guided tour to the University town of Heidelberg; or (2) visit a real German home for Kaffeeklatsch, an informal social gathering for “coffee and conversation” where you can gain a real insight in to how the locals live.
We decided to do the morning tour to Heidelberg Castle and then enjoy a walking tour of town. heidelberg castle ..Heidelberg
It was about a 1/2 hour bus ride and we arrived at the castle. Tour guide took us around to many rooms and described some of the history. Castle was begun in about the 1400's and was finished around 1550. Besides some early Baroque elements on the left building , the right building has one of the finest Renaissance facade's
familytree winebarrel
Inside they have the "Great Tun" , which was the biggest wine barrel in 1760. Made out of 90 oak trees, it has a capacity of 58,000 gallons of wine. Poor lighting but you get the picture.
Off to the old town and some touring. We grabbed light lunch and picked up some chocolate from another chocolate house location.
returned back to the Scenic Crystal to change and get ready for a longer coach tour to the Rastatt Palace. The oldest Baroque residence in the upper Rhine Valley.
rastatt rastattroom chinaroom
Here we are going to have a dinner and then we will experience a Concert in the Turkenlouis Ancestral Hall, The concert program includes music from Rossini, Mozart, Puccini and more. Performed by three young local artists.
This will be included for 2013 sailings.
turkenlouis kristi-isene
Scenic Enrich: Classical Evening at Rastatt Palace.

Back on board where we set sail for Kehl and Strasbourg at 10:30 pm


More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grande Ile, a World Heritage site by UNESCO

A taste of France awaits you as we cruise to “the crossroads of Europe”, Strasbourg. Choose from one of the following Included Scenic Free Choice activities: (1) a walking tour of Strasbourg to explore the lovely canals and half-timbered houses, including La Petite France; or (2) an excursion to the French Alsace Wine Region, including a cellar tasting in the French countryside of Barr.
la-petite-france. grande-ile
With a later breakfast this morning, 8 am there is enough time to take city tour which leaves at 9 am for about 4 hours. A short drive to the Grande Ile where we begin a really nice tour. Starting at the Pons Couverts- a bridge dated back to the medieval time period.
Strasbourg is fused into the Franco-German culture and has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries. These are many of the most attractive streets with restaurants, boutique hotels, antique and bric-a-brac shops Hard to believe this was the former Tanners' Quarter, where leather and skins were soaked in the river before being left to dry on the upper galleries of the half-timbered houses.
A few minute’s walk away is the Strasbourg Cathedral. The 461 foot-high spire made it the world's tallest building for 5 centuries until the Ulm Cathedral was completed in 1890.
roseglass str-cathedral
Gothic architecture, flying buttresses and the medieval stained glass windows are a testament to our desire to succeed. Many additions and expansions occurred from the 12th century to the 19th century. In the south transept you would find the astronomical clock (16th and 19th century) in action each day at about noon.
astronomical-clock.. transept
Outside the Cathedral in a smaller plaza area you will find souvenir shops, restaurants and one of the city's premium cafe and restaurants. The Maison Kammerzel, Six stories high, half-timbered construction because the ground floor is built of stone.
KammerzelMaison Kammerzel shops-strasbourgshops
North of the Cathedral is where the serious shoppers will head towards. Antiques, jewelry, confectionery and specialty shops. That’s a full morning and now to return to the ship for afternoon lunch.
Scenic Crystal set sail for Breisach around 2 pm. After dinner tonight will be some dancing and contest of name that tune. Everyone had to dance after naming "that" tune.


More links and smart phones display click here for blog

Full breakfast today- full day tour; make sure you get some extra water to take with you. Coach left at 830 am. Scenic Enrich: Today is a truly magical experience as you journey to the majestic Black Forest for a full day excursion with lunch included.

On the way we visit the open air museum "Vogtsbauernhof", relive history as a firsthand experience. Six fully furnished farmhouses, and 15 out-building with demonstrations and events will take you back to how it was in the 1600's and 1700's.
vogtsbauernhof.. oldkitchen
After this visit we stop along the way near Hornburg where we visit a cuckoo clock store and see the world's largest cuckoo clock. Price ranges from eur100.00 to eur 3100.00
cuckoolargest.. lile
We arrive in Triberg around noon. Lunch is at the Lilie restaurant. Real interesting decor, food was just average.
However it is at the base of the highest waterfalls in Germany. They have three hiking trails, the shortest is the Cascade trail the goes up the side of seven cascading waterfalls, over 160 m. Takes about 1 hour. Of course walking down is harder than going up. If you are not for taking the hike, then wander around the town and visit the shops , museums and enjoy the Black Forest hospitality.
tribergfalls.. triebergwater triberg schwarzwaldermuseum

We return to the Scenic Crystal via some of the prettiest mountain scenery you encounter in Germany. We arrive in Basel around 6 pm where the Crystal is now docked. For those whom stayed onboard, the Scenic Crystal left around 9 am to arrive in Basel later in the afternoon. The Captain's farewell cocktail is around 7 pm with the gala Dinner to follow. This evening the crew put on a show to entertain everyone. If you have stayed up to 10 pm you will be able to get a late night snack. Tomorrow everyone will disembark after breakfast.


More links and smart phones display click here for blog

After a breakfast and farewells onboard the Scenic Crystal we take the coach to the airport.
When you stay at hotels in Basel they include a mobility card, which provides free bus travel in the city. So we got onto bus "50" and had a 10 min ride to the
"Airport Hotel Basel". Walked into a really nice lobby area, checked in with staff that spoke perfect English. They stored our bags and offered a free shuttle bus to the downtown center of Basel , central rail station. baselhotel topfloorview baselroom
We had a coffee ch4.20 ( Ch Swiss francs ), about $7.00 and no refill
The Swiss tourist information office has I pods that have 4 and 8 hour walking tours that consist of 6 routes. The cost is around ch4 and ch6 for the day. These tours start from old town marketplace. Many old building , some of them housed the various trade Guilds of the 1700's.
oldtownbasel guilds wineguild 1573 ferry
After a few hours of sightseeing we stopped at a bakery/sandwich and coffee place called Frey. It was not bad but very expensive. We then walked a little further and found a Starbucks, coffee , mango drink and muffin.
It was 3 :30 and had some time, so we decided to get onto a tram and take it to the end of the line and return. Got out to the suburbs of Basel , saw some residential areas , shops, country side and then returned back to the central station. Got on bus 50, stopped right outside our hotel.
cablecar cathedral
Checked in and got our key to our room on the top floor with a pretty good view. At the check in they gave us a couple drink vouchers, good at the Casino which was attached to the hotel. Since the restaurant did not open till 6 pm we decided to go to the Casino and see if we could get a bite to eat and of course get our free drink. The basement level was hundreds of slot machines, just like back home. I went for a short walk to see where we could eat, 2nd floor was table games and craps, 3rd floor was a banquet room where there was a poker tournament going on. No place to eat. So back at the bar we got a nice glass of wine and relaxed for about an hour where we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant. "Rose"
Arrived at the restaurant and every chair and table was white. The walls changed color and a silver curtain on the windows reflected the colors as they changed. Very nice atmosphere. If you book in advance you can have it set up for Fondue. For us, we decided on a Flambé Chicken skewer. Chicken, pineapple and dates flamed with cognac at your table. Side dishes were vegetables, salad , fries and rice. Food was prepared really nice, flavor was great and the atmosphere was fabulous. This meal for two cost ch64.00.
Headed back to our room around 8 pm, re packed everything as we were going to be up at 5:15 am. Our flight was at 7:25 am.

30apr-Leave Basel

Today we are up early; take the airport shuttle from the hotel to the EuroAirport- Basel. Continental breakfast at the Airport Hotel Basel was included, coffee, juice, pastry/bun , fruit. No refills. Great service, great hotel - I would recommend this hotel, easy to get to/from and major city bus route 50.
Check in at the airport was fast and easy. Staff were freindly. Surpirse, we had to walk a long ways again.
Great time and experiences, looking forward to returning in October of 2013 on our group departure. Come join us...