Never again for whatever little time remains to me above the ground will I be able to say I’ve never been to Europe because now, you see, I have.
Been to Europe that is.
Good Wife Norma and I gave a gift, each to the other, to celebrate our 50th anniversary soon to come over the big pond. To that end we jumped on the York Fun Club’s Christmas river cruise, boarded the Amadeus Brilliant for six nights and a commensurate number of days touring the Rhine and Moselle rivers where they wandered through Switzerland, France and Germany.
This was a luxurious cruise ship downsized from ocean liners the better, you see, to navigate rivers. The vessel accommodates 140 passengers. We were wonderfully and professionally served by an international crew of 44 men and women from 11 different home countries. I thought that to be remarkable. All were multi-lingual in various combinations of French, Swiss, German and those 11 native tongues. The bonding agent that makes it possible for them to do what they do so well is English.
We saw wildly diverse colors and cultures of people on our ship’s crew pulling together as one to make our journey the best it could possibly be. In this they were successful to our complete satisfaction.
GWN has visited Sweden twice, it’s the homeland of her family on both sides. The three countries we visited were new to her, but to that small extent Europe was not.
I, on the other hand, had little more than photos, the news and movies to go on. What I discovered ‘Over There’ with my own eyes exceeded all expectations.
What big-picture reactions? Aside from the crush of sheer human numbers and attendant traffic snarls, plus the sadly high percent of Europeans who smoke unapologetically in close proximity to fellow human beings everywhere, then rudely exhale their foul, toxic clouds for all the rest of us to walk through, there was little not to like.
Shall we dig into a few of the quirky things I noticed about the people and places and transportation and food of Europe in columns to come? Curious to know how and why I willingly turned myself into a cartoon character in the mugshot perched above these words?
Oh, let’s do. We’ll talk more later.