We traveled on to Rudesheim, a beautiful village that climbs up the banks of the Rhine and is framed in vineyards. Siegfied’s Mechanical Music Musical Instrument Museum is a world-class collection of music boxes and mechanical music machines. Rudesheim coffee is a local hot drink made with brandy, whipped cream and spices and makes a perfect outdoor drink on a brisk day.
We sailed toward Koblenz through the Rhine’s fabled gorge, where medieval castles and churches dot the countryside and stand like sentinels above the Rhine. Many are privately-owned and well maintained, others are in ruin. It was cold during this leg of the trip, but some of us sat on the bow viewing area of the Creativity and braved the elements to enjoy these magnificent structures as they passed.
We enjoyed a free afternoon in Cologne, and after taking in its incomparable cathedral, we walked the streets in a welcome sunlight. The change in weather warmed everyone up and brought the local residents out into this large city’s shopping district for a Friday afternoon stroll.
Our trip ended in Amsterdam, a delightfully liberal city. After a canal tour, four or us caught the tram to the city’s museum plaza, where we toured the Van Gogh museum. The permanent collection there provides an endearing study of this troubled artist’s life and concludes with a poignant photograph of his grave beside that of his beloved brother’s, Theo. We had dinner that evening in the red light district with a few friends. While the scenery was mostly tawdry, the Tibetan restaurant we found was superb and filled with local diners.