We booked the cruise to celebrate 30 years together, it’s hard to believe how much things have changed for same sex couples over those years!
Once we were through security, we booked into the Number 1 lounge at Birmingham Airport, and after the family with the horrible toddler who for some reason had been given a whistle had left, we relaxed until our flight which was a nice start to the holiday. We seemed to attract families with noisy children as opposite us, there were two more noisy children, but to be fair, their parents tried their best to settle them down. Well, the mother did, and told the father off just as much as the kids! Bonus number one of a river cruise. No kids!
We arrived in Dusseldorf at around 5.30pm, had collected our luggage and were on the coach by 6pm. However, getting to the ship in Bonn, (our revised departure port), was delayed due to roadworks and an accident. We got to the ship just before 8pm. On the way, our tour guide, Barbara, introduced herself and briefly went through what would happen. She kept mentioning the “beautiful” Jane Austen – surely it’s for us to work that out for ourselves? (Turns out she was right, it is a very beautiful ship!) To be fair, that was really the only annoying “American” thing we noticed, there were certainly no endless art auctions, photographers, over enthusiastic staff, etc, and with a kettle in our cabin, it was easy to feel at home straightaway!
The cabin was cleverly laid out, and the perspex doors of the shower made it a very nice size, however, there wasn't really enough space for the two chairs to be near the opening window.
The weather was very hot when we were on holiday, so the fierce air conditioning was welcome - the staff had the knack of getting it right - some other passengers found it a bit fiddly, but we had no problems.
The beds were comfortable, and our request for hypo allergenic bedding wasn't a problem - even the extra pillows were okay, something that could have been overlooked.
Our cabin steward's duties didn't finish with cleaning the cabin, he was also out and about serving canapés and doing general other duties, yet he still had time to keep the cabin spotless, and do a couple of towel animals, which was a lovely touch, especially the swans for our anniversary. It didn't bother us, but this cabin sailed backwards.
Lovely little town, with the "Deutsches Eck" and statue. There is a cable car available to go to the castle at the top of the hill on the other side, but it was far too hot, so we simply had a wander around. Café bar terraces seemed to close at 11pm, so we found a nice place to people watch just inside one.
Koblenz is quite picturesque with lots of statues, including a one which spits at passers by - and a clock where the face sticks its tongue out every 15 minutes!
We had the choice of going to the technical museum or into town, we felt it was too hot for the technical museum which was mainly outdoors, so made our way into town and then on to the Jewish Museum with its ancient ritual bath (Mikve).
Afterwards, we wandered around the pretty little town and enjoyed a drink in the Domhof beer garden, where we got chatting to a local lady (well, she was Swiss originally, but lived there).
We spent the morning in the Bernese Oberland from Wilderwil, going up a mountain on an old train - do make sure you use the facilities at the station before boarding, there aren't any onboard!! After our trip up the mountain, we went to Lucerne, which is very pretty indeed, but we only had an hour, so just had a rather quick walk around. Thankfully we weren't there long enough to have a drink or anything to eat (except an ice cream) as the prices were absolutely extortionate, for example fish and chips were 25Sfr at one of the riverside cafés!