We had an amazing time on the Cruise for the Critters Fundraiser! This was my first group trip, since I’ve become an agent (further explanation). At the high point here were 14 of us, including my husband and myself. We formed some great friendships and I am so excited we got to share this experience. A huge THANK YOU to everybody who traveled with us.
We started out trip in Lucerne, Switzerland. We flew into Zurich and got on the train to Lucerne. From the train station, it was a quick 6 minute bus ride to the hotel. the bus stop is conveniently located right outside the hotel. In the summer there is also a ferry connecting the hotel and the train station, but it was still too cold for that.
Hotel Seeburg offers amazing lake view rooms and includes a fantastic breakfast spread to choose from. Dinner at the restaurant is also a great options.
We spend our first full day touring Lucerne. We took the train into downtown and walked the narrow cobble stone streets. We found a small market and admired swans on the lake. When making your way through downtown, head up hill towards the old city walls. You can climb into the towers and find amazing views of the city. There are quite a few stairs, so you will get a nice workout…
For dinner we went to the “Stadtkeller”, where we enjoyed a traditional 4-Course Swiss Meal. Cheese Fondue, Rosti and all… The performances were a lot of fun. We had Alpen horns, Accordions, Played Waterglasses, saw Flag Dances, Yodeling (yes, we took part in the yodeling competition. There was free beer after all…), and much more…
The next day we took the train to Lugano. The ride is pretty shaky, but beautiful! We went straight through the Alps and were rewarded with Palm Trees and a very Italian atmosphere. We enjoyed lunch at Ristorante MARY. They serve a 1 meter long pizza. Delicious!
Now it was time to say good bye to Lucerne and make our way to Basel. We took the train into the city and met the ship at the Dreilaender Eck in Basel, Switzerland.
We boarded the AMA Cello and were welcome with a nice spread of sandwiches, coffee, tea, soups and cookies. Soon after we were able to check into our rooms. The ship is gorgeous, as you can see in the pictures below.
We had some group members join us here. A flight delay had them arriving pretty late. Our Chef (Stefan) and Sou-Chef stayed up and made up some fresh plates just for our 3 ladies. They were amazing! Thank you so much guys!
Our first stop was Breisach, Germany. We walked through the city a bit and then had a choice of going to Freiburg or Alsace & Riquewhir. I chose Freiburg and got a very nice city tour. Upon our return, my husband and I took the bicycles out for a spin. We went all over Breisach! There was a lot to explore. We saw the old Monastery, found a vineyard and went across the river to the other side a biked along the water for a while.
Our next stop was Strasbourg. We did a fantastic city tour in the morning. We saw the Strasbourg Notre Dam and explored the old city. After lunch we enjoyed a canal boat ride through the old town.
The next day we were in Speyer and did the excursion to Heidelberg. What a beautiful city. We went to the Heidelberg Castle and had plenty of free time to explore the city. We bought a few wines and schnapps and kept tasting the goods all throughout the cruise…
In the morning we arrived in Rudesheim. Here we had many choices of tours and decided on a Gondola Ride up the vineyards. It was a bit chilly, so after taking amazing pictures we went back down and warmed up with a local specialty: Rudesheimer Coffee. After lunch we cruised the “Rhine Gorge” which is lined with 31 medieval castles along the way. Our cruise manager Reka did a nice commentary along the way. For our group, we reserved the back lounge of the ship and had a private wine party all afternoon long. We arrived in Koblenz around dinner time and spend the night in port. We went to a local bar (Peanut Bar) and mingled a bit before heading back to the ship.
The next morning we found ourselves in Cologne. Since my family is from that region, I planned a special excursion that day. We got off the ship and boarded a private mini-bus. We drove to my mother’s house and got to see a real German home. My mom and grandmother prepared a fantastic home cooked lunch for all of us. We toured the neighbors house as well, where we were greeted with home made schnapps and lots of hugs! We only had 2 hours there, but on the return to the ship we had time left to stop at the Dome and have a look around. That evening we had our Gala Dinner and cruised over night to Amsterdam.
We arrived in Amsterdam in the morning. We enjoyed a Dutch Fruehschoppen (Brunch) with dutch beer and all, before getting off the ship. Most people in our group signed up to go on the Amsterdam Culinary Delights Tour. We knew it was going to include a cheese tasting, little did we know, we were making the cheese by hand… We arrived on a small farm and were presented with bowls of milk. The farmer/cheese maker told us by the end of the tour we would turn the milk into cheese. We had a blast and learned all about cheese making. I think we did rather well… 🙂 We also got some much needed animal interaction. There were cows and sheep and we got to hold a lamb. We also enjoyed coffee, tea, cookies and of course cheese!
In the morning it was time to say good bye to the AMA Cello and the dear staff! We took a taxi to our hotel in Amsterdam and were greeted with a lot of rain! We tried to walk around and explore, but being wet and cold is not much fun. We all needed a big nap and decided to break up until dinner. When the clouds broke up, I went into town and walked around a bit. This was not my first time to Amsterdam and I wanted to see how much had changed. Turns out, not much! We had dinner at the “New King” in Chinatown. Make sure you have reservations. Wait times can be up to 2 hours! After dinner we did a walk through the red light district as well.
The next day we split up into groups. A few people opted to visit a diamond fabric. Gassan is your best choice if looking for diamonds. Make sure to validate your receipts at the airport to get the VAT Tax reimbursed. Some others went to the Anne Frank house, the Van Gogh Exhibit and explored the city. For dinner we chose a small Pizza place downtown.
The last day in Amsterdam, we did an excursion into the countryside. We saw Voleendam, Marken and the Windmills. There was a lot of cheese making, clog making and of course the Windmills. The sun was out and we had a great time! For dinner we went to De Waag! It’s a stunning restaurant, all lit by real candles with an amazing menu. It was the perfect end, to a perfect trip!
I am so happy I was able to share this experience with many of my friends and clients. I hope you all had as much fun as I did! It was a very special trip and we raised a great amount of money for our non-profit organization: Paw Placement of Northern Arizona(www.ppnaz.org).