Tales from the River – Amsterdam, Netherlands, Sept 30, 2011

There is nothing more relaxing than sitting on the top deck and enjoying beautiful weather, people on boats waving at you as you pass, and grinning people riding bicycles over the river and waving. Whether you are reading a book or have your face turned up to soak in the sun, you feel good about where you are. We spent part of the afternoon doing just that. It was blissful.

At 2 pm, we had a general meeting to discuss choices we needed to make about different tours that we could take. Hmmm, a palace in Heidelberg or a walking tour of Frankfurt? A self-playing musical instrument museum or a walking tour and shopping? A bus ride to a very old town on a hill with cobblestone streets or a relaxing afternoon of free time? We had to make about 8 choices so Vantage could book the appropriately sized buses and split us into evenly sized walking groups. Afterwards, Ed’s jetlag hit and he left to take a short nap. I stayed for the discussion on some optional tours that I had signed us up for. I alone made those choices and am not going to tell Ed what they are until it’s time to go. I think he will be pleased and I’m looking forward to watching his reaction to some of them!

The best part of the general meeting was seeing Eddie Conrad, the owner of the riverbarge company in New Orleans that my mom loved so much. She would be pleased that I got to see him again. He knew I was on the ship somewhere but wasn’t sure what I looked like. He saw my name “from Argyle, TX” and just knew it had to be Y-vonne’s daughter. Yeah, how many people from Argyle, TX, are going to book a riverbarge cruise that Eddie Conrad had promoted to the old Barge Buddies gang!

Yes, Helen, I did tell him hello for you and he said the same back to you. He asked how we communicated and I told him Facebook. He doesn’t have a Facebook account and has adamantly said he has no plan to get one. He also has no plan to re-open his company and has now retired. I told him we would all desperately miss his River Explorer. I don’t know how long his retirement is going to last though. I think he’s bored.

Tonight they started with a Captain’s Cocktail Party with free champagne for all. They introduced everyone on the crew … except the one needed to steer the ship while this was happening! Then they served a wonderful dinner with about 6 courses. All of the portions were small, unlike what we have come to expect in the U.S.

After dinner, we went back up to the top deck and just sat there for a while, stargazing and watching the lights from shore as they slipped by, listening to the slap of water against the ship. It was a wonderful ending for a wonderful day, even if we did miss the Amsterdam tour. I look forward to many more days like this!



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