Friday, September 11, 2015

People and Places - A Cruise through Central Europe. . . Or the Mississippi

PEOPLE  The More They Age, The More They Stay The Same

When we retired we decided to make travel our goal while we are still able to travel.  Our first post retirement trip was to China last year. It was all encompassing, exhausting and eye opening. The first hing we discovered is that most travelers are ,well,  older.  The group we traveled through China with was a collective age of 70 but their energy level was intense. So, this year when we booked a European river cruise, I expected to be traveling with older people.  I wasn't wrong.

The trip, a Viking Cruise trip is called The Grand European Tour; a pompous moniker for a 15 day trip down the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.  We began in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest. Unlike an ocean ship that has multiple decks, night clubs, game rooms and casinos - floating cities, the river longboats are far more low key.  No casino, no night club, just a lounge, a sun deck and staterooms. The boat holds 190 passengers and by the end of two weeks, you know most of them and recognize all of them.  Having worked in the school system for a number of years, I learned how to remember names and faces aaaannnnnd personalities.

Corraling a group of cruisers, most of them senior citizens, is not unlike trying to keep 5th graders in line or better yet, trying to herd cats.  There are the people who can't seem to make their listening devices work no matter what.  There are the people who monopolize the tour guide's time by asking ceaseless questions, usually the same question rephrased in different ways and there are the ones who want to show off all they know by stumping the tour guide.

Thus, I maintain that taking a two week river cruise with 189 other people isn't any different than taking a 5th grade field trip; a
two week field trip only this time, I wasn't the one responsible for the group. And as with any class, we had our jocks, our know-it-alls, our questioners, our cool kids, our "unique" kids (you know, the ones you all fear will sit by you) and our middle of the road kids. It was a fairly cohesive group, actually and because we are all adults, there was no jockeying for the best seat or to sit by our friends. . .or was there?

One of the added tours we took required us to get on a full windowed coach and drive the "Romantic Road" which is not romantic in the least but it is picturesque the way driving along the Mississippi through Illinois is picturesque, and go to the walled village of Rothenburg, Germany.  I was standing behind the first couple in line and hoping to get a front set for me and Moondoggy (and should have by the count in front of me) when this couple literally pushed me back and ran up the steps and sat in the front seats, one on each side in the middle of a seat meant for two.  I stepped up, stopped and looked at them, "I thought you were together," I said in my passive aggressive tone and they said, "We are saving these for our friends."  Oooookay. Fine.  I'll make sure I am first on the way back so I we can have a front seat.  Game on.  And so we drove the Romantic Road and viewed it from the second seat surmising that yes, if we didn't know we were in Germany, we could, in fact, be in northern Illinois.  No loss.  When the bus arrived  and BEFORE we disembarked, pushy man asks the tour guide, "Same seats on the way back, right?"  The guide fumbled with the question and finally said, "Please be sure you are on the same bus." So pushy guy, his wife and their friends spread their jackets across the front seats to save them.  I smirked.  Jokes on you guys.


  1. Too funny! You are right about herding ants, when I worked for Carnival in Long Beach, we got 3000+ ants on board in a short amount of time, wheel chairs, walkers, canes and all!
    I too, grew up in a small town in Kansas, under 4000, graduating class at the most 58. Love, love love being in CA, going on 36 yrs, it's been an adventure of my life. Working for the Airlines I got to get a little taste of the world, and now plan on taking my husband back to all my favorites. We leave in two weeks for two weeks in Turkey. Can hardly wait! Hope we get to get together after November and compare travel notes. I totally enjoyed your updates every single day. Thank You!

  2. That's why Jay and I did our Europe, Ireland, and the Middle East while young! (late 30's, 40's) Tour guides noticed us, and chose us for varying fun/good things-the rest were just too old and complainers!