Sunday, June 8, 2008


Just got back from some time in Europe.
Ah! Europe River Cruising. Now that's the way to go. “Magnificent”, “exclusive”, “champagne”, “luxury”, “quality”, “gala”, “deluxe” - these are just some of the words the coloured brochure used to entice me on board. And then there's “free” and “free” and “save” and “save”. Makes me wonder why at this very moment I am not sitting on the sundeck of ms whatever, sipping a Rüdesheimer Rheinwein and savouring the Rhine scenery.
And all this could be mine “from $9247*”, ppts^. Ah! The word “from“ and the asterisk, now therein lies a whole new tale. One now needs to find a magnifying glass, refer to the bottom of the page and read the lines of the very fine print which begin: “Conditions apply.....”.
This price applies to category E cabins. Then it's a quick check-up on the net to find out where categary E cabins are located. Just as I thought – low price, low deck! They are on the lower deck next to the engine room and water tanks. Looked at from the outside they are behind those little black dots one sees just above the water-line. Fixed windows (portholes which can't be opened or the river water would gust in) allow you to have a fish-eye view of the twigs and branches, plastic bags, bottles and dead fish floating by.
But there's no great cause to worry for there is a very limited number of these and you are unlikely to get one. So you must upgrade. Up and up to a higher deck where indeed you have a balcony with a small table and two chairs, and a position which allows you to see beyond the levee banks. But you probably won't get one of these either. They have become too expensive. How quickly has my dream of a romantic European river cruise “from $9247*”, ppts^ , been left in the wake of ms whatever.

Stop dreaming and come back to earth. And I did, in Seligenstadt. Seligenstadt is a delightful little town on the Main river in Germany; the river which allows those deluxe river boats to sail from the Danube river into the Rhine, or from the Rhine river into the Danube if you are travelling in the other direction. A ferry crosses the Main here, on which both vehicles and passengers travel free. I went over and back a number of times, and indeed it cost me absolutely nothing. Here my European river cruising was indeed FREE. The deck-hand noticed me sitting going backwards and forwards across the river and in my school-boy German I explained what I was doing. Which reminds me. I must look up the meaning of “verrückt”.
^ per person, twin share

PS Too boring on the ferry. How about a deckhand on a river barge? My photos show possibilities on both the Main and the Mosel.

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