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HeinBloed Blog from the river Rhine, Main, Danube in Germany amid Covid-19: VISTA SKY from Cologne to Passau

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No-sail-order order by CDC. Travel bans to join ocean cruises. Let me do a river cruise - amid Covid-19.


Let me invite you to join:


The blog on my first long (more than 2 nights - even 9 nights) river cruise within Germany from Cologne to Passau on VISTA SKY starts Day 0 - the arrival. Nevertheless, a first encounter with the ship and on the ship. Those who are only concerned with how the life on board works have to be patient until day 1. A HeinBloed blog still covers the days before and after the trip: how to fill it out. Tips and mind games with everything possible and impossible. So have fun.







KEEP CALM AND KEEP CRUISING - when I later discover this t-shirt on board of VISTA SKY: this is the first on-board revenue! My motto!!! The day begins in Cologne, Germany. At breakfast in a quaint cafe, but with the hippest toilets, I've seen in a long time. With our rickshaws, it goes briefly to the cable car and over to the other side of the river Rhine, because here you have the most beautiful view of Cologne's old town. On a river cruise, there is no lunch on the day of embarkation, so we still have to have lunch ashore. Covid-19 lives and Covid-19 lives on paper. And we see how it is adapted onboard of VISTA SKY so that everyone can reasonably fill the ship with life.
As a conclusion before the end: the ship's command did a great job during the cruise so that I felt safe before the end of Covid-19. Unfortunately, there were only the other passengers on board. Back in 2008, I had a WOW feeling for the last time: on the brand new EURODAM - a cruiser must have designed the cabins for a passenger. And today I have the feeling again: I firmly expected that we would have to leave a lot in our suitcase, but we could have taken more with us. The first portion leads us to Andernach. On the AMELIA, a first leg (via Bonn, Germany) took me to Rüdesheim, Germany! At that time, I thought that I slept in a quality assurance department of a sex toy factory: all vibrators were on, and I fell out of bed with tinnitus. Here the portions are laid out so that we can also sleep at night. Is it due to the planning that the ship is also at night while I am lying? Or is it due to the ship's design? Or is it because of the captain who just manoeuvered better? Onboard are the same idiots on board as back then on the AMELIA. But I guess I just got more sensitive the older I was. I met so many kind and great passengers during the voyages. They are becoming increasingly rare. These are good moments to maintain these friendships and to use the chance to meet them again and to wave when leaving in Cologne. And we cruisers are crazy enough to meet at 01:00 hrs and talk about cruises. We are addicted, people!




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"I do not know, what does that mean, that I am so sad..." - a song written by the German novelist Heinrich Heine and mostly played when you are passing the Loreley-Rock at the Central Rhine Valley - But I am sad that I cannot be on the high seas and meet someone from the crew members I already know. I am not sad because I am slowly discovering that a river cruise is a very long scenic cruise and because I am getting to know new lovely crew members who broaden my horizons a little bit. "If the water in the Rhine were golden wine..." - influenced by this song, we experience the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Koblenz, Germany, and Bingen, Germany. The 30 castles and the vineyards ensure that you will eventually die of thirst, starve, and the bubble will burst. It is like an overlength film that is so exciting that you do not quickly get out of the theater to go to the bathroom soon. Even if you switch from the sundeck to the upper deck, you are afraid that you will miss a crucial scene. That is why I learn: it's good that we stayed in Andernach, Germany, and can experience everything during the day. We did not make it to see Marksburg in Braubach, Germany. It is not bad since we would be here by car in 2 hours. But we have to do stress tests ashore so that we can finalize the further shore excursions. And already later in Rüdesheim, we know exactly how we can get as much out of it in the short time that it is still light. Thanks to Pierre Haus from Rheingau-Taxi, we create the view from the Niederwald monument in the setting sun and a very cozy stop in the courtyard of a beautiful winery away from Drosselgasse. Onboard I am mentally brought back to the TU Berlin lecture hall: I am learning again what a learning curve is. The ship's management is groping step by step: how much can I loosen without endangering the passengers and crew's health? I feel safe with the team until the end of the trip! I would have loved to put one or the other fellow travelers in the rubber dinghy and drag them afterward: Social Distancing! The stress increases because you make sure that the hygiene rules are observed. The pressure also decreases because special measures become routine, and we finally manage to exchange two, three, personal words with our waiter Ipoel Rahmad. I notice that the crew accomplished inhumanities quickly to make this crew possible and make me happy because I have a zest for life again. I share my joy with the team: energy for the nerves for everyone !!! So it is like always: a different ship, another crew, a different trip, other circumstances, and something that you did not like before can develop into something beautiful. That is why it is good that we are on the Rhine with the VISTA SKY and learn: if the high seas are not possible: the river is not a bad alternative - it is a perfect one if you let nature and the landscape do the show and on aqua and can do without ice shows.



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It's going up! Day 3 on the VISTA SKY on the way from Rüdesheim, Germany, via Frankfurt, Germany, up the river Main!
On the one hand, it goes into the first lock to eventually reach the apex between the Rhine and the Danube.
And things are looking up.
Because it went down SHORT-TERM (!!!) As I said: we are the 1st cruise of the season, and we are a maiden voyage, and we may have the Covid-19 virus with us as a potential stowaway. After two steps forward, there is a step back, so it only goes up. And I'd rather be a beta tester than stay at home! There are pioneers on the market!
The morning begins in the Rheingau: As the only passenger from the sun deck, I experience wonderfully how the sun rises over the Rheingau and the Main.
I want to see someone like Kate Winslet like in the movie Titanic at the bow, but she sleeps... The chance will never come again that we will meet like that on the Main!
Then we reach Frankfurt am Main. In the middle of the Bahnhofsviertel on Untermainkai - Holbeinsteg. Very central, just a short walk to the main train station. The walk to the central train station is faster than going to the tram stop and then traveling for 1-2 stops.
The Regional German TV-Station has advertised Frankfurt's parlor so that we have to go to the new old town. Since Bruno's parents have not yet been to Frankfurt, the tour is a little more extensive: the banking district, Zeil shopping street, Römerberg, and Paulskirche. Typically Frankfurt. Everything with rickshaws again with Amar and Thorsten.
From Frankfurt, we are not allowed to use the sun deck. But that is also perfectly arranged: it only starts to rain when we are back on board.
We know many places we pass. Before, we felt silly that we were going here of all places. But we only know them from above, loud, smelly, pure stress, traffic jams and now we experience the places from below, quiet, calming and very green—vacation at the site of work. Nobody believes us. But it's worth it.
See you later in Miltenberg, Germany!
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No national park in the USA - no castle on the Loire - no vineyards in Tuscany - and still beautiful? And only 90 minutes away from us. How many times have we driven through the Spessart-Highlands? Along with the A3 Highway and now on VISTA SKY on day 4 of our trip. We are on the move between Frankfurt and Würzburg: we all know the places: from the traffic jam reports on the Hessischer Rundfunk and without a stroll around, we can quickly get from one place to another, but we don't see anything. Again I get to see a new nature film when I experience the fog over the Main early in the morning, and nature is reflected in its crystal clear. I see everything twice - without being drunk. A trained bartender takes care of that, who makes my criticism of the Virgin Mary as a challenge and proves to me: I don't have to go on an ocean cruise liner to feel comfortable. I'm welcome to find many other reasons why I don't like it: but it can't be because of the Virgin Mary! To Miltenberg, we could even come here with my eTicket of our regional transport association VRN (payment via the app: depending on the distance). A beautiful town awaits us. Above all, we had a lovely driver who brings us closer to "Das Wirtshaus im Spessart" (The inn in the Spessart-Highlands - popular German movie of the 60s) at Mespelbrunn Castle. He also realizes that Bruno's parents have a gap in their discovery of Miltenberg and spontaneously fills them and shows them Miltenberg's treasures: many Thanks to Willi from Taxi 7177. In the evening we are in Wertheim. A nice walk to the castle with a beautiful view ends a nice day. It's a shame that we weren't able to experience the Spessart on the sun deck.


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60 miles - 90 minutes by car from our home. Our car knows the way to Wertheim, Germany, in its sleep. But only to the outlet. Because we are not traveling between Dubai and Italy, a river cruise within Germany from Cologne to Passau takes us past our home Odenwald Highlands. Wertheim is so shortly after the other end: we are more from the Hessian part of the Bergstrasse Region, and here we are at the extreme northeastern tip in Badenia. The tour with Mrs. Hörtreiter shows us even more beautiful sides of Wertheim that we have not got to know the evening before. I like this extended overnight stay: no stress - pure relaxation! I was able to walk my lap in the morning, and the hotel manager Birgit greets me in the most friendly way. I was able to take a beautiful picture of MY VISTA SKY in the mirror of the Main water in the most apparent sunshine. We experience a beautiful part of the Main: 7/100 experience "Public Viewing" (No funeral - just the "German-anglo" expression for mutual watching sports events like soccer games) in the Panorama Salon, and 93/100 cannot go to the sun deck to enjoy the river Main. Unfortunately, I cannot listen to music for as long as I would have had the chance today, because soccer is on: Attilá. Today I experience MY dream team at dinner: Ramona, Rahmad, and Milian. Coralien should kiss the lock wall so that I can take pictures of whether it will turn into a prince or a frog: that's how close we are.
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Würzburg: What a beautiful city - and what a stupid time to stay: 05:00 hrs to 12:00 hrs on a Sunday morning!
1/3 of the time is overslept
1/3 of the time is occupied for breakfast
1/3 of the time you would have time to see the city
We spend the other half day on the beautiful Main. We have the best weather, and we are not allowed on the sun deck.
On the other hand, on a Sunday morning in Würzburg, half the city is sitting in the church, hopefully, since the wine bars are still available - I can't explain the empty streets otherwise. It is so empty that our driver Rainer from Taxi Würzburg, even drives us to the Marienberg Fortress and up to the Steinberg. Here we have a magnificent panoramic view of Würzburg.
We'll just come back! And then there is time for the residence and the Marienberg Fortress, and ACCIDENTALLY, MY VISTA SKY is also in Würzburg... Coincidences occur. Let us see if they change their plan now...
I use my last chance as an unemployed person to collect donations: after all, I have to finance my next cruise. The wheelchair helps: Saskia gives me something to do with it. I'm honest enough to see on the cup that I'm asking for donations for my next cruise!
Because the sundeck is closed, we stay longer in the Panorama Salon and so we can exchange a few words with the crew: Cristache and Plamen.
We have lunch again at Csaba and Ahmed's at the Vista Grill.
And with hotel director Birgit and the people at the front (in the most real sense of the word: at the front desk) Coralien and Alexandru, we show masks together again: they protect me, and I protect them. So hopefully, it will continue to work with river cruises during Covid-19 times.
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It continues in the blog - day 7:
It continues to Schweinfurt: arrival 01:00 a.m. - departure 07:00 a.m. Schweinfurt by Night! Fresh pretzels !!!
And to the UNESCO World Heritage, Bamberg, Germany: merely beautiful - finally discovered with professional support: We have literally booked a personal city tour with PERSONAL CITY TOURS - from THA to the best city tour in the world. So we can go straight from the ship to Little Venice. Our driver and owner, Jörg Weiß, explain that only he has a special permit to drive through Little Venice. The new residence in Bamberg and the rose garden are also breathtaking. A very nice tour.
In the evening, it goes to the VISTA GRILL - or instead, in a sports bar on board - it's a shame that football was served with the steak.
Tomorrow we'll be in Nuremberg.
A small note: I have had an exciting position for the last five weeks, and it fills me a lot. So I ask for your understanding if I need a little more time from chapter to chapter.
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Sad: Already one month after commissioning, unfortunately, things are no longer normal:


Hungary closes its borders to foreigners on September 1st, 2020. Only Hungarians are allowed to enter.

I'm very sorry, especially for the crew! I hope that it continues, even if Esztergom and especially the highlight Budapest can no longer be approached. Austria and Germany are also gorgeous, and it is more important that the crew and passengers stayed healthy. Budapest's first settlements have existed for almost 2000 years and will continue to do so for the next 2000 years. So even after the pandemic, you can see it. But health matters now.


Back to our trip within Germany, which you can use as a template for rerouting:


It continues to day 8 in Nuremberg.


Main market (better than Christkindlesmarkt in winter), Kaiserburg, Handwerkerhof, and a few Nuremberg residents in Weck in Nuremberg are the highlights of our tour with Alexander Müller from Taxibusse Nürnberg. The minibus was perfect: we had our transfer from the ship to the city and came directly to the castle without any of us having to climb the mountain with a wheelchair or walker. Even in the middle of the town, it was convenient.


Back on board, there is cherry crumble again for a change, but Rahmad ensures my luck, as he kept yesterday's soup for me and saved me from death with vegetable cream soup (a nightmare for four years in Basel).


I also manage to take pictures of the reception team Coralien and Alexandru and the bar with Cristache, Oleana, Heppy, and Plamen. And with the current captain Thijs. I'm learning new things: freelance captains are not unusual on river cruises. You can see them here today and tomorrow on a competitor's ship. However, in Nuremberg, I am afraid that he will be arrested: property damage, speeding violations, and wrong parking.


As listeners to hr1 (a German middle-of-the-road radio station), we cannot answer a single question at Saskia's quiz. We give up and prefer to admire the main European watershed between the North Sea and the Black Sea - between the Rhine and the Danube - between the Main and Altmühl. We are the only guests who notice that we are driving past the parting posture. Everyone else is busy with the quiz. Musically, I buy two Attila CDs.


The evening ends where it began early in the morning with my cheerleaders Ramona and her colleague: my early morning run through the salon.


The next day leads us to the last stop before disembarkation in Passau.


I hope that it will still work out at the end of October to see the VISTA SKY and especially the crew on the Main between Würzburg and Wiesbaden.

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The last day before disembarkation on VISTA SKY in Kelheim, Germany, starts. License plate KEH = unknown place in East Germany? (one letter = big cities; two letters = midsize cities; three letters = most areas you must not know - especially in East Germany, since they joined the car registration of West Germany after reunion). That was my idea of Kelheim so far. Absolutely no idea what to expect.

However, the Altmühltal awaits me - it is just as beautiful around Essing as it is in the fjords in Norway, Alaska, or Chile.
The National Natural Monument awaits me: the Danube Breakthrough/Gap in the Weltenburg Gap.

We experience an excursion steamer and a boat trip. A difference like a day and night! Pure nature and beauty!

I hate gala nights! So this evening too: it means good food, but unfortunately, almost always that you will soon have to say goodbye to new friends. I can hardly believe it, but a river cruise can also be charming — an excellent alternative to ocean cruises, especially in the age of Covid-19.

In the end, it goes past Regensburg and the Walhalla.

Soon it will be disembarking.

Edited by HeinBloed
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The cruise on the VISTA SKY comes to an end in Passau.
Not our trip yet.

Regardless of whether it's a river or an ocean: it's the same queasy feeling when you have to get off-board. Even if you didn't want it to be like that initially, you took the crew to your hearts. That's why it is harder to say goodbye, and in your mind, you start to think about what else you can discover in rivers. And although we are about to get rid of it: Hotel director Birgit measures the temperature again. Nobody should disembark and claim that they brought the virus home with them from the VISTA SKY.

I am visiting the old town of Passau for the first time. Thanks to Helmut Eckert from Donau-Schiff-Reise-Service, we have a great city tour through Passau on the way from the winter harbor to the car rental company. Charming city! Especially the cathedral. Incidentally, he is the specialist who links all means of transport in and around Passau.

It continues through Austria to Germany: to the Lake Königssee in Berchtesgadener Land. Here we are unlucky on the water: we don't see St. Bartholomä. Instead, we go up to the Jenneralm. Very lovely, too.

Later we meet a fellow passenger Karin in Kufstein, whom we know from NORWEGIAN SPIRIT.

The day ends in Innsbruck.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

For the sake of completeness, I will add three more chapters. To complete the trip.




Day 11 goes to the Swarovski Crystal Worlds in Wattens, Austria, at Innsbruck's gates and then on to St. Moritz in the Engadin, Switzerland, for a highlight away from the ship.



Edited by HeinBloed
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The route from St. Moritz in Grisons to Brig in Valais takes Bruno and his parents on the Glacier Express.


I am on the trail of James Bond 007 "Goldfinger" in my car.


We continue together through the Lötschberg tunnel into the Bernese Oberland to Lake Thun.




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