We rejoin the intrepid couple…
We awoke to the ship docking alongside a park in Speyer, Germany, in the rain.
After what had become my typical breakfast of muesli, yoghurt, and fruit, we set off for a walking tour of the town.
A small section of the ancient city wall still stands.
Our tour guide, Ernst, a retired military man, was a font of architectural knowledge, particularly the history of the construction of the 11th century Romanesque Speyer Cathedral.
We delved into the old Jewish quarter and had the opportunity climb down into a ceremonial bathing chamber, the Mikveh – brrr.
We walked back to the ship for lunch before returning to town on our own. We explored a residential area where everyone seemed to have orchids in their front windows. I could see myself living in Speyer for a few months.
I must disabuse you of the notion that we were in Europe just for fun. Oh, no. Aside from collecting plot and character ideas for future books, we were on the Great Hat Hunt! Mr. S. has long been searching for the perfect chapeau and he found it in Speyer at a hat shop called Beisel Hüte. Started in 1951, it is now run by the founder’s granddaughter. She told us, “hats are my life”.
Once we had hat in hand, we continued our strolling and shared a warm pretzel – yum!
We returned to the ship for a German lesson. Ha! In one ear and out the other, I’m afraid. I did learn that saying prost as I raise a glass is incorrect – it should be prosit.
Following a delicious supper of consommé, German-style spinach ravioli, and an ice cream and cookie parfait, we all retired to the lounge for an evening of music and dancing. Too much fun!
Don't forget - my next book, to be released on June 26th, is available for pre-order. If you like fun, flirty and steamy romance, get it now!
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I am incredibly excited to share that my next book, Love Proof, will be released into the wild, and onto your e-readers, on June 26, 2019. Huzzah!!! Cue the biodegradable confetti!!! Pop the sparkling wine corks!!!
If you enjoy light-hearted and steamy small-town romance with snappy dialogue, pre-order Love Proof today!!!
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*there is now a world-wide shortage of exclamation marks
Unemployed photojournalist Raynor Elliot stops at a bakery near the famous Deerbourne Inn. Not only does he get a lead on a job but the bakery’s owner is that awkward kid he knew in high school, only now she has fabulous curves and an irreverent sense of humor. The cozy bakery, with its aroma of sugar, vanilla and spice, has more to offer than tasty cookies.
Fiona MacLeod has been plagued for years by the need to make amends for telling The Big Lie. When the lie’s victim strolls into her bakery with his icy blue stare and killer charm, she feels like she’s standing too close to a hot oven.
Between running her bakery and frosting cupcakes for the Mad River Garden Party, she's pretty sure she's falling in love with this infuriating, sexy man. Can Fiona dredge up the courage to confess, face the consequences, and hope for forgiveness?
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We re-join the grand European adventure as our ship glides into Strasbourg. Not actually into town, since the rivers that flow through that lovely city are too narrow and shallow to accommodate a cruise ship, but you get the gist.
We were still chugging along as we went to breakfast, after having passed through several locks over night, with a few more to navigate. Traffic on the Rhine was especially heavy and so we were running behind schedule.
As soon as we docked, we boarded busses for a brief driving tour of Strasbourg, after which we met up with our walking-tour guide, a feisty French woman who, stereotypically but authentically, said “ooh la la” at moments of crisis. Unfortunately, because of the travel delays, the tour was abbreviated. But we’d been to Strasbourg before and so were happy for the extra time on our own.
We strolled around town, along the river, through quaint squares, scoping out a potential lunch spot. We made our decision based on the long line that had formed at L’Atelier 116, a sure sign of good food.
After more strolling (good, comfortable shoes are required for traversing cobblestone streets) we stopped for a pick-me-up at Poids Plume Bistro Viet. We enjoyed a chilled glass of panaché, a yummy mix of beer and lemonade, just like a shandy in the UK.
We made our way back to the ship in time for a demonstration on how to cook Flammküchen – a delicious thin crust, topped with onion, cheese and ham – yum! We had our safety drill and then another enjoyable dinner – roasted pumpkin soup, Chateaubriand, potatoes, steamed veggies, molten chocolate cake with ice cream. Mathias, the cruise director, joined us for dinner and we chatted about his life and career (from the Netherlands, married, kids, started working on big sea-going vessels, prefers the rivers, 28 days on a ship, 13 days off).
Then back to the lounge for an evening of Klezmer music provided by a quartet (violin, bass fiddle, two guitars) from Strasbourg. Great toe-tapping stuff, lots of Django Reinhardt.
About fifteen minutes after we returned to our cabin we drifted away from shore and I drifted off to sleep.
This next installment of our grand European adventure records the beginning of our river cruise aboard one of the Viking River Cruise longships.
A lovely bus ride through the Swiss countryside took us from Zurich to Basel.
We enjoyed an informative walking tour of the city - old-world twisty cobbled streets, quaint shops, intriguing restaurants, and trams and bicycles posing a risk to pedestrians.
Interior courtyard of a government building.
After the tour we boarded our ship, the Viking Hild, checked in to our stateroom, freshened up a bit, unpacked a few things, then headed to the restaurant for a buffet lunch. We sat with and got to know a foursome of women who travel together regularly. The food aboard the ship was divine from beginning to end. I’ll probably mention the food several times, but it was delicious and so deserves mentioning. I can’t fathom how the chefs created those feasts in their tiny kitchen.
We set sail and soon went through the first of many locks that control the water level along the Rhine. We barely skimmed below the ginormous gate and got sprinkled with river water as we passed under.
The incredibly young-looking captain and a crew member making sure we were headed in the right direction.
The river is a veritable highway for all manner of cargo and we encountered many barges.
Quite often, a husband-and-wife pair of captains live on board, and need a vehicle for when the ship is docked. We even saw barges with a small playground – the children would be homeschooled.
We freshened up and joined the other passengers in the lounge for Happy Hour, the toast to Captain and crew, and the presentation by our cruise director, Mathias.
We found a table in the dining room, no set seating arrangements, and enjoyed getting to know two couples – one from Florida and one from California. Our menu choices were always varied and each evening included a special regional dish. That night it was veal ragout – I can’t bring myself to eat veal, so instead I enjoyed the Thai green curry. Yum! I started with the white bean soup and it, and all the soups I ate onboard, was delicious. My dessert was a plum tart. Lots of wine accompanied dinner and we were almost the last group to leave the dining room, hehe.