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“No story sits by itself. Our lives connect like threads on a loom, interwoven in ways we never realize.” ~ Mitch Albom

Today is our final vacation day technically, as tomorrow we leave to go back to reality. Reality is not such a bad thing, but vacation reality in wonderful places with friends that you have known and friends you have just made is better. Thank you to Lissa for sending me the title quote. Doctor Seuss may or may not have been talking about this trip, but the sentiment holds true.

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 
~ Dr. Seuss

After breakfast we took a scenic bus trip to the Rhine Falls of Zurich. It is is the largest waterfall in Switzerland and Europe. It was breath taking. It was also pouring rain! But as Barbara Haas says, “we are addicted to fun,” and even the rain could not keep us from having fun!

Across a width of 492 feet and a height of 75.5 feet, over 22,000 cubic feet of water plunge over the falls. As the rivers were flowing due to recent rains and snow melt the sounds of the water rushing is deafening. We did not take one of the little boat rides below the falls thankfully!

We may have been soaked but that did not stop our photo ops or fun!

After lunch the sun came out and it was another picture perfect halcyon afternoon. It may have involved a little shopping, a little sightseeing and of course wine.

Tonight we got to celebrate again as a group at a lovely dinner hosted by Dave and Thiery Natale. Again, it was an evening of good food, good wine, good friends and unfortunately good byes.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” ~Mae West

“Because when you stop and look around, this life is pretty amazing.” ~ Doctor Seuss

“If you never go, you’ll never know.” ~ Unknown Author

This morning we repacked our suitcases and headed out for our final stop which is Zurich. After a couple more last minute shots of the Alps from my window, and one from last night we boarded the bus for a long but beautiful trip to Zurich mostly on the back roads of Switzerland. You can see the lights on the top of the mountain if you look closely.

There were quite a few off the bus, get back on the bus along the way but each stop was unique and interesting.

We took a brief but interesting ride on the Dolderbahn which is a three quarters of a mile rack railway. The line was opened in 1895 as a funicular railway and was converted to a rack railway in 1973. It was fast and interesting and brought us to the top of a mountain to see one of of the most beautiful hotels in the world, the Dolder Grand Hotel. Feel free to make me a reservation here (prepaid) any time!

There were more sights to see before we got to our hotel and I must admit I was a bit hungry and thirsty so I do not remember all of what we saw. Tomorrow is another day and I am grateful for the spectacular weather Dave has ordered up for us along our travels.

“You will never be completely home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.”                              

~ Miriam Adeney

“It’s tough to find a place not to like in Switzerland.” ~ Michele Bachmann

The view from out hotel room at the Hotel Anker of the Alps is amazing. Every time I put my camera down last night and said “okay, enough pictures” I took it out for one more shot. Then I woke up this morning and took a few more.

We had a quick breakfast and then began a two hour (three mile) walking tour of the city of Lucerne. It is a lovely city which seems to be a combination of old and new. It is known for its preserved medieval architecture, sits amid snow capped mountains on Lake Lucerne. Our guide today was pleasant and informative as he showed us the churches and historial sites of Altstadt, which is also called old town. The covered Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), built in 1333, links the Aldstadt to the Reuss River’s right bank. There was something to marvel at everywhere you looked.

The Jesuit Church with its magnificent organ was extremely beautiful.

We quickly passed by the farmers market, by the Chapel Bridge and a few more fountains where you were able to drink water straight from the alps.

We then took a one hour most delightful boat tour of Lake Lucerne. It is the fourth largest lake in Switzerland and the views from the boat were just stunning. I had a chance to sit next to a lovely eighty year old man and his wife from England. They travel for the love of travel and to see the world when they are still able. Lake Lucerne is just like Long Pond in Cape Cod according to Tom Haas, just with mountains in the background. I respectfully disagree.

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.” ~ Gandalf

This morning after a delicious breakfast we said goodbye to some of our traveling companions and boarded a bus for Basel, Switzerland. It’s borders are close to both Germany and France. We took a bus tour which always makes me drowsy and then a long walking tour though the city.

There were many interesting things to see in the city. We took a walk in market square and a quick view of the Basler Münster Cathedral and passed by an unusual fountain called the Tinguely Fountain.

We had a brief lunch and re-boarded the bus for our destination for the night, Lucerne, which I found to be a much more charming city than Basel. We took an afternoon stroll by the river, and stopped for a glass of wine!

The view of the Alps was stunning, and I am sure we will see more of them tomorrow.

“I urge you: go find buildings and mountains and oceans to swallow you whole. They will save you, in a way nothing else can.”                 ~Christopher Poindexter                   

“You and me, we are more than friends. We are like a small travel gang!”

Today was our last full day on the river cruise and we were both in Germany and France. We arrived in Breisach, Germany and toured the town of Riquewihr, France. It is one of the most beautiful villages in France, and appears to have retained its charm, not changing over centuries. The cobblestone streets date back to the sixteenth century and are lined with half-timbered winemakers’ shops and tasting rooms.

We spent a few hours with an educational tour of the city. Much of the town was spared from bombings of the wars and remains unchanged. The main industry is tourism and we did our best to be good tourists and support the local economy. They are known for Black Forest Cake and Black Forest Ham. Woodcarving and Black Forest Cuckoo Clocks are popular souvenirs.

In 1983 France started a program to repopulate the storks in Alsace, and it has been very successful. Today you see storks nesting on chimneys and rooftops and in trees, even in cities. Some small wine villages, also play host to growing numbers of storks. It was a bit of a challenge to get a long distance photo of a non cooperative stork nesting on top of a home!

“Everyone needs this friend that calls and says, “Get dressed, we’re going on an adventure.”

Luckily, we have been blessed with great travel companions, both people we have known for a few years and people we have just met. As we travel on to the next leg of our trip in Switzerland tomorrow, I am grateful for having Barbara, Tom, Pat, Rich, Diana, Lissa, Kim, Gary, Peggy , Ken and Clarissa. Last but not least to our fearless leader Dave for bringing us together, and most importantly to my husband and best friend, Skip, the leader of “Friends of Skip,” who has made our life an amazing journey.

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

~ Tim Cahill

“The use of travelling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” ~ Samuel Johnson

This morning was an earlier day than usual and we arrived in Strasbourg France. Strasbourg is one of the one of the three main capitals of the European Union. The city is also the seat of many non-European international institutions as the commission for navigation of the Rhine, and the International Union of Human Rights. After breakfast we took a brief bus tour around the city and then a lovely and informative tour of the city center. It was as if you were taken back in time. You almost expected Belle from Beauty and the Beast to come around a corner singing.

The city was a photographers paradise. We stopped to look at the majestic Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg .

We took a leisurely stroll back passing (and stopping in bakeries) towards the Petite France section of Strasbourg.

“I travel because it makes me realize how much I haven’t seen, how much I’m not going to see, and how much I still need to see.”
~ The Legacy Letters, by Carew Papritz”

“I travel light. I think the most important thing is to be in a good mood and enjoy life, wherever you are.” ~Diane von Furstenberg

Today was a relaxing travel day on the Rhine River to our next destination in Germany, the city of Heidelberg. The view from the deck of the ship was often picturesque with fields and farms, but often there were more industrial factories along the riverbed. But no matter the view, when you are with people you love, its always a wonderful day.

We took a bus ride to Heidelberg Castle. Heidelberg Castle is a ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries. There was a lot to see and a lot of walking and climbing to do but it was well worth it for the views. The house on the bottom right once belonged to Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf!

“From where they stood, they could see the castle.” ~ Frank Yerby

After all of that walking we needed to sit and enjoy a drink in Heidelberg’s Old Town square because we are magnanimous and want to support the local economy. We headed back to the ship for another relaxing evening of dinner and drinks. This life is not too hard to take.

Barbara and Tom

“Travel is a new experience that can transport you out of your everyday routine to create memories with the ones you love. ”

~ Brian Chesky