Wednesday 22nd June, 2005
Amsterdam – St Goar, Rhine Valley, Germany
Wake up call was about 6.30am, so got up, had a quick shower, packed an overnight bag for the next night, then went down for breakfast. One thing I find really weird about Europeans and breakfast is that they don’t like you taking food from the breakfast table for lunch, which is weird to me, because I’m used to the US way, where you’re almost considered weird if you don’t take a few muffins and croissants for later in the day. I know which way I prefer. After brekkie we went back upstairs to check the room and take our suitcases down to the bus.
The bus took us back into Amsterdam to the diamond centre for an hour or so talk on diamonds, a nice well-rehearsed sale pitch to get us to buy some diamonds that were a few thousand Euros, then we were off for the morning on our own.
Then we needed to go up the main shopping street, but by this point we only had about ¾ of an hour to get to the bus before it left, and we needed to get lunch, buy souvenirs and get money exchanged. So we split up, Lin & I went to the Travelex to exchange money, then went into a little tourist store to buy postcards & shot glasses. We asked the guy in there where the nearest toilet was, and he said C&A was probably the easiest place to go, so as that was only a shop or two back down the street, we went back down there, confused the floors, then found the toilets. On the way in, my day pack set off the alarm, but we were rushing so much we hardly noticed. However, on the way out, it set off the alarm again, and, once again, we hardly paid any attention to it, and we only had about 10mins before the bus came by now, and had to get up the other end of the busy street by then. So we started running.
It was only when we stopped to catch our breath that the store security guard caught up to us. He started talking Dutch to us, even though we were talking English to him. We followed him back to the store where we waved stuff through the alarmed thingies by the door until we realized it was my toiletries for that night (as we had to carry our day/overnight pack with us) that set of the alarm, as stuff randomly does. The annoying part was that at first he was acting as if he couldn’t speak English, and after we found out what was setting it all off he suddenly had perfect English. They probably tell them to do that to tourists, but honestly, I wasn’t worried cos I knew stuff had set it off going in, it was just a hassle going through it with someone who pretended not to speak English when he could. I’d expect that in France, but that was the only Dutch person I met who was a pain in the arse, the rest were all really nice.
So after that was sorted out, Lin and I ran down the street to the bus, and still managed to make it there a few minutes before we had to be there. Thankfully, Reuben had taken the bus to the service people that morning, and he was running late, so we had time to duck into a café and ask them to make us a couple of sandwiches to quickly take away.
As we left Amsterdam, our tour manager picked our tour song, which I think is supposed to be a Contiki tradition. Anyway, ours was “All the small things” by Blink 182, chosen because it’s all the small things that you end up remembering about a trip.
Drove down through The Netherlands and entered Germany, and drove along the Rhine River until we reached the village of St. Goar. We checked into the hotel, I went across the road with some people to take photos of the sign, river and hotel before dinner.
I remember the place we had dinner, but can’t remember at all what we had. Food. After dinner we walked through the village to the local person’s house who has a wine cellar (cold down there) and who does wine tasting for the tour groups. They talked for a short time about the wines, then we had a while to taste four local wines, and then at the end we had a chance to try some of the Ice Wine they produce, the last crop was 2004 apparently. Anyway, it was too sweet even for me, and surprisingly I ended up buying a bottle of the dry wine we tried first. I enjoyed that, and I think I’m now converted to the Riesling white wines, but I’ve yet to check out how much they cost here. So I bought a bottle of that for €7.50, which wasn’t too bad for a very nice wine.
We all went back to the hotel for toilet breaks, then a bunch of us, I don’t really remember how many, at least 12 probably, decided to go climb up the hill to the viewing platform just underneath the castle. It doesn’t look very high, but when you’re walking up a steep dirt path and crumbling stairs, it’s steep & tiring. The view was worth it though, and we stayed up there for probably at least an hour, partly to rest, partly because one of the guys wanted to take a photo of the village with a train going through it, but he kept missing. When we finally decided to go back down, Michelle & I decided to take the road down, rather than the dirt path we all took up. So we walked back by ourselves, and ended up beating everyone else back by around 15mins. Most people congregated in the bar that night, I checked my email (they had 4 computers in a room just off the bar), talked to people for a little while, then went to bed.