Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts


“Celebration in the City”

I completed “Celebration in the City” prior to our Great Rivers of Europe Cruise in mid-September 2016.

“OOOOOH! AWWWWW!” Celebration in the City Design *** Inspired by Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife Design *** Artist Hand-dyed & Monoprinted Fabrics *** Machine Appliqué * Machine Quilting * Machine Embroidery *** by Mary A Ritter, Cary, North Carolina -September 2016 *** all work completed by the artist ***All Rights Reserved 2016                                   

The work on it began earlier in the year when members of my local quilting group, The Piecemakers, decided to work together on the same pattern. Eager to learn some quilting blocks, I signed up, but of course, didn’t stay with the action plan for very long. I enjoyed learning how to create some blocks, but then decided to add a city-scape along the bottom of the quilt. Eventually, I turned the blocks on-point to depict fireworks and then used more blocks than the original design. I designed the sky behind the fireworks so that the light from the buildings was reflected in light sky tones near the buildings, smoke and clouds crowded across the center and a darker, clearer sky developed higher in the work. It hangs above the archway in our entry hall. All in all, it was a challenging and fun project.

My series emphasis for 2017 will be cityscapes and structures that I collected in photographs on our Great Rivers of Europe cruise. Keep an eye on this spot.

Fiber Arts

Travel Odds ‘n Ends

As we are getting settled at home, without anyone to prepare our meals or bring us our coffee or tea, or take us on long walks and explain everything to us (oh so sad!), I am finding some bits of information that I had intended to include in the travel blog.

On the impressive pedestrian/train bridge in Cologne, someone had hung a skeleton sculpture. It was done anonymously overnight and the city grew fond of it, so it wasn’t removed. It was added to a pre-existing beam.


We were taught that if a structure or city’s name ended in “berg”, it meant it was a fortress such as Heidelberg Castle. If the name ended in “burg”, it meant is was a smaller town, such as Wurzburg or Rothenburg ob der tauber.

One of the items we purchased from the glassblower was a rooster. My collection of roosters is small: a Navajo rooster, a Maui rooster, a Minnesota rooster, and a NC rooster. Now I have a Wertheim, Germany rooster to crow with the others.


The temperatures seemed so cold to us while we were in Amsterdam, Delft and Bruge. Of course, there was a wind to go along with them. When we checked our maps we found that we were at the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska. No wonder!

I always intended to show a steeple with a cock on top indicating that it was Lutheran. I took many pictures, but had a hard time getting a clear shot because the steeples were too high. Here’s the best shot. It was a pretty church in Rhein, Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany as we sailed by the castles.


Our trip, with the pre-trip and post-trip bus excursions, included 21 cities. Our memories are unclear about what happened where, so I added some brief commentary to each city on the list mostly as a memory aid for us. It is our memory cheat list. They are listed in the order we visited them.

1. Prague, The Czech Republic: Praha, Charles Bridge, Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral/Anton Mucha style; dinner out on our own overlooking Charles Bridge, Palace and Cathedral. Astrological Clock; Jewish Quarter; Wenceslas Square; Anton Mucha Gallery; Norm climbed the clock tower and took pictures while I had coffee at a street-side cafe.

2. Bratislavia, Slovakia (I never thought I would be in Slovakia!) Great little walkable old town with many humorous sculptures; noon meal included at the politically-elite restaurant

3. Vienna, Austria: guided tour of city; learned about Cici and Franz Joseph

4. Melk Abbey: not really in the town, but located between Vienna and Passau. We toured the abbey, but did not dock in Melk. We purchased Wachau Merillan (apricot) chutney and a sample of Merillan aperitif. Wachau Valley is also known for its wines: Gruner Veltline or Riesling; Zweigelt (red)

5. Passau, Lower Bavaria, Germany-Dreiflüssestadt-City of Three Rivers; first city actually in Germany; the Danube River is the border with Austria on one side and Germany on the other;  and we rode on the sundeck enjoying the scenery of classic paintings of Wachau Gorge; free Organ concert at noon in the baroque style St. Stephen’s Cathedral

6. Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany-home visit to Beilsning; oldest bratwurst stand; dinner at ump pa pa evening dinner out at cruise expense at Alta Linda; it was Sunday so the cathedral’s bells were ringing; 

7. Kelheim-Memorial on hill above city overlooking Rhine River; visited a monastery/brewery???why??? 

8. Nuremburg-Justizpalace trials and Hitler’s Zeppelin field; Frauenkirk Cathedral with clock figures; *best* bratwurst in Bratwurst Cafe

9. Bamburg- houses along the river; great downtown shopping square; bought scarf and sketches; had Flammkuchen (pizza like); selfie on the bridge by the mural painted buildings; finally found an apotek (drugstore) for cough drops, aspirin and bandaids.

10. Rothenburg ob der Tauber-buildings on the square and houses; oldest medieval town; walked the wall; Christmas shops; St. Jakob’s Lutheran Cathedral with tall wooden sculpture; Mihai’s 94 year old friend-owner of shop, so alert and talkative; small building with a street on each side. Included lunch in authentic restaurant.

11. Wertheim- coin operated bicycle inner tube dispenser; narrowest building in Franconia on the square; Castle above-rode the tram to get there and scrambled all over it totally unsupervised – it was a great castle to explore; great overview of Wertheim; went to small festival (Octoberfest) and tried the bratwurst and beer.

12. Rüdesheim-We didn’t do the late afternoon tour because we were too tired after touring Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

13. Offenbach-didn’t tour at all. It was just a docking point.

14. Heidelberg-crowded castle; too many tourists, but an impressive castle and overlook; Palmbraeu Gasse restaurant included mid-day (alley restaurant); hot chocolate later at a small cafe that had gorgeous big cakes. It was raining and cold.

15. Wurzberg-walkable right off the gangplank; Residenz and Fortress; same day as Heidelberg? We didn’t tour Wurzberg as it was evening by the time we returned from Heidelberg? Some took the option to stay in town and tour in the evening.

16. Koblenz- end of the castle run on the Rhine; clever sculptures; 

17. Cologne- pedestrian/train bridge; large Dom Cathedral; fish market houses;  Kölsh Beer Tasting

18. Amsterdam, North Holland, The Netherlands-Rijkmuseum; canal tour; houseboats; bicycles; city seems so large compared to the ones we’ve been visiting.

19. Delft, South Holland, The Netherlands-De Candelaer Factory Handprinted Delftware and shop; Henry Willig Gouda shop

20. Ghent, East Flanders, Belgium-impressive number of cathedrals; not enough time but good exposure; stepped gable roofs

21. Brugge, West Flanders, Belgium- lovely walkable city; canal tour; 1000+ Belgium beer wall; French fries with mayo; movie The Monument Men filmed here. Only Michelangelo sculpture outside of Italy – angel


Fiber Arts

Day 21-22~Oct 13-14~Th&Fri~Brugge, Belgium~the saga ends!

 Day 21-22~Oct 13-14~Th&Fri~Brugge, Belgium~the saga ends!

This is the last post for this trip as we fly out of Brussels, Belgium tomorrow morning. We leave the NC Hotel by van at 3:45AM, heading for Brussels. What a trip this has been! It’s truly not a vacation as we have been on the go, on our walking feet, everyday for several hours. We’ve also been fed delicious food, listened to tantalizing facts and figures about each location, told entertaining tales, and met wonderful people. We just hope our traveling paths will cross again in the near future.

Our first full day in Brugge was better after a night of rest in a lovely old “monastery” hotel right near the large sculpture, but it is still very cold and windy. We are all wearing multiple layers that we would never put together at home! They layers serve their purpose and help to hide us from the wind and chill. Brugge is loaded with sculptures, and we have not done the wonderful artwork here justice just because we are at the end of a long saga and are quite tired. Folks seem to be on the mend from a harsh cold and cough that has made its way through the tour group.

We love the small village feeling of Brugge, and even with the cold weather, the sun was bright during our canal ride so Norm got some great pictures. You can tell by how clear it is that it might be cold, but the sunlight made for great shadows and light in the photos.

A local guide took us on a walking tour, pointing out the multitude of sculptures on the buildings and bridges. She also informed us what buildings hold more artwork and the only Michaelangelo outside of Italy. We plan to follow her recommendation to rewatch The Monuments Men, a movie from 2014. Following the walking tour, we boarded a canal boat for a tour from the water.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view.)

The construction material of choice was brick, with the oldest buildings using little ornamentation. Newer construction involves decorative use of brick and color. The Main Square features a charming combination of many styles and is a busy place. Swans are a common site here, but this was a particularly large flock.

The first shot is one of Norm’s that shows the cascading bridges and the vivid colors so well. The canal captain is pointing to the remnants of his hair lost by going under so many low arches.

Two must-do traditions in Brugge:

1-Eat the special double fried fries with mayo offered at the street stand in the Main Square. Norm is not fond of mayo, but I loved them with mayo, and he liked his too.

2-Visit the wall of 1000+ Belgium beers. We visited it and intended to return this last day to taste the sampler. Guess this means we have to return! We couldn’t get there today as we are room-bound trying to get Norm’s cold in check to fly tomorrow.





Fiber Arts

Day 20-Oct 12-Delft,The Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium

Day 20-Oct 12-Delft,The Netherlands and Ghent, Belgium

On this day, we disembark the River Adagio and start our bus ride to Bruges, Belgium. Our Program Director, Marloes, points out some features of Amsterdam as we pull away from the city on the Ring highway which encircles the city. The Netherlands has 12 provinces with Amsterdam being the capitol of North Holland, and Rotterdam the capitol of South Holland. An entirely new province created from reclaimed land, Fleevoland, was established in 1985.

Yesterday, on our cruise of the canals, we saw many drawbridges. Drawbridges, of course, were invented by the Dutch with their many areas of reclaimed land separated by small ditches of water. There are 92000 dikes plus Delta Works throughout the country. Delta Works  will hold back the ocean with the touch of a button in the case of an emergency, or to stave off the effects of climate change. It sounds quite complex, and I intend to read more about it.

The Habsbergs once ruled here, thus we see the blue crowns as symbols. During WWII, 100,000 Jews and others who were selected, were imprisoned here. We see the XXX symbol on many things; it stands for Water * Fire * Plague. The area has experienced many hard times.

(Be sure to click on the picture to see a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

Marloes, a citizen of The Netherlands, pointed out the multitude of windows, mostly free of shades or curtains. Aside from the people not feeling the need for privacy, the government used to tax, not by the size of the footprint of a building, but by how many windows it had. Since that ended, the citizenry has enjoyed having the sunlight pour in from all directions!

If you earn less than 24,000€ annually, you qualify for government housing. Because the government provides newer housing and maintains its quality, this is some of the best housing available, although it is a small space. It is also rent controlled, so families try to keep it from one generation to another, although this is illegal.

As we hit the outskirts of Amsterdam, I snapped a couple of photos of more recently constructed buildings. We were near the university Marloes attended, and when asked, she explained that sports activities are never associated with educational institutions here. Thus these is no such thing as a cheerleader. Sports is its own entity and is operated by neighborhood organizations.

After about an hour’s drive we arrive in Delft, well known for its blue and white dishes with the windmills on them. We visited De Candelaer, a small authentic Delft shop. In order to authentic they must make every stitch of the pottery from the clay to the artistic paints and the artist’s renditions of the patterns.

We also saw houses which backed up to a canal, gorgeous flowers in a shop, and the beautiful, quaint shops sharing the downtown square with two huge cathedrals, an old one and a new one from the 1700s. I bought a chunk of smoked gouda in a shop that sold only Dutch gouda in a multitude of flavors.

We had a local guide and walked some more. It’s another lovely town with structures from the Middle Ages and older… Houses and Cathedrals, of course. We did enjoy Delft for its Henri Willig Gouda Cheese Shop,  and De Candelaer Delft Pottery Shop, spending some Euro in both places.

Then we rode for an hour and stopped at Ghent for another guided walking tour. Ghent was a huge contrast to Delft with multiple huge cathedrals and much larger squares and structure in general.

We had a local guide who did a marvelous job of exposing us to the high points. It looks to me like Ghent is worth two to three days for a quality visit. I noted only that Ghent is known for its stepped gable roof lines, cheaper to build than a curved roof line, but still adding stature, even though there frequently is no actual living space behind the gable. We feel like we are viewing a movie set at times.

Afew random facts: ***Ganda hams – ganda was the name for Gent in old times and one of their well-known products is ham. ***Ghent folks are called strong heads. Charles V tried to hang many people who didn’t pay bills. There were too many to hang them all, so instead, he humiliated them by making them walk with nooses stringing them together, in white costumes, barefoot in single file. ***Trappist beer is still made by the monks – Spenser Beer in USA. ***Wool and cotton industry during Napolean’s time.

Finally, after another hour of riding, we arrived in Brugge, a very tired group of 13. A good night’s sleep in an old monastery, now the Brugge NC Hotel will make a difference.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 19-Oct 11-Tues-Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Day 19-Oct 11-Tues-Amsterdam, The Netherlands

After sailing all night, we arrived in Amsterdam while we were eating breakfast. We were aboard canal cruisers by 9am, followed by a long guided walk through the city. This is our last day and night aboard the River Adagio. Early tomorrow morning, we will board a bus to Delft and then on to Bruges, Belgium for the last three days of our journey.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

Amsterdam is a city of WATER! They sail in boats and live on boats!

Amsterdam is a city of BICYCLES! They haul children or groceries, or briefcases; then they park their bikes in parking garages! Or in a mad pile wherever there is a smidgen of space! Watch where you step as you don’t have a chance if you wander into their path.

Amsterdam is a city of beautiful skylines and big cheeses, namely Gouda and Edam.

And Amsterdam is the city of Vermeer, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and the Rijksmuseum. 

Anne Frank hid from the Nazi occupation in the city for years and her hiding place is a museum.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 18-Oct 10-Mon-Cologne, Germany

Day 18-Oct 10-Mon-Cologne, Germany

We have traveled through the night and arrive at Cologne by breakfast time. As we sailed from Klobenz to Cologne, we were reminded that not all of Germany is old and picturesque. We passed this highly industrial area before nightfall. 

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)


Norm captured this shot of the beautiful Dom Cathedral and the impressive rail and pedestrian bridge in a panorama. He had to walk across the bridge as our ship is docked under the far side of it.


 On our morning guided walk, our guide tells how Cologne got its name. Agrippa was the military leader of the fortress in this area. He had a beautiful daughter named Agrippina. When Claudius, the Emperor, saw Agrippina, he divorced his fourth wife and made Agrippina his fifth wife. He made the fortress a colony and named it Cologna (colony) in her honor. This label raised its status, and so it grew and prospered.

The Dom Cathedral is pictured again as we approach it a bit closer.  The Dom Cathedral was only bombed once in WWII due to orders to avoid it as it served as landmark for the planes to know where to bomb. The steeples stuck up over the morning fog. Cologne was heavily bombed, but not the cathedral – once a steeple was struck by accident, but no major damage occurred.

Cologne served as a triage camp during WWII which means that prisoners were sent here first to then be reassigned according to whatever status was given them. It is called the Deutz Concentration Camp. Prisoners were sent here because of many persecutions – being Jewish, being gay, being disabled etc. This pink triangle memorializes those imprisoned because of sexual differences. Conrad Adenauer said, “Deutz is where Siberia begins.” Now the site is used for trade fairs and the like.

These houses on Fisherman Row were painted different colors in the Middle Ages because houses were not numbered at that time. You could direct someone to your home based on the color.


The iron figures on the front actually are large staples fastened into the end of the beam that runs from front to back of the house. The beam holds them straight. Again, they build taller because they are taxed on the footprint of the building. They seldom used blue because lapis lazuli is the only source, and it oxidizes too quickly. Sometime blue bottles were crushed up to add color, but it was also very expensive. They also used ox blood to mix in the paint to make pink.


These sculptures imitate Lorrell and Hardy style characters. On the left is the farmer Tunis. On the right is the city slicker, Schnell. Schnell criticizes Tunis for letting life just pass by and for drinking too much. Schnell rethinks his life and sells all of his empty drink bottles and becomes as rich as city guy. And another story: Schnell sees Tunis in his best suit carrying a Bible. It is Saturday night, and Tunis tells Schnell that he is going to a brothel. Schnell wonders why he is dressed in his best suit and carrying a Bible. Tunis says he might stay until morning. Our guide told us these as an example of German humor.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

We were invited to a Kölsch beer tasting. This is a special German beer that adheres to many traditions. The beer hall must have dark wood floors with dark wood paneling between covering 40-60% of the wall surface. The table tops must be wooden with no lacquer coating. The beer is served in 6oz column-like glasses.

The waiters are called Kübes and they always wear white and blue. They like to banter and challenge the guests on a variety of topics like sports etc, but the waiter must be the initiator of the teasing. They hate Dusseldorf – Cologne sewage flows down to Dusseldorf.

I am not much of a beer fan, but I thought this beer had a smooth and pleasant flavor.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 17-Oct 9-Sun-Castle Row on the Rhine to Koblenz,Germany

Day 16-Oct 9-Sun-Castle Row on the Rhine to Koblenz, Germany

Our ship stayed in the port of Rüdesheim overnight so that we could cruise by the castles that line the Rhine River during the morning light. Right after breakfast, we pulled out of port. We cruised by 16 Castles, but I have selected just four to share. Some are in ruins, and some have been restored. If there is a flag flying, it usually means that some one is in residence.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

En route, we passed Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river. Since the time of Ancient Greece, there have been legends of sirens, women-creatures who lure sailors to their death with sweet songs. Ancient Germanic legend places one such siren (Lorelei) here, and it is said she enticed sailors to destruction below the rock. In our case, Lorelei looks strangely like Carol, one of our Program Directors.

We were treated to sausages and beer after the last castle to help us warm up as it was very chilly up on the sundeck. Then a full three course lunch at 1pm, featuring a delicious mushroom soup, goulash, and a pistachio ice cream sundae. Luckily, the servings are small.

At 2:45 we disembarked the ship for a guided walking tour of Koblenz, set at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Originally established as an outpost of the Roman Empire in 8 BC and named Castellum apud Confluentes, the town became a city in the 13th century and served as the home of French refugees during the French Revolution. Here are some highlights in pictures.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

Where four streets converge in old town Koblenz, there is a neighborhood square. These 4 cornices on each of the four corner structures overlook that Square. I enjoy looking at the details of structures most of all.

Koblenz has several sculptures located around the city that are humorous. The market wife is complaining to the policeman that a neighbour’s dog has just urinated on her basket and she wants him to fix the problem!

The “chaengle”  is spitting water. Chaengles were children of French soldiers and German women. Their single moms had to work to support their families, and so the children were frequently called “naughty” (chaengle) as they freely roamed about town.

This evening we will meet with the guide who will lead our tour to Bruges, Belgium so we can get ready for that. Dinner will follow that meeting, AND THEN, we will be entertained by an accordian orchestra.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 16-Oct 8-Sat-Offenbach/Heidelberg/ Rudesheim, Germany

Day 16-Oct 8-Sat-Offenbach/Heidelberg/ Rudesheim, Germany

Offenbach is the center for the world bank, and is located near Frankfort. We are headed to Heidelberg on the autobahn in a bus as the river there cannot handle a boat the size of the Adagio. While we are in Heidelberg, the ship will reposition to Rüdesheim on the Rhine. There is a governor on the bus limiting us to 100 km/ hour. Porsches and Ferraris are passing us like we are standing still because there is no speed limit on the autobahn.

(Be sure to click on the picture for a larger version, sometimes with commentary.)

The Wittelsbach Family joined with the Palatine family to take over each others fortunes if one or the other families died out. Both were strictly Catholic. Fredrick , a WIttelsbach, switched to Lutheran, which was heresy. He is the one who built Heidelberg Castle, a red sandstone structure. Once he died, they switched back to being Catholic.

He even became Holy Roman Emperor, but was killed by the Swedes before he could be crowned. He was married to a beautiful Lutheran princess, Elizabeth Stuart, a family which would take over the throne of England. Frederick V was the last one to inhabit the castle in Heidelberg. France destroyed the German castles along the Rhine, but left the Heidelberg castle, as it was already somewhat in ruin.

After some free time to explore the castle, we met up with the whole group for a wonderful lunch at Palmbraeu Gasse. In German, gasse means alley (strasse means street). The restaurant was located in historic ruins which had been restored for use, and an alley redesigned to add space to the restaurant.

Taxes- Our guide explains- If you earn 17,000€ and below, you pay no taxes, but can still get full government help as needed-food stamps, help with housing, education, college. Above 17,000€ , you pay up to 46% in taxes, and have a 19% sales tax too. You must prove you have been looking for work in order to get welfare; must go to interviews, get stamps of proof. It is harder than working a job. There are some jobs like harvesting which are called 1€ per hour job, no application or interview. You must take this type of job if it is offered, or you will not get welfare money. The Germans feel if their people are fed and educated, they can prosper more easily, and they have found this to be true. Likewise, they expect the government to handle the refugee expense since they already pay so much to the government.

We always notice all of the bicycles piled/parked in lots around the cities, and it isn’t hard to get in their way or to get knocked down by a bicycle if you do not stay alert.  While walking around Wertheim yesterday, we noticed this coin operated machine for buying inner tubes for your bicycle…. A first for all in our group…


CIAO for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 15-Oct 7-Fri~Wertheim, Germany~Fire and Stone

Day 15-Oct 7-Fri~Wertheim, Germany~Fire and Stone

We have been on the Main River for two days now. The Main River flows through the German states of BavariaBaden-Württemberg (forming the border with Bavaria for some distance) and Hesse. Its basin competes with the Danube for water; as a result, many of its boundaries are identical with those of the European Watershed.

We are in Wertheim which is a small town so we are able to walk off the gangplank directly into the town. We walked all over the old market center which was very picturesque. It seems taxes were determined by the size of the footprint of the building, so owners would build small, but tall. This building is the narrowest in the state of Franconia, a state in Germany. We have spent 3 days in Bavaria, another state in Germany.


We did not dock until 10:30am, so we were treated to a glassblowing demonstration prior to going out for our walking tour. The artist also had wares to sell. We helped keep him in business.

(Click on the individual photos for a larger version and sometimes commentary.)

The other highlight of the day found us roaming around the castle ruins high above the city on our own. We rode up and back in a special coach train – Burgbahnle. We had a wonderful sunny cool day, and saw some good views of Wertheim from on high.

Norm is waving to me from up high on the right. 

On our way back to the ship, we stopped at a local festival, listened to some German music and had a brat and beer.


Then we had to get back to the boat as it is sailing to Offenbach by tomorrow morning. (I skipped dinner on the ship after eating that brat, and we both skipped the dance party in the lounge.)

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 14-Oct 6-Thurs-Würzburg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Day 14-Oct 6-Thurs-Würzburg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

We were docked in Würzburg but had decided to take the daylong tour. Those who stayed behind had a tour of Würzburg.

Off on the bus again, this time to Rothenburg ob der Tauber by 9am! This is the most Medieval City we will visit, and it turns out to be a favorite. As we rode through the beautiful countryside, we marveled at the vineyards planted vertically down the steep hillside. The guide explained that this takes advantage of the sunshine which the grapes need in order to develop sugar. If they planted them in horizontal rows, the upper row would cast shade on the lower row, causing loss of sugar development.

This vineyard perches above our docking location.

We enjoyed seeing the fields that seemed so midwestern. Here the farm families
 live in small villages with their fields surrounding them. Wind power is everywhere. These photos were taken from a bus speeding down the autobahn, so you will see some reflections. We enjoyed an included lunch in a local restaurant. 


(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

Next came a walking tour and some time on our own to see the beautiful old structures, including St. Jakob’s Lutheran Church. We wandered off on our own to try to walk the old wall high above the city. We found it, but got a bit lost while on our walk. Eventually, we climbed down and hurried to the bus with only two minutes to spare.

We enjoyed visiting the shops, including many Christmas shops. Käthie Wohlfahrt’s is the name of a famous shop that has a year round Christmas display. The shop is a chain with other shops around Germany.

Our guide explained several expressions to entertain us on the way home.
*In ancient days, people would seem to die, but were really in a coma, usually from lead poisoning because they used lead in their plates and cups. For that reason, a bell was tied to the deceased’s big toe, with the bell being above ground. If the person awoke after burial, they could simply wiggle their toe and ring the bell…thus the saying “Saved by the bell.”

*Since the seemingly dead people sometimes awakened after burial, there was always someone who would sit in the graveyard through the night. Thus the expression- “graveyard shift”.

*Similarly, someone would sit with the dead body prior to burial throughout the night. Thus the term “wake”.

*Homes usually had thatched roofs which would hold insects and mice. This attracted cats, which in turn attracted dogs. If there were an especially hard rainfall, the thatch became slippery…. Soon, it was “raining cats and dogs.”

*To keep the dirt floors dry, people would lay down layers of thatch. It difficult to keep the thatch from being tracked out of the house, so they would fasten a board across doorway. Thus “threshold”.


Nuernberg Bridal Cup- a father of the bride once told a suitor that if the suitor could drink out of a double cupped wine glass at the same time as the daughter, he would give her hand in marriage to him. The suitor designed this double cupped wine beaker. The skirt is one cup and the bride holds the other cup above her head. The one held above the head is hinged so both cups can be sipped from at the same time!image

After we returned and ate another delicious dinner, we were entertained by a group of local entertainers in authentic costumes. Some of the costumes were over 150 years old.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 13-Oct 5-Wed-Bamburg, Germany

Day 13- Oct 5- Wed- Bamburg, Germany

This town has been untouched by war and strife, and so it exists as it was in the Middle Ages. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We took a brief walking tour along the river and into the central market area with our guide, Mihai.


Then we had about an hour to explore on our own. There are more than 10 breweries in town crafting the local specialty-smoked beer. We did not try it. For the first time, we found an Apotek, or drugstore where I could buy some necessities. Definitely not cheap. Aspirin, cough drops and heel cushions came to 36€. Oh well. Needed supplies. I also found a blue scarf to add to my collection at a lovely local boutique and Norm bought a colored pencil sketch of the town.


More time was definitely needed to see the special locations in this town. We had a snack of Flammkuchen, much like a pizza, and then we headed back to the bus and were back on board for lunch. We took free time after lunch to read, write and nap a bit. We ate dinner on board while we sailed for Wurzburg where we will dock at 10:45PM, but we did not attend the karoake session in the lounge.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 12-Oct 4-Tues- Nuremberg, Germany

Day 12-Oct 4-Tues- Nurenburg, Germany

We were bused to town, as the ship couldn’t get to port on time; there was too much traffic through the locks during the night.

We stopped to walk in the Zeppelin Center where Hitler gave speeches.

Zeppelin Field where Hitler gave his speeches to thousands of followers.

Here are some quick notes from our guide. The Nazi party rally grounds covered about 11 square kilometres in the southeast of Nuremberg, Germany. Six Nazi party rallies were held there between 1933 and 1938. His leaders sat in the bleaches and Hitler spoke from inside the caged area. Nazism wasn’t a political party, it was a racist party. It used the sausage strategy, slice by slice as detailed by Niemeier: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Justizplatz where the Nuremburg trials were held in Room 600.

Then we drove by the Justizpalatz: Room 600 is where the Nuremburg Trials were held. In 1945, the city was chosen as the site of the war crimes tribunal to try Nazi leaders and others accused of atrocities during WWII. We were not able to tour inside. The justices, two from each of the Allies, compiled a list of those they wanted to put on trial -24 in all. They wanted to try them individually to be above reproof. Evidence was foolproof because the Germans had documented everything in triplicate and because there were witnesses. Defense was to plead not guilty, we did our duty, followed Hitler’s orders. Hitler was dead, and his main captains were dead, but 12 were sentenced to death, 10 were hanged and 2 were already dead. Martin Bormann was one who had died in the last days of Berlin. His corpse was found in the early 70s proving he was really dead. Gering took cyanide the night before the hangings.

Seven got prison sentences including Hess, three were acquited. There was a prison attached to the courtroom. Nuremburg was chosen as the site of the trials because of the availability of security. They could walk the prisoners through the prison grounds behind a high cement wall, preventing escape or assassinations.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

A few ancient structures have survived like this covered bridge and the  gate to the once walled area.

Nuremberg was the undeclared capital of the Holy Roman Empire, with the Imperial Diet general assembly meeting at Nuremberg Castle. Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in Nuremburg, Germany, was established first as a Jewish Synagogue in the 12th century. When the citizens of Nuremburg wanted a central and larger market place in 1349, Charles IV gave his subjects permission to push the Jews out. The pogram was carried out in December 1349 in which at least 562 Jews were burned to death.The synagogue was burned and Fruenkirche was erected. In 1525, the church was the first to convert to Lutheranism. The church was heavily damaged during the bombing of 1945.

This is a Lutheran Cemetery in Nuremburg where the rules are stringent. Grave markers are limited to a defined height. So to get around that, they display beautiful live plants and extravagant name plaques.

 We continued through Nuremburg, 85% of which had to be reconstructed after WWII. It is no longer a beautiful city, and it didn’t help that it was a rainy day.

We ended our tour at the central marketplace where we sampled a Nuremburg bratwurst… We find it to be the best so far. I also bought a container of Lebkuchen or Nürnberg gingerbread (which contains no ginger) at the little shop adjacent to the Frauenkirche.

We returned to the ship and spent the afternoon relaxing, followed by a Traditional Bavarian Dinner, including Suckling Pig.

When we returned to cabin our cabin attendant, Ivana, had created the swan heart from towels. What a sweetie she is!

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 11-Oct 3-Mon- Kelheim, Germany-Home Visit in Bielngries, Germany

Day 11-Oct 3-Mon- Kelheim, Germany-Home Visit in Bielngries, Germany

The bus took us to the Liberation Hall, a Neoclassical monument built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria which commemorates the victory over Napoleon in 1815. It is high on a cliff over Kelheim, Germany which gave us a beautiful view of the Danube on which we will travel on a ferry today to visit the Benedictine monastery of Weltenburg which also contains the oldest monastic brewery, dating back to 1050. The beer is available in the lounge on the ship. We will soon be  where that ship is!


Then, we returned to the ship for a lunch featuring potato pancakes, ham meatloaf, and apricot layer cake. We can just sample the meal because we already had a full breakfast and sampled a large preztel and beer on the ferry ride. So full!

For our home visit the bus took us to a nearby city, Bielngries, Germany where we spent the afternoon visiting in a home there for a kaffeeklatsch.

Our hostess, Katherine teaches 4th grade-25 students; has 3 sons-1 works for Audi; 1 is a middle school teacher; 1 is in school studying engineering. Husband is a farmer and is also retired from another career, perhaps engineering.

When asked about the economy, she talked about the unemployment. She and her family feel fortunate that they have had the opportunity to work together to build their own home and their children could be trained for careers. Nephews find it more difficult to find work so they live at home. Luckily, their parents can afford to have them. However, menial jobs worked for an 8 hour day do not pay enough to support even a low level lifestyle, as in the US, so some choose to not work, and take welfare which pays more than the low wages paid at the jobs. The problem is so similar to the US.

Katherine served us three desserts that she had made for us. One was a plum dessert, another was a pear layer cake, and the third was a layered apple cake, along with tea or coffee.

We are happy to return to the ship for a rest before happy hour and a full four course dinner, followed by a talk about the mechanics of the 66 canals we will traverse during our 14 days aboard. We have already passed through 16 of them, but there are many to go. We will move into the Danube-Rhine Canal now and travel across the Ural Mts. and the continental divide. But I know one thing… We will not be hungry!

We noticed that some of the churches in Bavaria have two steeples or one steeple with two symbols. On one steeple we see the cross and on the other a Rooster. The Cock on the steeple indicates that the church is Protestant. They chose the cock to signify the three times that St. Peter, leader of the Catholic Church, denied Christ, so they deny the Catholic Church’s practices, like Martin Luther did, by using the cock on the steeple.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 10-Sunday, Oct 2~Ump Pa Pa~Regensburg, Germany

Day 10-Sunday, Oct 2~Regensburg, Germany-Ump Pa Pa

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

I awoke to see the gray cement wall outside my window that can only mean we have entered yet another lock. The middle picture shows that the boat is rising as water is released into the lock. The third picture shows the water level high enough for us to move on our way.

We walked into Regensburg and stopped to study the Gothic features of St. Peter’s Cathedral. The bells soon summoned worshippers on this Sunday morning. Note the left side where St. Peter, the patron saint and keeper of the keys, is represented by a keyhole rather than a cross.

Regensburg was spared from bombing in WWII because the Allied Forces were focused on the oil refinery and airplane factory.

After a bit of window shopping, we stopped at a recommended spot for lunch. Here is Norm’s post about that.


Regenburg’s famous sausages with sauerkraut and sweet mustard.

After a rest and a presentation about WWII, all 140 of us walked to Alta Linde’s for wienerschnitzel, beer, and a wonderful German band.

Walked back to the ship and slept well!

Ciao for now!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Fiber Arts

Day 9-Oct 1-Sat~Riding the border~Passau, Germany

Day 9-Oct 1-Sat~Riding the border~Passau, Germany

Here is the Adagio (blue on top) berthed beside another ship. In order to exit we walk across a short gangplank onto the sundeck of the other ship and then down onto their gangplank onto the pier.

As we float down the Danube River, we are straddling the border between Austria and Germany. There are rolling tree-covered hills with picturesque villages on either side. We won’t technically be in Germany until we dock in Passau and register our passports. We have left our passports with the ship’s pursor so all of the details will be handled for us.

Passau is a town in Lower Bavaria, Germany. It is also known as the Dreiflüssestadt or “City of Three Rivers,” because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn River from the south and the Ilz River from the north. l thought it would be interesting to cross through this confluence, but we are berthed at the tip of a peninsula where the three rivers meet, and it is smooth and quiet.

Village and countryside on the Austrian side of the river. The bridges are only in the big cities, so crossing is done in boats or small ferries.
Larger town on the German side of the river. As you can see, our sunny skies have been replaced with fog, clouds and a bit cooler temperatures. Still a beautiful view.
To pass the time while we sail along, the Adagio’s chef demonstrates how to make apfel strudel.

Some folk bring their bikes! I translate this sign as cruise going shelf #1.  It marks where the cruise ships dock on the pier.

Empress Elizabeth, also known as Cici, wife of Emperor Franz Joseph. He was the oldest of 16, of Empress Maria Terese ~ her youngest child was Marie Antoinette. What a family!

The guide in Vienna told us Cici was beautiful like Romi Schnieder, who played her in a movie. Franz Joseph chose to marry her over her sister and against his mother’s wishes because she was so beautiful. She was sad like Princess Diana becase Empress Maria Terese was not a good mother-in-law. The empress insisted on raising Cici’s children and isolated her until she produced a male heir. Her third child was a son, but he died tragically as a young man. She rode horseback like Don Giovanni – she was a bit of a tomboy. She was assassinated like JFK at the age of 72(?) by an anarchist. He stabbed her with a long sword while she was out walking. The tightness of her corset stemmed the bleeding, but when they removed it, she died. What a story! There is a three part movie based on her life that I hope to watch.

Caught sight of this woman in period costume during our walking tour.
We attended the St. Stephen’s Passau Cathedral Organ Concert at noon. Five independent organs situated around the nave can all be played concurrently from the main keyboard. 17974 pipes, 233 registers. It is the world’s largest cathedral organ. The music was gorgeous and so calming. The pews were filled front to back. The church is Italian Baroque style, and much better designed than the Melk Abbey-not quite so garish in its use of gold leaf.

After the concert, we found the highly recommended Simon’s Cafe where we had a small lunch and bought some chocolate to enjoy aboard ship… just in case we ever get hungry.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

After strolling about the city for a short time, we returned to the ship to hear a presentation from a Sudeten German woman. It was fascinating. Sudeten Germans live in the Sudetan Mountain area bordering Germany/Czech Republic and are the German people  who were forced into The Czech Republic when the borders were realigned by treaties following WWI. They gradually developed new lives and then Hitler began to rise. During  WWII, they were displaced over and over. While we all know of the displacement and horrible treatment of the Jewish people, few of us know about the difficulties faced by these formerly Bohemian Germans.

Ciao for now!

Copyright© 2009 All images and text in all categories are copyright of Mary A. Ritter (aka M'Unique) and may not be reproduced without express permission. · Great Rivers Cruise-Europe

DAY 8, Friday, Sept 30~Melk Abbey

DAY 8, Friday, Sept 30

When we woke up and looked out our window, we could see that we were approaching a lock. While we ate breakfast, the Captain aligned the ship to navigate a lock adjacent to another ship of the same size. It didn’t look like we could possibly fit in the space, but we made it.

Norm took this panoramic shot of the River Adagio at the Melk dock. It makes it look smaller than it is.

 We are smoothly riding the waters on our way through the Wachau Valley or Gorge. The Romans used this gorge as a bastion to keep the northern forces out of their empire, and it worked for a very long time. The valley is 13 miles long.

A typical scenic town along the Danube.

I always like the stories told by our guide that bring it all to life. It seems King Richard III liked to roam through this area. He frequently was captured and held prisoner in various castles where it was very difficult to find and rescue him. He and his servant worked out a system using a song known to few, but to both of them. The servant would wander around a fortified area singing the song. Eventually, he would hear King Richard singing in response. The servant could usually pay a ransom to free the king. This happened so many times that the steeple for St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna was constructed using these ransoms.

A sculpture on the riverbank honoring King Richard, on his horse, and his faithful servant who rescued him so many times.

There are 50+ vineyards planted in the Wachau Valley on its steep hillsides. Only monasteries were allowed to have vineyards, so there were also many monasteries built back in the crevices where they were protected from the harsh winter freezing rains and winds.

Vineyards. We were able to sit in the warm sunshine on the top deck of the ship all morning today. Unusually warm weather, they tell us.

The wine replaced the water which was not fit to drink. The wine at first was quite sour because grapes need sunshine in order to increase the sugar, and sunshine was limited. Red grapes also need a longer season, so mostly white wine was developed. The soldiers would drink the sour wine anyway, and the King didn’t mind because the wine from Tuscany was sweeter so he drank that.

Salt was also rationed as a preservative and seasoning. The soldiers were paid with salt rations. The word salary is derived from paying someone with salt.

The seeds of Protestant reform developed here because the Swedish people who had migrated south grew tired of having nothing while the churches required so much money for trinkets of gold. The cities could not afford to build a wall around the entire town, so they simply walled off their church. When they had to go there for refuge, they frequently only had lard, potatoes and flour which made taking refuge quite difficult. (I think they probably made lefse! My grandmother used to make “lard lefse”, which is essentially those ingredients.)

A walled church along the Danube, which is more brown than blue, on the way to Melk, Austria.

In modern times, the Wachau Valley is protected by UNESCO. No bridges are allowed, so small ferries are used to cross the Danube. The topsoil can be up to 12 feet in depth as compared to the usual of 12″.

The area also produces delicious apricots (merillans). Wachau merillan is a controlled origin name like champagne. Apricot Schnapps, the German word for brandy, along with jams and chutneys is sold here.

The Danube is second only to the Volta River in length in Europe. We completed our sailing at the Melk Abbey, a beautiful structure which houses  the oldest library in the world, and still has an operating high school of 900 students within its walls. The interior is filled with artwork and artifacts typical of cathedrals. No photos allowed inside, but its design is overbearing with rather tacky application of gold leaf.  We did walk up and back from the abbey, through the old town. Very quaint and scenic.

We had time to relax in the lounge before dinner, where the guides led an animated question and answer session on refugees and immigrants in Europe. Our crew aboard the Adagio comes from many countries: Serbia, Croatia, the Ukraine, The Netherlands,  Austria, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany. It is interesting to hear both sides of the issue, first hand.

After dinner we had a lesson in the German language. Auf weinerstein.

Ciao for now!