The hubby and I recently returned from Europe—his first time across the pond. Before departing earlier this month, he sat down with me to talk over his hopes and hesitations for our vacay. Now, he’s catching me up on what he really thought about our time in Paris, The Netherlands and Germany. Yes, wooden shoes and secret handshakes included.
Q: Before we left, you said you were a little nervous about not being fluent in French, Dutch or German. How was communicating with people?
A: It was actually kind of fun. I couldn’t always understand everyone, and it was okay. I’d say you just have to try, and trust that people are going to help you out—even if you have no idea what they’re saying. You can have no idea what someone is saying and still end up having a conversation of sorts.
Q: While we’re on the topic of things that gave you pause about the trip before leaving, you (and I) were hesitant about going on a cruise in the first place. What were your overall thoughts?
A: I liked it. I’d never been on a cruise, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’m still not sure about ocean cruising, but with the river cruise we got to see and do so much. The boat was small, which was great. I was impressed. Plus, our ship was the only one painted black on the river—the only one that looked like a pirate ship.
Q: Especially when it was flying Amsterdam’s flag with the three vertical XXXs! Would you recommend river cruising to others?
A: Highly. Definitely the U by Uniworld brand if they are our age (as opposed to other river cruise lines). We saw so much and experienced so many cultures—so many even within one country. It was a floating hotel, but you got to constantly see different things.
Q: Such an effortless way to travel, for sure. Speaking of the cruise, you semi-promised to come home with a secret handshake between you and the captain. Were you successful?
A: If I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret handshake.
Q: You can tell me and it would still be a secret. You just can’t show me, right?
A: Top secret.
Q: Questionable, but I’ll move on. What stands out the most to you from your time on the boat?
A: The people. Everyone from our waiters, Carlos and Adam, to our U hosts, Mik and Diana—the whole crew was awesome. The captain, too. He even came up over the back of the ship with his paddle board and swim trunks.
Q: Everyone was awesome. Rapid fire?
Q: Favorite activity?
A: Biking from Bonn to Remagen and racing the ship.
Q: Best meal?
A: The dessert party on the ship, with the drums and the music and the chefs.
Q: Favorite hotel pre-cruise?
A: The Hoxton, Amsterdam.
Q: Best beer?
A: They were all my favorites. Alt beers and kolsch beers, they were all good to try.
Q: Favorite thing about Paris?
A: History. And Nick the Brit (our guide on our bike tour of the Palace of Versailles).
Q: Best thing about The Netherlands?
A: Bikes, food, crooked houses, my family. I loved everything about Amsterdam.
Q: Did you buy wooden shoes?
A: No, but I found some. Giant ones, too.
Q: Favorite thing about Germany?
A: Rudesheim—oh and sailing to Rudesheim and seeing all the vineyards and castles that day.
Q: What do you miss most?
A: The coffee machine on the boat. It made us anything we wanted.