Wednesday, 15 June 2016

2016 Trip to Europe - Days 6 & 7 - Leaving Haarlem & Boarding the Ship

Day 6 - Leaving Haarlem

What a dismal day! It’s pouring rain and the wind is strong and cold. Very glad I brought both my winter coat and a warm vest.

We skipped the hotel breakfast this morning. To call it mediocre would be a kindness. Instead we walked through the square to Brinkmann’s and had a delicious meal for half the cost of one hotel breakfast. We should have been doing this for the last four days!

The taxi will pick us up at noon to take us to the cruise ship terminal. Then we can unpack thoroughly for the next 14 days. I think the best part of cruise ship travel is staying in the same room every night while changing destinations. Never having to pack and unpack. 

The worst, of course, is being stuck with the same people for fourteen days. Perhaps this northern cruise will have a different kind of passenger. We can hope. I’m not sure I can sit at any table where adulation of Donald Trump becomes a part of the conversation. Or “the right to carry arms” or attacks on the “socialism” of Canadian medical care, or, or...

Odd. We run a Bed and Breakfast, and politics is often a topic of conversation. As is travel. As is the medical care system in the US and in Canada.  But the viewpoints are very different from those we tend to encounter on cruise ships. In self-defense, on ships, we often opt for a table for two.

The Prinsendam is a small ship and this is a northern route. Perhaps the clientele will be different. We can hope.

More once we’ve checked in.


MS Prinsendam leaving Amsterdam
We are on board and underway. Our cabin is on one of the lower decks. The high, stormy waves are at eye level and JP has gone to find the purser and get Gravol, which they dispense free of charge. We are low down and amidships so we’ll feel the seas less than many cabins, but it’s a very stormy sea. I don’t get seasick, but I do have to watch that I don’t zig when the sea zags. I don’t need another fall. I’m still very stiff from the last one.

Our cabin is miniscule, but it has two beds, a huge walk in closet with more hangers than we need, lots of drawer and shelf space and a walk-in shower. In a word, everything we need.

Stormy day leaving Holland
But I can’t think the last time I’ve felt this much ship motion. Of course it IS the North Sea.

As we pulled out of port we watched wind surfers on their boards pulled aloft and then pushed back into the sea by their wonderful kite like parachutes. There were a dozen or more. The last time I saw them was in Barbados. I need hardly point out that the water temperatures are very different in the Caribbean than in the North Sea. They must be mad.

So, to the showers and then dress for dinner. 

At dinner we had a window table. We kept watching water splashing onto the deck outside as the ship moved from side to side. We knew the waves couldn’t be reaching the 7th deck so we asked the waiter. It was the swimming pool on the deck above, spilling over as each wave hit. It was as the saying goes “a dark and stormy night”.

Day 7

Coming into Hamburg
We awoke to flat seas and sunny skies. We were in the Elbe River. Lush green banks lined both sides of the river, and as we neared Hamburg, long stretches of yellow sand beaches backed by luxury homes were set in a forest of green. 

We’re docked now, in the centre of town and are about to go to the cathedral,
The Mariendom, Hamburg
the Mariendom, to hear a former student of JP’s sing the tenor lead in the Mendelssohn St. Paul Oratorio. We’re looking forward to it. We catch dinner as catch can. We won’t be missing much here. I’ll write about ship dining rooms at another time.

The concert was breathtaking. I’ve never heard the Mendelssohn St. Paul before. I’ve both heard and sung his Elijah.  I can’t imagine how I have missed this one.


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Blair McDowell