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Old June 2nd, 2004, 01:08 PM
Gary Karschnick
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Default Cruise on the Elbe-Part 2

Wednesday, May 19:
Woke up around 6:30 (Without an alarm). We were underway (very quiet and smooth). Took our time getting out of bed and went down to the breakfast buffet at 7:30. There was a very nice spread plus you can order omelettes, blueberry pancakes, etc. from the waiter. We spent some time talking with our breakfast table companions (all dining is open seating) and then went to the Sun Deck for some relaxed lounging and riverbank watching. Beautiful, peaceful farmlands. There was a Bingo game in the lounge at 10:30, but we passed in favor of more river watching from our cabin. (The temperature was slightly chilly on deck.) Lunch consisted of Cream of Crouton soup, saladbar and a choice of roast lamb or lasagna with bananas foster for desert. All very good! We stopped at Dessau at 1:30 and the bus tour departed at 2:00 for Dessau and the Worlitz gardens. The tour was very nice and the weather couldnít have been better with clear skies and temperatures in the high 60ís. We returned to the boat at 5:30 and promptly took a short nap. At dinner, we met a delightful couple from Georgia who shared their experiences about volunteer work in Honduras. The meals so far have been buffet breakfasts, lunch and dinner alternate between choice of 2 or a fixed menu. (You can always order grilled chicken or grilled steak.) The food, IMHO, has been very good.

Thursday, May 20:
After breakfast, we bussed a short distance to Wittenberg where in 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church. Today also happened to be Fathers Day in Germany so there were many young fathers celebrating in the traditional way by getting drunk. Then back to the ship and departing for Torgau. Leisurely cruising through peaceful farmland all afternoon. The weather and temperature were perfect to lounge and nap on the sun deck. Many families were taking advantage of the long holiday weekend by camping along the river. After dinner, we took a walking tour through Torgau, the site of the first meeting between US and Russian troops at the end of WWII. Torgau is also a very interresting town still in the medieval style.

Friday, May 21:
A very relaxing morning cruising silently through farmland and passing small villages, some of which still reflect the drabness of the former GDR regeim. Not gray, but dull colors and disrepair that seem gray. We are in the middle of a historic transition. In the afternoon, we made a quick stop at Merschwitz where we boarded busses for a ride to the Meisen Porceline factory. The tour was interresting, but the obligatory hour for shopping in the factory store seemed to be wasted time. Hardly anyone bought anything. The prices were very high. Meisen prices are the same everywhere in the world. They recently laid off 800 workers (almost half) because of poor sales. Demand is low, but they refuse to reduce prices. The weather has caught up with us. A cold front passed. The temperature dropped into the 50ís and the rain began. The rest of the tour in Meisen was a walking tour and the weather made it uncomfortable. It was good to get back to the boat where we made ourselves some hot chocolate. (We brought it with us. None available on the boat. Also, coffee and tea are free only during meals and scheduled snacktimes. At other times, you pay for them. Recommend you bring along a 220v heating coil and some packets of coffee, tea and chocolate from home.) For the weather, we recommend packing so that you can dress in layers. Temperature changes of 20 degrees or more are not uncommon. Be sure to carry an umbrella at all times ashore. The rain can come frome nowhere on a clear and sunny day. That night, the entertainment was a very good local magician. It was an excellent show!
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