To begin, this little story takes place during our first trip to Europe, with both Diana and I traveling on Eurail passes. In addition to trains, the passes included a ferry ride up the Rhine on one of the wonderful ‘KD Line’ ferries. I am telling it first, as it pretty-well sets the tone for all our travels . . . a combination of scenery, fun, music, food, wine and culture. This article was published in the Vancouver Sun several years ago in their “Postcards” section.
The late September sun sparkled warmly off the Rhine as the big KD river boat pulled into the dock. The weather matched our spirits, running high on a wave of enthusiasm and excitement as we walked up the gangplank to board our next adventure. Enjoying our first trip to Germany, it did not take much to excite us, but as we walked up to enjoy the sun on the upper level we were greeted by a raucous “Oompah” band playing on the afterdeck, enthusiastically stomping out some great German drinking songs. “Wow! It doesn’t get much better than this” we exclaimed, already warming up to the gemütlichkeit atmosphere.The ship was soon underway again, heading up the river, passing picture-perfect villages, ancient castles and miles of vineyards along the banks. We found a small table on one side with a great view of the river and pulled up a couple of chairs. I left my wife to enjoy the music while I went foraging for some lunch I saw available as we came on board. To my delight, they were selling one of our favourite wines, a German Riesling of course. I bought a bottle, which the bartender opened for me, grabbed a couple of plastic glasses, and headed up to deliver the first course to my wife. “You can start with this and I’ll be right back with lunch,” thinking about the great looking bratwurst I’d seen earlier. When I returned with a couple of large, hot “Bratwurst on a bun” (the German equivalent of a hotdog), my wife related an interesting story to me.As she waited patiently with her bottle of wine, a passing German gentleman stopped, looked at her and the wine, slowly shaking his head. Not knowing what to expect and not knowing the language, she hesitated to say anything, waiting for the man to say or do something. Indicating she should wait a moment, he quickly spun around and walked away. He soon returned, this time with two regular glass wine glasses. Placing them carefully on the table beside the bottle of wine, he picked up my two plastic ‘glasses’ with a distinct air of disapproval and quickly deposited them in the nearest trash can. My wife smiled and nodded a quick “Thank you.” His good deed accomplished, the man smiled, bowed slightly and disappeared into the crowd. We enjoyed our little German lunch, flavoured even more with the thoughts of a very friendly local providing a little help and showing us a definite touch of class . . . or should I say “a touch of glass?” We still talk about it today, many years later, usually every time we open a bottle of Rhine wine and pour out the sunshine, music and fun of our afternoon river cruise.
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