I'm back from my blogging break and happy to be here. Revising my verse novel took up more than half my time (I'll be back to talk about my novel and the Highlights Foundation workshop on Monday, July 11th). The rest of my blogging break was spent on a river cruise with my husband in Europe.
Yes, I know, we're very lucky. Actually, you have no idea how lucky we are!
This photo pretty much sums it up (yes, that's our ship in the background, which we had to evacuate):
|That's my husband with some very nice ladies from Texas |
at about 6:30 am local time on Father's Day, June 19, 2016.
We all managed to keep our sense of humor about the situation.
You may have seen the commercials. ("Unpack once and spend more time being there.") An idyllic river cruise through Germany, Austria, and Hungary to see Europe's greatest treasures. Well, two nights out of a planned seven were actually spent cruising. Then we were awakened at 3:30 am on the second night by a loud bang, the ship shuddered several times and eventually started listing to one side. My husband said, "I think we're in trouble." I said, "Relax, they know what they're doing. We're probably in a lock. Go back to sleep."
|Taken from our sliding glass door on the 2nd level at 3:54 am local time.|
We are parallel to the bridge and not going anywhere.
But we never did go back to sleep.
And we weren't in a lock.
My husband understood right away that we were actually stuck next to a bridge. The muddy, churning water of the Danube River was rushing under the boat but we weren't moving.
By 4:30 am, we'd been officially informed that the ship had run aground. By 5:30 we'd packed our luggage but left it in our stateroom as ordered, and even had time for a quick buffet breakfast on board the ship (I miss you, Chef Solomon!). By 6:30, we were taken off the vessel in small rescue boats by a local German fire rescue crew and taken to a small dock, then by bus to the fire hall, where the equivalent of the Red Cross handed out coffee, tea, and water.
I can honestly say it's the first time I've ever had to be rescued from a ship that ran aground and the first time I've ever been taken to a fire hall for disaster relief. It was truly an adventure. I think having a sense of humor and a sense of adventure is the key here. More importantly, no one was hurt, everyone on the ship stayed safe, and the volunteers of the Kelheim-Stadt Fire Rescue company were all very calm and thorough and professional. They did a fantastic job of getting 186 passengers and 50 crew members safely off the ship.
|Another view from our stateroom, around 6 am, just before we left it for good.|
|The volunteer fire rescue crew wrote numbers on our hands as we prepared to step into the rescue boat.|
It was a little disconcerting, but led to a lot of jokes (and took three days to wash off),
Those are German 1's, so I was number 141
|There goes our rescue boat, off to retrieve more passengers|
More pics of our intrepid rescuers:
It certainly was not what we expected to happen. We expected, instead, plenty of this:
|Half-timbered house near Nuremberg Castle, Germany|
|Our tour guide called this "Medieval color TV" -- |
clock tower in Nuremberg, Germany
with figures that appeared at noon, danced and played instruments
|Worlds Oldest Sausage Kitchen, Regensburg, Germany.|
The sausages were delicious and I don't even like sausage!
|Thirteenth-century Patrician tower with Italian influence, |
|St. Stephen's cathedral in Passau, Germany.|
We were treated to a magnificent organ concert.
|Near Krems, Austria, looking down at the valley from Gottweig Abbey, |
a 900-year-old working Benedictine abbey where they make a delightful apricot wine!
|The church at Gottweig Abbey|
|Maria Theresa, Queen and Empress, who reigned in the 18th century,|
also wife of Holy Roman Emperor Francis I,
|Hofburg Palace in Vienna, the former imperial palace,|
and still the seat of government
|This may look like a palace or cathedral but it's actually Parliament in Budapest.|
And Viking gave us a one-hour river cruise to see the lights come on Thursday evening.
So we still got our Budapest river cruise. Thank you, Viking!
We were most impressed with how well Viking handled the entire situation. They tried very hard to get us another vessel, but it didn't work out. So our vacation turned into a bus tour. Not the worst thing that could happen! (And other ships were affected by the flooding that same week.) Everyone from the company was calm, professional, and hardworking and did everything in their power to keep us happy. Nikki, Ivan, and especially Daniel, my hat is off to you. (I don't think those three young people ever slept.)
Imagine finding hotel rooms for 190 people at short notice! And having to feed all those people. And bus them all to the next included excursion. How they managed, I'll never know. But we never missed a single city tour. So we still saw everything we were supposed to see, including an optional tour my husband and I had signed up for, to the Bavarian Village museum, also known as the Museumsdorf Bayerischer Wald, near Passau. A delightful journey into Bavaria's past, with over 100 authentic buildings brought in from all over Bavaria and preserved.
|Chapel in the Bavarian Village museum|
|The geese at the Bavarian Village were excited to see us, |
as our group of 15 seemed to be the only people there that day!
The accident was certainly not the worst thing that ever happened to us on vacation. Curious about the worst? See my "About Me" page.
When something unexpected happens on vacation, how do you handle it? Do you keep your sense of humor?
I'd like to wish all my American friends a very happy (and safe) Independence Day weekend. And to everyone, whether you're heading off to the beach or the mountains or to somewhere farther away for vacation, may all your travels be safe and uneventful!