Rhine Cruise with Shearings Holidays – Chapter 2

We are sailing …

Our Shearings Holidays River Cruise ship, MPS Rotterdam, did not travel at night, allowing us a good night’s sleep and the chance to enjoy sunshine on the top deck while sailing from Dusseldorf to Arnhem.

Barges on the Rhine The river Rhine begins at Tomasee, a lake in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland and  Wikipedia tells me that it is the twelfth longest river in Europe, at about 1,286 km (768 miles) long and finally empties into the North Sea at Rotterdam.

Sailing from Dusseldorf the Rhine showed us its industrial face. The river is a busy natural waterway. A busy route for transporting goods to Rotterdam. Huge barges weighing approx. 5,000 tons (unloaded weight), travelled past us with aggregates, scrap metal and sometimes up to 20 containers. Sometimes we were three abreast. Amazing sight. These barges are the home and work place of the captain and he carries his car along with him.  We even saw a play area for children on board some of them.  

Suddenly the river splits and Melanie pointed out that just as we have road signs, so does the river have signposts. We turned right for the Pannerdench Canal. Leaving Germany behind, we are now entering the Nederlands.

Cows drinking Almost immediately the passing countryside changes and the sandy banks now show us a rural scene. Ponies (looking very much like Dartmoor ponies) rolling in the sand and cows coming down to drink from the river. It is peaceful and idyllic. We even saw naturists making the most of the sunshine.

There were lots of fishermen patiently waiting for a bite. We were told that the river now supports carp, pike, salmon and catfish. Catfish is on the menu tonight!

Mooring up in Arnhem I see my first artificial beach.  I had heard that these were created  in Paris during the holiday season and here were industrious bar owners creating a beach bar complete with colourful deck chairs right on the quay where the hotel ships moored. It was great.

Het Loo Palace Gardens An excursion to ‘Paleis Het Loo’ near Apeldoorn was next on the itinerary. This 300 year old palace was the former residence of the Dutch Royal Family and has been open to the public since 1984. The gardens are magnificent with astrological fountains. This palace is not as ornate as the Augustusburg Palace and more real for its simplicity.

At Nijmegan I walk along Liberation Way and read an information sign showing photos of the Nijmegan Bridge when thousands of troops landed in WWII and where the Liberation began and ended. Today this is a vibrant town with a wonderful market and bicycles rule!

For me this trip has been made all the more special by the crew. Mainly from Bali, nothing is too much trouble and they are cheerful from morning until night.

Indonesioan night The evening meals on board were always good and as a treat we had two ‘surprise’ nights, one being an Indonesian night and the other the finale Gala Dinner.

After dinner entertainment was provided by Melanie and some of the crew who had created a quiz and other games. The crew members from Bali put on a reduced version of the great ritualistic dance drama Kecak which involves Rangda, the witch and the great beast Barong

Barong came into the audience, protruding teeth and long fingers and picked me to dance with him. From behind the scary mask he admitted to being our waiter Dewar – whew lucky break for me!

We are sorry to advise that the Specialist Leisure Group, which includes Shearings, entered administration on 22 May 2020. If you have booked a holiday with Shearings, or you have any questions please visit the Shearings website.

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Kay Wiseman

Optimistic traveller & wordsmith

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