Today we woke up in Wismar. We had to be up early this morning (at 7.00am) as we were due to go on an all-day tour to the pretty little town of Lübeck, on the River Trave. So after enjoying our breakfast we assembled in the Neptune Lounge to await the call for our excursion bus. The weather once again was on our side, blue skies and fluffy white clouds, and a gentle breeze.
Off we went through the local bustling streets before our bus joined the autobahn and the driver put his foot down. In Germany there is no speed limit on their motorways and I found it a tad disconcerting that we would be flying along and a big Mercedes or BMW would pass us in a blur, some of them easily doing well over 100 miles per hour. Nonetheless, we enjoyed looking out of the window at the passing scenery and, in a little over an hour, we arrived in Lübeck, where we were to take an hour-long riverboat cruise.
Lübeck is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is almost an island with the river surrounding it like a moat; it is joined by many bridges to the town proper. We saw the symbol of Lübeck , the Holsten Gate, as well as the distinctive twin-steeples of St Mary’s Church, and the tower of St. Peter’s Church in the background.
We took our seats in the riverboat and set off at a sedate pace, gliding through the water edged at both sides with gorgeous little houses and gardens that looked like something off a chocolate box. The houses all seemed to be tall and narrow, and several of them had those distinctive turrets and gables that are characteristic of German architecture. The houses all looked different and appeared to have been built long before any town planning was in existence, but their uniqueness and individuality was what gave the villages their charm.
Several times our craft passed underneath low bridges that only barely skimmed the roof of the boat. Joggers and dog-walkers passed by either side on the grassy banks, and occasionally we saw anglers, casting their rods hoping for a bite. Ducks and geese glided along and the whole effect was relaxing and picturesque.
All too soon, our hour’s cruise was up, and we disembarked the boat ready to commence our city walking tour. We saw lots of entrances to alleyways and our guide explained that there were 88 alleyways in Lübeck, because of the way the town had been built and added-to over the years. We went into one of the alleyways and saw the tiny little higgledy-piggledy houses either side of the narrow passageway. It reminded me of the nursery rhyme:
There was a crooked man and he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
After we’d walked around the market place (our guide told us it was very pretty in the winter when the Christmas Market was on) it was time to go to the famous Café Niederegger. Lübeck is famous for its production of marzipan, which came about as a result of a famine in which there was a shortage of flour. Almonds were therefore used instead, ground to a powder and mixed with rosewater and other oils and lo and behold, marzipan was formed. We were therefore spending half an hour in Café Niederegger, to sample their speciality Marzipan Nut Cake and a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
The cake was absolutely, mouth-wateringly scrumptious. It consisted of a sponge base, then it was filled with fresh whipped cream containing flaked almonds, and covered with marzipan and topped with a whole hazelnut in cream. I could very easily have managed another piece! 😉
Afterwards he had about an hour and a half free time, for us to spend as we wished. We wanted to find a card shop as today is Alex’s birthday. There wasn’t a great deal of choice as most cards were in German (obviously!) and we didn’t want to get one when we couldn’t understand what it said. So we just got a fairly plain card with “Happy Birthday” on it, as well as a lollipop containing the same sentiment.
We wandered around in the sunshine a bit more before it was time to go back to our bus for the return journey to the Balmoral. We arrive back at about four o’clock and had a couple of drinks sitting up on deck in the sunshine, before getting ourselves ready for this evening.
Tonight it was “Red, White and Blue” (or British) Night so I dressed in white trousers, a blue t-shirt and a Union Jack jacket, whereas Trevor wore a Union Jack waistcoat and bow-tie. Off we went, along to the Ballindalloch Restaurant, where our outfits attracted many comments. When Alex and Marian arrived we gave Alex his card and lollipop and wished him a happy birthday. 😊
When we went along to the Neptune Lounge to bag our seats for the evening’s entertainment, we were each given a flag to wave as well as a song sheet for the British Sing-along. This features on all the Fred Olsen ships, and everyone sang with gusto songs such as There’ll Always Be an England, Rule Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory.
The show tonight was called “British Invasion” featuring the best of British music from the 1960s upwards and starring the talented Balmoral Show Company. It was a colourful, high-energy singing and dancing routine made up of music from bands such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Take That, The Spice Girls and other famous British names from the music industry. It really was an excellent show, and original too. We all enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
Then we finished the evening as we always do; off to the Observatory for the quiz (still no win) and enjoyed a couple of drinks, then down to the Lido Lounge to listen to Fourth Dimension, the resident band, while enjoying a couple more drinks (!). As ever, it was getting on for 1.00am before we went to bed after a very full day. Tomorrow, however, we could have a lie-in as we would spend the day transiting the Kiel Canal on our way back to the North Sea.