Monday, June 18, 2012


When our kids were growing up, after a big family vacation we would sit down and make a list of our favorite things on the trip.  I asked my siblings to contribute to a similar list for the portion of our last trip that we were all together: the cruise on the Rhine River. Here is the result.

Coming from various parts of the world and meeting in a hotel in Basel, Switzerland—the miracle of all ten of us in Europe!  

Making the first of many gelato stops in Basel

Climbing 234 steps to the top of the Basel Munster
 The drive through the beautiful Black Forest, one of Mom’s favorite places

Seeing the baroque St. Peter’s church in the Black Forest, knowing how much Mom appreciated that style

Claiming one of the few tables on the boat big enough for us all so we could share meals and have even more fun together

Wonderful meals on the ship, just right in taste and size

Sitting around that large table on the ship telling our waiters every time:  no wine, no coffee; our waiters catching on and having Cokes and Bitter Lemon sodas already poured and waiting for us 

The feeling of going back in time as we strolled through quaint villages

Eating sauerkraut, wurst, and schnitzel

Sampling many pastries from many bakeries

The storks in Strasbourg with their giant nests on the platforms built on the tree tops and their babies peaking over the edges

Cobblestone streets, so nice and bumpy beneath our feet
Eating in outdoor cafes 

Stan volunteering Chris to help the chef in the cooking demonstration (Hey, what are husbands for?)

 Envisioning and sometimes seeing the effects of World War II
A postcard I purchased in a church that has since been beautifully rebuilt

Stories of one of Mom’s favorite humanitarians and organists, Albert Schweitzer, and seeing the organ he played

The impromptu organ recital in the St. Thomas Protestant Church in Strasbourg that brought us to tears

Climbing 325 steps to the top of the Strasbourg Cathedral

The thousands of ducks, geese, and swans swimming in all the rivers and canals
They were even on our beds

The easy pace of floating along the river and observing the strange and foreign flora and fauna, the beautiful architecture, the many castles still in existence

Going through the locks

Heidelberg, with its beautiful castle on the hill; thoughts of Mom as a student at the university there after the War

The view of Heidelberg from the Castle, and the story of the origin of the footprint in the pavement

Buying gummi bears and marzipan (more things that remind us of Mom)

Watching Bob's creative efforts to keep to his diet and feeling sad he was missing all the good food
What he WANTED: Goose liver pate
Not a bad alternative
Being jealous when Bob lost four pounds on the trip and the rest of us gained weight

The weather, the weather, the weather that cooperated so much with us and allowed us to see so much more than the average tour allows

The explosion of color in stained glass windows

Remembering our family Christmas decorations and traditions as we browsed the stores

Window boxes of blooming red geraniums everywhere
An evening walk through grape fields on the hill above Rudesheim

Cruising between the fairy tale castles lining the Rhine River

Seeing the torture room in the Marksburg castle and thinking how such things could have been put to good use when certain siblings were frequently misbehaving

The girls working on puzzles together on the ship (excuse for a gossip session)

Enjoying family dynamics:  ten chiefs who were able to work together for the common good, and even be Indians every now and then

The gondola ride in Koblenz

Taking LOTS of photos

Frequent concerts of ringing bells

The breathtaking exterior of the immense Cologne Cathedral
"Wow! That really is tall!"
The breathtaking INTERIOR of the immense Cologne Cathedral

Buying 4711 and Tosca perfume—Mom’s signature fragrances—in the shadow of the cathedral

Intricate and varied tile floors in the cathedrals

Climbing 533 steps up to the top of the spire of the Cologne Cathedral, the old walls covered with ugly graffiti
The interior view of one of the spires as seen from the top of the staircase
The women
The men
The kooky "statues" in the square in front of the Cologne Cathedral--people dressed up and spray painted, posing for tips

Judy trying to hide her face behind her iPad so Dave couldn't retaliate for the picture below, and having the waiter play along by knocking the iPad away
Dave loses his head AGAIN
The postcard-perfect bicycle ride among the Kinderdijk windmills—blue skies, deep blue water, cool breeze, hundreds of swimming geese, no other tourists in sight, windmill backdrops, feeling like kids again on our bikes

Arriving in Amsterdam on the coldest June 3 EVER RECORDED and warming up with hot chocolate

The bicycle culture in Amsterdam
Underground bicycle parking at the train station
Creative street parking

Learning about how cheese is aged, and becoming cheese tasting "experts" in the Reypenaer cheese-tasting class

Our CitizenM Hotel in Amsterdam—at first shocking and then just very funky

Gelato, more gelato, and yet more gelato—and sinfully rich Magnum bars when there was no gelato

Exploring the interiors of the many cathedrals and taking countless photos to help us remember their majesty and beauty

Walking, walking, walking... feeling the blessing of exercise as well as a connection to the past

Seeing churches and castles and art with our own eyes that we had only heard about or seen in books

The fun of looking around and seeing and being with all or our siblings and our spouses, knowing that few families enjoy the friendship that we do and that we should never take that for granted
To quote my brother-in-law Reid: “It was a great time to be a Kenison and I hope that Mom was allowed a few glimpses of our time together.”

                      Danke schön, Mom. Ich liebe dich.


  1. Perfect, Judy! I will treasure these memories forever.

  2. Thanks--what a great posting! When are we going to do this again????

  3. Loved the post! What fun memories!

  4. I just teared up reading that.