Our Mayflower River Cruise began in the Netherlands, where my husband and I toured the famous Keukenhof Tulip Gardens. Striped, bright, exotic, scented or not, each tulip, hyacinth, or daffodil was unique. But viewing the expanse of the various flowers swirling together and complementing one another was beyond spectacular. Strolling past the windmill and through the formal or casual gardens delighted the senses. I soaked in the variety of petals, the music of cheery birds and a distant calliope, and the mix of fragrant scents. But it was the extraordinary range, some 700 varieties, that made it a powerful experience and the essence of spring.
We are more beautiful together than we are apart. This refrain kept repeating itself as I wound my way through what is known as the most beautiful spring garden in the world.
Our cruise followed the curvy Rhine River, and we traveled into Germany where we toured Schwetzingen Palace and its elaborate gardens. Our tour guide kept us enthralled with the area’s history and legends as we strolled through the artistically displayed grounds and estate. Eastern and western architecture melded together in a medley of baroque domes, pavilions, and rounded archways. We are more beautiful together than we are apart.
Just like the mixture of flowers and styles made the garden experiences richer, the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle River created one of Germany’s oldest and most beautiful cities, Koblenz. Combine magnificent architecture, fascinating history, frequent music festivals, and a museum specializing in American Pop Art, and you end up with a city that has it all. We are more beautiful together than apart.
Our river cruise included music events on board ship in the evenings. A talented violinist amazed us with a song that was a mash-up of Bach and Led Zeppelin. He spoke about how much he wished for peace throughout nations and felt he was doing his part to make that happen by sharing his music.
During another evening performance, a couple entertained us by playing a combination of bells. Amazingly, the sweet tune Edelweiss complimented a rock and roll number!
We spent several evenings visiting with fellow travelers. I sipped wine with a teacher who’d grown up in New York city. She was at ease riding the subway, but her childhood playground, unlike mine, was cement. She had never seen a chicken or cow or other farm animals until she was a teenager. I told her pigs regularly broke through the fence of my playground, and we students helped the farmer round them up. City and country-born women laughed together. So did guests and staff.
We had the chance to joke with a fun-loving server from Indonesia, take classes from a fitness instructor from Serbia, greet our captain from Ukraine, and raise our glasses with fellow travelers from the states, Scotland, England, and beyond.
Together we are a blaze of colors, a confluence of strengths and personalities, a mash-up of humanity. We are more beautiful together than we are apart. Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate us.