MacMania 2012


Amsterdam, Netherlands to Basel, Switzerland

(and post–cruise to Geneva for CERN tour)

APRIL 11 - 22, 2012




We had previously arranged for the Super Shuttle to pick us up and since our U.A.L. Flt. #UA 0900 to Frankfurt was at 2:00PM, we were scheduled for a 10:30 – 10:45 AM pickup and the van arrived at 10:35AM. We were at the International Terminal by 11:30.

When the plane was supposed to start boarding, nothing happened. Finally, around 2PM, it was announced that Engine #2 on our 747 had a hydraulic pump problem that would be fixed in an hour and we'll take off at 3:30. Then came the announcement that – “well, maybe 4:30” and then later, “No- now a new crew will be needed so departure won’t be until 8:00. Everybody had to deplane and we all mingled in the terminal gate area until, finally, we re-boarded about 9:15, left the gate about 10PM and lifted off at 10:32 PM!



We arrived in Frankfurt at 5:45PM. So, not only was our flight delayed for 8 ½ hours, the flight lasted an interminable 10 hours and 50 minutes, plus there was a 9 hour time difference! And since we were supposed to arrive at 9:45AM, we naturally missed our flight to Amsterdam that left at 11:15AM.

After clearing Passport Control and following instructions, we went to the counter where we would get a new booking for our flight to Amsterdam. Well, that’s where the other 598 passengers had to get their new bookings, too – so one can only imagine the chaos! Making a very long, sad story short and sweet, we were barely able to make the next flight out to Amsterdam at 9:20PM on Lufthansa A. L. Flt. #LU 1002 FRA to AMS and we disembarked into Schiphol Airport at 10:30PM.

By 11PM, we had retrieved our bags (they made it!) and got a taxi outside the terminal right away. Even though we told him that we had been in Amsterdam once before, our driver took us the long way through the city to see how beautiful it was at night, but what I remember most about the city that night was the number of bicycles still being ridden at that hour and the tremendous number of bikes parked for the night outside so many of the buildings!

Our driver found the docks and the boat easy enough and a couple of the boat’s crew, on their way back from shore leave, helped carry our bags up the ramp. We got checked in at the desk and got our key cards for our cabin #214 at 11:55P.

We found our cabin right away, unpacked and went to bed - a VERY long day!




- 7:00 AM - Boat leaves Amsterdam.

- 7:30 AM - Had breakfast in the main restaurant - scrambled eggs, bacon, potato patty and chocolate pancake w/ coffee and orange juice. Pretty nice after the last two days!

- 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM - Bright Horizons (BH) class - Quantum Questions OR MacMania (MM) class - The Perfect Picture. I sat in on the science one and Ginny went to the Mac one.

-10:30 AM to 12:00 PM - Getting to know your first iPad in the Aft Lounge. I went to this one and Ginny took photos as we passed down the Amsterdam - Rhine Canal.

- 12:30 PM to 1:00 PM - We had a light lunch in the lounge.

- 1:00 PM - Picked up our passports from the front desk and also registered our Visa card to take care of our bar bill at the end of the trip.

- 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM - We both went to the MacMania (MM) - iCloud & the new iTunes class in the Aft Lounge. We had a life jacket drill just as the class was starting.

- 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM - Ginny went to a Tech Side of Photography class but I stayed in the cabin and watched the scenery go by out our French Balcony window and rested up.

- 5:15 PM to 5:45 PM - We went to the Main Lounge and got coffee and relaxed until our Cruise Manager Peter gave a brief presentation at 5:30 on tomorrow's events.

- 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM - Ginny went to a class on Video. I went back to the cabin and watched the scenery go by.

- 7:35 PM to 9:30 PM - Went to dinner - sat with Bill & Helen Marie from Toronto. They're in the Science group.

- 9:30 PM to 11:00 PM - We went up to the Main Lounge for a Bitburg Lager draft and Ginny had a Piña Colada and we were entertained by the strings trio "La Strada". Wonderful music and Ginny bought one of their CD's.

- 11:00 PM - Back to the cabin and to bed.



APRIL 14, 2012 – Cologne and Koblenz, GERMANY

- 7:30 AM - Arrive Cologne

We did the walking tour of the city, saw the Roman ruins being excavated and spent an hour in the Cathedral getting lots of photos. Ginny tried to get photos of the front of the cathedral but was looking right into the sun. We got postcard pictures instead.

12-1071 Koln Cathedral (Z-16-319)

On the way to the coach that would bring us back to the boat, Ginny tripped and fell, bloodying her nose and hand and hurting her wrist and knee. Some people in a religious meeting place took her in and got cold water and cloths to stop the bleeding and we were able to get on the bus okay.

When we got back to the boat, I asked Peter if there was a medical office on board but all medical problems are cared for on shore. One of the ship's crew officers got a couple of plastic bags for me and I filled them with ice. Ginny said she wasn't hurting that much and the ice bags felt good on wrist and knee. She kept the ice on for the rest of the afternoon.

- 12:30 PM - The boat set sail for Koblenz.

 - 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM - (BH) - Past & Present at CERN - Main Lounge - OR - Photo processing (MM) lectures.  Ginny went to Photo processing lecture. I sat in on the CERN lecture.

- 7:15 PM to 9:00 PM - We both had the chef's selection - turkey breast for dinner, Ginny's still pretty sore but moving around at least...

- 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM - Arrive Koblenz. Peter would be leading a 45 min. walking tour of the city right after we docked, but we didn't go and instead just went back to the cabin for the night and Ginny could rest her leg.



- 8:00 AM - Depart Koblenz.

- 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM - I went to the (MM) - iPad Kung Fu class in Aft Lounge after breakfast. Ginny stayed on deck to get photos of castles and scenery.

12-1140 Burg Katz (Z-16-505)

- 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM - (MM) - Creative side of photography lecture was delayed while the boat passed by the Lorelei statue and several castles but Ginny decided to stay and get photos rather than go to the class. Her knee is much better today and no problem walking but her wrist is very sore and she can hardly use her right hand at all...

- 2:00 PM - Arrive Rudesheim.

- 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM - We took the toy train ride to Siegfried's Music Museum and had a 40 minute guided tour of the 100 year-old mechanical wonders and the old house was quite a wonder also! There was also a wine-tasting tour afterwards, but we just walked back to the boat.

- 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM - We went to the Lounge and had a beer and listened to Miroslav's piano playing.

- 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM - Cocktail Party - Main Lounge (Free drinks for all).

- 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM - German dinner tonight - Entrees were duck leg or perch - pretty bad - gave up half way thru and told our table mates, Chris & Bonny from Olympia and Joyce from Portland that we were tired and going back to the cabin and we went to bed.

- 9:30 PM - Depart Rudesheim.



- 7:15 AM - Arrive Mannheim.

- 8:30 AM to 12:30 - PM Took the bus to Heidelberg and Charlotte was our guide. We toured the castle remains and then the bus took us into the town center and we wandered around there with Charlotte filling us up with the history of Heidelberg and the 2 tragic wars that destroyed the town because of the 2 teen aged royal family members. Gin & I took off on our own and got a cup of coffee in a Cafe "La Boheme" before heading back to the meeting area to get the bus back to the boat. The weather was very dark and misty and a cold blustery wind was blowing steadily but it never did rain.

12-1380 Heidelberg Castle (Z-16-634)

- 1:30 PM - Depart Mannheim and off to Strasbourg.

- 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM - Ginny went to the (MM) - iWork Double Vision class but I stayed in the cabin and kicked back.

- 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM - Ginny went to (MM) - Advanced Photo and iMovie session.

- 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM - We both went to the (MM) - Speeding up your Mac class with Joe Kissell.

- 7:35 PM to 8:00 PM - There was a crowd waiting to get dinner so we went to the lounge and had a beer first. We were the last ones in before they closed to place to decorate it for tonight's 60's entertainment program.

- 8:10 PM to 9:40 PM - The "special" German Dinner tonight was roast pork slices and pumpkin pie alamode for dessert.

- 9:35 PM to 10:00 PM - We went to the lounge and sat through a music game with some of the guests vying for a prize and Peter had his Elvis wig on to referee the action. We didn't have a beer and headed back to the cabin.

- 11:00 PM - Cruise overnight to Strasbourg.




- 4:30 AM - Arrive Strasbourg.

- 9:00 AM to 9:30 AM - We got the bus for the Strasbourg tour and Vivienne was our guide.

- 9:30 AM to 12:15 PM - We were bused around the city and Vivienne gave a good briefing on the history of the City and the area. Then we did a walking tour with her through the Cathedral of Notre Dame and saw the astronomical clock operate at 10:30AM. After the cathedral, we boarded a canal boat and our guides pointed out the many points of interest along the Ill River, which completely surrounds the city.

12-1481 Strasbourg FR (Z-16-850)

- 12:45 PM to 1:30 PM - Some of the people went back to the bus waiting to take them back to lunch on the boat, but we stayed in town to do some of our own touring. We found an ATM in the P.O. and then a table on the plaza outside the cathedral and sat and had a beer.

- 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM - We walked around the old part of town taking photos and then found the Tourist Office where we got tickets (€11) for the 2PM miniature tram.

- 2:00 PM to 2:40 PM - Miniature tram ride around the old part of town with recorded guide pointing out the various sights of interest.

- 3:00 PM to 3:15 PM - We walked over to St. Nicholas church and got the 3PM bus back to the boat.

- 6:00 PM to 6:30 PM - Peter's talk about disembarkation.

- 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM - Cocktail Party with Neil Bauman/CEO of Insight Cruises in Main Lounge.

- 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM - Farewell Gala Dinner - Filet of beef w/Baked Alaska for dessert. Sat with Bill & Helen Marie from Toronto.

- 9:45 PM to 10:00 PM - Sat in the lounge and listened to the French Chanteuse sing Edith Piaf - pretty bad...



- 4:00 AM - Boat departs Strasbourg and heads off to Breisach.

- 9:15 AM to 10:15 AM - Video to go: Part 2 (MM)  -  in Dining Room - OR- 3 classes  (BH) that I'm not interested in at all. Ginny went to the Video class.

12-1570 Colmar FR (Z-16-901)

- 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM - And then she went to the Making Home Movies class - in Aft Lounge.

- 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM - The boat was delayed going through 2 locks on the way to Breisach so we docked at a lock and buses met us and brought us there.

- 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM - Colmar excursion . We picked up our guides at the boat dock and then went into Colmar. Very old town with some houses dating back to the 1300's. After walking around the town we boarded our bus and went to a winery for a taste of three sour white wines. Then the bus brought us back to the boat, which had docked in Breisach by then.

- 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM - Settled up our bill on the boat and got the bags packed - mostly all dirty clothes that the vacuum bag reduced the size considerably.

- 7:00 PM to 7:30 PM - Captain's Farewell cocktail party in the lounge.

- 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM - The much vaunted "Chain de Rotisseurs" dinner presented by the Master Chef - (pretty bad)...

- 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM - Back to the cabin and finished packing - have to have our bags out in the passageway by 7:00AM tomorrow.

- 10:00 PM - Depart Breisach and off to Basel, Switzerland.




- 3:30 AM - Arrive Basel.

- 7:30 AM to 8:30 AM - Breakfast on the boat for the last meal then went back to the cabin and got all our stuff and headed out to the buses.

12-1639 Bern Clock (Z-17-088)

- 8:30 AM - Bus departs for Geneva.

- 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM – Stopped in Bern for 3 hours for sightseeing and lunch, before heading on to Geneva. We walked down Marketplatzgasse to the river and saw the bears in their enclosure on the riverbank. Got a hot chocolate in the Einstein Haus Cafe and then saw the Tower clock do its thing at noon. We found a Starbucks, had a cup of coffee and then made our way back to the bus.

We arrived in Geneva about 4:00 PM and checked into the Crowne Plaza and went right up to our room #510. The first thing I noticed was that the beds had very heavy duvets. So when we went down to dinner, we asked the desk clerk to arrange for just a sheet for my bed instead of the duvet. Then we went to the lounge, had a couple drinks -I had 2 manhattans - €20 each! and then ordered Swiss burgers and fries for dinner.

When we went back to the room after dinner, sheets were on both beds and the duvets were loose on the chair. I put the duvet under the new sheet and slept on top of it and Ginny put it over her...


APRIL 20, 2012 – CERN TOUR

- 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM - We boarded the bus to CERN and had an introductory presentation in the auditorium. The auditorium was about a mile walk from the Reception area through corridors that looked like the old telephone buildings with mailboxes outside the office doors.

Then we split up into groups of 13 and with a guide we toured through some equipment bays in a building. It was very noisy and I never really heard what it was all about except occasionally I heard "particle" or "collide".

We had lunch in the cafeteria - mostly all very young people!

We were bused to another building that housed the CMS experiment (Compact Muon Solenoid) but because everything was in operation, you couldn't really see anything.

The whole tour was pretty disappointing in my opinion...

- 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM - We had a Farewell Party in one of the hotel meeting rooms and we both had beer and pretzels for dinner there.



After breakfast, we took the #10 bus to Bel Air in downtown Geneva.

12-1822 Geneva SW (Z-17-225)

We took the miniature train ride along the south shore of the lake Geneva.

Then we walked up the hill to the St. Peter's cathedral. We didn't go inside but walked around outside. Ginny took photos and then we walked back down by the Lake.

We took a round- trip boat ride to the other side of Lake Geneva and another miniature train ride through "Old Town".

We had soup and a couple beers in an upscale French Bistro called "Lipp" on the 3rd floor of the downtown shopping mall. (We were just looking for a bar or pub but never did find one!).

5:00 PM - Got the #10 bus back to the hotel.

- 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM - Had a few beers in the bar and said our farewells to our fellow travelers.



- 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM - Had breakfast and then got our bags from the room and checked out and paid our bar bill at the desk.

- 9:00 AM to 9:15 AM - Took the hotel shuttle to the airport.

- 11:45 AM (local time) – Depart GVA To IAD Flt. #UA 0975  (23B & 23A)

- 3:15 PM - We arrived in Dulles and the 1st line with several hundred in front of us was the Immigration Control. From there, we had to get our bags and then get in line for Customs. Continuing on, we checked our bags to SFO and then got in the Security line. It was 4:55pm when we headed out to our gate, which turned out to be at the very end of the furthest terminal that you had to walk to. When we finally got there, UAL was just starting to board and the plane was supposed to leave at 5:34pm. We left at 6:30pm!

- 6:30PM – LV IAD on UAL Flt. 340 to SFO. (Seats 21H & 21J)

- 08:28 PM (PST) – ARR SFO

- 9:00 PM to 9:45 PM - Got our bags right away, went outside and hopped in a taxi and went straight home.

© Virginia E. Vail 2012