Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Goldring Travel's 2014 Food & Wine River Cruise - AmaWaterways AmaCerto (Amsterdam to Budapest) - Part I


Goldring Travel’s 2014 Food & Wine Cruise on AmaWaterways AmaCerto from Amsterdam to Budapest is about to begin.  This river cruise event was created out of a request by two couples that had been on one of my prior Food & Wine Cruises requesting it.

But what really got me interested is:  I love Amsterdam, I have never been to Budapest (and hear it is wonderful) and, being Jewish, I have always had a bit of an emotional aversion to Germany that I have not really addressed…even though I have dear friends who are German plus the wines of the region are both incredible and terribly under-appreciated.  And, of course, this will be my first European river cruise.

Another interesting thing, at least for me, is that I am cruising as a solo traveler and am interested in that dynamic.  True, I will have guests with me, but there are a number of practical things I am looking forward to delving into.


Without giving too much away, I have planned a number of events as we cruise up the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.  But as usual Goldring Travel makes sure the Food & Wine Events are complimentary and do not overwhelm the cruise.  This time there are four highlight events:
                                                                                                                    
-          In Rudesheim, Germany I have arranged an exceptional tasting of Georg Breuer Rieslings which have many styles…and even a Pinot Noir.

-          In Bamberg, Germany a historical tour and then one through a brewery followed by a tasting of four very distinct styles of German beer.

-          In Budapest, Hungary, saving the best for last, a Tokaji wine tasting at Domus Vinorum, where we will taste the best quality Tokaji wines.  (I will let you know more about these favorite wines of mine when we get closer to Hungary.)

-          A Food & Wine Tasting onboard the AmaCerto coupling some of AmaWaterways very strong list of regional wines with a wine or two or three I pick up along the way, coupled with some culinary treats from the AmaCerto’s chef.

These events are in addition to the various included tours that AmaWaterways operates in each port; including some “limited edition” tours. Add some local talent being brought on board and it should be a relaxing but rewarding two weeks.  Oh, did I mention the cruise goes through some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe.

But before our river cruise adventure begins we will be spending two nights in Amsterdam.  One night on land and one night on the ship.  This gives my guests the ability to sample two parts of Amsterdam within walking distance of their “home”.  The first night I will be staying at one of my favorite boutique hotels, Banks Mansion right near Rembrandtplein and all its great restaurants and clubs.  The second night will be near the Central Station with, alas, its great restaurants and clubs.

Amsterdam's canal views never get tiring
But I found my experience started just as I boarded my United Airlines flight from Newark to Amsterdam.  The couple next to me was also heading to a river cruise...a Viking river cruise.  And, without being too difficult, the differences between the "budget" Viking cruise versus the more upscale AmaWaterways experience became readily apparent.  Not wanting to spoil their excitement I changed the topic from the differences to what they were looking forward to.  (By the way, this flight had the absolute best team of flight attendants I have ever encountered...and the vegetarian option - an ode to my daughter - was a great choice.  It was actually very good! And we arrived 45 minutes early.)

I met up with two of my clients at the airport and we traveled together to the Banks Mansion.  An early check-in on a Sunday morning in Amsterdam (after a typical Amsterdam Saturday night) wasn't going to happen, so after a cup of coffee it was time for a walk...and walk I did.
Amsterdam's Floating Flower Market -
This time of year they mostly sell tulip bulbs,
but some flower and plants were available

Amsterdam's Floating Flower Market 
In Amsterdam it is all about the bicycles
and they are everywhere
Having been to Amsterdam many times before I had no agenda...so I wandered the canals looking for a place to have a quiet breakfast.  I happened upon Greenwoods with a steady crowd enjoying fresh baked soda bread with a wide variety of awesome fare with a pleasant canal view.

Greenwoods Breakfast.  Well, it sounded like it was healthy!
Poached eggs, avocado, chicken and cottage cheese on fresh soda bread

An Amsterdam canal view with the leaves just starting to turn
Afterwards and a couple of hours of wandering, my room was ready and a two hour power nap was perfect...so I would have time to wander down to the Living Room of the hotel to enjoy the always interesting cheese table and a glass or two of wine before heading off to The Five Flies for dinner.

The Five Flies Restaurant is a "must do" in Amsterdam; names for the five houses that over the centuries were combined together; each keeping its individual character to this day.  Founded in 1627 as more of a store than a restaurant, it now is a culinary treat.  I opted for the four course menu (which they do not tell you what you are getting) paired with four different wines.  Add the amuse bush and it is a huge meal (and I knew from my last time here not to order the six course menu!)

After a very relaxed meal it was time, finally, for bed.

Tomorrow we board the AmaCerto!  

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Interested in an AmaWaterways river cruise?  Give me a call at (877) 2GO-LUXURY or email me at eric@goldringtravel.com