Start your own Travel Business

Do you have more month than money? Are you stressing over your retirement nest egg?  Would you like to earn additional money? Would you like to own your own business?  Do you like to Travel? Do you have friends who like to travel?  If yes to any of these questions then NOW is the time to get into the travel business! Watch the video below:

Surge365 is rolling out a new concept in travel booking that promises to revolutionize the trillion dollar travel industry called VORTEX.  Between now and March 2 you can start your own travel business for a one time start up fee of only $399. NO products to buy, no inventory, and no quotas to meet. Extensive training is provided at no additional cost and you get your own booking engine that will undercut the major travel booking sites!

I’ve been doing this for 5 years now and this ground-breaking new program is the best I have seen that will TRAIN you, support you, and pay you to operate a travel business from the comfort of your own home.  Put as much time or as little as you may have into it as you want. As a business owner you reap the BENEFIT of small business tax deductions. With the way this is structured, you can’t lose. Don’t believe me?  Watch the video, or better yet call me or send me an email. This introductory offer will expire and won’t be repeated so you owe it to yourself to discover how easy it is to own your own business. Call me: 623-229-4856 or email me at

Snowballs in Jerusalem

198Now who would have thought a trip to the Holy Land in January would include building a snowman or snowball fights? There has only been snow in Jerusalem twice in the last 100 years – Christmas of 2013 and January 2015!  When our tour group arrived in Tel Aviv we were told the roads into Jerusalem were impassable and that we had been re-booked for a few days into Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee.  What at first seemed like a traveler’s nightmare became a real blessing however. As cold as it was, the crowds at the Holy sites were virtually non-existent. By the time we were able to get into Jerusalem, the temperatures still hovered below 30, but the crowds were gone. What was normally a shoulder-to-shoulder tourist experience became a leisurely walk in the park – er, church. So out of every dark cloud does actually come a silver lining!

I am planning to put together a tour group either later this year or early next year, so if you have an interest in seeing the Holy Land get in touch with me at

Seven Reasons Why Should You Use A Landscape Architect For Your Travel Planning


After 42 years in the workplace and completing a rewarding second career as a Registered Landscape Architect, I have reinvented myself yet a third time as a professional travel consultant. When I first tell friends and colleagues about my venture into the world of travel they seem puzzled at the connection between design and travel. I think it is a natural evolution and let me explain why it works for me and it works to your advantage as a potential client.

1. Landscape architects appreciate and study art, design and balance. They develop a blend of technical skills and design with aesthetic results. They study architecture and garden designs from all over the world. The projects they design need to be functional, attractive, and safe. They tend to be collaborative and may call in other experts to assist with project planning and implementation.

The professional travel consultant also appreciates art, design and balance, but perhaps from a slightly different perspective. They want their clients to experience the very best of the world around us, balancing fun and relaxation with social awareness with cultural education. They study the world’s great destinations and activities with the intent of merging the technical skills of getting you there with the physical and visual experience of place. They design travel packages that are efficient, functional, attractive, and safe. And much like the landscape architect, a professional travel consultant may call in other destination and local experts to assist with planning your trip.

2. Landscape Architects are well acquainted with continuing education. Many states require education credits to renew certification as a registrant. This means that typically, landscape architects are consistently in self-education mode, attending conferences, webinars, reading journals, and taking refresher classes. They need to be at the top of their game in order to provide the very best project to their client.

So it is with a professional travel consultant, they are in constant self-education mode; attending conferences, webinars, reading travel journals, and taking destination courses as they are offered. The world is constantly changing. New markets open up and traditional ones close due to economics or politics. New adventures emerge along with opportunities to experience the world we live in from a different point of view than that of previous generations of travelers. They need to be at the top of their game in order to provide the very best experience to their clients.

3. Landscape architects typically work with a select team of experts that they know and respect. Over time, they get to know their sub-consultants and contractors well; they learn how to craft design to their team’s best strengths and expertise. They may not use all their stable of experts and contractors at the same time, but will select the best for the project as appropriate.

Likewise, over time, professional travel consultants get to know their vendors and suppliers well. They become familiar with the best features and strengths of their preferred vendors in order to design your trip around what will be the best experience for your desires and budget. They may not use all available suppliers for a given trip and might even seek out referrals for qualified vendors from fellow professionals for adventures and locations that may offer the best experience for their clientele.

4. Landscape architects are well acquainted with budgets. As a project begins, a landscape architect will often ask the client questions such as what is the ultimate goal? How much is appropriate to spend? Does it need to be phased? Are there any upgrades that might be desirable if within budget? Armed with answers, the landscape architect then approaches the task with another question – will the outcome be pleasing and memorable for my client and the users?

Professional travel consultants also deal with budgets, and they also ask questions of their clients: where would you like to go – have you been there before? How many are going and what is the budget for the trip? If I can add upgrades to the trip that are within budget is that desirable? Do you want to go to multiple destinations? All the while, the questions are framed within an overarching goal is to create a memory by making the trip as relaxing and pleasing as possible, and the best value for the expense.

5. Landscape architects are trained to be attentive to public safety. They constantly refer to guidelines and best practices to ensure a safe outcome for the project. Even tough they may carry errors and omission insurance, the goal is to never have to use it. They accomplish this by making certain the project they design is within recognized safety parameters. Safety of the client and the users is paramount.

Professional travel consultants are also focused on safety. They strongly recommend that clients add travel protection to the cost of their travel package with the hope that there will never be a reason to use it. As industry insiders, they are all too aware of the myriad of problems that can arise on any given trip. They diligently research news and travel advisories for and make an effort to give their clients guidance and local resources In the unlikely event that someone might need help on a trip. Their hope and desire is that each traveler will be safe and secure no matter where in the world they may be.

6. Landscape architects as a profession are environmentally-grounded -they value the environment and efficient design that does no harm. In the process they carefully select honest suppliers and professionals who are like minded. By respecting the environment rather than exploiting it, they pledge that our children and their children may have the same opportunities and experiences in their futures. Those who do not respect the environment tend to be “in it for a buck” and not necessarily for the public’s benefit or enjoyment.

Professional travel consultants as a profession are also environmentally-grounded. Perhaps in a different sense, but they too are careful to select honest suppliers and businesses who respect their local environments rather than exploiting it. For the professional travel consultant the world is their product and they want to be certain that future generations will have the same experience that you enjoy today. Professional travel consultants also avoid those who tend to be “in it for a buck,” protecting your investment and enjoyment.

7. Landscape architects as a profession (at least in my experience) are not a part of the wealthy 1%. You won’t find many if at any in the Forbes top 100 list. That’s not to say their aren’t successful businesses among the professions, but most of my colleagues are not moguls of society. Why? (Well, my view is that they care too much). Landscape architects tend to be engaged in their communities and causes. They are more inclined than any other profession I know of to cut their fees in order to save a project. They are loyal to their employees and pay a decent wage. Competition is fierce and often unfair. Other less–qualified individuals may convince someone they don’t need a registrant because they can “perform” just like one for a much lower cost. Internet sites and computer design programs may hint or claim they can provide the same level of expertise for you at the cost of software or no additional expense. And everybody “knows” a kid down the block with a pick-up truck and a rake who can do the job just as well. All of these circumstances are recipes for disaster. The old adage that “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” is something we should test all transactions with.

I didn’t get rich as a landscape architect, and as a professional travel consultant, I’m not planning to become wealthy. That’s just not my motivation. And while I’m certain there are some agencies that are in the upper echelons of earnings, I’m convinced that most home-based consultants are actually in the business for the love of travel and to help others. Truth is, a professional travel consultant will care deeply about your travel experience. Why? Because we want to help you and your friends over and over – for every destination in your bucket list. Yeah, everyone knows they can probably find anything cheaper on the internet. (“recipe for disaster” !!) Occasionally someone will pick my knowledge for information then book a trip on their own or through a “discount” agency. (Also, a “recipe for disaster.”) Most vacations now days will average between $2000 – $4000 per person so you better be certain you have the right person assisting you with your planning. It makes all the difference in the world.

One last observation on the topic. Granted, most homeowners “design” and plant their own front and back yards. Likewise, most travelers research their own travel on-line or through travel books. For either, the results may be adequate, but for many the results could have been so much better. I cannot count the many times have I heard the story “I wish I hadn’t planted a tree their or picked that shrub! Google the word “travel” and you’ll get back 846,000,000 results. Try “Hawaii” and you’ll receive 125,000,000 hits. Seriously? Do anyone really have the time to sort through that much information? This is why going with a professional travel consultant will be the best bang you can get for your travel buck.

Jeff Sargent is a Registered Landscape Architect in Arizona and former State Chapter President and Trustee of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA). He currently owns and operates i-Global Travel, LLC, a web-based travel consulting business, and is a member of National Association of Career Travel Agents (NACTA), American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Cruise Lines International Association (ASTA), and Outside Sales Support Network (OSSN). Visit his web site at

(Slap!) We Shoulda Used a Travel Agent!

Us-passport copy

Heard a sad story today. A friend of ours had been planning a trip to the Caribbean. They did their research and booked air and hotel on line. They had been looking forward to the trip and when they arrived at their destination, one was denied entrance. Why? Her passport would expire three months before her departure date!

A very expensive lesson and a very good reason to use a travel agent. Travel counselors will ask questions about your passport status prior to your trip – to make certain you are within legal requirements. Most agents can assist in getting expedited renewals if necessary. Also, some countries require visas prior to travel (e.g., most of Africa, Brazil, India, Russia, China, and so on). Travel counselors (I use the term interchangeably) would have recommended trip interruption insurance. There are policies that would pay for any reason. And yes the cost might seem a bit expensive at the time of booking, but when you are returned home without even getting a chance to step foot on the beach – well, you weigh the cost.

How could a travel agent have helped in a circumstance such as this? It is quite possible that a phone call to an agent could have resulted in re-routing the couple to Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands where a passport isn’t required. And while en-route, the agent could be working on getting their accommodations changed from one destination to anther. If by chance the same property on one island is represented in another, the exchange could be fairly seamless.

The internet is great for lots of things. Personally I love the do-it-yourself nature of the internet. But I have been stung with more than a couple of big purchases that didn’t pan out or didn’t work in my locale or circumstance. So I think now, why take a chance on saving a buck or two and perhaps losing much more if my choice is wrong.

Contact an expert. It’s worth the time and money. These are forever memories you are creating. You don’t want them to be sour memories. Call us at 623-229-4856, or send me an e-mail at Log onto our web site at where you will have the opportunity to do much of the research on your own, just be sure to get in touch with us before you hit the Submit button so that we can make sure you are good to go! Via con Dios, Amigos y Amigas!

Our 2013 Germany Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise – Day Six

Cologne 1945

Destruction of Cologne during WWII

Ever wonder where the concept for men’s cologne came from? OK trick question I suppose, but I honestly thought it was a coincidence, since the German name for Cologne is Koln. Sure enough, Eau de Cologne was invented in the City of Cologne – more on that in a moment.

Cologne is Germany’s fourth largest city with more than ten million inhabitants. Cologne is located on both sides of the Rhine River. The city’s famous Cologne Cathedral dominates the skyline. Cologne was founded and established in the first century AD. Like other cities along the Rhine, Cologne has undergone several occupations by the French and also the British. During the Second World War, Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany. The bombing reduced the population by 95% and destroyed almost the entire city. With the intention of restoring as many historic buildings as possible, the rebuilding has resulted in a very mixed and unique cityscape. Cologne is home to more than thirty museums and hundreds of galleries.

Cologne became an important center of medieval pilgrimage, when Cologne’s Archbishop Rainald of Dassel gave the relics of the Three Wise Men to Cologne’s cathedral in 1164. The cathedral, started in 1248 but abandoned around 1560, was eventually finished in 1880 not just as a place of worship but also as a German national monument celebrating the newly founded German empire and the continuity of the German nation since the Middle Ages. The cathedral towers are approximately 515 ft tall. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. Besides housing the reliquary of the Three Kings it was intended as a proper role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor.

During World War II, Cologne was a Military Area Command Headquarters. Cologne endured 262 air raids by the Western Allies, which almost completely wiped out the center of the city. During the night of 31 May 1942, Cologne was the target of the first 1,000 bomber raid by the Royal Air Force. 1,046 heavy bombers attacked their target with 1,455 tons of explosives, approximately two-thirds of which were incendiary bombs. In 1945 architect and urban planner Rudolf Schwarz called Cologne the “world’s greatest heap of rubble”. Schwarz designed the master plan of reconstruction in 1947. The reconstruction lasted until the 1990s, when the Romanesque church of St. Kunibert was finished.

4711We walked through the old town area, home to many churches and classic buildings. We passed by the city’s Carnival headquarters, and nearby was the very place where eau de cologne was invented and first manufactured. The perfume is still being produced in its namesake city; the most famous brand is 4711, named after the number of the house where it was invented (which houses the shop and museum).

Prior to touring Cologne, we attended one of the lectures on board about German culture. Prior we had learned how the American concept of Santa Claus is a result of a 1930”s Coca-Cola advertising campaign. The bottler set the modern image of a jolly old man dressed in red with white trim, and all the rest of his paraphernalia – considerably different from the European images of St. Nicholas.

A-ROSA and David Morris International offers unique all-inclusive river cruises throughout the year. If you would like a 2014 A-ROSA brochure or a price quote call me at 623-229-4856 (or email me at ), or visit my web site at Between now and January 31 I can get special deals on 3 or more cabins so if you have a small group that would like to see the tulip fields of Holland – call me.

JUST ANNOUNCED! Save up to 50% on included airfare; Save $1,000 per stateroom when you deposit a 2014 sailing by January 31, 2014 – any cruise, any category, including suites. Also – Early Payment Incentive: save up to $1320 in additional savings with A-Rosa’s Early Payment Incentive. Pay in full any 2014 sailing within 7 days of reservation or by January 31, 2014, whichever occurs first and you will receive a 6% savings off the cruise only fare – value of up to $1320 per cabin. Finally, single supplements have been waived and reduced – on all sailings! Single Supplements are waived in waived in Categories A & S and reduced to 120% in Categories C & D.

Our 2013 Germany Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise – Day Five

MainzSaturday morning we wake up docked at Mainz Germany. After sailing south upstream we are now headed downstream toward Northern Germany. We had hoped to attend services at a local church in Mainz, but the maps are confusing and I am uncertain of directions. In addition, time is running out to make connections so we decided to join the walking tour that is leaving at 9:00AM. Today is cold! 30 degrees and it is trying to rain.

The first thing we notice as we disembark is the massive St. Martin’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is Romanesque in style and was started in 911 AD. The Cathedral was heavily damaged by WWII bombing raids but has been completely restored. Six German monarchs are buried in the Cathedral. St. Stephan Church in Mainz was started in 1297 and today is famous for its Marc Chagall windows.

Mainz was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Franks under Clovis gained control over Western Europe. The Franks united the Celtic and Germanic tribes of Europe. After World War I the French occupied Mainz according to the Treaty of Versailles. The Rhineland was to be a demilitarized zone until 1935 and the French garrison was to stay until reparations were paid. In 1936 the forces of the Third Reich reentered the Rhineland with a great fanfare, the first move of the Third Reich’s expansion. During World War II, more than 30 air raids destroyed about 80 percent of the city’s center, including most of the historic buildings.

The city is famous as the home of the invention of the movable-type printing press, as the first books printed using movable type were manufactured in Mainz by Gutenberg in the early 1450s. To the east of the large Christmas Market is a large building that houses the Gutenberg Museum. It started to rain so we took shelter inside the Museum. I noticed several others coming in and going into the exhibit hall, so we too walked in. Inside were replicas of the original press that Gutenberg first produced the Bible on. Nearby is a large display of Heidelberg printing presses. I was well into photographing the exhibit when I was asked for my ticket! Entering as we did, we completely missed the ticket counter, and it had appeared the exhibit hall was free. After much apology, we ventured back out into the cold!

We ventured into the old area of town with charming timber houses and cobble streets. Everywhere was decorations and the mood was quite festive. We entered the Mainz Cathedral and wandered around a bit. Of course everything was in German and it was a bit crowded as others were inside to escape the rain as well. I snapped shots of monuments and statues not knowing what they meant or who they were for – a missed opportunity. St. Stephan Church in Mainz is famous for its Marc Chagall windows.

The Jewish community of Mainz dates to the 10th century AD and is noted for its religious education. The city of Mainz responded to the Jewish population in a variety of ways, behaving, in a sense, in a bipolar fashion towards them. Sometimes they were allowed freedom and were protected; at other times, they were persecuted. Nowadays the Jewish community is growing rapidly, and a new synagogue was constructed in 2010 on the site of the one destroyed under the Third Reich.

Because of the weather, we returned to the ship earlier than planned and took a long overdue afternoon nap.
We will be in Mainz until 3:00 Sunday afternoon, and then it’s off to Cologne. Stay tuned!

A-ROSA and David Morris International offers unique all-inclusive river cruises throughout the year. If you would like a 2014 A-ROSA brochure or a price quote call me at 623-229-4856 (or email me at ), or visit my web site at Between now and January 31 I can get special deals on 3 or more cabins so if you have a small group that would like to see the tulip fields of Holland – call me.

Our 2013 Germany Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise – Day Four

p300-strassburgFriday already – the trip is going by so fast! We get up a tad late for breakfast and get ready to meet our bus and tour guide for Strasbourg. Strasbourg has historically been an important city – located between Germany and France, on a major trade route, and now the capital of the European Union.

The Romans established a military outpost at Strasbourg’s current location, and named it Argentoratum (and the town is sometimes referred to as Argentina). Old Strasbourg is French and is actually an island surrounded on both sides by the River Ill (as in ill). For a period of time Strasbourg was part of the German empire and Kaiser Town (as it is now called) is built between the Rhine and old Strasbourg. The architecture of the old town is visibly French with German accents; the Kaiser town is architecturally German monumental style.

The Free City of Strasbourg remained neutral during the Thirty Years’ War, and retained its status as a Free Imperial City. King Louis XIV of France extended the borders of his kingdom, and Strasbourg’s status as a free city was revoked later during by the French Revolution. In 1871 the city was annexed to the German Empire and was rebuilt and developed on a grand and representative scale. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles returned the city to the French once again.

Between September 1 and September 3, 1939, the entire city (a total of 120 000 people) was evacuated, and except for the arrival of German Wehrmacht troops mid-June 1940, the city was completely empty for 10 month. After the Fall of France in June 1940, both Strasbourg and the Alsace were annexed back to Germany. From 1943 the city was heavily bombarded by Allied aircraft causing extensive destruction.

In 1949, the city was chosen to be the seat of the Council of Europe with its European Court of Human Rights and European Pharmacopoeia. Since 1952, the European Parliament has met in Strasbourg, which was formally designated its official ‘seat’ in December 1992.

The city is chiefly known for its sandstone Gothic Cathedral with its famous astronomical clock, and for its medieval cityscape of Rhineland black and white timber-framed buildings, particularly in the Petite-France district or Gerberviertel (“tanners’ district”) alongside the Ill and in the streets and squares surrounding the Strasbourg Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral began in the twelfth century, completed in 1439 (only the north tower was built) and became the World’s Tallest Building, surpassing the Great Pyramid of Giza. In the 1520s during the Protestant Reformation, the city embraced the religious teachings of Martin Luther (John Calvin spent several years in the city). In addition to the cathedral, Strasbourg houses several other medieval churches that have survived the many wars and destructions that have plagued the city: Église Saint-Thomas with its Silbermann organ on which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Albert Schweitzer played, the Gothic Eglise Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune Protestant with its crypt dating back to the seventh century and its cloister partly from the eleventh century, the Gothic Église Saint-Guillaume with its fine early-Renaissance stained glass and furniture, as well as war-destroyed churches left intact for public display.

Strasbourg features a number of prominent parks, of which several are of cultural and historical interest: the Parc de l’Orangerie, laid out as a French garden by André le Nôtre (of Versailles fame) and remodeled as an English garden. The stork is the City symbol and hundreds of stork nests can be seen throughout the park and its neighborhoods.

Strasbourg is now the seat of several European institutions, such as the Council of Europe (with its European Court of Human Rights, as well as the European Parliament a and the International Institute of Human Rights. Strasbourg’s historic city centre, the Grande Île (Grand Island), was classified a World Heritage site. Also of note, Johannes Gutenberg created the first European moveable type printing press in Strasbourg and subsequently, the first modern newspaper was published in Strasbourg in 1605.

This is the largest of the Christmas markets so far. They wrap around the cathedral and include children’s carnival rides, dozens of food booths and dozens of handcrafted items for sale. We were both hungry for sauerkraut and persuaded a vendor to sell us a plate of kraut without the usual sausage. They probably thought we were nuts and had to recalculate a price – but wow! Was it ever tasty!
We toured the old city in the morning, the cathedral in the afternoon, and the Christmas markets at night. We were glad when time came to board the bus for the trip back to the ship in the evening. We arrived in time to change for the semi-formal sit down dinner on board, and as we ate, the crew undocked from the shore and off we headed for Mainz. Stay tuned!

A-ROSA and David Morris International offers unique all-inclusive river cruises throughout the year. If you would like a 2014 A-ROSA brochure or a price quote call me at 623-229-4856 (or email me at ), or visit my web site at Between now and January 31 I can get special deals on 3 or more cabins so if you have a small group that would like to see the tulip fields of Holland – call me.

Our 2013 Germany Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise – Day Three

Baden BadenIt’s Thursday and overnight we traveled further south up the Rhine to Kehl Germany, arriving in the early afternoon. We’ve signed up for an optional bus ride into Baden Baden in the mountains of the Black Forest. Everyone has said that the Christmas market in Baden Baden is most charming – and it didn’t disappoint us at all!

Baden Baden is a spa town with hot springs and a regionally well-known casino. The town is old – the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Caracalla both visited the area for the heated waters (baden means bath in German). Originally the town was simply called Baden (without the repetition). Then around the 15th Century, the region was home to the Count of Baden and also became known as Baden. In the 1930’s it was renamed Baden Baden (which is short for Baden in Baden – much like New York, New York). Being located so close to the German-French border, the town suffered greatly during the many territorial conflicts and wars that ravaged the area.

The Casino is reported to be elegant (we didn’t go because there is a dress code and we preferred to roam the Christmas Markets), along the Monte Carlo (Google it and you will see that it is on the lavish side). Queen Victoria, Kaiser Wilhelm, Napoleon III, and other European celebrities often frequented the Casino. Dostoevsky, wrote The Gambler while staying and playing at Baden Baden. Johannes Brahms was a resident of the town.
Traveling through the countryside, we arrived just before the sun was setting and found the town very charming, much like a ski resort in the US. The small park near where the bus unloaded had been turned into a skating rink and many of the local families were enjoying themselves on the ice. We walked along the Lichtentaler Allee, which is park and strolling avenue along the west bank of the Oos River.

The Christmas market was laid out along existing shops and then spilling over in front of the Casino (Kurhaus) and around the large commons area between the Theater and the Trankhalle. We bought locally made jams and jellies, cookies and small cakes. We stopped to try a “to-die-for” dish of marinated mushrooms – a different taste than anything we’d had before. The entire town is right out of a story book and is alive with the Christmas spirit. Overnight Northern Germany was hit with a major storm, and now It is trying to snow at the elevation we’re at, but it’s coming down half rain and half snow. By 6:30 we make our way back to the bus pick-up point – half-frozen and ready for the evening buffet on the ship.

We’ll be two days at Kehl, and tomorrow we venture into Strasbourg on the French side of the Rhine River. Stay tuned!

A-ROSA and David Morris International offers unique all-inclusive river cruises throughout the year. If you would like a 2014 A-ROSA brochure or a price quote call me at 623-229-4856 (or email me at ), or visit my web site at Between now and January 31 I can get special deals on 3 or more cabins so if you have a small group that would like to see the tulip fields of Holland – call me.

Our 2013 Germany Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise – Day Two

Christmas marketIt’s Wednesday and overnight we have traveled to Germersheim Germany. Absolutely no sensation of movement except for an occasional lock or when we dock. Breakfast buffet is terrific – everything imaginable to chose from and eat as much as you want. We probably overate our first breakfast, but truly there was too much to chose from, and if it wasn’t displayed, the chef would make it for you!

At 9:00 we assemble to board the bus taking us to Heidelberg – it’s about 39 degrees F, but it doesn’t feel all that cold. Heidelberg is a city in south-west Germany, and up to the week we arrived, was a major US Army military installation. The Army closed the based just the week before we arrived. The military hospital at Heidelberg is where they brought General Patton after his jeep accident in Mannheim, and is where he eventually died. The room in which he died is still a museum. Heidelberg was largely untouched by the bombing raids of WWII; there was an agreement of sorts between the Germans and the British to spare Oxford and Heidelberg because of their universities.

Heidelberg lies along a tributary of the Rhine, the River Neckar. The palace castle above the town is a former residence of the “Electorate of the Palatinate,” (a Prince who has the ability to elect the Emperor). Heidelberg’s library (1421), is the oldest public library in Germany. A few months after Martin Luther proclaimed the “95 Theses,” he arrived in Heidelberg to defend them.

The Christmas market has just opened in the downtown area, and will open that evening in the old castle area. We buy delicious melt-in-your-mouth handmade chocolates, some lavender potpourri, and do some window shopping. At 2:30 we reassemble for a bus ride and walking tour of the town of Speyer.

We arrived in Speyer (“Spires” in English), one of Germany’s oldest cities, toward sunset. We toured the Speyer Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Memorial Church. Speyer is dominated by the Cathedral, within which are the tombs of eight Holy Roman emperors and German kings.

By 687, Speyer served as a temporary seat of the kings and emperors, and Charlemagne visited several times. Other significant events, decisions and meetings in Speyer include the extradition of Richard the Lionheart (King of England). Richard was captured after a Crusade shortly before Christmas 1192 near Vienna and brought to Speyer and handed over to Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Henry VI, needed money to raise an army and continued to hold Richard for ransom. Richard famously refused to show deference to the emperor. The emperor demanded that 65,000 pounds of silver be delivered to him before he would release the king. In 1194 Richard was released.

Since Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses, reformation had become the dominating issue of domestic politics. In 1529 the Imperial Diet again met in Speyer. The Lutheran members of the Diet issued an appeal – the famous “Protest of 1529.” This action created the term “Protestantism.” The neo-gothic ‘The Memorial Church of the Protestation’ was built around 1900. This was built because of the protest that took place at the Diet of Speyer by the protestant Princes. Together with the 4 towers of the cathedral and the Altportal these two churches dominate the skyline of Speyer.

The lights, music and smell of baked goods fill the Christmas market area. Festive lights and broad pedestrian streets open up the downtown area, but by now we are tired, a little jet-lagged, and hungry so w are happy to re-board the bus and head back to the ship for a formal sit-down dinner.

We are served several courses but Norma is becoming a vegan and the entries are definitely not on her list of edibles. We discover this is not a problem for now that they know, they will make vegan substitutes for her. The ship begins to depart to Kehl, and by 8:00 we drop into bed exhausted.

So tomorrow, we dock at Kehl Germany, across from Strasbourg France. Stay tuned!

A-ROSA and David Morris International offers unique all-inclusive river cruises throughout the year. If you would like a 2014 A-ROSA brochure or a price quote call me at 623-229-4856 (or email me at ), or visit my web site at Between now and January 31 I can get special deals on 3 or more cabins so if you have a small group that would like to see the tulip fields of Holland – call me.

2013 Germany Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise

StateroomIt has been a considerable while since my last blog entry and I’m reactivating my posts with a short series highlighting our recent Christmas Market Rhine River cruise in Germany. Norma and I had the privilege of sailing with A-ROSA River Cruises a month ago (December 3 through the 11th). Since we were kept really too busy to post each day while on the cruise, I thought I’d spend time recreating the trip with our comments and pictures. Our river cruise was wonderful in every sense – it is absolutely the best way to see Western Europe!

We arrived on a Tuesday last month (December 3) in Frankfurt Germany via United Airlines. The trans-Atlantic flight is about 9 hours. Because of a delay in Houston, we arrived in Frankfurt really just in time to get unpacked and settle in before the ship undocked and started toward our first destination. As a result, we didn’t spend time in Frankfurt, but those on board who did said we didn’t miss much. Weather in Frankfurt was about 35 Degrees Fahrenheit.

We did have time however to become acquainted with the ship and crew. Our ship (the A-ROSA Silva) has around 100 staterooms for 178-passengers. It was built in 2012, is the newest of the A-ROSA fleet, and offers six suites in addition to standard cabin configurations. All staterooms have private bathrooms with showers, interactive televisions, writing tables and seating. Most of the staterooms have a French balcony with large sliding glass doors that open the view into your room. There is an on-board sauna and spa, a gym, and heated pool; a large dining area, buffet, lounge, and wine bar (all food and drinks (including alcoholic are included in the price). On the top deck is a putting green, shuffleboard, grill, and sun deck with recliners (too chilly to use in December – although several smokers made use of the area). A range of shore excursions is available in every port of call, and passengers can choose from options ranging from food and wine tours to city tours (the tours are also included in the fare). The entire crew speaks English and they are all warm, outgoing and friendly. Everyone truly seeks to make your experience wonderful and complete.

So tomorrow, we dock at Germersheim, founded in 1276 by King Rudolf of Hapsburg. From there we’ll take a bus ride into the historic city of Heidelberg. Stay tuned!

I am pleased to be associated with A-ROSA and David Morris International. Call me for an A-ROSA brochure, price quote or booking at 623-229-4856, or visit my web site, or email me at Between now and January 31 I can get special deals on 3 or more cabins so if you have a small group that would like to see the tulip fields of Holland – call me.