Mutiny on the Skadi!

To continue yesterday's entry: what began as an excursion to Braubach (home of  Marksburg Castle) turned into an odyssey in almost every sense of the word as we attempted to reach the Skadi at her berth in Bamberg.  This may be a lengthy entry, as I want to try to capture the gamut of emotions and actions that made Wednesday a watershed in more than one way...

After the tour of Marksburg, we had a very nice lunch (although nowhere near the standard established on the Tor) at the Hotel aus dem Weissen Schwanden, or the White
Swan Hotel (established in 1642), complete with a strolling, singing accordian player.  We then boarded the buses for what was billed as a three-hour ride to the Skadi at Bamberg.

We were sitting in the first row on our bus across from the driver, and were looking forward to a nice post-lunch nap.  However, Taddeusz, one of our new friends from Canada decided that it was his duty to ensure that Edward, our busdriver, did not fall asleep.  (This was in spite of the sign above the driver's seat, albeit in German, that specifically requested that no one speak with the driver while he was driving!  Tadd told us later that he had developed a conveniently-timed memory lapse concerning his knowledge of German...)  Since they both spoke Polish, they had a lovely conversation, and at a rather high decibel level, which effectively precluded napping for anyone in the first several rows.  Add to this the fact that Edward displayed a rather alarming propensity for turning around to look at Tadd while responding to him (thus taking his eyes off some of the amazingly narrow and twisting backroads), and you have the makings of an INCREDIBLY long afternoon.

By the time all was said and done, the trip to Bamberg took more like four and a half hours, at the end of which all the riders on our bus were in a state approaching hysteria, which manifested itself in gales of laughter as we missed the street to finally get us to the Skadi not once, not twice, but three times in rapid succession.  We ultimately wound up turning onto some railroad tracks (!) to get the bus pointed in the right direction so we could finally board the Skadi at about ten past seven.  We are berthed in an industrial area, and the ladies who paid the big bucks for the bow suite are being treated to a stunning view of a brick wall.  I volunteered Gary's services to spray paint them a landscape (or some graffiti) on the wall to break the monotony; we'll see if they take us up on the offer...

I have to give kudos to the Skadi crew for their forethought in making initial access to our staterooms an extremely streamlined process.  Instead of having to check in one by one at the Reception Desk, we were allowed to go straight to our cabins where our luggage and room keys were already waiting for us.  Hallelujah - a place to stretch out, even if for only a few moments!

Dinner was a slightly more rushed experience than normal because of our late arrival, and I really felt for the servers, one of whom was overheard to exclaim, "Battle stations!" as he headed for the kitchen.  But they managed to get us all fed and watered (or wined as appropriate), even though it was well past nine when we finished.

Then it was upstairs to the lounge for a briefing from Jacob and Wilhelm (the Manager d'Hotel on the Skadi) on the plans for the next few days.  This rapidly became a free-for-all, as one passenger after another rose to vent his/her frustrations at the turn of events and to rail aginst our river journey's having become a bus tour.  With the fatigue that everyone was experiencing after our longer-than-anticipated sojourn on the buses, the pervading mood in the lounge degenerated to the point where nothing could truly be accomplished by further discussion, and folks drifted off in twos and fours to collapse and (hopefully) recover from the rigors of the day.  Jacob and Wilhelm assured us that they would be in continuous contact with the Basel and Los Angeles Viking offices to impress upon the powers-that-be there our general unhappiness with the perceived lack of proactive communication regarding the flooding and its impact upon our itinerary.

More later - gute Nacht!


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