Date: 2023-07-13

“You didn’t!” My mouth dropped at a detail my brother, Jeff, shared about a hunting trip he’d recently taken. Jeff and I were enjoying a glass of wine together on the sundeck during Mayflower’s Tulip Time on Jewels of the Rhine river cruise of the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. We live 400 miles apart, so we appreciated this chance to reminisce, tease, and joke with one another. 

I really did,” he said. “I had to haul the hind quarter of an elk I’d shot down a steep, snowy slope, so I sat on it and rode ‘er down.”  

Shortly after hearing this tale, Jeff, his wife, my husband, and I were hearing tinkling cowbells while riding a cable car down from Switzerlands 7,000-foot snow-capped Mt. Pilatus, one of Mayflower’s optional excursions. We spotted a toboggan run winding down the craggy, steep slope. Later I learned it’s the longest toboggan run in the world. We used to go toboggan sledding together. He wouldn’t agree, but I’m sure he knocked me off and gave me a snowy face washing.  

Mt. Pilatus

When I found out the evening entertainment on board ship was “Name That Tune,” I challenged him to participate. Jeff not only identified the artists and names of most of the songs within three seconds of hearing them, but he could even do so when our fun-loving activity director played them backwards! Besides having a great time, his big win proved to be a conversation starter later when we were enjoying dinner in the ships dining room. New friends joined us to find out more about Jeff, and he explained that he’d once worked as a DJ. “My sister dared me, so of course I had to do it. She loves to tell stories about me, but because of this trip, I now have a good one about her.”  

I took a slow sip of the local beer, not sure where he was going with this. 

When we were touring the tulip gardens,” he began, “she was showing off by crossing the steppingstones and fell in.” 

Hey! It wasn’t my fault.”  I didn’t want these people to think I was clumsy. When I was a kid, I regularly crossed the rock steppingstones over the turbulent Root River, so I ignored the garden’s handrail. “My husband distracted me. I was crossing the water recording the scenery when he called out to me. I looked up and—splash!” The rest of the day, every time my foot sloshed in my shoe, my brother chuckled 

Not only did I spend ten days with my brother, but I shared a café au lait with my sister-in-law, and we spent some time shopping. Any time I wear the sea foam fleece or speckled shirt she found for me in Germany, Im going to think of her.  

With each bend of the river, family and friends drew closer. One group from Texas, who call themselves Los Amigos, regularly travel together. Judging by the constant laughter, they were a tight-knit group who enjoyed each other’s company.  

We ended our cruise by touring the alpine hills of Switzerland. Jeff mentioned wanting to see The Sound of Music” again after taking this trip. Im going to ask him to wait until we can watch it together. We’ll snack on homemade popcorn like we did as kids, adding another jewel to our memory box.   


About the Author: Amy Laundrie is an author, blogger and avid traveler on several Mayflower trips.