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A European police siren.
That’s what awoke me (Gayle) just after 9am. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again - some of the best sleep I ever have is onboard a cruise ship! And no worries, we felt zero motion all night! While on the Med cruise we booked a Disney Port Adventure for every stop, this time we booked none (except for a transfer into Stockholm).
Noting All Ashore had been at 8am and we planned to explore Kiel on our own, we quickly dressed, stashed protein bars in our bags, and departed the ship. This time we exited for the first time ever from Deck 3 Port side. (Honestly, I didn’t even know that was an option.)
Kara: Gayle didn’t believe me at all when I said that we were exiting via the Deck 3 gangway because we’ve never done that before - and I was right!!!
Gayle’s Note about Offline Maps: As referenced earlier, we have been to Europe and I’ve led 2 study abroads. Thus, I’m experienced with map apps, especially without cell service. We had loaded offline maps from Google, City Mapper, CityMaps2Go (Ulmon), and one other. Some of these permitted customizing lists & pinning of sites we planned to visit prior to departing the US. Well, things must have changed since I/we last used these, as none of them worked as they had in the past or even as currently advertised. While I’d had offline turn-by-turn directions last time, this time at most we could see where we were & where we wanted to go, but it was up to us to navigate ourselves (as an arrow on the screen). I have somewhat of a natural ability with directions, but getting started was always a frustration - for me and us - in every city!
Gayle: Using both a provided paper map(!) and Kara’s phone (having finally turned on internet service via Verizon Travel Pass), we set out for the first of our few planned stops. However, before we left the terminal it began to rain! Sigh. Yet, being prepared, we unloaded our packed rain jackets and set off. We made our way to one of the Cafe Fiedler (recommended from someone in our FB cruise group who lives in Kiel). Luckily it had stopped raining by the time we arrived.
It was everything I envisioned of a European cafe - a case filled with glorious tarts & pastries, (overcast) light-filled windows and chandeliers, an accommodating staff (for non-German speakers), and a quiet, calm ambience. Kara ordered coffee and I got hot chocolate. We both ordered sugar-topped Apple Strudel. My hot chocolate was generic; Kara’s coffee was bitter and needed sugar, although she also praised it. At this point, a good bitter cup of hot, strong coffee was exactly what she needed. However, we both RAVED that the Apple Strudel was the BEST we’d ever had! Light. Paper-thin apples. Airy pastry. And a light coating of sugar to top it off.
A few photos from our "make your own food tour" around Kiel
Kara: I’ll add that the flavor was a perfect balance of the sweet notes of the sugar, the savory cinnamon and just the slightest hint of lemon. It was absolutely perfectly balanced in flavor. YUM.
Gayle: They also had a number of attention-getting pies and cakes (a la our hometown The Cake Bake Shop-style) which I wanted to try, but knew we had a number of other things ahead of us. FYI here we also began using Google Translate for the menu and food signs. Next we set out for another of my choices: Royal Donuts. This journey took us down what was obviously a central shopping (for all things) avenue of the city. There was everything from clothing, pharmacies, and groceries to staples like Primark, TK Maxx (not TJ, like in the states), and McDonald’s.
On the way we saw a bread/pretzel place. Of course I knew getting an authentic pretzel in Germany would be a highlight for Kara. By the time we arrived there was but one plain twisted pretzel, so I’m sure it was destined for Kara. She took it to go and our journey continued.
Next, Royal Donuts was just a tiny shop of no remark. What was left by this time was indeed Instagrammable. However, not every donut had a sign, so I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at. At one point I pointed to Kara, the shopkeep indicated that’s what I wanted, so I just went with it.
Next door was another “bread” shop. Entering, it was more contemporary and very close to our version of Panera. I got a different type of pretzel just so I could have my own and to allow us to dine in the shop.
Kara seemed to indicate her pretzel was no different than plenty of others we’ve had. Mine was lighter, as if there was a different type of yeast used. My donut ended up being some type of malt or hazelnut that had pockets of Nutella. It was a perfectly fine donut, but the milk chocolate gave it a lower quality aspect.
Now being completely stuffed with only carbs(!), we began our trek back to the ship. Kara did a good job of noting small parks, gardens, and statues as interesting points along our walk and captured photos depicting the culture of the city.
Kara: Along our routes both to and from the ship we stopped in the German equivalent of what I’d call a Dollar Store. Our phrase was “Junk is junk the world over.” We also stopped in a “candy” store and a grocery store along the way. Both provided some interesting takes on the similarities and differences between German and American life.
We also stopped in the St. Nikolai church which was to be a highlight of Kiel. The church was under construction - which we’d read online - so I was surprised it was open for us to enter. Not much to see other than a place to light candles and a nice lady selling church stuff. Glad we got to duck our heads in at least and see it.
Gayle: There was a major park across from our ship which we spent extra time during which Kara called home to her family.
The Kiel cruise terminal is contemporary and other than its small size would make a lovely embarkation port.
Back onboard at 1:30pm we decided to go ahead and do laundry while most other guests were still off the ship. Laundry is something we’d never done on any of our past cruises, so here’s a review! (Note the Laundry on the Disney Wish is a different experience than the following!)
Investigating the deck plans on the App, I frustratingly discovered the laundries around the ship weren’t marked, so next was a call to Guest Services. One was more forward of us on our deck (9) or below and further back on Deck 8. We tried our deck first, fully aware they might all be full. Nope - only one dryer was taken.
We’d brought along combo “all in one” detergent & dryer sheets, something I’d used previously for a Europe land trip. It was a simple scan of our key cards at the machine to buy the e-tokens and then scan the washing machine with your Key to the World card and follow the instructions to start your chosen wash program. We waited until the machines started filling with water and away it went. Supposedly this will only take about 25 minutes (low wash). Know that these machines are VERY small, so a typical load at home required at least 2 washers here.
Kara: We got a notification on our phone via the App when the washers started and when they ended. Gayle headed back to put clothes in the dryer while I stayed in the room to add my notes to the blog. As soon as Gayle started the dryers I got notifications on my phone since we’d put all the laundry tokens on my Key to the World card.
After the laundry was done taking its first spin in the dryer we anticipated it would not be completely dry. We hung up a few things that we could hang in the room to dry but dumped the rest on towels on the bed to hold while we went to the Buena Vista Theatre to see the 3:15 p.m. showing of Elemental. (It’s laundry etiquette to not leave your clothes in one of the machines when done, but instead make it available to others. Additionally, we didn’t want to have to leave the movie to claim our laundry.)
We found seats near the top of the theatre just as the “Dug” cartoon was starting. I so wish my pup Kona had a collar like Dug’s! It would make life so much more interesting. Instead, I just voice him as a hapless baby. Poor dog.
Elemental started and it was incredible (other than a LOT of people who could NOT sit still and kept leaving the theatre forcing us to get up and let them out of the aisle). The beginning of the film was a bit slow but overall we both loved it. We both left the theatre with tears in our eyes. Truly glad we went to see it. Gayle: Finally! Pixar got their mojo back!
Kara: Gayle had to run back to the theatre to retrieve her phone (having accidentally left it under the seat since the cupholders were too small for it.) She took some of the laundry back to find a dryer so it could spin a bit longer. While she did that, I got dressed for dinner.
Gayle: Unfortunately, finding an open dryer was impossible so we created as much hanging space as we could to dry the clothes here in the room and will see how that goes.
We are heading to Enchanted Garden tonight for one of our favorite menus - featuring lobster ravioli and sea bass!!! Our head server, Nadine, is from the Philippines. Our Assistant Server, Rama, is from Indonesia. We were greeted by Nadine who had the unfortunate job of passing out hand sanitizer tonight (a rite of passage to enter all the dining rooms). She again met us right back inside the restaurant and linked arms with us as we went directly to our table just to the left of the main entry.
We make it a point to arrive a bit early so that we are seated as soon as the dining room opens. We hate watching servers having to deal with diners who come in super late (& upsetting the service flow) - although Nadine definitely encourages her tables to come in at least for the main course if they are running late.
We clearly already knew what we wanted to eat so Nadine took our orders right away. I did add the Mushroom Tart as a second appetizer. The lobster ravioli was delicious although Gayle said her lobster was chewy again - although not inedible like in Palo. The sea bass was amazing as usual. It’s really all about the cream sauce that they put on it. Nadine said when she has a chance she gets the fish, puts plain rice on top of it and then loads it up with the sauce - YUM!!!
For dessert, Gayle went with the Chocolate Brownie Sundae with peanut butter and I went with the Pecan Tart. Nadine was busy with the other tables so Rama served both dinner and dessert to us. Both desserts were excellent.
After dinner, we went to Guest Services to see if we could get a question answered about our Port Adventure (was there a standard return time or did the bus rotate back on a couple of trips?). Luckily, we seemed to get the answer, although we would have preferred more optionality to come back a bit earlier if we got done sooner. It sounds like the bus will come back at 4:00pm from Stockholm.
We took a stroll through the adults area of Deck 4 which stopped us in our tracks with the work they had done in dry dock. Pink and Skyline were still the same but the walk-through District Lounge was much different - and much more enjoyable. Interestingly, Disney has returned essentially everything to Pre-Covid - for better and for worse - but there are still no appetizers out in the bar area like there used to be. Not that I needed to eat after that - it’s just an interesting observation that with all of the COVID services like chat now gone, they haven’t returned that guest amenity.
We grabbed our water bottles from our rooms and headed up to refill with water. We’re planning some card games or a film tonight and just enjoying thinking ahead to our Day at Sea tomorrow.
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Next up… Day at Sea #1
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