It was an amazing week on the Rhine :) I’ve been looking forward to this blog post in particular, because I’m excited to tell you about my first ever river cruise! It was a great experience that I’d definitely recommend to travelers looking for a unique vacation.
Although we’ve taken ocean cruises in the past, we had never tried a river cruise. The boat was a lot smaller and lacked most of the facilities that we had access to on previous cruises. Our boat was called the Viking Helvetia. It had three levels, consisting of staterooms, a small lobby, a lounge, a library, and a central dining room. We ate all of our meals in the restaurant – no less than five courses at every sitting…so we definitely didn’t go hungry! Initially, I missed the movie theatres, swimming pools, and pizza buffets that had been staples on our last cruise ship, but I got over this pretty quickly. Everyday was packed with adventurous excursions and chances to explore new territory. From walking tours to on-board lectures, there were several opportunities to learn about different European cultures. We visited 4 countries in less than a week! Starting in Amsterdam, we docked in various cities along the fascinating Rhine River. Although each port was incredible, certain cities had notable highlights…
The town of windmills! I loved walking along the water and taking pictures of flower fields & rustic country houses. I even climbed all the way to the top of a windmill! Relaxing boat trips and leisurely bike rides are also popular in this region of the Netherlands.
This city is home to a magnificent cathedral called Dom Cologne (“The Dome of Cologne). We spent time walking through it’s intricate interior and gazing at the large-scale stained glass windows, some of which date back to the 12th century. There’s a lot to do in Cologne, like visiting its various museums or walking through the city’s extensive shopping district…make that expensive shopping district! While in town, I visited The Lindt Chocolate Museum and sampled luscious liquid chocolate from their famous fountain!
Heidelberg was one of my favorite stops of the entire cruise. With a population of roughly 140,000, the city is filled with lush terrain and houses a centuries-old castle in its landscape. But what makes Heidelberg unique is the contemporary charm that’s juxtaposed with its rich history. It is largely populated by students attending the University of Heidelberg, which was founded in 1386 (one of Europe’s oldest institutions)! This gives it a true “college-town” feel – it was neat to see so many people walking through the streets and hanging out in the city square.
Going to Strasbourg was an unexpected trip. We actually docked in a German city, but crossed the border into France by bus – there was a bridge connecting the two countries. We went to an area called Petite France, or “Little France.” It reminded me of a mini version of Paris! The city is filled with swift canals and corner cafes. It’s cobblestone streets are lined with souvenir shops and vendors, making it a wonderful stop for out-of-towners.
Well Collegiettes™, that sums up my report on the Rhine. I’m sad that the river cruise is ending, but my adventure isn’t over yet…I’ve just arrived in Basil, Switzerland!