Thursday, September 1, 2016

Rhine River Cruise: Zürich to Amsterdam

This September, I would like to share our first River Cruise. We sailed through the romantic Rhine River from Zürich, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Holland. For those who are not aware, River Cruising is so much different than ocean cruises. River cruises are very specialized tours of inner cities and urban areas. Ships stop commonly on strategic ports while passengers like us are escorted on local tours done by local guides. I recommend this type of cruise to most travelers who want to explore more the sights and sounds of cities that normally have rivers crossing like those that are found in Europe.

Our journey started in Zürich, Switzerland. From there, we were transferred to Basel via motor-coach where our river cruise vessel was docked. Cruise passengers were already lined-up when we arrived. Seeing the ship for the first time doubled our excitement.

The great thing about choosing Avalon Waterways as our cruise provider is they let you see destinations differently while aboard their smaller ship with bigger room space and wider window views, making your cruise experience more enriching.

The number of passengers on each cruise ship normally does not reach more than 250 and most of the staterooms do have outside views or balconies. While the cuisine served on board is based on local cuisine, they do come complete with local wine and beer. There are also entertainments at night to make sure their baby boomer passengers (like myself) do get entertained.

Day 2 was all about Strasbourg, France. Located just in between the border of France and Germany, this city has a lot of magical and historic charms attached to it, naturally. 

One of the highlights of this day was our visit to the Strasbourg Cathedral, a widely known church considered as one of the finest examples of the great Gothic architecture. 

In this city, you will be able to appreciate the quintessential beauty of Europe.

On Day 3, we continued our leisurely cruising along the magnificent Rhine River and found ourselves enjoying an excursion in the lovely city of Heidelberg, Germany. A remarkable visit to the imposing ruins and heights of the Heidelberg Castle made this day a moment that cannot be forgotten for a long time. 

The views of the castle and it's location overlooking such a beautiful city are just some of the many wonderful memories we took home with us. We noticed a lot of Renaissance structures scattered around the castle, adding more lure to this destination. 

Here, we witnessed the famed Great Vat, the World's Largest Wine Barrel which holds over 58,000 gallons of wine.

Day 4 was when we continued our excursion to the old city of Mainz. A guided walk introduced us to the city's many charms such as its numerous artful houses, shops, and museums.

On Day 5, our cruise went on through the waters of the magnificent Rhine Gorge, one of the world's most beautiful stretch of rivers that's dotted with ancient castles.

Along the way, we cruised past the legendary rock of Lorelei, where echoes of mystical siren song are said to lure sailors to their death. 

Day 6 allowed us to experience one of Germany's biggest cities and Rhineland's capital, Cologne. 

Like many other European cities we visited, Cologne showed us the right combination of art, history, and charm with its cathedral, a Gothic masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

We also took advantage of its various tourist spots that showcased its significant Romano-Germanic Museum, colorful houses, cafes, shops, and intriguing taverns.

On Day 7 we arrived at our final cruise destination in Amsterdam, Holland, a beautiful 700-year old city full of splendors. 

Aboard a small canal boat, we sailed along the city river and witnessed Amsterdam's sophistication, modernism, and historic aura. Elegant Gretchen lined with artful homes dating back to the Dutch's Golden Age around the 17th century.

On Day 8, we ended our cruise with a lovely breakfast and views of the delightful Amsterdam.

Until next time, I'm your friendly global traveler, Johnny, inviting you to go on a cruise and sail through life's beautiful treasures.

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