Reinventing the River Cruise: A Journey On the Rhine River
Victor Hugo once wrote of the Rhine that “the whole history of Europe lies in this river.” For centuries this waterway proved a profitable trade passage between the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland.
Today it’s still a major artery for the river economy, with some 100,000 ships a year traveling up and down in shores at a more relaxed pace.
A great number of these vessels are cruise ships taking eager tourists past industrial cities, castles and vineyards, stopping now-and-then to unload its passengers at the docks of major cities that benefited from years of trade.
Here the best in eating, drinking, art and design is sampled with unhurried pleasure.
Beginning in Amsterdam, where we navigate the canal system and find out way from galleries to lively cafes and bars, the cruise makes its way through Germany, winding from wineries to stops at famous beer halls. In Strasbourg, we navigate the city’s dining scene in Petite France before our final port call in Basel.
Home to 17th-century canals, legendary architecture and picturesque windmills, Amsterdam is one of the few capitals in the world that still holds a village vibe. It’s creative spread is as alive today as it was during the days of Rembrandt.
Within its horseshoe shaped design, you’ll find hidden gems tucked away in the maze of canals and burgeoning neighborhoods that are a stones throw from the city center.
A city by a river is always special, especially one that has it all: global businesses, great infrastructure, excellent education, leafy parks and a sprinkling of culture.
The new Ko-Bogen mall, designed by Daniel Libeskind, has enriched the city’s retail and leisure offerings, while Old Town’s side streets make up the longest bar in the world. Traditional gifts can be found don Konigsallee street.
The city provides a restful late-afternoon stop-off. Don’t for get to visit country’s most popular tourist attraction – Cologne Cathedral – whose filigree twin spires dominate the skyline.
Take in a view of the Rhine from a good spot not he terrace of the Long Island Grill & Bar. For something more traditional, Bei Oma Kleinmann offers schnitzel, made either with pork or veal paired with homemade sauces and sides.
One of Germany’s oldest towns, Koblenz lies in the heart of Germany’s wine country. A gateway into terraced vineyards, hilltop castles and lush forests have given this region a truly majestic feel.
Recently, UNESCO has recognized this area’s outstanding beauty by awarding it world heritage status.
Dating back to 1720, head to the Weingut Schwaab winery to sample crisp rieslings.
Regarded as one of Germanys most enchanting cities. The surrounding forests and baroque style, red-roofed townscape create a spirited atmosphere that is known for attracting literary giants – Mark Twain, the poet Goethe and Martin Heidegger.
For a true rustic homemade meal visit Zur Herrenmuhle. A flour mill from 1690 turned into an elegant place to enjoy refined ‘country-style’ cuisine.
Strasbourg is the perfect overture to all that is idiosyncratic about region of Alsace – walking a fine tightrope between France and Germany and between a medieval past and a progressive future.
And after living there for some time, it’s a place I can consider home.
After touring the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg, stop in an any of the winestubs (Alsatian taverns) by the canals in Petite France for a glass of Gewürztraminer, before ending at Le Bistrot des Copains (I lived next door), where its famous taste flambé can be enjoyed in a rustic style setting.
What better way to end a hot summertime cruise than with dip in the river in the historic city of Basel.