Day 4 – Strasbourg Revisited
Once again today, A-ROSA Silva was docked in Kehl, Germany, across the Rhine from this port of call’s primary attraction, Strasbourg. We had a wonderful day exploring the German-influenced French city yesterday (missed our coverage? Click here) and again this morning on a Strasbourg Highlights Tour, included at no extra charge with our river cruise.
After lunch on A-ROSA Silva, many guests joined an optional tour to Baden Baden and the Black Forest (cost 35 euros), but Monica and I decided to go for a long walk along the Rhine and to explore Kehl. We walked 4.1 miles according to my Strava app, with the added bonus of disposing of 827 calories — and some of the guilt of enjoying a few too many Christmas cookies earlier today.
The walk was thoroughly enjoyable, and it’s one of the things that I enjoy about river cruising. Moreso than ocean-going vessels, river cruisers truly are floating hotels. In fact, they are very much like a hotel in that you walk off the gangway and into city centers.
On ocean cruisers, taking a walk can be more challenging — you may have to tender ashore, for example; or you walk off the gangway and into an industrial port, with the city center far away. In my experience, there are many more opportunities to be active on river cruisers than on ocean cruisers, even with the latter’s superior fitness centers. Nothing beats a walk through a European city — except perhaps a bike ride through a European city.
I’m always curious about commerce and trade in border towns. For example, in the south of Denmark, residents slip over to Germany to buy alcohol, which is heaps cheaper in Germany than it is in Danish stores. What do the people of Strasbourg come to buy in neighboring Kehl? I asked a friend of mine who lives on the French side. “Tobacco,” he answered, “and, I’m not sure of the word in English … ”
He paused for a moment before finding the word. Now, sensitive readers may want to skip to the next paragraph … I’ll give you a moment … ah, but you’re curious aren’t you? Go along now, skip on down to the next paragraph — I don’t want to offend your ears and eyes. My friend turned to me and said with a look of uncertainty, “prostitutes?”
Naturally, Monica and I were looking for neither during our walk along the Rhine and into Kehl, Instead, we were absorbing the beauty of the winter day. The river was flowing briskly. The gray sky blanketed the rolling hills in the distance. Aquatic birds — cranes? — were active on the river. People were walking their dogs, bounding and happy to be outside. Cyclists came pedaling by. Couples strolled arm in arm. The winter certainly has a beauty all its own. Yes, it is cold, around 34ºF (or 1ºC), but we are appropriately dressed, in warm and breathable fabrics, with thick gloves, scarves and hats.
We walked through Kehl, where there was a small Christmas Market. It was not as charming as yesterday’s Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, which certainly set high standards, but there were a few attractive kiosks and a couple of small fires in barrels where we stopped to feel the blazing warmth.
It was getting dark when we returned to A-ROSA Silva. I love coming back on board into the warm reception, and if the mood strikes me, heading to the bar to sip a latté macchiato, hot tea or Gluhwein. I may opt for a glass of sparkling Sekt, a German beer, glass of wine or spirits. It’s all included on A-ROSA, and it’s liberating not to have to think about the accumulating costs of enjoying a few drinks. A-ROSA estimates the value of including alcohol for its guests is a few hundred dollars per cabin. I suppose if a couple had a few drinks each day of their cruise, the cost of booze could add up, and they could be hit with $100 or more than they hadn’t planned on spending.
A-ROSA Silva is festively decorated, with Gingerbread houses, Christmas trees and other Christmas adornments. The atmosphere is festive. There’s entertainment, a presentation yesterday morning about German Christmas traditions while we were sailing to Strasbourg — and a soloist with a piano accompaniment performing German and French songs last night. We sat for an hour after dinner, with many others in the lounge, enjoying the talented performer.
Dinner is served at 7 p.m. this evening, but before heading to the restaurant, we’re going to spend 30 minutes in the sauna. As I’ve noted before, it is a gorgeous facility, with windows that look out on the river.
We’ll be sailing during dinner, as we leave Kehl at 6:30 p.m. and head downriver, back toward Frankfurt to our next port of call, Mainz.
Monica and I enjoy the concept of motion, and in that regard, few modes of travel can beat a river cruise. Throw in the opportunity to be active, the charm of Europe and the splendor of Christmas, and you have a match made in heaven while floating down the river from one European destination to the other.
A-ROSA, Christmas Markets Cruise
|Day 1||Frankfurt||Frankfurt is known for its “Manhattan skyline” with the Messeturm (convention tower) which is the highest building in Europe. The old imperial city is one of the most important trading and economic centres in Germany. Many important banks and the most important stock market are situated in Frankfurt. Frankfurt was the birthplace of J.W. v. Goethe and its many universities, theatre and museums provide a diversified cultural life.||6 p.m.|
|Day 2||Speyer||Speyer is a historic old imperial city, which is situated on the left bank of the Rhine. From 1294 to 1797 it was a free imperial city, and the Imperial Diet met frequently in Speyer during that period. It suffered severe destruction in 1689 during the war over the Palatinate succession. The symbol of Speyer is the huge cathedral, one of the most important cathedrals built in the High Romanesque period.||9 a.m.||11 p.m.|
|Day 3||Kehl/Strasbourg||From the Roman era up until the present day, Strasbourg has played a significant role and had an eventful history. The impressive buildings still bear testament to this today. Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace and a European metropolis with many research-, educational- and cultural institutions; it is also the seat of the European Council of Ministers.||1 p.m.||overnight|
|Day 4||Kehl/Strasbourg||—||7 p.m.|
|Day 5||Mainz||Mainz is a historic old town, a former Electoral residence, seat of an Archbishop and also the city of Gutenberg. The city is a focal point of the western end of the Rhine-Main economic region. Around 1450 Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing with movable type, set up his press in Mainz. Points of interest are the St Martin and St Stephen cathedrals, the castle of Mainz and the Gutenberg Museum.||9 a.m.||11 p.m.|
|Day 6||Cologne||Cologne, the old Cathedral city, is also one of the most important traffic hubs and commercial centres in Germany, with world famous trade fairs and a busy shipping traffic. Cologne developed out of a Roman colony and looks back on a history of more than 2000 years. In the Middle Ages it was one of the leading towns in Germany. The Second World War destroyed most of the inner city; these parts were rebuilt in a modern style. The landmark and emblem of the city is the Cathedral, a masterpiece of High Gothic architecture and one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. Other tourist attractions are the town hall, the Malakoff Tower, the St Martin Church and the old abbey.||12 p.m.||overnight|
|Day 7||Koblenz||Koblenz is not just where history meets modernity, but also where the Rhine meets the Mosel: at the “Deutsches Eck” (“German Corner”) the two rivers join each other in front of the equestrian statue of Emperor William I.||2 p.m.||overnight|
|Day 8||Cruising The Rhine||Cruising by the Lorelei & along the Mid Rhine after departure||—||6 a.m.|
|Day 8||Rüdesheim||Rüdesheim, an ancient little town, stretches along the Rhine under the hills of the Niederwald. The best vineyards are traditionally said to have been planted with Traminer vines by Charlemagne. The excellent local wines and the charming and varied scenery have enabled Rüdesheim to develop since the end of the 19th century into one of the busiest tourist and holiday centres on the Middle Rhine, with a host of friendly restaurants and wine taverns, particularly along the famous Drosselgasse. Rüdesheim has two castles – the Oberburg and the Vorderburg – both were built in the 12th century.||2 p.m.||9 p.m.|
|Day 9||Frankfurt||7 a.m.|