Day 5 – Make Mine Mainz
Mainz was a surprise. I hadn’t expected much from this city on the Rhine, only 30 minutes from Frankfurt’s airport, where we began our journey on Tuesday. But A-ROSA Silva’s complimentary walking tour showed us a charming city with a vibrant Christmas Market, some gorgeous squares, beautiful cathedrals and historic sites, plus the Gutenberg Museum.
The city has a rich history. Around 1450 Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing with movable type, set up his press in Mainz. The city was also the seat of an Archbishop, and has two religious sites worthy of a visit, St. Martin’s Cathedral, built in 1009, and the Church of St. Stephan, completed in 1340 and with post-war windows by Marc Chagall.
We were able to walk to all of these attractions with our guide from A-ROSA Silva. The two-hour tour provided us with an overview that prepared us to spend the afternoon and evening exploring Mainz at our leisure. After our tour, we attended a free concert at St. Martin’s Cathedral. Other folks from the ship found a second concert in the afternoon. Some visited the bustling Christmas Market, shoulder-to-shoulder busy on this Saturday morning.
A-ROSA Silva’s positioning in Mainz was one of the things that makes river cruising so appealing. It was telling perhaps that the Mainz Hilton was situated adjacent to our dock. Our floating hotel was as city center as one of the best hotels in Mainz. With a 2:30 a.m. departure time, our proximity to the city center made it convenient for those who wanted to come and go from A-ROSA Silva, even through the wee hours of the morning.
A few photos from our day in Mainz:
With a workweek ahead of her, Monica headed back to Sweden this afternoon. Lucky for her, she avoided the ferocious storms that flooded and ravaged the south of Sweden and much of Northern Europe yesterday. We were shocked as we looked at photos posted by friends on Facebook and in newspapers. The BBC reported that the storm took the lives of at least nine people, including one Danish woman who was killed when a truck was blown over on her car.
The recent storm makes the second “hurricane” that we’ve lived through in the past few months (my understanding is that although the wind speeds are equivalent to those of hurricanes, the storms in Northern Europe technically aren’t hurricanes because they do not form over warm water — nonetheless, they are just as deadly).
Meanwhile, the weather on our cruise is nearly too good. We would appreciate a bit of snow, which, of course, could still come. Actually, we’ve head sprinklings of snow, but we’re hoping for a light coating to set the holiday mood.
One place the holiday mood comes to life is on A-ROSA Silva. The vessel is warmly decorated, and crew can often be seen wearing Santa caps. There’s always complimentary mulled wine (or Gluhwein) to warm the body and soul.
Tonight, I skipped the Gluhwein and instead, enjoyed sampling special wines from the Moselle River valley during our “Winemakers Dinner” on A-ROSA Silva. A lovely, young couple, the owners of Vineyard Jostock in Leiwen (in the Moselle River valley), had made the trip from their home to present their vintages: a Riesling Cremant Brut (sparkling wine or Sekt, as it is known in Germany), as well as a dry Riesling, a bold red wine and a dessert wine — all paired with a wonderful dinner that included New Zealand Green Shell Mussel with Hibiscus Foam; Shallot Cream Soup with Garlic Crouton; Bonbon of Foie Gras with Pomegranate; Pink Seared Duck Breast with Mediterranean Vegetables, Polenta Cake and Thyme Jus; and a healthy helping of Crème Brûlée; followed by a wonderful cheese selection for those who still had room.
I was not surprised to learn that the chef had worked with Silversea Cruises, as had others on A-ROSA Silva. The sommelier came from Seabourn. Their collective aspiration is to deliver dining experiences that they were accustomed to on the luxury deep-ocean ships.
Tomorrow, we call on Cologne, arriving at around 11 a.m. We’ve been invited up on the sundeck for an arrival party. The invitation tells us that we’ll be serenaded with regional music and refreshed (if that’s needed in the cool weather) with a typical beer from Cologne known as Kölsch. If 11 a.m. is too early to imbibe, not to worry: Kölsch is offered again as the evening aperitif — along with what I am sure will be a another wonderful dinner, which reminds me: tomorrow, a long walk and perhaps a bike ride in Cologne.
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.|