Day 7 – At The Bend, Koblenz
I begin today’s post with the end: a gorgeous sunset at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers in Koblenz.
The photo does not do justice to a scene that took our breath away as a few dozen of us stood at the Deutsches Eck, the German Corner, named thus because it is at the very tip of where the two rivers meet. I and the others stood there for nearly 30 minutes snapping photos and trying to capture the beauty of what we were witnessing.
It is a task impossible for amateur photographers like me, and I suppose equally challenging for professional photographers. Perhaps that is the thing: You just have to be there and see it for yourself and etch it into the best image capturing device known to man, the human eye, committing the scene to memory, another experience chalked up on what has been one wonderful voyage on A-ROSA Silva.
Our day began with an early morning departure from Cologne. Many of A-ROSA Silva’s guests had stayed out late to walk the city past midnight, when the crowds were gone and the cathedral majestic as ever in the evening. Experiences, captured by the human eye.
A-ROSA Silva departed Cologne at 6 a.m. We cruised the Rhine, past castles and fortresses, meandering with the river toward Koblenz.
As the gray sky gave way to blue, A-ROSA Silva sailed past charming villages , floating along peacefully and quietly on this beautiful day in December. For those who wanted to learn more about stories along the Rhine, there was a lecture in the morning, followed by something that caught my interest: an Apple Strudel making demonstration — with samples. I don’t think I saw anyone in the packed lounge refuse the small slice of Strudel that was offered.
At around 2 p.m., we began our approach to Koblenz, a lovely city situated at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers. Soon, we were docked within steps of the old town, and groups of guests gathered to join A-ROSA Silva’s complimentary walking tours.
As with the other ports of call on our cruise, I had visited Koblenz several times, so of course I asked for a bicycle so that I could pedal out into the wine-producing region along the Moselle River.
The dedicated bike roads in Koblenz traveled along the river, then meandered through open land and alongside the vertical vineyards along the Moselle. I felt a sense of euphoria pedaling along the beautiful countryside.
Though I had seen them before during the harvest season, I was surprised at just how steep the vineyard slopes were. Despite the angle of the slopes, however, all the grapes here are hand-harvested here, I was told. I snapped a photo of a trolley-like device on rails that went straight up the mountains, to transport the grapes, I suppose. Whatever its purpose, it was an impressive scene.
After pedaling for nearly 7 miles (about 11 kilometers) I reached a small town, Winningen, where I stopped for Apple Strudel, my second helping that day — hinting at something akin to addiction.
I was the only tourist in town, I believe, and I had a nice discussion with several of the locals about where I was from and what I was doing — a crazy American out for a bike ride — in December.
All throughout Germany, and most of Europe, there is good signage for bikes, so that getting lost would be something you would need to commit serious effort to. What if I had a flat tire? No problem. I’d simply wheel my bike to a train station, always nearby it seemed, and travel by rail back into town. Worst case, I’d call the ship. The phone number is inscribed on the back of my boarding card. Tip: Always take your boarding card with you when you leave the your river cruise vessel.
I pedaled for about an hour before arriving back at A-ROSA Silva. Before boarding, I spent time at the German Corner snapping photographs on the sunset, then returned to A-ROSA Silva to shower and prepare myself for dinner, a Bavarian buffet with pretzels, white sausages and more types of cabbage that you could imagine. It was delicious, and I was happy to enjoy food authentic to Germany. All of our dinners thus far have been excellent, paired with wonderful wines, but the “comfort food” on my last night of my cruise was much appreciated.
I leave A-ROSA Silva Tuesday afternoon to make my way to Frankfurt airport and my next adventure, to Antarctica. What a change of pace — and of place. No cycling, no easy days along the river, none of the charm of Europe, but something else — raw, extreme, exposed and exhilarating, I am sure.
I am happy that my day in Koblenz ended with such a beautiful sunset. It seemed to be an appropriate ending to a wonderful cruise on A-ROSA Silva along the Rhine River (and a touch of the Main River). The Christmas Markets were fun and festive, but even without them, I love traveling in Europe this time of year, when the crowds are lacking but the festivity of the season bountiful.
I’ll have one more report from A-ROSA Silva tomorrow to wrap things up, but by the time you read it, I’ll be somewhere over the Atlantic, bound for Buenos Aires and a new adventure — a new set of experiences and of images that I will share with you and others that will be impossible to capture.
As best as possible, I will put the experience into words, but, of course, you know that to truly experience the beauty and feeling of such a place as Koblenz or Antarctica, you have to be there for yourself.
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.|