My First River Cruise

Wendy Swenson of World Travel blogs about her recent adventure on a scenic river cruise which traveled through three rivers in Europe.

We began our river cruise in Amsterdam headed to our final destination in Vienna, Austria. This was to be a 12-day cruise.  We were part of a group of 60 and there were two other groups of 30 each.  The timing was very good, late April.  There was plenty of water in the rivers, but not too much.  There were a couple of times that we could touch the bottom of the bridges we went under, and one time the captain told us to go down below as he lowered his bridge to go under the bridge!!  There were not very many boats on the rivers and the weather was a bit nippy but past the rainy season. As we headed south the weather warmed and we ended up wearing shorts and sandals!

Most of our journey passed through Germany as we traveled on three rivers, Rhein, Main, and Danube. To get to our destination we had to pass through 88 locks, both day and night. This was a very interesting process to experience and soon we became quite blasé about it. It was relaxing to wait in the concrete compartment while they added or removed water to bring us up or down to the next level of the river.  Some of the locks were very high.

Our leaders, Joy and Terry Feulner, had planned walking tours with guides for us to experience a medieval village or main town such as Cologne every day, usually in the mornings. We got a lot of walking done on our trip as our guides gave us a history of the town we were visiting. We got back to our river boat in time for lunch, and then had a nice relaxing afternoon. We could enjoy a quiet book in the comfort of our cabin and could glance out the window from time to time. The skies were blue and the clouds white and I really enjoyed the relaxing, sleeping, reading, and eating as we drifted down the river.

Along the Rhine, we took a little tourist train to the top of a hill where we explored the Museum of Mechanical Musical instruments. After that musical interlude, we strolled down the cobblestone streets down to the river.  In Mainz, we saw a beautiful church, fountains, and a museum with a gigantic head peeking over it!  One small garden in town had a unique tradition.  When the flowers were about to be replaced by the next batch of flowers to be planted, the city posted a sign to tell the inhabitants that from May 3 to May 5 they could come take the current flowers home from the park for their own gardens. The new flowers were to be planted on May 7th.  Other unique items were the red and green crossing lights (see my photos).  Even the graffiti is beautiful in Germany!

We walked the cobblestones through Wertheim, and in this town the properties are taxed based on the ground floor square footage, so the people built larger and wider stories over each level. One of my photos shows a building filling the blank space between the buildings as it expands in the air above the first level.  We crossed the bridge over the Tauber river and climbed up to the Wertheim Castle at the top of the hill to enjoy a great view of the river with beverages to cool us.

Along the Main river was the stillest, glassiest water as we drifted by some campsites which were the best-looking campsites I had ever seen.  The next town was Wurzburg where we explored the Wurzburg Residence as well as the town of Wurzburg. Bamberg was the next destination and we visited their cathedral, city streets and bridges.

The next stop was Nuremberg where we took a city tour on a bus to see Luitpoldhain which was built by Hitler to be the Nazi Party Rally grounds.  During our visit, the Rally area was fenced off to allow a car race to take place. I poked my camera above the fence to snap a photo.  Nowadays the area is a parklike setting for families to enjoy. Also, there was the unfinished Coliseum which was large enough for our tour bus to drive us through. Then we went to Nuremberg Castle in the old part of town for a tour which also offered a nice view of the city and we stopped in the town center for a wonderful bratwurst.

After Nuremberg, we started going up the river in the locks and we encountered some of the tallest locks on our trip, about 80 feet high. We entered these really tall enclosures where they added water until we got to the top which took about 30 minutes and then a little later, we went through another lock.

I really loved the town of Regensburg when we took our tour. The houses were each painted in a different color. We enjoyed a tour of the town and St. Peter’s Cathedral along with more Bratwurst!  As we drifted by Donaustauf on the river, we saw a huge Parthenon-like building and we could see a bride and groom walking up the many steps to the top. It was all surrounded by trees and greenery.

We stopped off at Linz and during our tour I took photos of wonderful ornate trim on the old buildings. Then at Melk, we explored the Melk Abbey where we got a great view of the surrounding town and area, as well as a really funny bathroom sign, I had never seen before.

In Durnstein we had to tie up to another river boat and walk through it to get ashore.  Usually we could just tie up. This did not happen often in our trip, but in the summertime, I hear that 4 to 5 boats tie up and the travelers walk thru 4 boats to get ashore.    We walked into the little village of Durnstein and I found great shopping there.

On this trip I enjoyed the best hot chocolate machine I had ever experienced.  And with that hot chocolate I sat down with friends and learned how to play Mahjong which was very fun.

Finally, we arrived in Vienna, and took a bus tour to the city center to see the famous Lippizan stables, and surrounding Imperial Palace and buildings and this was the end of our river cruise. I will always have fond memories of this river cruise and might like to take another one someday!

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There are so many types of experiences to take on your travels. Whether you are on a river cruise or an another travel adventure, travel advisor Joy and Terry Feulner will help you explore all the possibilities available for an amazing experience during your travel adventures.

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