Story and photo(s) By Gerry Barker …
KOBLENZ, Germany – It’s day two, and we just about have our body clocks adjusted to European time. This morning we are docked here in this historic city, described in our brochure as “a friendly town where its guests feel right at home.”
Located where the Moselle and Rhine Rivers meet, its roots go back two thousand years, and has been governed at various times by the Romans, the French and even the Russians. We will learn its history and much more during a 90-minute walking tour of the city, arranged by Vantage Deluxe Travel.
One of the things we have appreciated about Vantage is the level of service they provide. A Vantage rep was waiting for us at the Frankfort airport to escort us and others to a waiting bus. We were greeted at the ship by the concierge, who detailed next steps. Likewise, to make our tour more enjoyable, we each had our own transmitter, color-coded to our particular tour guide ,with an earpiece, so we could clearly hear what he was describing without being right by his side.
While the skies were gray and overcast, with a chilly wind typical of November, we struck out eager to see the sights. Strolling through the cobblestone streets to the historic city center, we visited churches and saw the imposing fortress of Ehrenbreitstein. Built in the early part of the Nineteenth Century, it’s the largest preserved fortress in Europe and on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
But the highlight of the tour was German Corner (where the rivers meet) and its monumental statue honoring Emperor William I, who helped unify Germany after three wars.
Back on board, we opted to have lunch in the more intimate Captain’s Club versus the main Compass Rose Restaurant. Located aft, it features lighter selections but offers great views in cozy surroundings. Throughout the afternoon, the cruise director provided commentary from the bridge, describing the passing towns along with magnificent castles and vineyards that dot the hills on either side of the river. Combine those with the fall colors and it provided a steady parade of photo ops for the guests.
Not to be outdone, the culinary staff prepared an eye-popping assortment of cakes, scones, finger sandwiches and a chocolate fountain for afternoon tea in the Cabaret Lounge. Add a glass of bubbly and you had everything you need to enjoy the scenery as we journeyed down the river.
Tonight we have the Captain’s Welcome Dinner, followed by piano music in the lounge. Because we will going through a series of locks that will raise the ship, the top sundeck will be closed for the rest of the trip to accommodate low bridges. If the cold and rain continue, that won’t be a problem.
Tomorrow starts early, as we will be off to see Heidelberg and its legendary castle. This river cruising thing is growing on us!
Story and photo(s) By Gerry Barker
Photo: The statue of Emperor William I in Kolbenz.