Amsterdam to Basel with AmaWaterways - Part 2
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Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz and the Rhine Gorge
AmsterdamThe unique city of Amsterdam is a joy to visit, whatever the weather. We arrived in the rain but the beautiful AmaCerto cruise ship was waiting for us with a warm welcome and was moored in the docking area a short walk from the centre of Amsterdam. We stayed overnight in Amsterdam so had time to explore before we set off up the Rhine. As our time was limited, AmaWaterways had planned a comprehensive tour for the following day
AmaWaterways employ excellent tour guides who are waiting on
shore to accompany you throughout your stay in Amsterdam. A coach took us
to the start of the canal boat tour. Amsterdam is known as 'Venice of the
North' and it is lovely gliding along the historic waterways looking at the
iconic tall buildings squeezed together, the beautiful bridges and houseboats
that sit and watch the world go by, literally as people from all over the world
come to visit the World Famous Museums, Art Galleries, Anne Frank’s House and
many other interesting places in this cosmopolitan city.
We were then taken into the centre of Amsterdam to the flower market, what a wonderful place, a gardener's paradise - watch out for the cyclists who rule the roads in Amsterdam! We had free time there to buy bulbs and lotus flowers and could have bought lots more to take home. (NB. Ask the guide what you can take home, some things are not allowed in the UK). We met up again with our guide to be taken to Begijnhof area, which has an enclosed courtyard that dates back to the early 14th century. There is also a 'hidden' chapel within the courtyard disguised as houses. The Begijnhof courtyard was originally built as a sanctuary for Catholic women who lived like nuns. The chapel is situated in numbers 29 and 30 and the houses are still occupied by single women, it is a small haven in this bustling city.
Our coach then took us on a panoramic tour of the city, with
a photo stop at a windmill en route to rejoining the ship in Wijk bij
Duurstede. The AmaCerto had already set off up the river to meet and greet us
with a hot towel, a hot drink and a welcome back smile from the staff. We
then sailed gently overnight to Cologne; this is a lovely way to travel.
AmaWaterways guidesAmaWaterways have excellent local guides that wait on shore with paddles, yes paddle shapes that they hold aloft so that you can follow them on the tour you have chosen. If for instance you are a medium-paced walker then perhaps the purple tour is for you. If you are faster or slower, then AmaWaterways have the guides that pace the tour to your needs, all with different coloured paddles and the colours also correspond with the coaches signs, so that confusion is (hopefully) minimal.
In your stateroom you will find a Quiet Box, which is a
transmitter that AmaWaterways ask you to take with you on the tours so that the
guide can talk to you through the earpiece allowing you to follow what they
are saying even though you may be at the back of the group taking pictures, but
you can still hear the guide. All the guides and coach tours are included
in the price of the holiday, so no extra cost is incurred, but if you want to
tip the guide that is your choice.
CologneCologne is known for its fabled 13th century Gothic Cathedral and its charming Old Town. Our guides were waiting on shore again for the walking tours of Cologne but if you are feeling fit and active then put your name down for the bike ride. The bikes are set up by staff on the docking area and the experienced guides help sort out a bicycle to suit you and a helmet is provided. The guides explain the route and if you do go on a ride and it is too much for you the guide will arrange for you to return to the ship. Also, if you do fancy a bike ride be prepared to bring suitable clothing, shoes and gloves if it is cold.
The tour takes you to see such sites as the Cologne Rathaus, Germany's oldest town hall, the Overstolzenhaus and Festival hall finishing at the Cathedral Square. The majestic Gothic Cathedral with its filigree elegance holds the relics of the three wise men, set in a gold casket. The Cathedral's interior is stunning and its stained-glass windows are magnificent. The Roman exhibition next to the Cathedral is excellent so if time allows, visit this amazing building with wonderful Roman exhibits. Now for the chocolate museum of the factory of Lindt - this is a choc-o-holics dream plus you can taste and buy to your hearts content.
KoblenzWe arrived in the evening at Koblenz, but this beautiful city has a charm of its own in the gathering dusk. We have been here before, but on this trip it was only the evening stop. However, it is worth viewing the beautiful town square with its amazing Cathedral. AmaWaterways organise a walking tour which is comprehensive and gives you a taste of this lovely city for a future time when you travel down the Rhine again.
The Rhine Gorge
Sit on your balcony, wander around the top deck or just sit
in the panoramic lounge and look at the view, but don't miss the wonderful
sites of the beautiful Rhine Gorge. Castles, fortresses, ruins and the
legendary Lorelei Rock that lured the sailors to crash into the rocks, so the
legend says. The area is lush and green with an abundance of vineyards
and you might well taste the wine at dinner from vineyards that you looked at
earlier in the day. As we pass Boppard and head for Rudesheim, the staff
bring out a glass of coffee with brandy; it is wonderful on any day but on a
cold, crisp sunny day a welcome hot drink.
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