Amsterdam to Basel with AmaWaterways - Part 3
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Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and Basel
RudesheimThe classic village of Rudesheim is famous for its narrow Drosselgasse Lane with cozy taverns that sell the best known German brandy Asbach. The town is also famous for its Christmas markets and beer festivals and the legendary Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum.
A small train will take you into the village, or it is quite
close, so a walk is lovely past the pretty park and shops. The active amongst us
went on a cycle ride down the Rhine through vineyards and back around the
town. For the less active we went to a wine tasting - well someone had
too! It was quite an experience, we went into a wine cellar and sat on
long trestle tables and tasted three wines that are produced in the area, along
with the history of the wine region we had lots of fun as the merchant was
extrovert and very entertaining. We then had free time to walk around this
small lovely town as we wandered back for dinner.
In the evening AmaWaterways had organised a private view for
people to go to Siegfried's Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum or a coffee shop
evening. We went for the coffee, and it was the best coffee shop evening I have
ever been on. The warm cosy restaurant with a small band playing for
guests greeted us so warmly and presented us with brandy topped with coffee
which was excellent. The atmosphere was really good, people got up to dance and
at one point did the 'birdie song' oh dear, what next! A good night was had by
all but again AmaWaterways went the extra mile and if you didn't want to walk
back to the ship, a coach took you back to the mooring.
Heidelberg is one of Germany's oldest university towns.
The coaches and guides were ready to take you on which ever tour you decide, and
we drove through the lovely German countryside to the city which took about 1
hour and 30 minutes. Our first stop was the impressive Heidelberg Castle,
300 feet above the old town. The guides bring the past to the present by their
description of the history of the castle and its inhabitants. From the
bridge to the castle you can see breathtaking views of the Neckar Valley.
On the tour of the castle a visit to the Great Vat which is
a very impressive wine cask from the 18th century. The cask can hold up
to 58,000 gallons of wine, but for anyone with a disability it is a cobbled
walkway with railings at the side to help you. The funicular railway takes you
down to the old town where we had a guided walking tour, then some free time on
your own to enjoy this lovely city and don't forget to get the Heidelberg
Student Kiss - no, that doesn't mean people go around kissing you - it is a
lovely chocolate that has a fascinating history, where lovers left messages in
the wrappers long ago!
StrasbourgStrasbourg is definitely well worth a visit to discover its history, cuisine and unique atmosphere.
When we arrived at Alsace for our visit to Strasbourg we
were in Germany but crossing over the bridge we were in France, the border is
that close. Strasbourg is where the European Union Parliament is, but the city
has other treasures to be found. We drove from the AmaCerto into the city
passing the famous European Union building which is an architects dream and the
Orangerie, the town's oldest park. Historic medieval bridges cross over the
Rhine and lead to beautiful areas such as the 'Petite-France' area which is a
small medieval area of half-timbered houses and baroque sandstone buildings. Strasbourg's
historic city centre, the Grande lle (Grand Island) was classified as a World
Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. The highlight of the visit is the Strasbourg
Cathedral - Cathedrale de Notre Dame, where the main attraction is the famous
astronomical clock. For the cycle riders there was a journey around the
Orangerie and the town centre stopping at the Cathedral.
RiquewihrThe AmaCerto docked in Breisach situated on the German side of the Rhine and directly facing the Alsatian region in France. Today's tour took us to Riquewihr. Now this is stepping back in time, this beautiful town with its medieval streets that largely escaped damage during World War II has a charm of its own. Riquewihr is officially one of the most beautiful villages in France. Its cobbled streets and beautiful little shops all add to its charm. It is very popular for its Christmas markets when the streets light up like a Christmas tree. The area is surrounded by vineyards that are famous in this area. Stop at one of the many wine cellars to taste this lovely wine. Amble through the streets and look at houses, many of which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and still have attractive courtyards and fountains from that time.
BaselThe end of the line or river in our case had arrived, such a shame as we had had a wonderful time on the AmaCerto. The professional attitude of the cruise director that 'nothing is impossible' came to our rescue. Instead of being taken off the ship to the airport early (our flight wasn't until 3.30pm), we joined the walking tour of cosmopolitan Basel, leaving our cases and heavy hand luggage to be looked after by the staff on the AmaCerto.
We were taken by coach for a short journey into the centre
of Basel with some of our 'friends' - guests who were continuing their holiday with
Amawaterways to go to Lucerne for a few days. Basel is Switzerland's third
largest city and an important banking and trade centre. Basel is set on
the river Rhine and has a beautiful centre with 18th century patrician
homes. Our short tour gave us a 'taste' and we then walked back to the
ship for a light lunch. This was our goodbye to the AmaCerto as we were then
taken to the airport by taxi - a perfect way to end a perfect river cruise.
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