Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rhine River Cruise--Post 2

Do I dare write about the passing scenery again? Ben and I boarded a high-speed train this morning in Zurich, bidding farewell to our river cruise group and heading to Ancona, Italy, to visit his relatives. And, yes, we are now whizzing through the lush, verdant valleys of this snow-capped Alpine region. Our train route takes us through Zug, Lugano in the Italian Lake District, and then Milan where we change trains. It‘s hard to focus on a keyboard--but the numerous tunnels provide the distraction I need. Ben is taking lots of photos, too, and we will post the best of the best on our Picasa website after returning home.

First, I need to backtrack a bit to catch you up on the remainder of our cruise. We‘ve been so busy with our group this time, especially in providing special assistance for two elderly ladies (more on that later), that I‘ve not had much of a chance to write. Nine hours on the train by ourselves should take care of that problem today!

When I last wrote, we had cruised through the Rhine River Gorge. That afternoon we docked in Rudesheim, a quaint and scenic town that is central to the production of Riesling. Our included excursion took us by “toy train“ to one of the surounding vineyards, where we learned about the regional wines and sampled some of the wines produced there. In the evening, we returned to the town for a private tour of Siegfried‘s Kabinett, an amazing collection of music boxes from small to room-filling. This man was a collector extraordinaire! One room even featured a German-made piano, so Elaine impressed us all with a few bars from Fur Elyse (forgive me if the spelling isn‘t right; it was always For Elise“ to us), certainly providing a wonderful memory for her.

Two ports of call awaited us on Thursday. First up was a visit to Worms, the city famous for its historical association with Martin Luther and the Diet of Worms. A huge statue in the city square offers tribute to his role in the Protestant Reformation. The city is also noted as a former center for Judaisim. The Jewish cemetary in Worms is believed to be the oldest in Europe.

Located on the Neckar River about an hour from industrial Mannheim is the romantic city of Heidelberg. The ruins of Heidelberg Castle overlook today‘s bustling city that is home to the oldest university in Germany. It was a beautiful day to tour the castle with fantastic photo ops at every turn. We completed the excusion with a walking tour of the ciy and time to shop on the long pedestrian street called Haupstrasse, which is lined with cafes, bistros and stores.

Our itinerary next took us to France and Alsace.

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