Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rhine River Cruise--Post 3

Our train is presently passing through Vicenza, not far from Verona. Pardon a moment of personal reflection as I remember the birth of our son Jeff at the army post here back in 1973. There was no hospital in Aviano where Ben was stationed back then, so he had to drive me here for the big event. Seems like yesterday.

Strasboug is an enchanting Alsatian gem of a city and one I would enjoy for a longer period of time. The charm of the city‘s historic center, the Grand Ile, is matched by its role as seat of several European institutions such as the Council of Europe, European Parliament, and the European Ombudsman of the EU. Certainly two of the main tourist attractions are the sandstone Gothic Cathedral with its famous astromical clock and the Petite-France district, where our canal tour led us through a couple of locks past quaint timber-framed buildings adorned with geraniums. Lovely.

A group of us decided to eat lunch in town today and found a nice outdoor cafe on the edge of Petite-France. Ben and I ordered the local specialty, flammekueche which is similar to pizza, but more delicate--and delicious!

On Saturday, the ship docked in Breisach, situated on the German side of the Rhine and directly facing the Alsatian region of France. From here we had our choice of two excursions: to Colmar, France, with a city walking tour and visit to an Alsatian winery; or to the Black Forest region for a scenic drive and visit to a cuckoo clock shop.

It was here, however, that we encountered our first day of rain, complicating both outings a bit. Nonetheless, Colmar is a lovely city, especially the area known as Petite Venise (Little Venice), and one that would be fun to explore on a sunny day. The drive through the Black Forest also proved beautiful to those on that tour, but rains again interfered with photo ops. We cannot complain, however, since this turned out to be the only wet day of our entire trip.

Our cruise ended in Basel, Switzerland, where guests enjoyed a city tour with lunch on our own before boarding a bus to Lucerne and the first part of our post-cruise hotel program through AMA Waterways. Ben and I diverted from the tour group in Basel, though, to assist Ruth and Margaret in getting to just one of the churches, Munster Cathedral, for photos, and then to the museum cafe. Munster is a historic Protestant church offering a variety of worship services, one of which was in progress when we arrived, or I would have enjoyed a peek inside.

On to Lucerne, one of our favorite cities in Europe!

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