Fred and Kathy's Trip to Germany
May 2006
(Continued)

Heidelberg

We left the ship by bus to visit Heidelberg for a day.  We started by visiting a castle  (Kasse Schloss) above the city, returning to the center to shop and have lunch.

The castle Schloss rises above the town Here we see the remains of the castle walls

Artistic carvings have survived atop a gateway Fred and Kathy stand on a castle patio overlooking Heidelberg, with the river in the background

Interior castle walls on a surviving building More castle walls A freestanding archway The SMALLER of two large wine barrels!

Gates at a bridge crossing the river Fred playing dumb tourist with a brass monkey Our restaurant

The city square Interior of the Jesuit church, quite a change from the typical dark catherals of Europe

Strasbourg

The Rhine weaves between France and Germany at its start, and we paused for a visit to Strasbourg, France.  It was a very picturesque, classic European town, bisected by a lovely canal with a tour boat which passed through a lock and required a drawbridge to part for its passage (below).  This is a city worth visiting.

A lovely canal, with a touring boat passing through a drawbridge, having just cleared a lock City scene along the canal

More of the city along the canal Still more of the city on the canal!

The Cathedral at Strasbourg:  Gothic on the left and Roman on the right, built from 1170-1432 Inside an unusual feature for a cathedral:  a gigantic astronomic clock

A square near the cathedral with tables and chairs set out for eating A shopping street Kathy waiting outside a shop for our friends

A fountain at an outdoor market Another view of the market

The Black Forest

The Black Forest is so-named for the darkness of the appearance of the trees in the area when seen in forest settings.  We visited three towns:  Zahringer, Freiberg, famous for its Romanesque cathedral, and Riquewihr, a German name for sure, yet in Alsace, France, demonstrating the influence of the Germans on these French border towns over the centuries.  Riquewihr was perhaps the most picturesque European town we have ever visited, and we hope to return someday with more time.

Zahringer, a tiny mountain town:

The village church - St Peter's The small town square, deserted on this Sunday morning

Freiberg:

Entrance gate One of many fountains Artistic window work

An elaborately decorated building across from the cathedral The entrance to our restaurant

Riquewihr:

The main street in Riquewihr One of many colorful storefronts

The other end of the main street Peering into a square where more shops await A side alley leading to residences The ancient fortification at the far end of the village

A picture over a shop An inscription put up centuries ago by the owner.  Note the building date:  1574.

An inn Elaborate and very old hand carvings

Basel

We ended our trip in Basel, Switzerland.  We weren't impressed by the city, especially with the lack of shopping opportunities.  The current at this point in the river was extremely strong, though, and that impressed us!  The commercial vessels, far fewer than we had seen earlier, just crept by, their bows awash with the opposing current.  It did occur to us that a trip with the reverse itinerary would spend less time traveling on the water (and this was confirmed by the captain), because you could go about 50% faster on average.  It is an 800' drop from Basel to Amsterdam.

Our approach to Basel Interesting statuary on the front of the cathedral:  slaying the (small) dragon

Passageway through an ancient fortified gate to the city One of many fountain statuaries

The Ship

The INTRAV ship we traveled on was the Rembrandt.  Staterooms were small, but acceptable.  After all, you basically only sleep there!  The beds were pulled down from the wall storage unit in the evening by the staff.  They were actually quite comfortable.  Except when the ship was underway, it was pretty quiet.  The entire ship's staff, but the way, was excellent.  The top deck had comfortable lounge chairs, plus tables and chairs under a cover.  All but two meals were served aboard ship with open seating at fixed times, casual dress.  Most of the guests were over 55.

The Rembrant docked for the night Our stateroom during the day.  Beds pulled down from the right at night.

The ship's dining room

Summary

We enjoyed our trip.  We would use INTRAV again.  The food on the ship was generally outstanding, though the wine list could have been better, and we were surprised they didn't feature local German wines.  Kathy and our traveling companions found the pace on the river was a little slow, especially at first, and we would have enjoyed more time off the ship.  Fred was quite comfortable watching the beautiful countryside roll by, even in cloudy weather!  We wouldn't rank this as our favorite trip (the French Rhone trip might win that award), but we did have a good time.

The End.  Thanks for joining us!


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