River Cruising on the Romantic Rhine

 

This is Katherine Satrom for Travel Explorations.

River cruising is becoming very popular. I just returned from a spectacular Rhine River Cruise, and I heartily recommend the experience. We sailed on the MS Amadeus Diamond, a 148-passenger ship. River cruise ships carry from 140 to 200 passengers. Compared to ocean-going cruise ships, this smaller size is delightfully intimate and comfortable to navigate. Everything is close together, of course, yet the staterooms are spacious and the services complete. You can enjoy an elegant dinner, listen and dance to music afterwards, sun on deck and try to eliminate calories consumed in the fitness center.

Our ship featured a duo of instrumentalists and vocalists.

A highlight of this cruise was visiting Floriade, a European Horticultural Exposition which occurs in The Netherlands once every 10 years, this year in Venlo, Holland. The Exposition is a cross between a small world’s fair and a large state fair! Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the world’s most exquisite and exceptional flowers, plants, trees, fruits and vegetables. This pleasure is visual and one also has the opportunity to taste some of the products.

Pavillions from many countries present the nation’s natural organic riches, and also offer gift shops with representative wares. As examples, the Equador exhibit featured beautiful alpaca sweaters and the Afhganistan exhibit, sparkling jewelry.

Our next stop was Nijmegen , the oldest city in The Netherlands. This city dates from the First Century when the Romans built a military camp.

A short drive from Nijmegen is a national park which is the site of the Kroller Muller Museum, featuring one of the major art collections in The Netherlands. The core collection contains more than 300 works by Vincent Van Gogh, as well as works by Seurat, Picasso, Mondrian and others. The largest sculpture garden in Europe — 27 acres — is located here.

Dusseldorf was our first German port, a city dating back to 1135. The Old Town of Dusseldorf, almost completely destroyed during World War II, was rebuilt according to historic plans on its foundation walls. It definitely looks like a historic town with its cobblestone central square and impressive St. Lambert Church dating from the 13th century.

Dusseldorf is a highly industrialized city. The industrial corridor extends 85 miles along the Rhine towards Cologne and is the largest industrialized area in the world.

Cologne is another industrial city along the Rhine, founded by the Romans in 38 BC. The city’s most famous landmark is the Cologne Cathedral, said to be the greatest Gothic cathedral in existence. Its twin towers extend more than 500 feet. It took 632 years to build the Cathedral, from 1248 to 1880. The Cathedral’s historic art includes Flemish tapestries by Peter Paul Ruben. The Cathedral is maintained by an annual budget of 7 to 9 million dollars. During World War II the Cathedral received only 10 per cent damage. Stained glassed windows were removed from the church and stored in protective outlying locations.

To me, one of the most stunning features is a new stained glass window completed in 2007. The artist, Gerhard Richer, selected 72 glass colors matching the traditional windows. The glass placement was determined by computer .

Cologne has a wealth of museums and art galleries, including the Ludwig Museum, home to one of the largest collections of Pablo Picasso’s works. And, ending on a sweet note, Cologne has a Chocolate Museum located on the Rhine River!

Next time on Travel Explorations: Castles and more on the Romantic Rhine.

 



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