Bright and early on the morning of April 24th, an excited group of members and friends, including one brave husband, set off from Wiltshire , heading for the long-anticipated river cruise, which would begin in the beautiful city of Strasbourg, and take us to Koblenz, Rudesheim, Mannheim, and Heidelberg. As we were a small party of only 24, including the driver, there was plenty of room to spread out and get comfortable for the coach journey.
As some of you will already have experienced, passing through customs and immigration now takes a little longer than it did, pre-Brexit, but, that said, all went smoothly. There was a one-night stop, with dinner included, in each direction.
After settling in to our cabins and enjoying the first delicious meal on board, we experienced a little trip around the canals of the oldest part of Strasbourg. The weather was not being kind, but we were still able to appreciate the lovely half-timbered buildings and listen to a very interesting commentary.
The next day, speeding along the river Rhine and being able to enjoy the scenery, both modern and ancient was, at the same time, exciting and relaxing.
First stop Koblenz, where we enjoyed a guided walking tour followed by free time. I took the opportunity to ride in a cable car, across the river to a castle: the view over the town and surrounding countryside was amazing!
Next day we arrived at Rudesheim: a little train ride over the vineyard-covered hillside, a yummy wine-tasting session, then a visit to the the fantastic museum of mechanical musical instruments: oh what a treat! Pictures cannot do justice to the beautiful and fascinating instruments on display in this lovely old building. The weather was good too!!
We moored at Mannheim and the heavens opened: unfortunately, this did somewhat put a damper on the little coach trip to Heidelberg castle. Still, being made of stern stuff, we got on with it and had a very interesting guided tour despite getting soaked to the skin.
On the last night aboard there was a superb “Gala Dinner”. The next morning, disembarkation was efficiently handled, and we sadly said goodbye to our little floating, home-from-home.
An unexpected bonus on the homeward bound leg, was a two-hour stop in the centre of Reims: we could marvel at the awe-inspiring cathedral. I also visited the Opera building where there was a free exhibition of costumes, then found the beautiful art-deco library. Lovely clean(free) loos just by the cathedral too. Some members had a coffee(?) in the sun and admired the line-up of high-end cars parked outside a central hotel, complete with minder.
We spent the final night in a hotel just outside Reims, then set off in good time to catch an earlier-than-planned ferry home.
It was a great trip. The atmosphere was lovely and friendly, and I never felt left-out or disadvantaged travelling alone.
Looking forward now to the Chatsworth visit, then next year the Bulbfields holiday.
- Submitted by Pam Loosmore - Vice Chair WFWI