If you know me, or travel with me, you know I have my mobile phone and/or small laptop with me at all times. You never know when you might get that one, fabulous, life-changing call (or email). OK, I know it’s a bad habit, and the opposite of what I tell my clients to do when vacationing. Slow down, soak in the sights and sounds, and immerse yourself in the moment, I tell them.
So you can understand my surprise when three days into a river cruise vacation late last year, I realized I hadn’t checked my messages. Oh, I faithfully pulled out my laptop alright, but like others around me on the ship, I was utterly distracted by the awe-inspiring views that surrounded us as we sailed the legendary Rhine River. Joining me was my sister, Tammany, and we spent 8 days exploring four countries that border the Rhine, onboard one of Viking River Cruises’ new longships, the Rinda.
We began our journey in Basel, Switzerland, where we boarded the Rinda and had time to get settled. The first thing I noticed about the ship . . . the panoramic views! Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows in the observation lounge and bar, restaurant, and atrium areas provided amazing views of the river and countryside. And outside, we found a sun deck, putting green, walking track, and the Aquavit Terrace, which featured casual indoor/outdoor dining.
Viking offers a variety of stateroom categories on this gorgeous ship, but my pick for comfort and viewing all that Europe has to offer is the Veranda category. These sumptuous rooms offer hotel-size beds, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, full-size verandas, and 40-inch flat-panel TVs. After a long day of sightseeing, you’ll love this!
Our itinerary over the next week took us from Basel to Amsterdam, with stops for the day in some of the most beautiful cities and towns in Europe. During the morning we joined our fellow travelers for the Viking group tours. Some of my top picks are: a trip to the Black Forest to view a clock-making demonstration (Breisach), Strasbourg Cathedral (Strasbourg), Heidelberg Castle and city, Speyer Cathedral (a UNESCO site), Marksburg Castle (Koblenz), strolling the Drosselgasse (Rudesheim), Gothic Cathedral (Cologne), and touring the windmills in Kinderdijk (a UNESCO site). Afternoons were free to explore the area on our own, sample the local food or shop for that special gift.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this trip was returning to the ship in the evening, where we relaxed, made new friends over dinner and shared the day’s adventures. There were many hugs and exchanges of pictures and email addresses before we disembarked in Amsterdam.
Viking’s tag line is “River Cruising. A better way to explore.” From beginning to end, they delivered. While this cruise is over, Viking offers many exciting itineraries in many different destinations around the world. Now we just have to plan the next one!
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September 19, 2014