Basel to Amsterdam: another Viking cruise adventure

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Taking a Viking river cruise has become a tradition on The Travelling Boomer. And I’m happy to say that the tradition continues for another year. This spring, I’ll once again be the guest of Viking River Cruises for a voyage on one of Europe’s great waterways.

In May, I’ll board the Viking Hlin in Basel, Switzerland for a trip down the Rhine. The cruise is called the Rhine Getaway, and it follows a route that Viking river cruise Rhine cafetakes us across Western Europe, from the great river’s origins to the Netherlands, where it flows into the sea.

Along the way, we’ll stop at places like Strasbourg, France, one of the beauty spots of Europe; Heidelberg, Germany, with its ancient university, founded in 1386; Cologne, Germany, whose Gothic cathedral took 600 years to complete; and Kinderdijk, Netherlands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its classic Dutch windmills.

And we’ll see some European wonders, like Germany’s famous Black Forest, home of the cuckoo clock; Marksburg Castle (top), one of the most authentic medieval castles in Europe; and the iconic Middle Rhine, with its dramatic scenery and majestic castles commanding the river. We’ll also get to sample some of the region’s food and drink, from Dutch cheese to German beer and Alsatian wine.

Is there a bit of déjà vu? True: you may remember that I took a Viking river cruise on the Rhine in 2015, on the Cities of Light itinerary. But this voyage touches a number of places that one didn’t — a happy fact for those who want to take a repeat cruise in this part of Europe. I’m especially happy that I’ll get to visit Switzerland for the first time (that’s another one off the wish list), and revisit Amsterdam, a city I haven’t been to for 27 years.

And for another change of pace, I’ll be bringing a friend along: fellow blogger Maarten Heilbron, of the Maartech blog and very popular Youtube Viking river cruise AquavitTerracechannel. Always good to have a second pair of eyes to take in the whole adventure — and if I don’t get enough good photos, he’ll be getting great shots from a different angle.

Almost as much as I’m anticipating the ports of call, though, I’ll be happy to be back on board one of the Viking longships. I like this kind of cruising: the comfortable staterooms, with balconies to watch the river slide by, the Aquavit terrace on the bow, for admiring the scenery with a drink in hand; the meals in the dining room, getting to know the other passengers.

The whole Viking river cruise experience is a pleasure. It’s a more intimate kind of cruising, up close and personal. Every day, you dock at the foot of a new town or city, and walk or ride to its historic centre to explore its ancient streets or tour its famous castle. And usually, there’s a chance for a meal or a snack at an interesting restaurant or pub.

So, it’s back to Europe, to absorb more of its culture, history and cuisine. And to do it all on a luxurious river ship cruising down one of the world’s great rivers. If you’re going to have a tradition, this one would be hard to beat.

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Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.

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