The Travelling Boomer is off to Europe, and another Viking river cruise. By tomorrow I’ll be in Switzerland, for a brief stay in Basel and a look at the lovely lakeside city of Lucerne. And then I’ll be cruising the rivers of Europe once again.
Last year I cruised the Danube, Europe’s longest river, on the Viking Freya. But this time I’ll be on its second-longest river, the Rhine. Starting in the Swiss Alps and curving northwest to reach the sea in the Netherlands delta, the Rhine was once considered the highway of Europe. And it’s still a major shipping route for cargo — as well as a major attraction for tourists.
Along its 1,200-kilometre course, the Rhine passes vineyards, picturesque towns, famous landmarks like the Lorelei statue, and heroic-looking castles — especially in the Middle Rhine, known as the Rhine Gorge. It also joins with a number of major tributaries, including the Neckar. That’s where the rulers of Heidelberg built a castle, near the spot where the river flows into the Rhine. The castle, now in ruins, still draws a lot of visitors, including those from river cruises. And it was from its ramparts, on a 2015 cruise, that I shot this postcard-like shot of the river and the medieval buildings on the other side.
The weather is not always this perfect, to be sure. And not all parts of the Rhine and its tributaries are this picturesque: some are downright industrial. But there are moments when cruising these rivers makes you feel like a character in some medieval tale of knights and ladies. That’s the magic of the romantic rivers of Europe.