Through the Heart of Europe by River Cruise
This past October, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for the first time in nearly 18 months to enjoy a river cruise along the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, through the heart of Germany’s wine country. While traveling abroad during Covid does require a bit more preplanning than normal, and an extra dose of patience, I’m happy to report that the experience more than makes up for the hassles.
Cruising along the Rhine River typically begin in Amsterdam, which is an easy non-stop flight away from Minneapolis. At the time I traveled (October 2021), vaccinated Americans were welcomed, provided they could show proof of full vaccination and a negative Covid test (PCR or Antigen) taken within three days of travel. Bureaucracy is alive and well in Europe, so a small stack of repetitive paperwork was needed as well, and all was reviewed at check-in for my flight, and then never looked at again. Everything in Holland was open – shops, restaurants, and attractions were all bustling. On this trip, I had a chance to explore Amsterdam by foot and also take a canal cruise through the heart of the city on a quiet Sunday morning.
Heading south, my cruise passed through the charming Dutch countryside, dotted with windmills, before our first stop in the German city of Cologne, famous for its incredible Gothic cathedral, which is home to the relics of the Three Magi. We lucked out on this particular day, as the Cologne Symphony was practicing for an evening concert in the cathedral, which added a special touch.
The next day, we entered wine country, where we called at a variety of charming villages where wine plays an important economic and cultural role. While perhaps better known for beer and sausage, Germany is actually Europe’s fourth-largest wine producer, after France, Italy, and Spain.
Two of Germany’s main wine production areas are located along the Rhine and Moselle Rivers in western Germany and are best known for their white wines, in particular delicious and well-balanced Reislings and what the Germans call “Sekt,” which is sparkling white wine. The climate lends itself well to wine production, and the hillsides all along both rivers are covered in vineyards. River cruises truly do take travelers through the heart of the country – in this case, the heart of wine country.
Each day began with a morning of scenic cruising along the scenic Rhine or the narrow, twisting Moselle. A bright tapestry of grape leaves covered every mountainside, looking like an incredible golden quilt in the brilliant sunshine. Each afternoon, we called at a small town, where we explored unique shops or hiked up the hillside to the local castle, taking in the incredible view. Small wine caves abounded, with opportunities to sample or purchase the local variety. In many cases, we could literally see the vineyards from the wine cave, and actually watch the harvest taking place while enjoying the end result!
Autumn is a beautiful time to go to northern Europe, and a particularly good time to explore Germany’s wine country. While the days are shorter and the temperatures cooler, the autumn sun is brilliant, the fall colors are incredible, and wine harvest time adds an element of interest.
If you enjoy fine wine and are seeking a relaxing vacation that still offers plenty of interest, a river cruise along the Rhine and Moselle Rivers is a great choice.
Please click on the links on this page to contact me to schedule a complimentary introductory discovery session where we’ll get better acquainted and get started planning your river cruise along the stunning Rhine and Moselle Rivers!