Friday, October 28, 2016
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
I hope you are still “on board” for the final chapter of our Rhine river cruise on the Scenic Opal. We are now approaching Koblenz, Germany, where two of Europe’s most beautiful rivers, the Moselle and the Rhine, are joined together. As in all stops along the river, we can choose a strolling tour with a guide or a bus tour to a more distant inland venue.
We chose the walking tour through the historic center of Koblenz. The architecture in the heart of this city is quite unusual. Imagine an architectural collage of style and structure covering about six centuries of building history. Especially unique in the pedestrian shopping zone were the different types of gables on the rooftops, and many historic houses with oriel windows. High above, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress sits on the mountain of the same name on the east bank of the Rhine and can be viewed from the riverwalk or visited by cablecar.
Our Koblenz walking tour through the historic center was about 2 hours which meant that we could be back on board for an outdoor lunch. Luckily, the weather cooperated and the ship’s crew prepared an eclectic BBQ feast with all the trimmings.
Tonight was our turn to dine at Table La Rive. This is an exclusive dining experience for Diamond Deck passengers. It features a six-course degustation menu with sommelier paired wines served to only 10 guests per evening. It seems as though each evening is more special than the last as we sail on to Cologne.
In Cologne, the filigree twin towers of the Cologne Cathedral--one of Europe’s most magnificent cathedrals--loom in the distance as we walk toward the Old City. The cathedral was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. Among the many treasures in the cathedral is the most celebrated work of art--the bronze and silver Shrine of the Three Kings. The shrine was opened in 1864 and contains the bones and garments believed to be the remains of the Three Wise Men.
Other distinctive features of the skyline are the Church of St. Martin the Great and the Hohenzollern Bridge, an important part of Cologne as it connects Cologne's central station with major European cities on the other side of the Rhine. The city’s most famous product is 4711 eau de Cologne, a toilet water first created in 1709, and is still in fashion.
Like a dessert at the end of a meal, the bakery and pastry displays were the surprise ending to our Old City tour and were unlike any I’ve ever seen during any of my travels. The accompanying pictures will give you an idea of the beautiful assortment.
The Port Talk this afternoon was all about Amsterdam, our final destination (and a little disembarkation briefing--sigh). The farewell evening’s entertainment was the Scenic Opal Crew Show, a super fun affair. If I didn’t know, I would have thought they were on hiatus from Broadway!
The perfect ending for this trip was Amsterdam. This time we spent a leisurely day just familiarizing ourselves with the city. We’ll be here for a couple of days now exploring Amsterdam’s broad spectrum of recreational and cultural sights. I’ll save Amsterdam’s adventure for a future post.
And now I have to contradict my opening comment in the first post about this cruise. Riverboat cruising has moved to the top of my future “wish list”…and there’s still many other itineraries on the Rhine to explore.