2014 Rhine riverboat cruise

We experienced the romance of the Rhine

Many poets, authors and songwriters have expressed the romanticism of the Rhine River with its majestic medieval castles and the fabled call of the Lorelei. Truly one of nature’s wonders, the Rhine boasts beautiful scenery, vineyards and some of the quaintest villages in Europe.

Group members with Flying Wheels Travel experienced the beauty and romance of this region on the MS Alegria – a fully accessible riverboat. Our tour, which began in Cologne on May 14, 2014, was filled with sights and sounds that harkened back to days of noble knights, ruling bishops and imperial beginnings.

Cologne, most famous for its cathedral, hosts more than 2,000 years of history. We saw everything from Roman towers to Gothic churches to fine examples of modern architecture. We were able to see Ancient Roman mosaic tiles, Medieval fortifications and of course the two most popular attractions the cathedral and Chocolate Museum.

Even from a distance, you can recognize the unmistakable landmark of the Cologne Cathedral with its more than 130-foot spires. It contains the largest swinging bell in the world, more than 14,500 square feet of medieval stained glass windows and houses the oldest preserved large-scale sculpture north of the Alps. This impressive Cathedral contains the relics of the three wise men in a splendid gold casket and has the largest hand carved choir stalls in Germany.

On a more modern twist, one of the most popular museums in Cologne is the Chocolate Museum. Our group was able to learn about the history of chocolate cultivation, production, cultural impact it had on Germany and sample the chocolate currently made in Cologne today.

Our next stop on the cruise was the birthplace of Ludwig Beethoven and capital of the former West Germany, Bonn. It was founded by the Romans in 11 BC and flourished thanks to the archbishops of Cologne. The world heard of Bonn when on May 10, 1949 it was elevated to the status of the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany. When parliament decided in 1991 to make Berlin the capital again of the newly unified country, Bonn was deprived of its role, although six ministries remain here today.

Our accessible tour of Bonn included a stroll by the Baroque Elector’s Palace, today housing the University of Bonn, a tour of the St. Martin Cathedral with its magnificent example of Romanesque architecture, the birth house of Ludwig Beethoven and the beautiful old market square and town hall.

One of our favorite stops was the beautiful wine village of Rudesheim. This lovely little town is surrounded by romantic wineries and stunning landscape. It is famous for the Drosselgasse, as street lined with countless wine bars and shops. There are also remains of two castles, the Boosenburg and the 12th-century Bromserberg, which also houses a wine museum.

Towering above the town of Rudesheim is the 34-foot high statue of Germania, which was built to commemorate the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 – 71. This victory resulted in the German unification.

Our next stop on the Rhine cruise was the town of Andernach. Settled by the Romans and a former fishing town, it sits where the Rhine narrows and provides breathtaking landscapes and views of ancient castles and fortresses. Our accessible tour of Andernach included medieval fortresses and gates that still surround parts of the town, the Romanesque Cathedral of St. Mary and a relaxing time along the Rhine promenade and beautiful park.

Our last stop on this romantic cruise before returning to Cologne was the town of Remagen, which has many historic buildings, churches, castles and monuments. It also features a pedestrian only shopping area that is very popular with visitors.

Remagen took its place in the annals of history during World War II when after two attempts made by the German pioneers to blow up the bridge at Remagen had failed, the Allied troops crossed the Rhine on March 7, 1945 for the first time. Exactly ten days later, the bridge - completed in 1918 - collapsed for no apparent reason. The bridge towers that remain today now house a peace museum.

Along with viewing these remaining bridge towers, our accessible tour included time at the old market square and the city hall.

The Rhine River – truly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world, flanked by castles, storybook villages, vineyards and thousands of years of human history – it is one travel destination that beyond doubt will delight you!

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