By Renee Murff Martin
You know you’ve heard it before or at least THOUGHT it!
Am I right?? YES! Because that’s what I THOUGHT! Until I went on one! Then again, my kids would say “MOM you ARE old!” Whatever. I don’t feel old! So last year, me and a group of 8 friends all decided to go on a Rhine River cruise from Basel, Germany to Amsterdam, Holland. We are all in our 50s and ok, maybe our group were the youngest on the boat, but it’s not like the rest were ancient. Regardless, I think all of our group would agree – it was our BEST TRIP EVER!
What a fantastic way to see a lot of different countries in one trip! On an 8 day cruise, we saw cities in Switzerland, France, Germany and Holland. We saw castles, farmland, waterfalls, cathedrals, windmills, canals, gorgeous landscaping, rolling hills, and so much history. One thing that you may not know about a river cruise is that most of the cruise lines offer free excursions at every port. Each morning we had a choice of several different land tours that we could take. If we were feeling lazy or independent we could just sleep in and either stay on the boat and relax or head into town and just wander around. In the afternoon, after lunching on the boat or in town, you had an option of doing another excursion (for an extra fee) if you were so inclined. Most of us opted for that choice just because we wanted to experience as much of northern Europe as we could! I had read books about and dreamed of seeing castles and cathedrals much of my adult life, but I had no idea how truly ornate and detailed all of them were. They are full of stained glass, gothic architecture, glass domes, steep spires, and so much more. You will have to control your urge to take thousands of pictures, knowing that the sights won’t even be done justice by your feeble attempts.
Another interesting thing that I, personally had never done and had no idea that we would encounter was riding through lock after lock after lock on the river. I think our cruise went through 14 of them. It’s a neat experience to be outside on the upper deck as the boat descends into the lock and then comes out on the upper part of the river. What a fascinating ride. How or who, ever figured this whole process out?
If you can find about a 10 day period of time that you would like to experience a whole other culture than your own, it is a truly extraordinary experience to board a small river cruise and enjoy gourmet cuisine, super friendly waitstaff, a great group of new friends from all over the world and landscapes like you have never seen before. Many of the cruise lines have wonderful promotions such as free or very discounted flights from the US, and are much more reasonably priced than you probably think.
I’ve traveled quite a lot in my 50-ish years and the river cruise experience is at the very top of my list of “best trips”.
I highly recommend giving it a try. Call me for more details! 281-377-3488 x 108