By Terry Petkau, tour leader
The AmaSonata cruised 300+ km (186 miles) through the night down the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal and the River Rhine and by lunchtime on Monday we arrived at our docking platform in Cologne, Germany. Our group selected a variety of afternoon options from a guided cycling tour to an aggressive walking tour of the city of Cologne. The cloudy and chilly weather did not deter anyone from venturing out and the impressive sights were far from disappointing.
One tour focused on ancient blended with newer architecture and then concluded at a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Cologne Cathedral, the tallest building in Europe until the Eiffel Tower was constructed in Paris. This expansive and renowned Catholic cathedral not only houses the reputed relics of the three kings (Magi), it features a controversial but impressive 60 foot tall pixelated stained glass window designed by the contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter to replace the window previously destroyed in the Second World War.
After the tours we all ventured off to take in the Christmas Markets throughout Cologne, enjoying the tasty treats, a hot beverage, and purchasing a few unique items from the countless vendors.
After cruising all night we woke up Tuesday morning to an invitation to spend some time on the upper deck to take in the impressive sights along the winding and cavernous Rhine Gorge where close to 30 historic castles still exist, many perched at the top of the hillsides overlooking the steep slopes that are blanketed with a tapestry of grape vineyards.
Following lunch on board we arrived in the splendid little port town of Rüdesheim which dates back to the Roman era. We were anxious to take in the sites from many perspectives, some on bicycles, others touring on foot and some taking a gondola up the hillside to learn about the Neiderwald Monument and absorb the famous outlook view of the River Rhine valley.
More than 100 decorative stands enveloped the ancient cobblestone streets throughout Rüdesheim making it challenging to complete another shopping expedition before heading back to the ship in time for dinner.
The day included one more excursion which proved to be a highlight of the tour as we ventured back into town to visit Siegfried’s Musical Cabinet Museum. This was an inspiring but brief exposure to the unique and skillful handiwork of many generations of technicians who have restored these unique treasures on display throughout a restored 12th century castle.
Two very memorable days in historic Germany.