France & Germany River Cruise with Stephen

Agent Name: Stephen Silcock
Date: 2006
Trip Location: France and Germany

stephen_germany-river-boatWhat Places: The cruise in France was on the river Seine from Le Havre on the coast, all the way upstream to Paris. We visited the Normandy D-day beaches, Honfleur, Caudebec, Rouen, Les Andelys and Vernon/Giverny – Monet’s garden. The second cruise was in Germany cruising in the wine country of the river Rhine and the Moselle. We visited Spyer, Strasbourg, Rudesheim, Cochem, Bernkastel-Kues, Koblenz, Mainz and Oppenheim.

Overall Impressions: River cruising gives the best way to see Europe up close and in depth. We visited at least one port a day and were able to explore small villages off the beaten path. Docking in the heart of town, we had more time to see the cities and towns at leisure. We experienced the ever-changing riverside scenery, as well as local nightlife when the ship overnighted in some ports. Our cabins included private bathrooms with showers, air conditioning/heat, hotel-style beds and big picture windows that opened, televisions with English language programming, hairdryers and in-room safes. Meals aboard were excellent and prepared by European chefs and consisted of European-style food. Generally, breakfast was a substantial American-style buffet. Lunch offerings were generally lighter and included soup, salad, sandwich bar and/or a pasta dish, choice of entrée and dessert. Dinner was a multi-course meal with a selection of entrées. 

stephen_france-river-boatMost Memorable Sights:

France:
The Normandy D-day beaches. We visited Omaha, Utah and Gol where the landings occurred, and the American War Cemetery. We walked in awe among the Christian crosses and Jewish Stars of David markers. Seeing the 10,000 young men’s graves, most dated during the summer of 1944, was both moving and inspirational.
 
Paris: Ah, Paris, the city of lights. I’ve been there several times, and every time I visit I am amazed at the feeling that I have come home. It could be something to do with my ancestors escaping from Paris and Madame La Guillotine in 1789 – but that’s another story
 
stephen_germanyGermany: Cochem has a charming medieval ambience. The long narrow streets are teeming with shops, cafes, and medieval architecture. Bernkastel-Kues claims the title of “Pearl of the Moselle”. It is a mecca both for those who want to enjoy the quiet charms of the region, and for wine-lovers seeking out some of the finest wines produced in Germany.
 
Travel Tip: We arrived back in Mainz on a Sunday, and everything in Germany is closed on a Sunday! – everything! We wandered through the Old Town and the adjacent pedestrian shopping area, and even the bus and tram system was closed down. Thanks to North American ingenuity, we did find a very busy Pizza Hut open! So pizza and beer for Sunday dinner in Germany!
 
Best Time to Travel: April to October