We met the Viking rep at the airport and caught a very smoky bus to the ship. The ship was very nice and our rooms were ready pretty quick. After unpacking, we went on a walking tour of the city that Viking provided. This was our first experience with Viking and overall we were very pleased.
Day 2, we sailed to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We toured windmills. Returned aboard for lunch and an afternoon of Dutch diversions: sample handcrafted Dutch cheeses and jenever, a distilled juniper liquor. Cruised through the night. The windmill tour was very nice. Cloudy morning gave way to a sunny afternoon. Temperature was about 70. We have great waiters on our ship, Allen LaCapp, from the Philippines. Very funny and entertaining. Other wait staff that were really great were Expidito and Vanya.
Day 3 - Cologne. UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continued along the Rhine this morning; arrived in Cologne and disembarked for a walking tour. Strolled through Old Town past St. Martin’s Church, and spent some time inside Cologne’s Dom, We arrived a little late in Cologne, due to slow sailing time due to the Rheine river being low. We walked a total of 3.4 miles today, that included our Viking walking tour plus walking on our own. We had a great lunch at Peters Brauhaus. We had brat and potatoes and apple strudel plus Peters beer. We paid 25€ Euros. Nice weather, partly cloudy most of the day. High was around 68 degrees.
Day 4 - Koblenz & Rüdesheim. Proceeded along the Rhine, disembarked to tour 700-year-old Marksburg Castle. Lunch aboard and enjoyed the scenic passage, where castles overlooked the river from their hilltop locations. Arrived in Rüdesheim in the late afternoon. Spent free time in the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse. We also walked around on our own. Had a great dinner at Wirsthaus Hannelore in the Drosselgasse district in Rudesheim. Beautiful sunny cool weather this afternoon. We walked 3.7 miles this afternoon.
Day 5 - Heidelberg & Speyer. We cruised through the morning enjoying brunch and the passing scenery. Arrived in Mannheim and disembarked for a journey to Heidelberg. Visited the beautiful sandstone ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle, and took in the scenery of the Neckar River Valley and the city's many red rooftops from its hilltop location. Continued with a walking tour through the Old Town to Heidelberg's renowned gates. We rejoined our ship in Speyer in the afternoon.
Day 6 - Strasbourg. We docked this morning in Kehl, Germany and disembarked for a guided tour of Strasbourg, France, across the Rhine river. We saw the European Parliament and toured the interior of the city's famed cathedral. The six of us took the optional Alsatian wine tour. Went to a couple of little villages plus a wine cellar. We sampled 4 different wines. Paid €49 Euros per person. It really wasn't worth it.
Day 7 - Breisach. After cruising through the night we arrived during breakfast in Breisach, gateway to the Black Forest. Very scenic town. Had lunch on board and then we went on the included Black Forest excursion. It was a scenic excursion through the area’s renowned mountain landscape, rolling meadows and dense forests. Once there, we visited a local workshop where cuckoo clocks are made. The scenery was very beautiful. Weather was beautiful today, sunny and mild.
Day 8 - Arrived in Basel. After breakfast, we disembarked. We extended our stay in Basel by one day. We stayed at the Swissotel Le Plaza de Basel. I joined the Swissotel Circle (free) which will give us free internet in the room. $149 plus taxes came out to $156 Francs and that is about $175 U.S. dollars. Our rooms were ready as soon as we got to the hotel, our cab ride was 40€ Euros ($55 us) for all 6 of us, the Viking ship arranged the cab for us. The hotel was very nice. After checking in, we walked about 5 miles to and around the old town area. After napping at the hotel, we all headed back to the old town area, this time via the tram (light rail system). We had free passes from the hotel. We had dinner at a nice little Italian place called Barfi. Great food. Weather was mostly cloudy and cool.
Very nice stateroom.