Romantic Rhine River Cuise – MS Allegro – 2015

We’re about to experience an eight day (seven night) “Romantic Rhine River Cruise”!! . . . .

Relax, sip a glass of wine . . . Rhine Riesling preferably . . . . and share our first river cruise adventure with us!

You may be asking, “How did you come to be cruising down the Rhine in Germany?” . . . . and “Where is Bruce?” (our trusty motorhome).

About a month ago, soon after we arrived in the Netherlands, Mark was flicking through a Dutch newspaper . . . . looking for Tour de France results . . . . . . but he cant read Dutch, so it was pictures that grabbed his attention!!

Stip Reizen Advert

m m m m m . . . . this cruise sounds very interesting, and . . .what! only 299 Euro each for the week . . . including all meals. It sounded “too good to be true” but upon a little research (thank you google.nl and google translate). The website was only in Dutch, the booking form, the confirmations, the itinerary – and all discussions were all in Dutch.

What do we have to lose? So, with the click of the mouse we were booked on the MS Allegro with the dutch company, Stip Reizen Cruises !! (Their website here). With that price, we expected the smallest cabin, no window – maybe below the waterline!! . . . . . let us wait and see!!?!?

A challenge, but so-far-so-good!! . . . . . . fast forward . . . .

“Bruce” takes a break on the farm at Camping De Muk (where we stayed near Nijmegen two weeks earlier) whilst we cruise the Rhine! Saturday morning we excitedly power-walk past the adjacent strawberry fields and take our small “Carry-on luggage” on public transport from the farm to Arnhem, Netherlands, and board the MS Allegro. Who knows what the weather will bring as it can be like Melbourne – so our bags have clothes for cold, cool, warm and hot?

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Wilkommen, welcome on board the MS Allegro !!

Yay! After a few anxious moments . . we discover “our ship” hiding around the bend on the wharf! Looking fresh and impressive, after a refurbishment in 2013, our first impressions are great!!

Come on! Follow us up the gangplank.IMG_6718

The captain is looking happy and relaxed – ready to “set sail” . . . I mean, start the engines . . . . our “Romantic Rhine” cruise begins positively!!IMG_7260 IMG_6727

Why don’t we check this ship out!? . . . . Mmmmm . . . hope we don’t require these “walking frames” but the bikes might come in handy!?IMG_6721

Follow us downstairs, past the foyer chandelier, down the staircase!IMG_7501

Here we are at our cabin. Room 104, the ROTTERDAM! Ohh! . . . single beds . . . but we have a lovely, large window, a desk, wardrobe and separate bathroom! Also, “swan” towels are a welcome novelty surprise!

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Time for a cuppa or beer on deck, and relax enjoying the passing scenery! . . . .

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. . . . . . grand riverside hotels, cows, horses and under this red, longest suspension bridge in Germany.

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The sun sets colourfully as we cruise towards Dusseldorf . . . our 1st stopover.

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We awake to this appealing view from our cabin window and sunny skies.

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Dusseldorf is quite a contrast of modern and old! We venture ashore to explore. We pass this dramatic, abstract, tile street-art, modern skyscrapers, tree-lined small canal and statue of Bismarck.

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Mark stands in aptly named Marktplatz!

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Leaving Dusseldorf we cruise down (but upstream) to Koln (Cologne). The Rhine river starts in the Swiss Alps and meanders its way to the sea in Rotterdam.

Mark completes some work down in the salon and then joins our new friends on deck.

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It was wonderful to make new Dutch friends Carla and Sjaak !! They also own their own business and are having a short, well deserved break. Their flower shop is called Bloemboutiek Carla – in the small village of Erp.

IMG_7613On board, most people (98%) are Dutch (and aged over 80!!). Fortunately for us, Carla and Sjaak speak English very well and we enjoy more, in-depth conversations and lots of laughs along our voyage!. They also translate for us when necessary – all tour instructions and commentary are in Dutch!!

Carla arranged for us to be seated with them for our meals in the dining room which was fantastic too!

We cruise on to Cologne, past the 3 span bridge.

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Multi-coloured shops & cafes await us!. . . so does the Cologne Cathedral (DOM) with its 533 steps!!

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Up . . . Up . . . . we go!! The spectacular views are worth the effort at the top of the gothic tower.

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The enormous bell (one of 8 in the towers) is the largest free swinging bell in Europe!!IMG_7012We can just manage to see our ship, beside the blue dome structure.IMG_6942 IMG_6941

Cologne is the largest city of Rhineland with a large university and is an important economic centre.

IMG_6993 IMG_6996Cologne Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom) is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day and houses the famous Shrine of the MAGI (the biblical three kings – or the Three Wise Men guided by the star to where Jesus was born). Legend recounts that the “relics of the Magi” were originally situated at Constantinople, but brought to Milan in an oxcart by Eustorgius I, the city’s bishop, to whom they were entrusted by the Emperor Constantine in 314. The relics of the Magi were taken from Milan by Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa and given to the Archbishop of Cologne, eight centuries later, in 1164. The Three Kings have since attracted a constant stream of pilgrims to Cologne. (Info on the Shrine of the Magi at WIKIPEDIA here). The Wikipedia entry on the Cathedral also makes good reading (here).IMG_7014

IMG_7023Eau de Cologne originated here – hence the name, Bev discovered the 4711 shop which reminds her of her late wonderful mother. It was her favorite perfume in the 1970’s and she purchased a bottle in her memory.

Join us back on the cruising “Love Boat” . . . .MS Allegro!

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Wow! Look at these spectacular modern apartments jutting out over the Rhine as we depart Cologne!

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I am glad we didn’t choose this Mobby Dick boat for our cruise!

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Next port of call was Bonn – West Germany’s capital from 1949 – 1991, when it moved to Berlin. It is obvious with the numerous referrals to Beethoven throughout the city that he must have been born here! He popped up everywhere . . . marzipan in shop windows, Mark gets to shake his hand & the hotel we take refuge in a rainy downpour is named “The Beethoven”!!

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The beautiful, old village of Linz with it’s wooden framed houses, some lopsided, and 13th century fortress tower. It’s like stepping back in time — quite a few hundred years!!

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Old ladies meeting in the square for a rest and chat.IMG_7145

As MS Allegro cruises south the wine growing area increases.

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The river is bustling today with many boats/ships.

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From our deck-chairs we admire grand homes, horse and leader monuments and the 11th century Marksburg castle high above Braubach.IMG_7239

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We managed to photograph it in the early evening light too!

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Bev discovered a pretty, framed archway on our evening walk.

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The chairlift ride above the Rudesheimer vineyard to the hilltop monument “The Guard of the Rhine” is scenic and fun!IMG_7453

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After a refreshing rest at the top, under the vines, it’s about 35 degrees Celsius, we descend. Bev hides among the vines, whilst Mark takes a tumble on his knee on our 6km hike down to the river . . . . ouch!! . . . . where’s those wheelchairs when you need one?!?! . . . joking, it’s not required.

IMG_7578 IMG_7592 IMG_7601Back on board, after a short visit to the 1st Aid Room, Mark is up in deck checking out the castles and vineyards again on our way to Mainz, whilst our “entertainer”, Pavlo, lets rip on the keyboard!

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The first red sand-stone for the Mainz Cathedral was laid in 975 !!IMG_7621

We find “Walter” (Wally) in an enormous bookstore and find English books too, and this modern “art” sculpture in Mainz.

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Boppard is situated on a horseshoe bend of the Rhine & is one of the prettiest towns with a colourful, floral decorated promenade. The ancient Maktplatz (market square) is gorgeous with the elegant twin towers of the church.

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Surrounding Boppard are the best aspects of the wine growing area. On the large bend of the Rhine on the slopes are about 75 hectares of predominantly Riesling grapes!

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Attractively coloured 1780’s home.IMG_7826

Whilst we’re exploring the village, those left on board happily participate in the “Guess What’s In The Sock?” game! Maybe you could surprise your guests at your next party with this one.?? . . . . . The Vibrantly coloured socks are pegged up in a line accross the deck. Yes, that’s correct, you must use your sense of touch/feel to guess the sock contents!! We donated a tiny koala to hide in a sock . . . that will surely stump them!?IMG_7891 IMG_7894

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Henk, the tour leader, revealed our koala to everyone at the end of the game. The winner was Geoffrey – a young man on the cruise with his grandmother. She describes the scenery as they go along – Geoffrey is blind. He guessed the Koala -a cling bear!! He was thrilled when we said he could keep the koala.

Our “dining room” experience aboard was very positive!! We were treated to excellent table service for lunch and dinner, buffet for breakfast, The three or four course meals were deliciously, French inspired, with Dutch and German influence too! We couldn’t fault the food, portion sizes were perfect, so we could easily enjoy delectable dessert. Our farewell dinner on Friday night concluded with a parade of flaming Baked Alaska!

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Andernach, our final port of call!! We stroll through this ancient gateway to the city, down small laneways, arriving at a 12th century church with amazing baptismal font and burial crypt.

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Returning to the river through beautiful plane trees we rest on these novel riverside “love chairs” and reflect on our wonderful week on the romantic Rhine river!!

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We are so glad we “took a punt” and booked onto this Romantic Rhine River Cruise. It was unexpected and another memorable highlight of our 2015 travel experience!! . . . . great company, delicious food, friendly and efficient service from staff and wonderful, historic, new destinations to explore each day!!

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