We re-join the grand European adventure as our ship glides into Strasbourg. Not actually into town, since the rivers that flow through that lovely city are too narrow and shallow to accommodate a cruise ship, but you get the gist.
We were still chugging along as we went to breakfast, after having passed through several locks over night, with a few more to navigate. Traffic on the Rhine was especially heavy and so we were running behind schedule.
As soon as we docked, we boarded busses for a brief driving tour of Strasbourg, after which we met up with our walking-tour guide, a feisty French woman who, stereotypically but authentically, said “ooh la la” at moments of crisis. Unfortunately, because of the travel delays, the tour was abbreviated. But we’d been to Strasbourg before and so were happy for the extra time on our own.
We strolled around town, along the river, through quaint squares, scoping out a potential lunch spot. We made our decision based on the long line that had formed at L’Atelier 116, a sure sign of good food.
After more strolling (good, comfortable shoes are required for traversing cobblestone streets) we stopped for a pick-me-up at Poids Plume Bistro Viet. We enjoyed a chilled glass of panaché, a yummy mix of beer and lemonade, just like a shandy in the UK.
We made our way back to the ship in time for a demonstration on how to cook Flammküchen – a delicious thin crust, topped with onion, cheese and ham – yum! We had our safety drill and then another enjoyable dinner – roasted pumpkin soup, Chateaubriand, potatoes, steamed veggies, molten chocolate cake with ice cream. Mathias, the cruise director, joined us for dinner and we chatted about his life and career (from the Netherlands, married, kids, started working on big sea-going vessels, prefers the rivers, 28 days on a ship, 13 days off).
Then back to the lounge for an evening of Klezmer music provided by a quartet (violin, bass fiddle, two guitars) from Strasbourg. Great toe-tapping stuff, lots of Django Reinhardt.
About fifteen minutes after we returned to our cabin we drifted away from shore and I drifted off to sleep.
This next installment of our grand European adventure records the beginning of our river cruise aboard one of the Viking River Cruise longships.
A lovely bus ride through the Swiss countryside took us from Zurich to Basel.
We enjoyed an informative walking tour of the city - old-world twisty cobbled streets, quaint shops, intriguing restaurants, and trams and bicycles posing a risk to pedestrians.
Interior courtyard of a government building.
After the tour we boarded our ship, the Viking Hild, checked in to our stateroom, freshened up a bit, unpacked a few things, then headed to the restaurant for a buffet lunch. We sat with and got to know a foursome of women who travel together regularly. The food aboard the ship was divine from beginning to end. I’ll probably mention the food several times, but it was delicious and so deserves mentioning. I can’t fathom how the chefs created those feasts in their tiny kitchen.
We set sail and soon went through the first of many locks that control the water level along the Rhine. We barely skimmed below the ginormous gate and got sprinkled with river water as we passed under.
The incredibly young-looking captain and a crew member making sure we were headed in the right direction.
The river is a veritable highway for all manner of cargo and we encountered many barges.
Quite often, a husband-and-wife pair of captains live on board, and need a vehicle for when the ship is docked. We even saw barges with a small playground – the children would be homeschooled.
We freshened up and joined the other passengers in the lounge for Happy Hour, the toast to Captain and crew, and the presentation by our cruise director, Mathias.
We found a table in the dining room, no set seating arrangements, and enjoyed getting to know two couples – one from Florida and one from California. Our menu choices were always varied and each evening included a special regional dish. That night it was veal ragout – I can’t bring myself to eat veal, so instead I enjoyed the Thai green curry. Yum! I started with the white bean soup and it, and all the soups I ate onboard, was delicious. My dessert was a plum tart. Lots of wine accompanied dinner and we were almost the last group to leave the dining room, hehe.