My husband and I had planned a European river cruise to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary back in 2020. We all know what happened, lots of events were put on hold. Fast forward to 2022 and we finally got to take it. As of the printed date of this article, I’m also celebrating 22 years at Pittenger & Anderson – so “cheers to 22 years” feels very appropriate! Here are some highlights of our exhausting, yet fabulous trip! Our weather ended up being almost perfect – fall-like and comfortable. We met so many nice people and heard some really amazing stories – one couple was taking a train to another city during one of our stops to visit the grave of an uncle that never returned home from the war. No one had been able to visit the grave until now and that moment was going to be the closure the family needed. Another couple hired a car to drive them to a city two hours away from our port to find the original family plot of their Dutch heritage. We also met some Midwesterners and yes, Nebraska football was discussed!
Day 1: Basel, Switzerland
Walking tour – Basel is a city where three countries meet – Switzerland, France, and Germany. It is also known as a pharmaceutical center as many companies are headquartered here. Here we are with the cathedral in the background, and we made it back in time for the mandatory safety check… Kevin’s first time on a boat has him a little concerned and I am so ready for some sleep!
Day 2: Breisach, Germany
We spent this day at the Black Forest, looking at some beautiful cuckoo clocks and eating cake! Interesting fact on the cuckoo clocks – each family that lives in the area makes a certain piece of the clock (one family might be responsible for carving the bird you see at the top and another for the trees) – a community effort! We finished the day with an independent walk around the city and took pictures to embarrass our children – we’re calling them our #fiftyplus shots for Instagram! And we were delivered a sweet surprise from our hosts!
Day 3: Strasbourg, France
A beautiful and LONG stroll through the city, but some enchanting views from the streets. The cathedral was stunning, and words can’t describe the stained-glass windows. We finished the day with a tour at a local winery.
Day 4: Speyer, Germany & Rudesheim, Germany
As you can tell by now, a walk around the city is a daily event. Speyer Cathedral is a UNESCO site and beautiful. We then traveled to Rudesheim to have an authentic German dinner in a local restaurant with live singing entertainment! This town has the most picture-perfect alleys – we definitely needed more time to explore this place!
Day 5: Castle tour on the Rhine & Braubach, Germany
One of the chilliest mornings we experienced, but the fog really added to the ambiance of the castles along the Rhine. Some are still in use but the stories that are attached to them are captivating. Probably my favorite part of the trip (although I did have hand warmers in my gloves and toe warmers in my shoes). We ended our day with a castle tour that is privately owned. People can rent it out for weddings and events – the views from the castle were breathtaking!
Day 6: Cologne, Germany
Cute row houses everywhere and lively people in the squares. So much destruction to the town from the war, but the rebuild to the cathedral and city was very impressive. We did a pub tour that evening and had the best host, Sara! We had a little bit of a “where are we right now” moment – she wasn’t sure she knew who Taylor Swift was, but she told us all about a David Hasselhoff concert she went to when she was 12! David is very big in Germany for his singing, but I know him from Knight Rider and Baywatch. Friday night and it seemed the whole city was having a good time out in the streets! Cologne is known for the Kolsch beer, served cold in a 7-ounce glass, so you drink it quickly before it goes flat. It was a very fun evening!
Day 7: Kinderdijk, Netherlands
Started the day with a walking tour of the working windmills – yes, people actually live in these! I did try on a new pair of shoes while I was there. I’m just impressed that I wore the perfect matching sweater that day. We then visited a local cheese farm where we got to see the process of how the cheese is made and try some samples.
I really do love trips where I can get a little history and relaxation – this one had a perfect mix of both. And if you’re curious, the food was amazing! I hope you have enjoyed my journey. If you’ve ever done one of these and want to compare notes, I am here for it! And if you have any recommendations for travel, please share. My husband and I are making a bucket list and would love to hear your favorite places to visit.