Glynis Sullivan and her husband Trevor write about a very special river cruising experience for Silver Travel Advisor.
Our journey started in Mainz, just outside Frankfurt (Germany) where a coach was waiting to transport us from the airport to the Scenic Jewel boarding area, where a welcome reception awaited us to meet our fellow travellers. The ships are all English speaking and mainly consist of Australian, English, Canadian and a few American passengers.
We visited Rudesheim, our first stop, an interesting town with the Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, and a cable car to take you to the Niederwald Monument for a bird's eye view of the town looking down to the river. Our trip continued to the spectacular Rhine Gorge with its stunning castles and vine-covered slopes. Our evening was spent at the Marksburg Castle after an amazing trip around the castle we had a medieval banquet, a fun night and a taste of the past.
Koblenz was our next stop a town that sits at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers. This time we chose the Scenic Tailormade device which really is amazing, you can turn it off when you get an overload of history….. unlike having to listen to the local guide for an in depth history talk. The German Corner is a large statue of Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm I which stands extremely tall and proud on the corner of the two rivers that meet below it. Take the state of the art cable car up to the. Fort Konstantin, it is an excellent museum, but don't forget to walk over to the viewing platform for a bird’s eye view of the whole city, it is breath taking and that is only the walk up(!) but what a view.
Our cruise then moved from the Rhine to the Waal River to visit the Dutch city of Arnhem. Arnhem is the city that features in the history of the second world war as "The Bridge too Far". We decided to visit the Museum and Cemetery of the Battle of Arnhem, the battle, code named Market Garden, took place in September 1944. After heavy fighting the Allied Forces eventually had to withdraw because of the German counter attacks. We were taken to the "drop zones" and shown churches that the soldiers were taken to when injured. The Museum is a tribute to the fallen, it is moving and sad, but a way to remember the battle that took place at Arnhem, don't miss the battle room in the basement of the Museum. We then visited the cemetery where the white head stones and gardens are tended lovingly by the Dutch, I found the grave of an uncle that had fallen, Martin Carney aged 22 a Red Beret that didn't return home, a wonderful place to see, not to be missed.
Middleburg was our next destination, a lovely Dutch town with water ways and so many churches, we lost count, and the whole of Middleburg's community seemed to be on a bicycle! So off we went on our exploration on a bike, but beware, it is a long time since I was on a bike so don't rush it, do not use the power assistance until you have had a practice or you will fall off, just as I did! Bruised but not down hearted I soldiered on and eventually "got it" and joined the rest of Middleburg's population, on wonderful cycle lanes around the town.
Bruges, well what can you say about this lovely city, it has character, charm and most of all the chocolate waffles are amazing!! It is a World Heritage site and is referred to as the Venice of the North. Take a boat ride along the canals, visit the churches and market area or just sit with a coffee or beer and let the world go by. History pours out of every door way and there is more to see than our time allowed, so we will be going back.
Amsterdam, with over 100 km of canals snaking their way through the city, a boat ride is a must to see Amsterdam from its waterways. It is a vibrant, fascinating city. Go north to Volendam, stopping to sample Edam on a local farm or see the clog factory with its giant clogs, definitely worth a picture! Amsterdam has wonderful Museums, the Van Gogh, the newly opened Rijks Museum, Anne Frank’s House there is even a Hash Marihuana, Hemp Museum! Look out for pickpockets it is a large city and like other cities it has its down side, also look out for the cyclists, they have the right of way and they come at you from all angles, so be extra careful. The trams are good and do help when you are feeling a little tired, so take a good map. The Flower Market is a wonderful place to visit, the abundance of flora is staggering, bulbs, seeds, flowers all in a rainbow of colours for you to bring home, but check before you do or the customs officer will be taking some home for his wife!
This sadly was our "last port of call" and our last evening on the wonderful Scenic Jewel, we said our farewells from this wonderful journey, only a week but we felt as if it was a lot longer due to the places we had seen and the luxury we had tasted. If you are able to go on a Scenic Cruise, the "Space Ship" is waiting to take you out of this world!
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Scenic Tours