If you wondered about the dearth of posts on The Next Phase Blog over the past couple of weeks, it’s because we were away on a Viking vacation. I don’t broadcast the fact that our house is empty for obvious reasons. To cover the gap, I had planned to schedule posts to appear at regular intervals. Unfortunately, life intervened and I only had the time to complete one of them.
Viking’s Rhine Getaway
Where did we go? We took our fifth Viking River Cruise—the Rhine Getaway. We started with some extra time in Lucerne before traveling to Basel to board Viking Eir. From there, the longship traveled down the Rhine through France and Germany before ending in Amsterdam. We planned to stay in the Netherlands for two days but ended up with a four-day stay for reasons beyond our control.
We scheduled this trip two years ago but, as we all know, the pandemic intervened. Because Covid forced Viking River Cruises to cancel everything, they gave us an extra 25% for rebooking and we used that bonus to best advantage.
Early Summer Weather
We left a cold, raw, rainy Massachusetts and landed in what felt like summer in Switzerland. Overcast skies turned a bright cloudless blue. Warm sun brightened every day. The Swiss Alps gleamed beyond a sparkling Lake Lucerne.
We weren’t the only ones reveling in the gorgeous weather. Northern Europe had suffered the same nasty cold as New England and everyone was happy to see the sun. Our guide in Germany’s Black Forest showed us photos of snow on the ground and in the trees taken only two weeks before.
Given my desire to go everywhere and see everything, I overdid it on off-boat excursions. We went to too many places and saw too many things for me to detail them all in one post. The excursions were terrific, but they did eat up time I might have spent relaxing, reading, talking with other passengers, or just watching the scenery go by. Note to self: don’t do that again. Schedule some time off.
One of the nice things about a Viking cruise is that they are filled with interesting people. Viking passengers don’t go on a river cruise to stuff themselves at a buffet, gamble in a casino, or dress up in formal clothes.
Passengers are intelligent, educated, curious, and engaging. We want to see new places, learn how things are done or made, hear local people talk about their lives, discover history, and soak up art. We talk to one another about many things, from photography to the science of fitting a 453-foot vessel into a narrow river lock. My husband and I met and chatted with many such people. It’s always sad to say goodbye at the end of a cruise.
The Easter holiday created some complications for our trip. Stores were closed in Switzerland on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. But I did get the chance to slip into the magnificent Hofkirche, the church of St. Leodegar, which was right up the street from our Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern.
While this church is not normally open to tourists, no one turned me away from the Good Friday service. That allowed me to sit quietly and look around the gilded Baroque sanctuary with its statues and paintings. I didn’t take any pictures, though. Such touristy behavior would have been rude on such a day.
On the other hand, we had our walking tour of Strasbourg on the morning of Easter Sunday, when the cathedral was open only for Mass. I could have returned in the afternoon but I had lost track of the days of the week, much less a holiday, and scheduled something else. So, I never got to see the famous astronomical clock. Note to self: pay attention to holidays. And don’t travel over Easter weekend.
I could go on … and on … and on, but I won’t. At least for now. But I do have a few other blog topics in mind from our trip.
Viking’s Anniversary Sale
And oh, by the way, Viking is having an incredible 25th Anniversary River Cruise sale from now until May 9. They are offering all-inclusive cruises, plus free international airfare, plus a free Silver Spirits Beverage Package starting at $1,999. I would jump on that. Check it out. If you sign up, tell Viking I sent you.