The cruise took us overnight from Strasbourg to Speyer. From Speyer we travelled to Heidelberg and spent time in this pretty town, which is home to the magnificent Heidelberg Castle and the Great Vat – the world’s largest wine barrel!
Nestled on the northern hillside, 80 metres above Heidelberg Old Town, Schloss Heidelberg (Heidelberg Castle) was originally built in the early-13th century. History took its toll on the castle which, even partially ruined, is still one of the most popular attractions in the town. The views of the Old Town from here are breathtakingly stunning.
Besides its historical landmarks, Heidelberg is a lively place thanks to the students that make up a quarter of its population. Heidelberg University, founded in 1386 is Germany’s oldest and one of Europe’s most reputable universities.
One of the biggest tourist attractions of Heidelberg are the Christmas markets which are held during the festive season throughout the old city. The festively decorated wooden huts were decked out with handcrafted trinkets and gifts, the air smelt of glühwein and roasted chestnuts. We leisurely browsed the sights and sounds, enjoyed the tantalizing treats and seasonal handiwork of this sparkling winter wonderland.
Next stop along the Rhine River was the picturesque old town of Rudesheim, which is well known for winemaking. Our instructions before our visit to this lovely town was to eat, drink and be merry in the wine country!
We strolled the popular Drosselgasse lane which is a charming little street just 144 metres long and two metres wide with restaurants, cafes, bars, wine stalls, gelaterias and souvenir shops. Drosselgasse, in all its Christmas glory, was lovelier than usual.
We visited the very interesting Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, a museum of automated musical instruments dating back to early times. We enjoyed a one-of-a-kind musical adventure of the world of historical automated instruments and were fascinated with the astounding array of musical contraptions ranging from tiny delicate music boxes to hand-cranked harmonipans and an enormous orchestrion.
We had lots of fun at a traditional German lunch with special coffee and schnapps! We were treated with a Rudesheimer Kaffee – exclusively made with locally distilled Asbach Uralt Brandy which is flambeed, then topped with strong coffee and whipped cream then traditionally served in an authentic Rudesheim coffee set. Yummoo -this is an absolute must-do. Available throughout the Rudeshiem Christmas market, the Asbach Uralt Brandy is probably one of the most popular products as they also make a great variety of brandy-filled chocolates.
Another highlight is the cable car ride over the vineyards to take in the awe-inspiring panoramic views over Rudesheim’s old town and the shimmering waters of the Rhine. All too soon it was time to head back to the ship for a delicious dinner and more wine!