The Rhine is one of the world’s great rivers. It starts in the Swiss Alps and flows for 865 miles through six European countries ending up in the Netherlands and the North Sea. It connects to dozens of other rivers and canals forming a vast inland waterway. Berlin, Paris even Provence on the Mediterranean is reachable on this freshwater highway. Burt visits Cologne’s chocolate museum, sails through the Rhine Gorge, stops for Rudesheim’s specialty coffee drink, explores Heidelberg’s castle and ends with a tour of Strasbourg.
Traditionally, Rhine ships are long and sit low in the water. They’re long because they can’t be wide—the river is too narrow and the locks are even narrower. They can sit low in the water because they’re not worried about ocean waves and heavy seas. The ancient Romans understood the commercial value of the Rhine and maintained a Rhine fleet to protect its trading boats. Moving things on the Rhine was cheaper than moving things on land. As a result, the river is lined with some of Europe’s oldest and most famous cities — Basel, Strasbourg, and Cologne are perfect examples.
The Rhine River has inspired painters, operas, symphonies, and books—and in recent years, tourists. So I decided to take a cruise along the Rhine from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Basel in Switzerland.
We started out in Amsterdam and cruised its canals. on to Cologne in Germany with its thousand-year-old cathedral. The next stop was Koblenz to check out its castles. We docked at Rüdesheim, a classic wine village. And Heidelberg for a drink at its 300-year-old tavern. Strasbourg for some of the best food in Europe. Then the medieval town of Breisach and finally the Black Forest. We ended up in Basel, Switzerland and headed home.