life after 50, boomer travel, over 50It’s a raining and cold outside. But my thoughts are elsewhere. I’m thinking about my river cruise on the Rhine this past summer on the Viking EIR (courtesy of Viking River Cruises).* The days on “Rhineland Discovery” were sunny, tranquil, and full of dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery — from our time in Bruges, to our stay in Amsterdam, to our visit to the windmills of Kinderdijk and the vibrant city of Cologne. Each day was better than the next.

Conquering the Marksburg Castle

“Are you ready to conquer the castle?” asked our program director Daniel as we arrived for our tour of the Marksburg Castle in Koblenz, Germany. My boyfriend L and I climbed the cobblestone steps up to the hilltop.

Marks burg Castle, Germany's castles; Rhineland Discovery, Viking River Cruise

Marksburg Castle was high up on the hill

Our guide Sasha opened the gates and led us through the rooms. We saw the wine cellar, the kitchen where big oxen were cooked centuries ago, the chapel, and the seated chamber or living quarters. “People in the Middle Ages were smaller,” said Sasha. “They slept sitting up because it was superstitious to sleep lying down, which was the position of death. They drank a lot of wine. It was safer to drink the wine than the water.”

Marks burg Castle, Germany, Rhine river, Viking River Cruise, Rhineland Discovery

We toured the rooms in Marksburg Castle

We maneuvered up narrow staircases. Sasha told us that these slim passageways were built to slow the enemy so only one person could go up at a time. We toured a room filled with heavy armory from the different time periods. “Would anyone like to try on a helmet to test how heavy it is?” Sasha asked. My Lancelot’s head was too large to fit, so guess who offered hers? That helmet was really heavy!

Marks burg Castle; Germany; Rhine river; Viking River Cruise; castles; Rhineland Discovery

Guess who?

Sailing to Rudesheim

We spent a relaxing afternoon sailing along the Middle Rhine, one of Germany’s most scenic regions. According to Viking, “castles and wines take center stage, particularly along the Middle Rhine, brimming with remarkable beauty, history and culture.” L and I had a chance to partake in the best Rieslings during our dinner in Rüdesheim that evening.

Rhine river; Germany; Viking River Cruises; boomer travel

Bucolic views on the Rhine

We boarded a mini-train for our excursion to the 15th-century Drosselgasse, strolling past wine bars and taverns to Rüedesheimer Schloss for a night out filled with traditional German fare and lots of oom-pah-pah tunes. Seating was around long communal tables. L and I sat next to a lovely couple from New Zealand. The meal featured potato soup, Sauerbraten with mashed potatoes and applesauce, and kugel for dessert. Afterwards, the music grew loud as we cheered on travelers who rose to drink shots of schnapps in unison. It was a fun evening.

Rüdesheimer Schloss; Germany; Viking River Cruises; Rudesheim; Rhine river

Dinner at Rüedesheimer Schloss

Germany’s Most Romantic Castle In Heidelberg

The next day, our travels took us to Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university town and the home of its most romantic castle. Our bus ascended slowly around the winding path to the Heidelberg Castle, which sits 330 feet above the river.

Heidelberg Castle; Heidelberg; Germany; Viking River Cruise; Rhine River

We toured Heidelberg Castle, which features the largest non-working wine barrel 

Our guide Petra shared the castle’s rich history. ” In 1613, Prince Frederick married Elizabeth Stewart from England and they lived in the castle. They had 13 children. Prince Frederick died at a young age, In fact, one of their children, George, is an ancestor of England’s Queen Elizabeth,” Petra said. We also learned that a good bit of the castle was destroyed by fire in the 17th century. Thankfully, Heidelberg remained intact during World War II.

During our free hours, we walked around the Market Square, visited the famous Chocolaterie Knösel, where we bought a few of the iconic chocolates called Student’s Kiss (these confections represent affection and are often gifted during marriage proposals), and had lunch under the sycamore trees at Cafe Gundel, known for its baked goods.

Heidelberg; Chocolaterie Knösel; Viking River Cruises; Rhine river; boomer travel

We visited Heidelberg Market Square and Chocolaterie Knösel

German Jewelry Shop; Heidelberg; Germany; Viking River Cruises; Rhine river; boomer travel

Jewelry shops in German are called Schmuck-Atelier

Cafe Gundel; Heidelberg; Germany; Viking River Cruises; Rhine River; boomer travel; travel and leisure

We enjoyed lunch at Cafe Gundel

I wish I had more time to spend exploring this city. Definitely adding it to my “go back to visit again” travel list for my life after 50.

A taste of Germany

Our perfect day ended in a perfect way with “A Taste of Germany” buffet on board the Viking EIR. The staff dressed accordingly, men in Lederhosen and women in dirndls. The menu was filled with everything German — sausages, pretzels, potato salad, beers, wine, and German sweets. I downed a shot of raspberry schnapps to start our meal with a toast, “to good health, good life, and trost,” meaning comfort in German.

Viking River Cruises; Rhine river; Germany; boomer travel

The Viking staff dressed in festive attire for our “Taste of Germany” dinner

German food; Viking River Cruises; Rhineland Discovery; Rhine river; Germany; boomer travel

We enjoyed “A Taste of Germany” aboard the Viking EIR

Viking River Cruise; Germany; Rhine River; Rhineland Discovery; river cruises; boomer travel

A beautiful sunset as we left Germany for France

Little did I know that the next day would be one of my best-ever! Yes, that’s right, almost on par with my trip to Capri, Italy in June. Stay tuned to hear all about my full-day excursion with a food and city tour of Strasbourg, the cultural center of France’s Alsace region. If you haven’t booked your trip yet, you’ll be ready after you read about my day in Strasbourg. For sure, for sure!!!

Strasbourg; Food and City Tour of Strasbourg; foodie; France; Rhine river; Viking River Cruises; boomer travel

Can’t wait to share my food and city tour of Strasbourg

P.S. – In case you missed my first recaps you can find them at:
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – A Delight for the Senses
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – First Stop Beautiful Bruges
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – Adventures In Amsterdam
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” – A Lovely Last Day In Amsterdam
My Travels on “Rhineland Discovery” − Welcome To Kinderdijk and Cologne

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Rhine. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.