A Brief Look at Strasbourg, Speyer and Heidelberg

The communities along the Rhine River are providing the bucket-list experience that we’d hoped for, and we can’t say enough good things about the ways that the crew of the River Queen makes it the best it can be. The weather could be a great deal better, but that’s a minor issue given what else is happening. Well, okay, the Internet connection could be a lot better, too – that’s the major reason my posts are so erratic.

On Thursday, we began our day in Strasbourg with a canal cruise on this glass-roofed boat. A pair of guides did an excellent job of introducing us to the city.

Canal cruise boat in Strasbourg
The boat tour was followed by a walking tour over to the cathedral and around the historic city centre, and then we had free time to explore on our own. The historic district known as Petite France, where 3 towers stand, was our first destination.

Petite France, Strasbourg
On our canal cruise, we went around these rapids at Petite France via the lock on the right side.

Petite France, Strasbourg
After an excellent local-fare lunch in Petite France, we returned to the cathedral for a longer look.

Cathedral in Strasbourg

Cathedral in Strasbourg
I decided to get some exercise, so climbed up to the top of the cathedral. It’s 6 Euros admission and something like 235 steps to get this view 🙂

Cathedral in Strasbourg
We sailed from Strasbourg just before 6:30pm. One of the aspects of Strasbourg life that was pointed out on the canal cruise was the many old freight boats that are now permanently docked and people live in. There seems to be some controversy about how cheaply people can live that way because of no property taxes and low service (water/sewer) rates.

House boat in Strasbourg

We sailed through the night again, but arrived at Speyer some 5 hours later than scheduled due to exceptionally high water on the Rhine (due to all the rain we’ve been having). We were apparently only a few centimeters from the river being closed completely.

Our guide for a long walking tour at Speyer, Kirsten, was extremely good.

Another cathedral 🙂 – I forgot all my information about these days in my cabin and Cathy is still asleep, so all I can do is show you photos. This one is particularly old, though – I believe construction began in 1030.

One of the most unusual things we’ve seen so far was the ruins of the Jewish synagogue and related structures such as this mikvah for ritual bathing.

Jewish mikvah in Speyer
The all-wood Trinity Lutheran church is as beautiful as it is unique – decoration of this type in Lutheran churches is extremely rare. This is the ceiling. Die Gedächtniskirche der Protestation (The Memorial Church of the Protestation) was built between 1893 and 1904.

Trinity Lutheran church in Speyer
High on the altar, a consultation about restoration work appeared to be going on.

The altar at Trinity Lutheran church in Speyer
What cute little cop car 🙂

Construction of the original old defensive gate began in the 13th Century.

This old building is being converted to a shopping mall. Throughout Europe, and indeed throughout the world, it’s a challenge to make historic buildings economically viable.

For the afternoon, we’d chosen a tour to Heidelberg over free time in Speyer, when I could have gone to the technical museum. I hadn’t done any research on it, but when the bus passed it, I almost asked to be let off!! Trains, plane and automobiles, including a real Boeing 747 mounted high off the ground, with stairs to climb up and into it.

The weather forecast for Heidelberg had been for a possibility of rain, but for an hour or so it rained so hard that at times it was hard to hear the guide over the rain pounding on my umbrella.

The Heidelberg castle was interesting, but our guide, apparently new in the business, was awful. His talk ranged far and wide and included some controversial and inappropriate comments. Complaints about him are universal among the people on his bus.

The main part of the Heidelberg castle.

In the cellar of the castle is the world’s largest wine keg.

The view over the town and the Neckar River is wonderful, and the rain did slow down and even stop for a while.

The main town square with the castle ruins above.

Tough day for a wedding-photo session, but the bride seemed to be dealing with it well.

As we were waiting for the motorcoach to arrive to take us back to the ship, the sun broke through for a few minutes, but that break was quickly followed by a nasty squall of wind and rain.

Traffic going back to Speyer was stop-and-go for an hour or so. The guide had spent a long time telling us about Germany’s amazing best-in-the-world highway system with no speed limits – that doesn’t work as well as it used to because of all the immigrants from North Africa, Iran, etc, that have been let in.

Traffic on the autobahn near Speyer.

Our next day was spent in two communities, with a couple of hours sailing by countless castles in the Rhine Gorge – I took almost 800 photos 🙂 I’ll show you some as soon as I can.


A Brief Look at Strasbourg, Speyer and Heidelberg — 6 Comments

  1. Qoodevening from Chios.Being a trustfull reader of your long time now ,it`s the first time i contact.Me & my wife are thinking to have exactly thiw cruise ,which you`re doing now.Does it worth it?Is it value for maney?Also you have write something about the crew of the ship.Can you be more specific?And finally how are the facilities on board(dinning,cleaness etc).Can you post some photos from the ship interior?Thank you in advance!Miltos.

    • I’ll try to answer some of your questions as we go along, and will post more photos of the interior of the ship. This is certainly the finest cruise we’ve been on as a total package – consistently excellent food, exceptional staff and crew, excellent tours and guides (with 1 exception – a poor guide at Heildelberg). The ship was renovated 2 years ago and is spotlessly clean. It was expensive but we consider it to be good value, and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again – probably even this same itinerary in the hope of getting good weather next time.

  2. You have no idea how much I am enjoying your posts! Please have such a good time as I know you will.

  3. To give my opinion on the costquality of the cruise: excellent! Everything topnotch: the crew beautifully trained; food and selection yummy;pace was easy but stimulating.

  4. Gorgeous. Heidelberg is one of the most beautiful spots in Germany, in my opinion. And I love Strasbourg. My ancestor Adolf Fritzen was the bishop at the cathedral there from 1891 to 1919 and when I visited in 1994 there was a stone carving of him in one of the chapels, but I believe it has since been damaged and removed.