A few days before our departure from DFW, we received an email from Viking saying that, due to technical difficulties, Viking Alruna would not be able to meet us in Basel as planned. Instead, we would meet the boat in Breisach, Germany. Viking offered us several options to mitigate the itinerary change, one of which was a 1.5-hour Basel walking tour followed by a coach transfer to the ship in Breisach. This sounded like the best option for us. After a nice breakfast at Swissôtel's Grill 25, we were met by Patrick from Limousine Services Switzerland who agreed to transfer us to the Radisson Blu Hotel to meet up with the walking tour and ship transfer.
Originally, we had scheduled Patrick to transfer us from Swissôtel to Viking Alruna in Basel. But, after we received the change in itinerary from Viking, Patrick was gracious, and flexible, and agreed to instead transfer us to the Radisson Blu hotel. Patrick's Mercedes mini-van was comfortable, spotlessly clean and held all of our luggage. It could easily transport six adults comfortably. When we arrived at the Radisson Blu, we met with Viking representatives who took our luggage for transfer to the ship. We joined a small group of 12 for the 11am walking tour and off we went.
As with most European city tours, a lot of focus is on churches and cathedrals. Not only are these buildings historic, but they represent the height of architecture and construction at the time they were built. Interestingly enough, now some of these structures are privately owned and available for rent for parties or other events. This came about when the city of Basel, which owned the historic buildings, was considering tearing them down because of the high cost of maintaining them. Some private citizens stepped in and purchased the historic sites, thus saving that part of Basel's history.
The Basel city walk was supposed to last one hour and a half, but it ended up being closer to three hours before we boarded the motor coach. This tour requires one to be reasonably physically fit as there are a few uneven surfaces and some moderate inclines. We were given about 30 minutes of free time to explore the Old Town on our own, an area with which we have now become quite familiar, having visited Basel three times. By 2:00 pm, our guide, Marcia, had led us to the waiting spot for the motor coach. When the coach arrived, we were all anxious to sit down and relax in the air conditioned comfort and enjoy the drive to Breisach. The drive only took about 45 minutes and when we arrived in Breisach, we could see Viking Alruna docked next to Viking Hlin.
We were welcomed aboard Viking Alruna by our Hotel Manager, Evelyn. Check-in took only a few minutes and soon we were being escorted to our beautiful suite 304. Viking Alruna is basically brand new. In fact, this will be her fourth sailing! Everything is shiny and new, as you would expect. We look forward to exploring this new longship over the next seven days. When we boarded, we were informed that lunch was still being served until 3pm, so Rickee and I decided to pop into the restaurant for a quick bite. They were serving a light lunch of soup, salads and a Cuban pork sandwich. Is was the perfect light meal to get us by until dinner.
At 4pm, there was a nice wine and cheese tasting in the Aquavit Terrace. There was a nice selection of interesting cheeses and a choice of Malbec (red) or Savignon Blanc (white) house wines.
After a glass of wine, Rickee and I decided to walk into Breisach, which is just 100 yards or so from the dock. We found a local souvenir shop where we purchased a couple of souvenirs to take home. I was hoping to find a store that would have a USB cable, as I foolishly left mine at home. However, we were informed that none of the shops selling such items were open on Sunday! Interesting. We walked back to the boat and finished unpacking our luggage.
Tomorrow, the ship will still be in Breisach and we are planning a visit to the medieval village of Colmar.