This morning Viking Alruna is docked in Mannheim for our visit to Heidelberg. Before boarding the motorcoach, we meet our local guide for our morning tour of Heidelberg. It should be noted that Viking does an excellent job of selecting local tour guides, all of whom speak very good English and are always willing to answer any questions. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the Heidelberg castle from our dock in Mannheim. Along the way, our guide gave us some information about Mannheim, pointing out that it is the home of John Deere corporation's European headquarters.
Our first stop is the Heidelberg Schloss (or castle) which was built in 1214. The castle sits high on a hill overlooking the city of Heidelberg.
Many parts of the castle are undergoing restoration, a project that will certainly take many more years. So, photography has to take a back seat to scaffolding and barriers, which seem to always find their way into the shot.
A large terrace overlooks the city of Heidelberg and the Neckar River below. Tourists congregate here for panoramic photos.
After our tour of the castle, the motorcoaches take us down the hill and drop us off near Hauptstrasse, the main pedestrian street in Heidelberg. We were given about an 90 minutes of free time to explore Heidelberg on our own, or join the guide for a short walking tour. Rickee and I have been to Heidelberg before, so we wanted to do some exploring and souvenir shopping so we headed out on our own.
We are still on the hunt for a USB cable, so we walk along Hauptstrasse desperately looking for any kind of electronics store. After inquiring at a Vodaphone shop, the salesperson tells me to go to Saturn, a large electronics store which, of course, is located at the end of Hauptstrasse. Success! Saturn did have the cable, so crisis averted. We start our walk back toward the coach pick up point and I cannot resist stopping at a local Doner Kebab joint for a Doner wrap, which I eat while walking back to the coach.
We re-board the coach for the drive to Gernsheim, where Viking Alruna has repositioned herself for the continuation of our journey. My Doner kebab has satisfied my hunger, and Rickee can go on one meal a day, so we decide to skip lunch and save our appetite for our dinner in Rüdesheim this evening. Before long, the Viking Alruna is headed to Rüdesheim where we will be docked overnight.
This evening we disembark Alruna for an optional German dinner in Rüdesheim. There were about 20 guests who joined us on this adventure which began with a mini-train ride from the boat to the restaurant. The sun is beginning to settle in the west, making for some great light for photography.
We board the little train and enjoy a short ride into town. Rüdesheim is much bigger than I remembered from past visits. There are a lot of river boats docked here as this is one of the most visited cities on the Rhine. There are also a lot of restaurants in town, many that cater to river cruise guests. When we arrive at our restaurant, Rüdesheim Schloss, we can see many large tables reserved for a variety of cruise line guests.
By the time we arrive, the restaurant is about half full of guests and a band is playing German music. Waiters buzz in and around the dining room, delivering steins of German beer and plates of food. We sit at a large table of 10 and soon are greeted by our waiter. Two wines are offered and poured for us, and bottles are left on the table for subsequent consumption.
A salad is followed by delicious bowl of German potato soup, then a main course of sauerbraten, red cabbage, mashed potatoes and applesauce. The final course, dessert, is a piece of apricot cake.
But, there was much more than just wine and food. During the meal, several guests participated in a group Schnapps shot. You just have to be there to believe it! Then, several guests participated in a German version of a conga line, dancing through the restaurant to the beat of the German music. It was a good meal and a great evening of rowdy German entertainment.
After dinner, a few of us decided to walk back to the boat rather than take the mini-train. It is a beautiful evening, cool and calm. Rickee and I walk through the near-empty streets of Rüdesheim. You can't get lost, just walk down until you come to the river, then turn left and keep walking. On the way back to Alruna, we counted more than 10 riverboats docked along the Rhine to visit Rüdesheim. It was nearly dark when we stepped back on board Viking Alruna.
Before going to our stateroom, we stopped by the Viking Lounge, where a glass-blowing demonstration was already underway.
We enjoyed watching some of the demonstration, then decided to depart for bed. It has been a busy, but fun day aboard Viking Alruna.