Heidelberg and Rudesheim

The next day when we woke up, the boat was docked near Heidelberg, German. We took at bus into town and a walking tour of the ruined castle and the old part of town.

A view of town from the castle.

From the Viking Daily for Heidelberg: “Heidelberg is unquestionably one of Germans oldest and most unashamedly romantic cities. Famous for its historic university, it boasts may other obvious attractions, such has its beautiful baroque Old Town and the magical, partly ruined fairy-tale castle that overlooks it. With a history as dramatic and romantic as its Gothic-Rennaissance character — of of palatinate princes, stampeding Swedes, Protestant reformers, raging fires, and lightning bolts — it is little wonder that the castle serves as inspiration for artists and writers alike during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is still home to the world’s largest wine barrel, a 250-year-old vat shaped from 130 oak trees that once held 50,000 gallons of wine… Heidelberg was left in ruins by French troops one the command of Louis XIV. It was totally rebuilt during the 18th century, give us three picturesque cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered houses and baroque buildings that remain in the Old Town.”

Candy, Greg, and Nicole in front of the Heidelberg castle. It was COLD.
Another view of the castle ruins.
The main building of the castle is available for a walking tour, as it has been partially restored.
Inside the main hall is the world’s largest wine barrel.
Another view of the city from the castle grounds. There is another picture of that bridge later in this post.

The walking tour was short, and I felt like I would have liked another hour on our own in town. This portion of the cruise seemed rushed.

Greg and Nicole with the towers of the bridge behind them.
Candy and me a little closer to the bridge.
The original Kathe Wohlfahrt store. If you don’t know these stores, this is where you can order very nice, made in Germany, not China, nutcrackers, smokers, and other traditional Christmas decorations. They have satellite stores that show up in Christmas markets in Baltimore, Bethlehem, PA, and other festivals in the US.

We had 15 minutes of free time after walking around the old town (briskly) and the bridge, so we popped into a bar, called Vetter. They serve the beer with the highest alcohol content in the world: 33%. Yes, 33%, not 33 proof. It was very mild and smooth tasting, thick like a stout, but not bitter. In fact it tasted sweet.

A giant Christmas pyramid in one of the town squares that was being set up for their upcoming Christmas market.

That evening the boat docked at Rudesheim, German. We elected to leave the boat and experience their Christmas market. Most other towns started the market after our cruise, but this one actually started the day before we arrived. We had a very nice time winding our way through the byways of Rudesheim, sampling the food, and looking at souvenirs in the various street stalls.

Nicole and Candy enjoying gluwein in Rudesheim.

Greg and I were on the prowl for curry wurst, which we found and enjoyed.

Curry wurst! Yum!
The tower near the entrance to the part of town where the Christmas market was being held that we used to help find our way back to the boat.

We had a very nice time wandering around the Christmas market. It rambled through the city, so every time we turned a corner, there were mall stalls and shops. We spent about two hours in town before returning to the boat.


There has been a really long delay in me finishing the blog posts for our Viking river cruise of the Rhine. The Internet onboard was very, very slow, so I couldn’t keep up along the way. When we got home, life went back into overdrive with Thanksgiving, Christmas preparations, and the move from Maryland to Florida.

Our next stop was Strasbourg. Candy and I elected to take the optional “Taste of Alcase” tour. This involved the normal walking tour, but we also stopped at several shops for food sampling.

Strasbourg is a medieval town that was mostly spared during WWII.

Our guide walked us around the old, medieval part of the city. Our first stop was a gingerbread shop where we learned about the various spices that go into gingerbread, tasted different types, and purchased some for our upcoming Christmas party.

The proprietor of the gingerbread shop talked to us about how gingerbread is made.
The exterior of the gingerbread shop.
Having “torte flambe,” which is sort of like French pizza without the tomato sauce. I really liked it!

Our next stop was a small French cafe. Our guide took us upstairs to a semi-private room where we were treated to “torte flambe.” This is sort of like French pizza. A creamy cheese sauce is spread over thin dough and then covered with onions and bacon and then baked on high heat for just a few minutes. They were really good. We tried several different toppings, including a sweet version as dessert. I don’t think we would have tried this dish or found this restaurant without a guide.

Out guide leading us around town.
Another view of the town.

We were a weekend too early for the Strasbourg Christmas market / festival, but the town was largely decorated for Christmas. Most of the shops had decorations and festive window displays.

The Christmas display in a shop window.

Our next stop was the magnificent Notre Dame cathedral in Strasbourg. The mechanical clock was amazing, the way it tracked moon phase, day, date, time, and motion of the stars.

Interior of the cathedral in Strasbourg.
A view of the magnificent clock.
Vignette 1 of the Strasbourg nativity
Vignette 2 of the Strasbourg nativity

The cathedral had an amazing nativity on display. I have never seen one that depicted five scenes before. They usually focus on just the manger scene.

Vignette 3 of the Strasbourg nativity
Vignette 4 of the Strasbourg nativity
Vignette 5 of the Strasbourg nativity

After visiting the cathedral, our guide walked us around various shops. At one shop we picked up bread, at another desserts, and and another cheese.

The woman in the cheese shop describing the various types of cheeses and ingredients used to make them.
Candy in front of a giant wine barrel in one of the town squares.
At one point we stopped to look at this model of the city. You can see one of the people on the tour with us carrying the bread we picked up at the bakery. I was carrying the heavy cheese. Someone else had the desserts.

In some of these pictures, you can see that we are all wearing ear pieces, and the guide is wearing a small microphone. This allowed him to talk to us without have to shout or bother others not on the tour. I also allowed us to hear without having crowd up to him.

Our group had a nice wine, cheese, bread, and desserts dinner at the wine shop in Strasbourg.

The Taste of Strasbourg tour culminated with a dinner at a winery in town that included the wine, cheese, bread, and desserts we had been picking up along the walking tour.

One of several plates of meats and cheeses.

This was a very nice tour, and we saw things we would have been unlikely to discover on our own. My only complaint is that it wasn’t a taste of Strasbourg, it was two full meals. I think they could have cut the amount of food in half without detracting from the tour, and we wouldn’t have felt so bloated at the end of the day. The meal on the boat was the one I had been looking forward to — Bavarian food buffet — but we were so stuffed from the tour that we really couldn’t enjoy the dinner.