16. June 2018
The Sights Along The Northern Rhine
I was incredibly fortunate to sail from Cochem to Amsterdam this month and doubly lucky with the fantastic weather in Europe that we are having.
I boarded an early flight from Stansted with Eurowings bound for Cologne, where we then had to master the German rail system to make our way to Cochem. This was so easy as the trains are super-efficient and run like clockwork.
A wonderful sight came into view as I walked the short distance from the station to where Amadeus Silver II was berthed. This very large and impressive looking vessel was to be my home for the next three nights as I travelled to Cologne, Hoorn, Volendam and Amsterdam during my trip.
From where the ship was berthed, you could instantly see the spires of the wonderful cathedral. A 10-minute walk along the river would take you to the centre of Cologne with its designer shops, boutiques, everyday stores and chain restaurants. Apparently, Cologne is a fabulous destination for Christmas markets and I can see why.
The famous Lindt chocolate factory is a further five-minute walk from the centre, offering the chance to buy straight from the shop or take part in a guided tour that shows the history of chocolate and how it has evolved for today’s marketplace.
The highlight of Cologne, however, has to be the Cathedral. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1994. As Germany’s most visited landmark, it attracts an average of 20,000 people a day and is currently the tallest twin-spired church at 157m (515 ft) tall. The architecture inside and outside is breathtaking and it’s also where the shrine of Magi (the three wise men) is located.
We arrived in the city of Hoorn, a beautiful location where wooden facades of houses and restaurants line the footpath along the river. Hoorn is situated in Northern Holland, 22 miles north of Amsterdam and acquired city rights in 1357. It has a population of around 76,000 people.
There was a beautiful, small harbour with many impressive yachts and canal boats. From here, it is very popular for locals to use the huge expanse of water, known as Markermeer, for watersports and fishing.
It was here that we started our cruise, taking in the sights of Northern Holland and ending in Amsterdam.
Volendam is a town in North Holland, 12 miles outside of Amsterdam. I absolutely loved it here; the locals still wear traditional costume when going about their everyday life, windmills were on the horizon and clogs were sold in the shops. It’s a real Dutch gem. The promenade is lined with very reasonably priced restaurants and gift shops and it even has a beach. I would return to this part of the Netherlands for a break anytime.
When leaving Volendam, we called in at a cheese factory for a tasting session. I don’t think my palette knew what was happening but 30 minutes later I left with bags in hand, a full tummy and many euros lighter.
The fabulous city of Amsterdam was the last stop on the cruise and such a delight. I had been to Amsterdam before so had seen the museums and culture. As part of the excursion, we sailed along the canals of this vibrant city learning the history and points of notable interest.
Amsterdam really is a city for everybody; it has such a meandering atmosphere, nobody is in a rush and life it rather relaxed. I particularly liked the houseboats. The government of Amsterdam has restricted new boats from abeing given permits/mooring rights. So, if you would like to live on the river, you now need to wait for somebody to sell their mooring. Which, as you can imagine, has now become very expensive - in the region of €1 million.
Amsterdam’s main attractions include the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, Anne Frank’s House, Stedelijk Museum, Hermitage Amsterdam and, of course, the Red Light District.
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