Wow! If you live anywhere in the USA today you are probably feeling this record heat! It is days like these that I find my mind wandering to where I would much rather be… for some reason sitting on a beach isn’t really doing it for me.. just more HOT… so how about lets travel down some rivers of the world.
Rivers evoke many memories… if you ever read Huck Finn you can’t help but think of that wonderful Mississippi… not quite cool enough for you? How about some wonderful rainforest jungle type of river thoughts with the Amazon (and they are in the Southern Hemisphere right now so they aren’t quite as warm as we are)
Still not cool enough.. we can go down any one of the many European rivers like the Rhine, Moselle, Danube or the beautiful Seine in France… You don’t mind the heat and think I am just full of hot air right now? Okay smarty pants then you are headed to the Nile!
As you can see, so many rivers so little time. Each river has what it is “famous” for so I thought I would share a little of this with you in today’s blog.. so sit back and grab a cold one and lets float down some of the rivers of the world…
One of the most traveled rivers in Europe is the Rhine River. Views of vineyards and castles can be seen all along the river. The Rhine River is one of the more popular cruising destinations. Many itineraries visit Basel, Switzerland’s second largest city, which has a museum displaying works by Picasso, Dali and Mondrian. At the heart of Germany’s Rhine wine region lies Rudesheim, where terraced rows of vines climb the banks. In Cologne, Germany, you would see the spectacular, 13th-century Gothic cathedral with twin spires. German and French cultures meet in Strasbourg in France’s Alsace region; the district known as La Petite France is a nice place for exploration on foot.
A close second to the Rhine I would say would be the Danube River. Flowing from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea, the Danube offers a chance to explore Old World cities like Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. In the Austrian town of Melk, most visitors head to the 900-year-old Benedictine Abbey that overlooks the town, while in Germany’s Regensburg, a guide is likely to point out the well-preserved medieval architecture and the old Roman gate. During a visit to Passau, Germany, you may hear a concert on the 17,774-pipe organ in St. Stephan’s Cathedral.
What river connects the Rhine to the Danube? It is the Main River that holds the famous Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. Located in Bavaria, Germany it connects the Main and the Danube rivers across the European Watershed, running from Bamberg via Nuremberg to Kelheim. The canal connects the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, providing a navigable artery between the Rhine delta (at Rotterdam in the Netherlands) and the Danube Delta (or Constanţa, through the Danube – Black Sea Canal) in eastern Romania. The present canal was completed in 1992 and is 106 miles long. Prior to then you just couldn’t get there from here!
Would you like a little Brie cheese with your drink today? Then lets visit the rivers of the Seine, Saone and Rhone in France. The Seine River cruises typically start in Paris, where sightseeing allows for photo ops at the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Notre Dame and the Champs-Elysees. Elsewhere on a Seine River route, highlights include Monet’s home and beautiful gardens at Giverny; Chateau Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart’s stronghold in Les Andelys; and Le Havre, where passengers typically set out for D-Day landing sites along the beaches of Normandy. This is the cruise that my daughter Ilyse and I will be taking in July of this year and I will be blogging about dailyl. So make sure you read all about it!
While the Saone and Rhone River cruises in southern France usually combine these two rivers in a single itinerary. During the Saone portion of the sailing, the ship meanders through the Burgundy region, where you’ll learn about the local wine industry and sample vintages in towns like Beaune. The Rhone River runs south through the Provence region to the Mediterranean coast. Among stops are Lyon, best known as France’s gastronomic capital; Arles, one of Van Gogh’s favorite places; and Avignon, a walled city with a 14th-century papal palace. I did this cruise in May of 2010, we loved it even though that was just after the Volcano had erupted on Iceland and many travelers were stranded… we were very lucky, our weather was just odd… which as long as I have wine available I can live with it!
Okay, I can hear you hot-blooded readers calling out for info on the Nile… so let me skip over there real quick! The Nile provides a terrific way to delve into the vast history of Egypt. Ancient sights are prominently featured, like the Pyramids of Giza, the 60-foot statues of Ramses II at the Abu Simbel temple and the Valley of the Kings, where the pharaohs rest, including young king Tutankhamun. See the objects excavated from his tomb at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Tours of the Aswan High Dam and a sunset cruise in a traditional sailboat, called a felucca, also are part of Nile River itineraries.
Back to Europe we have the Volga River of Russia. Russia’s most famous cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, can be visited on these river vacations. The immense Red Square and onion-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral are featured on sightseeing tours of Moscow, while the Peter and Paul Fortress and stunning Hermitage Museum are the don’t-miss sights of St. Petersburg. Your riverboat will likely call at Yaroslavl, one of Russia’s oldest cities, and Uglich, best known for the blue-domed church built on the spot where Prince Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591.
Have a lot of Asia still on your bucket list? Take a cruise down the Mekong River. Busy cities, rural villages, temples and floating markets are part of Mekong River trips through Cambodia and Vietnam. In Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, sightseeing excursions take in the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. In Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll visit sites linked to the Vietnam War, like the War Remnants Museum and the underground tunnels used as hideouts by the Viet Cong. Angkor Wat is a top attraction; the large complex of ornate stone structures dates to the early 12th century.
Or take in the Yangtze River of China. Yangtze River cruises often are part of longer tours in China that also incorporate hotel stays. Highlights of the Yangtze sailing include the 18th-century Shibaozhai Temple, a 12-story red pagoda that clings to the side of a cliff, and the magnificent peaks and waterfalls of the Three Gorges. Passengers disembark to visit the Three Gorges Dam, a jaw-dropping sight that spans nearly a mile and a half and stands 600 feet tall.
Leaving Asia we wander over to South America and the Amazon River. There are two ways to explore this South American river: aboard an expedition ship that has a shallow draft and can travel the Lower Amazon in Brazil or the Upper Amazon tributaries in Peru, or on an oceangoing cruise ship that enters the mouth of the river on the Atlantic Ocean and navigates the Lower Amazon as far as Manaus. See the flora and fauna of this verdant basin, like orchids, giant lilies and forests carpeted in ferns, and caimans, rare frogs, monkeys, sloths and toucans. Often there are opportunities to learn about the traditions of the region’s communities and purchase locally made crafts. While you are in South America how about coupling an Amazon journey with Machu Picchu in Peru?
Are we done yet? Nope… one last one, the Mississippi right in our own backyard. One of America’s true historic treasures: a 2,320-mile waterway that flows through 10 states, from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Itineraries stop at cities that flourished on the river and its tributaries, like St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. Civil War battlefields, restored plantation homes and picturesque towns perched on bluffs also are featured. The origins of blues and jazz can be traced to this region, and it’s celebrated in literature, too.
There we are… back to good old Huck Finn! I hope that you enjoyed visting some of the most popular rivers of the world… of course there are a couple that we have missed… it is after all a pretty hot day and the mind does slow as the day gets long (now doesn’t that sound like something someone that is sitting on the bank of a lazy river would say?) … if you have a favorite river that I didn’t mention just let me know!
If you would like more information on any of these rivers or on companies that cater to these thoroughfares you know were to reach me! Call 888 877 8464 or visit my website at www.achampagnevacation.com.
And if I don’t get a chance to come back and submit another post before the 4th.. I hope you all have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!!