Depart USA for Dusseldorf, Germany
Depart home city via your chosen air carrier to Dusseldorf, arriving the following day.
Arrive Dusseldorf, Germany
Arrive in Dusseldorf, the port city where our luxurious riverboat, the Premicon Queen is moored. For those of you arriving a day prior to the cruise (Oct. 04), you will be personally met by Carl who will escort you to transportation which will take you to our quaint, boutique hotel, the Hotel Haus Hillesheim. The Hotel Haus Hillesheim was built in 1894 and has been owned and operated by generations of the same family since 1938. This little three star 15 room hotel was selected because of its location to the “Altstadt” (old town) and its reputation for friendly, personal service.
Anne will meet you on arrival at the hotel and will help you with check-in. The rest of the day is free for you to enjoy a little time to unpack, freshen-up, rest, relax and explore the historical city of Dusseldorf.
For those of you arriving early, your options for a “night on the town” are many. Restaurants and bars abound in the surrounding area of the Hotel Haus Hillesheim, each with their own unique dining venues.
Hotel websites: http://www.hotel-hillesheim.de / (http://www.hotel-hillesheim.de/hotel_in_dusseldorf_en-video)
Dusseldorf, Germany / Riverboat Embarkation / Begin cruising the Rhine and Moselle Rivers
After breakfast at the hotel, the morning and early afternoon are free for you to do some last minute exploring of Dusseldorf before we depart our hotel (at approximately 3:00PM) to board our luxury riverboat, the Premicon Queen.
FYI - Dusseldorf got its start centuries ago on the Rhine River's east bank, but today the regional economic powerhouse straddles both banks. Altstadt is not just Dusseldorf's lovely old town but also where the city's nightlife is based and where Altbier, its native dark beer, is plentiful. Königsallee (the King’s Alley) is very close to the hotel and is Dusseldorf's famous shopping street with many high end shops, quaint restaurants and “weinstubes” (wine taverns). If you are an art lover, the Museum Kunst Palast has one of the Rhineland's best art collections.
At 5:00PM the Premicon Queen sets sail for the beautiful Rhineland town of Andernach, arriving at 6:00AM Thursday morning.
This evening please join Carl and Anne and your fellow FoCA traveling companions for the Captain’s Welcome Reception followed by dinner while cruising the Rhine River.
Andernach, Germany / Cruising the Rhine River
Guten morgen! Our first port-of-call is the picturesque Rhineland town of Andernach. This beautiful town occupies the site of the Roman fort of Autunnacum which is famous for the fortified walls and gates - such as the Round Tower which stands 184 feet high and has 13 feet thick walls. The walls are well preserved and even have people still living in them today! For you castle buffs, the ruins of a castle of the Electors of Cologne will be of interest to you as will the Late Gothic Town Hall in the Market. To the west of the square is the beautiful 13th century Late Romanesque Liebfrauenkirche (Romanesque church). To the north of the square is the Old Crane, an impressive and famous river crane that was in use right up to 1911 and the only one of its kind still standing. After some sightseeing, you may want to stroll along the banks of the river, visit the local cafes, weinstubes and restaurants, taste the local beer, and absorb the gentle quietness of this fascinating location.
The Premicon Queen departs Andernach at 1:00PM. After lunch on board, you can relax by enjoying the beautiful views while cruising the Rhine River.
Bernkastel-Kues, Germany / Cruising the Moselle River
A special day today! After a leisurely breakfast, we are going to experience two wine tastings, one in Bernkastel and one in a nearby wine village. We then return to Bernkastel for a walking tour of the ols town ending up at a private tavern for a third wine tasting which concludes the tour. The tour will end at approximately 12:30PM – 1:00PM, just in time for lunch and another round of wine! We will be docked in Bernkastel until 10:00PM this evening so there will be plenty of time to explore this beautiful village at your leisure.
A little info on this port-of-call - Bernkastel is a picture postcard town, complete with castle ruins, a Medieval marketplace and architectural styles spanning nearly 2,000 years. This wine village is strategically located in the middle of the Moselle region, which stretches from the French border to the Rhine. Bernkastel boasts more than 500 years of documented wine history. A stroll through the historic city center is a “must” followed by a visit to the Moselle Wine Museum if time allows. The twin town of Bernkastel-Kues nestles by a serpentine bend in the Moselle. With this scenic backdrop, Bernkastel-Kues is a half-timbered gem with some of the most crooked, leaning houses you'll ever see. What makes this village even more special are the wall-to-wall wine taverns, which, after a few stops to imbibe, help distort their dimensions even more. This is a great village and very picturesque, so don’t forget your camera!
Cochem, Germany / Cruising the Moselle River
Situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty, Cochem is surrounded by high elevations, steep vineyards and typical wine villages, offering wine tastings, festivals and genuine hospitality. Cochem, itself, is a showpiece gem and rated as one of the prettiest villages along the Moselle. Little seems to have changed for centuries. The town has many fine buildings, quaint cottages, black & tan guild houses and winding streets. The town square is lined with half-timbered houses and is particularly picturesque. Legend, folklore and a rich web of history is woven into every street.
For castle lovers, a visit to Schloss Reichsburg (Cochem Castle) should be a high priority on your sightseeing list. Originally built in the 11th century, the castle was destroyed by French soldiers in 1689 and reconstructed in the 19th century. Mix all of this beauty with the Cochem Castle, which dramatically rises above the town and you have a vision that you will never forget!
The Premicon Queen departs Cochem at 2:00PM. Once again, you can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the beautiful views while cruising the Moselle and Rhine Rivers.
Koblentz, Germany / Cruising the Rhine River
Up and at’em! Today we have a special, private tour of Marksburg Castle, the most famous castle in the Rhine River Valley. Marksburg Castle, the only hilltop fortress on the Rhine which has escaped destruction, is commandingly situated on a steep conical crag that overlooks the Rhine River. It is believed to have been built by Eberhard II von Eppstein in the 13th century on the site of an earlier castle, and was later enlarged. After many ownerships, the castle has belonged to the German Castles Association since 1899. The name Marksburg comes from the castle chapel, which was dedicated to St. Mark. Besides the dramatic location of the castle, which provides visitors with outstanding views of the river and valley, the other main attraction of Marksburg is its interesting collection of arms and armor.
A little info on Koblentz – The Romans founded this town over 2,000 years ago and today the town (and St. Goarshausen) are known for their proximity to the legendary Loreley (Rock) and the romantic castles perched on the steep slopes above the Rhine. The town is set amidst four ranges of hills, and two thirds of the surrounding countryside consists of woods, open green spaces or water. Koblenz is a "small city" with a lot to offer those interested in art and culture. A stroll around the town will highlight the appeal of quaint town – its romantic narrow streets and historical squares, the picturesque alleyways in the old quarter with the Romanesque Basilica of St. Kastor and the 12th century churches of St. Florin and The Church of Our Lady, possibly one of the most beautiful churches in Germany
Rüdesheim, Germany / Cruising the Rhine River
Today we are in another very special wine village - Rüdesheim. The beautiful town of Rüdesheim is picturesquely situated on the slopes of the Rhine valley. This lovely town has been a magnet for romantics ever since the early 19th century. The historical monuments, romantic winding alleyways and the rolling hillside vineyards are a delight for all the senses. Visit the Niederwald Monument, a magnificent memorial to the founding of the German Empire in 1871, and enjoy the breathtaking views of the Rhine Valley.
Half timbered houses and the cozy market place are home to many annual festivals. Remnants of three castles including a 12th century Bromserburg Castle can be found in the centre of the town. The entire shopping and entertaining street is only a few blocks long but is packed with quaint shopping, restaurants, cafes, and traditional wine bars.
St. Goarshausen, Germany / Cruising the Rhine River
In 1885, St. Goarshausen had almost 1,456 inhabitants that were members of the evangelical Protestant church. Close to the town in the hillside just above it, lie the ruins of Castle Katz from 1806. The most important economic areas for St. Goarshausen are tourism and wine making. In earlier times was the town an important place along the Rhein for fishing and as an embarcation area. The most famous point in town is the site of the Lorelei Rock. In St. Goarshausen there are two castles, Burg Katz (Castle Cat) and Burg Maus (Castle Mouse). I guess that we will have to wait until we’re there to get the straight scoop on why the two castles were named cat and mouse. There is a good view over the town from Burg Maus, and also visible are the ruins of Burg Rheinfels on the other side of Rhine.
Boppard, Germany / Cruising the Rhine River
The Rhine Valley is famous throughout the world for its charming towns with their rich history, such as Koblenz and Rüdesheim. Boppard is another such gem. A walk along the town's beautiful riverside promenade with its many historical buildings and traditional hotels is an absolute must on any trip to the Rhine Valley. On a stroll through the lanes of the historical old town, you're bound to be enticed into one of the traditional inns selling wine from the Bopparder Hamm estate. Along the way, you'll see the excavations of the Roman fort and the medieval town wall. The town of Boppard with its 10 districts has all the ingredients for an unforgettable visit - hills and valleys, quiet lanes and lively squares, and a wealth of nature and culture. Bobbard is a town that is spoiled by the sun and blessed with uniqueness.
Boppard, which was once a Roman fort, is the heart and soul of this German holiday region. Best wines from Bopparder Hamm flow into your glass and fascinating discoveries are to be made in the town, mirroring the two thousand year old culture here on the Middle Rhine.
Bonn, Germany / Cruising the Rhine River
The dynamic city of Bonn lies on both banks of the Rhine. The pattern of the city's life is set by its old and famous University, its role as the seat of government (now in Berlin), its busy commercial life and its attractive setting (particularly on the river side, with its view of the nearby Siebengebirge). Located on the southern side of Bonn and to the right of the scenic Rhine River, you will find the hilly Siebengebirge area, which literally translates as 'Seven Mountains'. This low mountain range boasts in excess of 125 miles of hiking trails, spectacular views from many vantage points, carriage rides, a 120-year-old cogwheel train, and the remains of the Schloss Drachenfels castle. Siebengebirge has become Germany's most historic nature reserve and many of the best attractions are to be found around the Drachenfels mountain. Notably, Bonn is also a renowned spa resort and is the birthplace of Beethoven.
Dusseldorf to the USA (or your continuing destination)
After breakfast, it’s time to say “aufedersein” to the Captain and his crew and disembark from the Premicon Queen. Transfer to the Dusseldorf Airport for your flight back to the USA or to wherever your final destination may be.
Aufedersein and thank you for sharing your friendship with us. We hope to see you again next year on our 2012 FoCA adventure!
Carl & Anne