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The German Rhine valley has been considered the embodiment of romanticism for centuries and it has kept its alluring charm to this day. The panoramic scenery, the luxuriant display of colour, the picturesque villages and towns and the wealth of historic buildings, in the form of castles, fortresses and churches are an absolute delight to the eye. To discover all of this last September, on a Bike and Boat Tour was an unforgettable experience.

The Bike & Boat tour we decided to join was a beautiful and unique cycling and cruise tour which explored the famous valleys of the German Neckar and Rhine rivers over seven days

Our holiday started on Saturday morning when we departed Dublin on the early flight to Frankfurt. From the airport we travelled by train to Bad Wimpfen, where the MS Patria was moored. This authentic ship is extremely comfortable with a very pleasant and helpful crew of 12. The ship is modernized for Bike and Boat tours and has 34 cabins with en suite facilities. It has a large lounge with a drinks bar, dance floor and big panoramic windows. There is a separate restaurant on the lower deck. The sun deck is partially covered and has tables and chairs for all guests plus there is a bicycle bay to accommodate at least 70 cycles.

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When we arrived on board, we enjoyed a wine reception at the Welcome Meeting which was hosted by Godfrey, our tour guide. Each morning, Godfrey gave a 15 minute route briefing for the day in German and English with maps, directions and instructions of highlights to see, during the day. There were 68 guests on board, 63 attended the German speaking briefing and 5 of us were English speaking. The five included, the two of us from Butlerstown, Maria and Ole from Denmark and 82 year old, John, from Denver, Colorado, who flew over especially for the tour. The five of us sat at the dining table together for breakfast and dinner each day but we still had a good camaraderie with the other guests, as most of them spoke the English language in varying degrees. Godfrey cycled the route each day and we had his mobile phone number in case we needed assistance.

We set out Sunday and cycled approximately 40Kms each day. We enjoyed historic towns and cities, calm riverside cycling, villages with small alleyways, castles and fortresses in a historic laden part of Germany. Celebrated towns such as Worms, Heidelberg and Eberbach allowed us to glimpse into an eventful German past. Heidelberg must be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The Castle is its crowning jewel. Heidelberg was favoured by the Romantic poets, due to its enchanting location on the Neckar River amidst mountains, woods and sloping vineyards. It is home to Germany’s oldest university.

Heidelberg Castle

In Nierstein, we explored a vineyard, while sitting in a tractor wagon. After about 30 minutes travelling uphill through the vineyards, we arrived at a picnic area, overlooking the Rhine valley where we enjoyed an al fresco Cheese & Wine party followed by dinner in the winegrower’s hostelry.

The Rhine is a major commercial transport route and is one of the world’s great shipping arteries. As you are cycling along the cycle path you hear the hum of the enormous barges passing by. On Day 6 we boarded the ship at lunch time to cruise the most famous stretch of the river to Koblenz, known as the romantic Upper Middle Rhine. Forty castles and palaces line the gorge,  that the river has carved into the Rhenish Slate Mountains. We cruised through the narrowest point of the valley where the legendary Loreley Rock is situated and is one of the many scenic stretches along the way. We cruised for three hours, viewing spectacular scenery from the sun deck while sipping a local, Riesling and listening to Godfrey, giving a brief history of each of the forty castles we passed, that were nestled high up in the hills above us.

On this tour, we pedalled through picturesque villages and towns, through dense forests and woodlands. We past almond, cherry, fig and apple orchards, while cycling through fertile vineyards and we relished in a very mild Mediterranean-like climate. As well as delicious local cuisine, we tasted the wine which was made in the vineyards at either side of the valley. To compare this Bike and Boat tour to the Bike and Hotel tour we did last June, there is no comparison. The Bike and Boat tour wins hands down. In June, the group of about 30 cyclists met the two company representatives in the Venice hotel. We were given our bicycles, a contact number, a map and a book of directions between each couple and that was it. We had to navigate our way through the city of Venice, taking two water buses, up the Adriatic coast, through Slovenia and on to Porec in Croatia. Each evening when we would arrive in town, we would have to locate our hotel, which sometimes was a challenge. Our baggage was transported from hotel to hotel but if anyone decided not to cycle, they would have to get a taxi because there was not a train or bus service between all locations. We cycled busy roads and there were hills – big hills. Alternatively, the Bike and Boat tour allows you stay on board to cruise to the next location. Godfrey gives a detailed power point presentation of the tour route each morning, with written directions and map. The ship is your home for the week, the food on board is delicious, no packing and unpacking and you build up a relationship with the staff- your waiter knows your wine order each evening. There are no hills, actually no gradients of note – it’s just pleasurable cycling, in a pleasant climate with spectacular scenery, enjoying excellent cosmopolitan company.

Reporter Valerie Cosgrave joined us on our bike and barge tour Rhine and Neckar and wrote a report about her trip.

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If you have any questions about our offerings, mail or call us at +31 (0) 2072 35 400. We’re happy to help you choose which boating and biking vacation would suit you best. No obligations!


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