Focus On Cruising

Exploring the Wonderful World of Cruise Ships

The Unexpected

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Viking River Cruises recently announced a sale on most of their river cruises worldwide. 2 for 1 cruise fares, up to 2 for 1 airfare, and complimentary wine are being offered on Europe, Russia/Ukraine, China, and Egypt sailings.

I’ve never taken a river cruise, but I can see the appeal. Compared to a typical land tour, the pace is slower, the experience is more in depth, the chance to savor, observe and absorb is greater. The passengers visit a different town, city, or important historic/archaeological/religious site almost every day, and yet never feel rushed. Friends and acquaintances who have taken river cruises rave about them.

The closest I’ve come to the experience was a day trip on the Rhine. While visiting Cologne years back, we decided to take a morning train to Koblenz, board a steamer, and head back to Cologne. The weather was glorious, the sky a perfect blue, the sun bright but gentle, the pace languorous. Sitting in our deck chairs, we watched a succession of picturesque towns float by. Rounding a bend in the river, a curious truncated stone column came into view, rising out of the water. Sailing a bit further, a similar column appeared on the opposite side of the river. Finally, the sign identifying the town was visible – Remagen. We were looking at the remains of the bridge at Remagen! An everyday sight of no particular importance, perhaps, to those who lived in the vicinity, but to this offspring of the generation that witnessed its fall, it was a surprise encounter with history.

For me, the encounter with the unexpected, the unanticipated, is one of the great things about travel. Planning is absolutely essential to seeing what a destination has to offer. Being open to whatever lies around the bend, or around the corner,however (I turned a corner once in London and almost collided with Boy George, but that’s another story), is what makes travel so wondrous and exciting.

Since my encounter with the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen, the columns have been torn down. The mayor of the city had pieces encased in synthetic resin, packaged with a certificate of authenticity, and sold for a tidy sum.