Cruising and Biking the Tauber Valley

As the Viking Lif pulled away from its mooring location at Wertheim, we didn’t have all hands on deck. A few of our fellow passengers had opted for a 16-mile cycling expedition along the Main River to Freudenberg, where the ship would pick them up some four hours later in the day.

Among those who opted for cycling were Wes and Diane Henderson who as we found out a few days into our cruise, live a mere 20 minutes away from us – just one more example of “its a small world after all” (now you’re going to have the song in your head for the rest of the day – he he he).

While they are both extremely active, Wes was hobbled with a painfully bad knee and actually underwent knee replacement surgery just a few short weeks after we returned home.  That didn’t stop him though, so “kudos to you Wes”, and here’s a couple of pictures of you along the shore as the Lif cruised passed the cyclists.

As our ship made its way west along the Main River, we passed a number of small towns and castle ruins – perhaps most notably the remains of Henneburg Castle at Stadtprozelten.

This was one of several estates belonging to the House of Henneberg, a prominent medieval German family which from the 11th century to the 16th century held large tracts of land throughout Franconia.

This castle was only 2 kilometres away from the border between East and West Germany during the Cold War years, and by 1990 it was found to be in serious decline due to forty+ years of damage caused by squatters and vandals. Since that time, conservationists and local interest groups have been repairing some of the damage, starting with the keep, and that is the reason for the scaffolding.

A little further along the river we once again caught up with our cycling passengers, and if you click on the button below, you’ll spot them sharing waves with us (the hand kind, not the water kind). I apologize for the shakiness of the video in spots.

The stretch of cycle-way that our fellow passengers were on was part of a 370-mile bike route that features a number of campgrounds and guesthouses along the way. The backdrop for the cyclists and for us was a range of low-wooded mountains, sloping vineyards, castle ruins, and quite a few small towns; many with less than 2,000 inhabitants.

Shortly before 5 PM, the Lif made a very brief stop at Freudenberg so our fellow passengers could rejoin us on board, and before long we were on our way again.

From Freudenberg we would be sailing right through the night and into the following morning. In fact, our next planned stop was at Braubach at 2pm the next day (Sunday July 14), so this was our longest stretch of time on the ship without a stop along the way.

On the colourful map below, I’ve circled Freudenberg in the bottom left corner; Frankfurt, whose airport we would see and pass by early the next morning; and finally Wiesbaden, where after breakfast on Sunday morning, most of the passengers would ascend to the upper deck to enjoy Program Director Leonard’s commentary as we cruised the Middle Rhine.

For the past few days, any locks that the Lif had encountered had either been negotiated overnight, dealt with during the day when passengers were engaged in various excursions, or……we had simply become numb to their presence.

About 45 minutes beyond Freudenberg, the Lif slowed to a snail-like glide as we approached the lock at Miltenberg. While the lock was nothing spectacular, especially given what we’d seen earlier in the trip, I took the opportunity to shoot a panoramic video of the lock, the marked change in the water level, and the surrounding countryside. You’ll get a really good sense of what I was referring to when I said that our backdrop for the afternoon’s cruising had featured a range of low-wooded mountains.

At 6:45, we made our way to the Lounge for Leonard’s nightly Port Talk to hear about tomorrow’s river cruising and our afternoon stop at Marksburg Castle. He was also most excited to tell us about the evening ahead – a German-themed dinner, followed by a “Hollywood meets Broadway quiz” back in the lounge at 9.

In my blog about Wertheim, I mentioned that Mary and I spent a considerable amount of time with the two Kay families, and at dinner on most nights (and on more than a few excursions), we were also joined by John and Marianne Michnowski. On this particular evening, as soon as Leonard was finished talking, we headed straight for the restaurant to make sure we could grab our favourite table for eight.

We can’t say enough about what a great job the onboard crew did during the entire cruise, and the restaurant staff were no exception.

I’m not sure whether we adopted him, or he adopted us, but our waiter on a nightly basis was a delightful young man named Christian, and I think he was almost as important to each evening’s dining festivities as the food itself.

On this evening, we asked Christian to take a picture of our dinner group, and he hilariously managed to get himself in the foreground of the selfie in a classic “Kilroy was here” pose.

The other waiter who was a constant presence for us along with Christian was a very nice man named “Ariel”, (seen in the picture with Christian below). Both Ariel and his wife worked on the Viking Lif – although as busy as they were, I’m not sure how much time they actually got to spend together. Such is life on the water.

Dinner was fantastic (as it was every night), and I think Mary and I must have lingered a bit too long in our room before heading back to the lounge for Leonard’s quiz. By the time we arrived, there was not a seat to be had, and the room was packed, so we decided to go and watch the event on the big-screen monitor in our room. Much to our delight, the winners were the Kay, Kay, Michnowski team, and you can see them below celebrating with their victor’s spoils.

Mary and I made plans to get up early, get breakfast out of the way, and stakeout a good spot on the upper deck for our morning Rhine-Cruise, and with that we put another wonderful day behind us and went to sleep.

We’ve been asked a lot by friends and family “what was cruising on the river like when we were just moving along and not “castle-spotting”, “lift-locking”, or in our case “bird-watching”?

I will leave you with this two minute video which I will simply call “serenity”, because in stretches like this one, I just sat or stood on deck and let the world go by.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Barbara Higgs says:

    We also found the time cruising just a wonderfully peaceful time. Nice to hear of the friendships formed and fun times on board. We had the same.


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