Royal Crown cont.
However, the farmers – studying the latest dairy technology at research institutes around Europe – had to settle for the runners-up entertainment award despite their hilarious acting attempt on the ship’s stage. The daily ‘magical’ antics of Lucian - the Royal Crown’s maitre d’ and breakfast chef – brought tears of laughter as he showed off his skills – and some occasional spills - around the exquisite dining room. And he doesn’t even get paid for his after dinner troubles!
Despite all Romanian Lucian’s frolics, the Royal Crown’s wine and dining experience is in the top bracket and would be competitive with many international fine dining restaurants.
After just one night aboard I’m already captivated by the whisper-quiet vessel – and the mighty Rhine.
A cable car ride near the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers is the highlight at one of Germany’s oldest towns – Koblenz. It takes you high above to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress located on a site that has had fortifications on it since 1000BC.
While awash with historical sites, the mighty Rhine boasts a mythological tale or two - including the story dating back several centuries of Lorelei, the maiden whose statue sits on a rock at the narrowest and deepest point of the Rhine. Legend has it her beauty and velvet singing voice would cause sailors to wreck their ships as they sailed the dangerous currents along the river’s jagged shorelines.
Arguably, the most interesting stopover in Germany is the wine village of Rudesheim, where you’ll learn that 60 per cent of vino produced in the country is Riesling, much of it from terraced vineyards zigzagging up hills along the Rhine and its tributaries.
But if you’ve had too much wine at dinner the night before, a sobering hour will jog memories at Siegfrieds Mechanical Music Cabinet. It’s an ancient noble house - now a museum - where you can see and hear one of the largest German collections of 18th to 20th century self-playing musical instruments – all 350 of them - from the tiniest music box to the giant Concert-Piano-Orchestrion.
At first, Siegfried Wendel collected and restored mechanical musical instruments just for fun, but very soon his hobby developed into the first museum of its kind in Germany, which was opened in 1969.
The ancient city of Speyer boasts a modern museum located in a historically protected former aircraft assembly hall. Superlative exhibits at the Technology Museum include the top attraction, an original Soviet Buran space shuttle, together with Europe’s biggest space exhibition, a Boeing 747, a 46-metre long U-boat that you can walk through, as well as locomotives and, fire engines.
Dominated by its cathedral - one of the world’s most famous Romanesque monuments and a UNESCO Ruined Castles World Heritage Site - Speyer is the last of the German ports visited along the Rhine before the ship heads into France and the gorgeous city of Strasbourg with its awe-inspiring Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Construction of this pink sandstone masterpiece of Gothic art took more than four centuries – from 1015 to 1439 - and was once the highest building in Europe at 142 metres.
The capital of Alsace is simply charming with its cultural diversity, picturesque half-timbered houses and Renaissance buildings. Don’t miss the amazing Petite France district.
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