Booking a 2013 Christmas Market River Cruise: It’s Not Too Late

For anyone who’s been considering a holiday market cruise this season, it would be very, very smart to make your booking a.s.a.p. Yes, there is still availability on all the principal river cruise lines, but not necessarily on every sailing or in every cabin category. According to my online friend, Cindy Martin-Rolsky of CruiseMastersTravel, river cruising is a hot-and-getting-hotter market … [Read more...]

The Magic of Germany at Christmas: 10 Unforgettable Christmas Market Vacations

I decided to write The Magic of Germany at Christmas: 10 Unforgettable Christmas Market Vacations to help Christmas travelers to Germany navigate their way around the country and make smart planning choices so they don’t wind up feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by choosing a trip that’s either too ambitious or downright impractical. The aim for any vacation—but especially in Germany during … [Read more...]

Heidelberg: Christmas in Germany’s oldest university town

Thanks to the wonderful resources of the German National Tourist Board, as well as the many local German tourist boards, I’ve always been able to include at least one gorgeous and arresting photograph in all my posts. Today’s is so inspiring, I'll step out of the way briefly and let the picture deliver the message: “You want to know what’s special about Heidelberg? Look at this!” Now the … [Read more...]

Mainz: Christmas in Gutenberg’s City

I’m pretty sure I would never have visited Mainz were it not for my Rhine cruise. I knew the name but, honestly, that was about it. Our visit to the city was really a guided shore excursion. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised at what an attractive place it was, with its mixture of half-timbered dwellings and grander baroque edifices—just what an American visitor wants to find in … [Read more...]

Rüdesheim on the Rhine’s Christmas Market of the Nations

Rüdesheim is a small (population under 10,000) town on the banks of the Rhine in the middle of Germany's wine-producing Rheingau region, which is noted for its Rieslings and Pinot Noirs. Its other claim to fame is tourism, since Rüdesheim is also very "picturesque". The town's best-known thoroughfare, a narrow alley called the Drosselgasse, is lined with festive taverns and it’s here that cruise … [Read more...]

Cologne: Christmas at the Cathedral

My Rhine cruise started in Cologne and my time in the city was brief indeed, though the overall impression was positive. Pretty much all I knew about the destination was that it had a renowned gothic cathedral, so that’s where I headed. According to one source, it’s the most visited building in Germany. Cologne Cathedral has quite a distinguished and, in some ways, surprising history. Those … [Read more...]

Cruising the romantic Rhine

My first trip to Germany was not until 1992. By then I’d lived in England, studied in France, worked in Italy and spent time in Austria, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, and Czechoslovakia (as it then was)--nearly all of Germany’s neighbors, but not the country itself. You can probably guess the reason: grim recent history. For most of my life, any associations I had about Germany in the … [Read more...]

Choosing and booking a German Christmas market cruise

In the past couple of years the popularity of European river cruising has been growing exponentially and holiday market cruises are among those with the greatest demand. I'm updating this post in mid-October 2012 and, believe it or not, there are few cabins left to be had for this season. In fact, if you’re contemplating a cruise in 2013, now would be a good time to start planning. First of … [Read more...]

After the Christmas market cruise: rediscovering Munich

Nuremberg was the final stop on Viking Pride’s Danube itinerary. We disembarked in the morning and then caught a train to Munich—a journey of under two hours—where we planned to prolong our Christmas escapade for a couple more days before flying home. My friend had never been to Munich, so I got to choose our hotel. I didn’t hesitate for a minute and picked the Bayerischer Hof again. It’s … [Read more...]

Nuremberg: the Christmas market and the old town

We finally arrived in Nuremberg’s old town in the early afternoon and headed straight for the Christkindlesmarkt in the Hauptmarkt, the main market square, which was filled from one side to the other with rows of wooden stalls with identical red-and-white-striped canvas roofs. Because of the aforementioned throngs, we spent less time in the market than anticipated. After all, we had a week’s … [Read more...]