The (Viking) Art of River Cruising in Cochem
Wednesday April 12, 2017
This, surely, must be the best thing in the world. The weather is pleasant and warm, but not too hot. Skies are blue and sunny. The sound of birds chirping in the trees is like the soundtrack to a Walt Disney movie; so thick and layered that it almost sounds unnatural. And at every turn, storybook German villages are gliding by, each one looking more quaint and atmospheric than the last.
It’s not a fantasy – it’s Day 5 of our river cruise aboard Viking River Cruises Viking Hild.
The fifth day overall on our 12-day Paris to the Swiss Alps river cruise tour has seen guests aboard the 190-passenger Viking Hild treated to a relaxing morning of scenic river cruising along the gorgeous Moselle River.
At 0700, we left the port of Bernkastel-Kues for Beilstein, where we would disembark for our afternoon tour of Cochem, Germany. That left six hours of scenic river cruising to be enjoyed, and most guests took the opportunity to sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast.
Breakfast was served in The Restaurant from 0730 until 1000, and was an enjoyable and leisurely meal. With the Restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows running the length of the room on both sides of the ship, you’ll never be disconnected from the scenery. There’s something truly relaxing about sipping that first cup of coffee while the German countryside glides by like a storybook.
Afterwards, I took myself up onto the Sun Deck once again to enjoy the great weather and the sights and sounds of the Moselle. That’s when I noticed the Disney-esque chirping of the birds; so crisp and clear that it sounds like something out of Snow White. It’s not: it’s merely springtime in Europe, and Viking gives you a front-row seat.
I also took the time to browse through Viking’s onboard Library, on the starboard aft side of the Atrium on Deck 3. Unlike other cruise ship libraries, with their hodgepodge of disconnected and poorly-selected titles, the library on each Viking Longship is an incredible wonderland of destination-appropriate fiction, nonfiction, and reference books. I settled on a book about Russia’s famous love machine, Rasputin. Bizarre, otherworldly, and damn near impossible to kill, Rasputin shaped not just Russian history, but the history of much of turn-of-the-century Europe.
However, I didn’t get to read about his crackpot exploits – the passing scenery was once again too good to pass up. I found myself watching in awe as we passed under low bridges, sailed next to villages of all shapes and sizes, and waved to campers that line the banks of the Moselle, their white camper vans glistening in the early morning sun.
In fact, the narrow width of the Moselle and its abundant vineyards, towns, railroads and highways has made the scenic cruising even more interesting than on the Danube and the Rhine – both of which are pretty darn interesting. It’s almost like canal cruising, with very little space between each riverbank in some instances. This is the first time I’ve sailed the Moselle, and I think it might be my favourite European river. All I know is I am already planning a return trip to this great place.
After lunch, we arrived in Cochem (pronounced coh-hem), and set out for a wine tasting and a walking tour of the medieval town centre and the famous Reichsburg Castle.
I’ve done a lot of wine tastings in my time, and I thought nothing could be better than some of the experiences I had with Viking in 2014 in Bordeaux on the line’s Chateaux, Rivers and Wine itinerary. But this wine tasting at Schlagkamp-Desoye took the cake.
Our host, Andreas, introduced himself to us and proceeded to lead us on a tasting of three different family products: a Riesling prosecco (which is just known as ‘secco’ in Germany); a so-called “Classic Riesling”; and something called Roter Weinbergpfirsch Likor – roughly translated as red little peach liqueur.