HEIDELBERG GERMANY

 

Heidelberg stole my heart last week from the moment our driver took us up the winding road to Heidelberg Castle. Everywhere my eyes took me I saw something charming from the hundreds of flowers and flower boxes in the windows to the beautiful mountainous landscape. It has both charm and character between the Old Bridge and the mighty Heidelberg Castle. I have seen many picturesque settings in my travel career but Heidelberg and the view from the castle took my breath away. Literally transporting me back to the middle ages, I wanted to be a princess awaiting my knights safe return from battle. That was very corny but so very true! It is truly a fairy tale. The town is a very active university town nestled between the Neckar River and the foothills of the Odenwald Forest.

The Heidelberg Castle dates back to before the year 1212 and has en extensive and very interesting history.  When you are up on the hill over looking the town, truly you are transported back in time.  A few hours visit here is not nearly enough and I look forward to returning to the castle again in the near future.  I definitely recommend studying the history before arrival. At first glance you will most certainly be in aw of the entire structure. 

There is an entrance fee into the grounds of the Heidelberg Castle (4 Euro).  You can also tour the inside of the castle rooms by booking a private tour well in advance.  You can stroll the beautiful gardens, study the massive architecture, see the Heidelberg Tun (World's Largest Wine Barrel built in 1751) and visit the Apothecary Museum.  You can also get married on the castle grounds which I find so incredibly romantic!

The town of Heidelberg is a great too! After a visit to the castle, head down to the Altstadt. The Altstadt is a wonderful combination of old and new buildings, narrow streets, market square, arts, history, shopping, eating and relaxing.  We meandered the shops for a bit and then headed to a few pubs to try out the delicious local beers.

We arrived in Heidelberg by way of a river cruise alone the Rhine.  We loved it so much here that we do see ourselves coming back for a visit and staying for a few days. 

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BASEL SWITZERLAND

Basel Switzerland 

Visitors to Switzerland usually don't spend much time in Basel, even though it is the country's third-largest city and has a lot to offer—particularly art. Basel is well known to river cruisers.  The port is famous for the start or the end of the most popular river cruise itinerary, The Rhine River.

Its location is its biggest asset. It's on the Rhine River where Switzerland, France and Germany meet, which makes Basel a the perfect choice for clients who want to explore the famous surrounding areas around Basel. Bern is only 60 miles north of Basel. You can easily get to the scenic areas of Jura, the Vosges in France and the famous and romantic Black Forest Germany.

The Rhine is at the heart of Basel, and much of the life of the city is centered on the river, from bathing stations to restaurants to international trade. The four ferries across the river, powered only by the river currents, are favorites with locals and tourists alike. The great Rhine swim, once a year, sees thousands take to the water to take advantage of the currents, and there is no better way to see the city than by taking one of the river cruises.

But Basel is also an eminently walkable city and is well signposted for pedestrians. Must-see spots include the old market place by the Rhine, the famous Tinguely Fountain and the impressive modern BIZ building designed by Mario Botta. Basel, like other central European towns, is particularly enchanting at Christmas, as the Christmas market with lots of seasonal activities takes over the historic streets for the whole of Advent.

 

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BUDAPEST

Budapest is full of UNESCO-listed monuments, architectural wonders, and lively markets. This city is a unique mix of modern and old. Budapest is the capital of Hungary. The city is dissected into two parts, separated by the famous 19th Century Chain Bridge. A very romantic city to stroll through, especially in the evening when the Chain Bridge and Parliament are illuminated Budapest is a major river cruise port. The city is so amazing with so many things to see, taste and experience, the river ships say in port over night so that passengers have plenty of time to explore. Certainly one of Fitzgerald Travel's favorite cities.

TOP 5 EXPERIENCES TO HAVE IN BUDAPEST

1. Budapest Parliament House

2. St. Stephen's Basilica

3. Great Budapest Market Hall

4. The Széchenyi Spa

5. State Opera House

My favorite time to visit Budapest is during the Christmas Market Season. The squares are decorated with beautiful lights, laser shows, Christmas trees and greenery. The air is filled amazing smells of Chestnuts roasting, Chimney cakes and other delicious Hungarian treats. Outside the holiday season, the best times to visit Budapest are March through May and September through November. That's when the weather is idyllic, and the city isn't overcrowded with tourists. However, the climate is always relatively mild, with temperatures rarely exceeding bearable levels. Getting around Budapest is very easy, Budapest has an excellent public transportation system from subways, buses and taxi services. Of course, the best way to get around and see it all is on a Hop On Hop Off bust tour! Every time we have been to Budapest, we have hired a private guide for a historical walking tour of it’s history, events and buildings. Budapest currency is not EURO, though the vendors and most shops will accept Euros, the official currency of Budapest is the Hungarian Forint. 

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