Travel Memories: Sailing the Rhine River
Written by: Guest on April 17, 2020
Recently, we asked the KHM Travel Team to share their favorite travel memories. We hope sharing these memories will help us all remember why travel matters and inspire us to look forward to our future adventures.
By Bri Greathouse, KHM Travel Group’s Operations Manager
In August 2018, I had the opportunity to travel along the Rhine River in Europe on a Viking River Cruise. I won this trip and called it a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” an opportunity I wanted to share with my dad.
I’m a good mix of both my parents, but the part of me that is extroverted and has a sense of adventure comes from my dad. Growing up, we never went on family vacations because my siblings and I played sports, and there wasn’t time or the funds to do it. This vacation was our chance at adventure together, and we were both excited.
Dad and I started our journey in Amsterdam, which we now both consider our favorite city on Earth. Amsterdam welcomed us with rich history, incredible food, kind people, and a laid-back atmosphere. After our two days in this city, we climbed aboard our Viking River ship where the crew knew the names of all 200 guests!
First, we stopped in Kinderdijk, the Netherlands where we saw windmills, learned about the brilliance in engineering, and life of a family who lived there. Then, we stopped in Cologne, Koblenz, and Speyer, Germany. In these cities, we saw incredible architecture of churches and castles. Local taught us their history. We ate great food and interacted with shop owners who spoke our language, and even as tourists just trying to breathe it all in, were given smiles.
We traveled on to Strasbourg, France where we spent the day sitting in the shade of a 100-year-old tree that soldiers sat under during WWII. Our guide told us stories of the region on the border of Germany and France. She painted a picture of battles over the land, of brother forced to fight against brother, and told us they had learned from their history to create a better future.
Towards the end of our journey we traveled to Colmar, France and the Black Forest, Germany. We spent a fairy tale day in the little French town that inspired “Beauty and the Beast.” We walked through the Black Forest thinking of the Brothers Grimm and witnessed friends we had met on the first day of the cruise get engaged.
At every turn we learned about individuals that are different from us, yet very much the same. We learned the kindness of strangers, the history of countries centuries longer than our own. I touched every building I could, just thinking about how many before me had stood there and touched that spot. I leaned up against a building originally built by Romans and gazed upon a German church that took over 600 years to build. It filled me with a timeline of history that I’ve never experienced before. I found myself somehow connected to a people who died long before me. If you take a moment to pause and breathe in those moments, to respect a world so outside of your own, I truly believe a soulful connection to humanity will happen.
We spent our days with the same 200 people touring together, eating meals together, and comparing notes from different tour guides. Along with the ship’s staff, we became a little family for those eight days. I could tell so many stories of the people we met who enriched this experience. I was reminded again that we aren’t all so different. We sang in the streets of Germany together. We sat outside as we sailed past over thirty castles under the only little rain cloud in the sky on an otherwise sunny day. And we drank and laughed, and spoke as old friends.
When we ended our adventure in Basel, Switzerland and said our goodbyes to new friends, my dad and I took a little walk up the Rhine River and talked about everything we’d experienced. It was a vacation that turned out to be so much more. This trip was life-altering and a reminder to treat people the way we were treated in foreign countries. To respect one another, try to speak someone else’s language, value their history and where they’ve come from, and learn from it too. Our trip was absolutely a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, but I plan to go back down the Rhine River one day.
We’d love to hear some of your travel memories or what travel means to you! Tag KHM Travel Group in your social media posts or leave us a comment below.