Friday, 13 March 2009

Hotel Ships on the Rhine

Like all great rivers of this world, the Rhine has an awesome majesty and a certain timeless quality to it that leaves an indelible impression when you first see it. The Rhine has always fascinated people and inspired artists and poets like no other river perhaps. Today, during its majestic 1320-kilometre journey through the heart of Western Europe, this river links people and cultures, unlike in the previous centuries when it chose to separate them.

Originating in the Swiss Alps, the Rhine becomes a major transport route by the time it reaches the Swiss industrial town of Basel. Flowing through the Alsace region of France, the river enters German territory, going past the cathedral cities of Speyer and Mainz, followed by the famous wine-growing regions and finally by the romantic Middle Rhine with its wonderful castles some of which have been converted to exclusive hotels now. After leaving the Slate Mountains, the river passes through such important German cities as Cologne, Dusseldorf, and Duisburg before it enters the Netherlands and joins the North Sea somewhere near Rotterdam.

Dusseldorf is a city known for its many trade fairs. Although the city has hundreds of hotels, ranging from luxury properties to relatively basic accommodation, availability of rooms can be a real problem during important trade-fairs. This is when hotel ships—ships which are normally used for Rhine cruises so popular with the tourists—are brought in to cope with the influx of business travellers.

Staying in such a hotel ship can be a very unique experience. The cabins are painfully small; while it can be cosy and romantic for a honeymooning couple, a twin-sharing arrangement with another office colleague can be testing within such cramped quarters. And if the cabins are small, the attached bathroom cum toilet can only be termed as tiny, something you squeezed yourself into, every morning.

But it was fun. The ships were always berthed close to the Altstadt, the nerve centre for the pulsating night-life of Dusseldorf and you were always close to all the nice bars and eating places. On those evenings when you did not want to go out, you could have a quiet beer at the ship’s spacious bar, have an early dinner, and go up to the top deck where you could spend hours, enjoying the cool evening breeze and watching the slow-moving river traffic.

And finally when you went down to your cabin and stretched yourself on the narrow but comfortable bed, the river gently rocked you to sleep.

Photo Courtesy:


Cynic in Wonderland said...

Testing to stay with colleagues in large empty places ..small cramped quarters sounds er..very painful.

I have a sneaking suspicion that your colleagues have been much better than mine. You always write of them with an indulgent fondness. Hmmmmm!

Maddy said...

hope that was enjoyable. some years back i did one from arlanda to was fun..

gauri said...

Lucky you! You know, I've chewed, squeezed and studied German history, culture, literature and geography to death. Quite an unfair ratio given the measly 2 days that I spent in D'land - in Stuttgart, at that.

Nice read....brought back memories - unfortunately of the classroom ;)


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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.