By Linda Johansen


A small group of friends and I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Europe that started in Amsterdam and ended in Switzerland.

We cruised with 140 other passengers aboard the beautiful Amadeus Silver, owned and operated by Lueftner Cruises, for seven glorious nights.

Strasbourg is a provincial capital of France that blends centuries of Roman, French, German and Alsatian influence together.

The ship’s crew, of many nationalities, served our every whim. The meals were delicious and the views from the sun deck were stunning, especially along the area between Koblenz and Rudesheim, Germany. This area is referred to as the Romantic Rhine and has the greatest concentration of castles, monuments and medieval villages along the river.

We toured Amsterdam and its centuries-old canals, enjoying the charming cafes and famous 16th century row houses, as well as exploring Cologne, Germany, and the city’s Old Town with its narrow cobbled streets and magnificent cathedrals.

Along the Moselle River we visited the village of Cochem and Reichsburg Castle, which is set on a precipitous rock high above the village.

The next day we had another walking tour of the village of Rudesheim, which is over 2,000 years old. It was badly damaged during World War II and later rebuilt.

We toured Heidelberg, which is one of the most romantic cities in Germany because of its picturesque riverside location, beautiful old bridges and the 16th century Heidelberg Castle. This is one of the best examples of German Renaissance architecture, which again had been destroyed by the French and is left in ruins that are still magnificent.

We also enjoyed Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities, with the Old Gate and the Jewish Baths.

Near the end of our cruise we visited Strasbourg, a provincial capital of France that blends centuries of Roman, French, German and Alsatian influence together. We visited the old quarter “Petite France” and the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

On our last day we disembarked in Basel, Switzerland, and traveled to the Alsace wine region and the beautiful town of Colmar. As we made our way to our final destination in Zurich, we stopped at a German resort town called Titisee in the Black Forest. There we saw a glass blowing demonstration and got an explanation on how cuckoo clocks are made before enjoying our last dinner, complete with delicious Black Forest Cake.

After a 12-hour flight on Swiss Air to LAX we were met by our shuttle and transferred home to our beloved Solvang and Santa Ynez Valley. It doesn’t matter how many amazing countries that I visit, there is no place like home.

I donate all my commissions for these trips to local nonprofit organizations. There will be a video orientation for the next trip, “Discover the Maritimes Coastal Wonders” (from June 17-27, 2019) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Bethania Lutheran Church.

To RSVP for that orientation, call me at 805-686-1644.