Basel, Switzerland borders Germany and France. After a scrumptious breakfast (oh la la the blueberry pancakes melted in our mouths), we boarded coaches and crossed the Swiss border into France.
We saw miles of transports waiting to board train cars as Switzerland only allows transports on their highways if they are delivery goods to the Switzerland market. If not the only way they can cross the country is by rail car.
This region of France has changed its nationality 6 times due to take-overs from different countries.
Today we visited a picturesque wine region visiting the romantic towns of Kaisersberg and Riquewhir. There was a choice of two excursions but my entire group picked the one visiting the wine-region. This wine-growing area consists of co-operative farming as 5 acres is the average size plot of land. Due to the small acreage production, grape growers usually have a second job. There are over 4000 grape growers in this region.
Our local guide from France shared a cooking tip with us – she slow cooks her sauerkraut in Riesling wine – need to give that a try. Most of the wine producers in this region are family owned businesses – Wolf Berger is one of the best quality ones.
Corn farmers are found in this fertile region too but their farms are larger – 100 acres and are subsidized by the government. The corn crops are irrigated as the summers are typically dry.
On our way to the wine region we passed a cemetery in Colmar, France and I was impressed by all the fall flowers that had been placed – beautiful.
The two wine region towns we visited this morning are very unique. For instance the bakeries in the first town featured delicacies like napoleons and cheesecakes. The second town specialized in macaroons, nugget (lasts for 6 months) and chocolate covered homemade marshmallows. There were also some linen, glass and knife (pocket and kitchen) shops.
The timber homes are beautiful in both towns and their flower boxes are filled with brightly coloured red geraniums.
We were back on board at 1pm in time for an exceptional lunch. Cuisine is an area where UniWorld definitely shines – that is one of the many reasons they are consistently voted as the best. I enjoyed the piccata turkey and paprika cabbage (paprika, salt and tomato sauce). There was a variety of freshly squeezed vegetable juices to choose from (I enjoyed the beet), salad leaves included “Wild” arugula (very dark coloured), hearty soup was corn chowder, warm bread pudding is the most popular dessert. There were so many choices to pick from….
After lunch we started to transit locks – I believe there are 8 to transit today. The ships upper level and wheelhouse have been lowered due to a couple low bridges that we will soon cross under.
This afternoon there was an overview presentation explaining all of the excursions that we can choose from. UniWorld is an all-inclusive product but they do offer a handful of options such as cooking classes that can only accommodate a handful of people and there is a minimal charge. I was anxious to attend the cooking class as it is taught by a chef who judges the German Masterchef Television show. Unfortunately there is not enough interest – I was the only one to sign up and they need 8 guests….
As usual wifi is included onboard but the connection isn’t the best in many areas.
Tonight my group looks impressive – its Formal night. The multi-course gala dinner prepared by the expert chefs onboard the UniWorld Antoinette was superb and the wine was free-flowing – jumbo shrimp, Arctic char, veal….
Sorry I couldn’t get this blog post off yesterday – we didn’t have wifi. Yes, today I am a year older…. spending my birthday once again on a UniWorld River Cruise is a wonderful thing – the only thing better would be if my family was here – we are docked again and look forward to visiting a new region in France.
Todays temperatures are predicted to be in the 70’s.
Last night before I went to bed I was watching CNN International and they were showing the current most beautiful places on Earth – they showed the orange coloured wine groves of France that we visited yesterday – how cool was that!