MANY Antipodeans may well have families who originate from Europe and one of the best ways of exploring the continent, especially if you don’t have too much time to spend on your travels, is to take a river cruise.
This fantastic country has to be seen to be believed. From its cuisine and art to its literature and splendid scenery France is a traveller’s dream. When visiting France on a cruise ship, it may well be a good idea to research some of the places you will be visiting in order to get the most from your trip.
The historic South of France is famous for its balmy climate, its unique sense of style and its beauty. A voyage along the rivers Rhone and Saone takes you right through the heart of the region. Lyons is famous for its gastronomy and a trip to any local brasserie will introduce you to a wide range of charcuterie and other delights.
The city is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a wander past the majestic cathedral of St Jean and through the ancient ‘Old Town’ will show you why. On your voyage on the Rhone you’ll be able to marvel at the ancient city of Arles, famous for its Roman amphitheatre and currently used for theatrical productions.
Avignon, home to the famous bridge in the children’s song, is in the very heart of Provence. Look out for the lavender fields en route to the city, and admire the curious bright light of the whole region that so inspired the Impressionist painters. You’ll come away from this tour in love with the country of France and a greater understanding of European culture.
Russia and the Ukraine
Until the 1990s, Ukraine was part of the old USSR but has regained its independence and is open for business. The ancient River Dnieper will take you right to the heart of the Ukraine and you’ll be able to explore Kiev, the country’s capital.
The Vikings originally used this route to establish their trading routes in this part of the world. Ukraine is also home to the Cossacks and a stop at Zaporozhye, one of their historical bases, to the south of Kiev is where you’ll be able to learn more about these astounding horsemen.
Any cruises through Russia and Ukraine are going to be full of adventure, especially those in Russia. The country is huge, its rivers are wide, its monasteries are beautiful and the vision of the painted domes in Moscow’s Red square is truly awe-inspiring.
Any trip that takes you along the River Volga will take you right to the very heart of Mother Russia. Both Yaroslav and Uglich are famous for their architecture and the brightly coloured onion domes on their churches. The monastery of St Elijah the prophet is famous for its icons and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Russian food is very tasty; you must try some borsch accompanied by a cheering glass of vodka.