A Day in Miltenberg with Avalon Waterways

Beautiful Miltenberg, Germany. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, September 16, 2017

It feels more like December outside than September. I’ve taken a few fall European river cruises before, and I can’t recall one where the weather was as cold as this. Our temperature this morning was a sweltering 5°C, complimented with the thickest pea-soup fog this side of the Grand Banks.

Pea Soup: thick fog envelops Avalon Expression on the Rhine this morning. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Still, the unseasonably-cold weather gave Avalon WaterwaysAvalon Expression an even cozier feeling during our morning of scenic cruising the Main River en-route to the town of Miltenberg, Germany. The Germans have a word for this: gemütlichkeit, a feeling of friendliness and coziness, for which there is no direct English translation. But Avalon Expression has plenty of it this morning.

I managed to go up on deck to watch the long, arduous lock process, which I’m calling “riverboats in the mist.” Locks have been providing access to these waterways for centuries, and the same process – heavily reliant on gravity and water – continues to allow both pleasure cruise traffic and cargo traffic to transit the rivers and elevations of Europe.

Riverboats in the mist. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

To my surprise as I finished a light lunch in the ship’s lounge (a larger spread is also served daily in the main Restaurant on Deck 2), the sun came out and temperatures began to warm dramatically. It couldn’t have come at a better time, either: we were scheduled to participate in a 2.5-hour hike up to the Mildenburg castle, from which some pretty spectacular views of the city of Miltenberg can be had.

Now, this isn’t a heavy hike or anything super-active; if you can walk a couple of kilometres over cobblestones and up a gentle incline to the Castle, you’ll be completely fine. But you should be mobile, and those with knee or back problems might not want to participate due to the uneven terrain, which is a bit tricky coming downhill.

By the afternoon, the fog had lifted…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…for our arrival into Miltenberg. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Avalon Expression looking resplendent in Miltenberg. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The hike, however, is well worth your time. On the way from the ship (docked next to one of Miltenberg’s most popular tourist attractions, the ESSO gas station), you’ll pass the whimsical Hotel Zum Riesen, considered to be one of the oldest hotels in Germany dating back to 1411. I had a beer in the courtyard here back in 2015, and would have been quite happy to have done so again today, but our hike would have continued without me.

After our hike up to the castle, we were rewarded back in the town center with samplings of locally-produced black-currant schnapps, which went down all too easily. To help it on its merry way, we indulged in a variety of local sausages, including some superb blood sausage which, despite its name, is rather tasty and pairs well with the schnapps and the requisite bread that’s typical of this charcuterie-type snack.

Miltenberg and the Hotel Zum Riesen. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

We enjoyed an active hike through the town…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and up to the Mildenburg Castle. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The view from the Mildenberg Castle is spectacular. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Back in town, we walk past an old-time chauffeur…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…before enjoying a sampling of local schnapps and meats. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our local guide explains the history of Miltenberg to us. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Heading back onboard the beautiful…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…Avalon Expression. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Back onboard, I dined in Avalon’s alternative dining option tonight. During the evening hours, part of the Panorama Lounge is taken over to create the Panorama Bistro: a small-bite tasting menu set within the forward half of the ship’s Panorama Lounge.

This venue seats a maximum of 24 guests at tables for four and focuses on multi-course tasting menus that progress from appetizers to desserts. The set menu is unique to the Panorama Bistro; you won’t find these offerings on the regular dining room menu.

Tonight, we dined in the Panorama Bistro…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…carved out of the forward half of the ship’s main lounge. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

A menu of small-bite delights awaited…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and did not disappoint. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Although the menu is set, allergies and dietary restrictions can still be catered to; nuts were removed from dishes that had them to accommodate my nut allergy, which was greatly appreciated. I never expect a dish to be modified and am happy to skip it; Avalon’s chefs were keen to either remove the nuts, or, if that proved to not be an option, provide me with an alternate, nut-free course.

This complimentary dining experience can be enjoyed by simply making reservations at the Guest Relations desk onboard. I’d highly recommend it. With 180-degree views of the rivers ahead, this intimate culinary tour is one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve had on any river cruise.

The only issue is this: you’ll want to dine here every night.

A nightcap in the Lounge is the perfect end to an evening aboard Avalon Expression. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from onboard Avalon Waterways’ Avalon Expression continues tomorrow with our visit and Active Discovery hike in Wurzburg! Follow along with our latest cruise adventures on Twitter: @deckchairblog.

Avalon's Magnificent Europe - Amsterdam to Nuremberg

September 12, 2017Amsterdam, NetherlandsEmbark Avalon Expressionin Amsterdam
September 13Amsterdam, NetherlandsCulinary Walking tour in Amsterdam's Jordaan district; Dutch Painting Class
September 14Cologne, GermanyCologne Off the Beaten Path
September 15Rudesheim, GermanyHiking and Wine Tasting
September 16Miltenberg, GermanyHiking and local flavours excursion
September 17Wurzburg, GermanyHike to Marienberg Fortress
September 18Bamberg, GermanyCity cycling tour & Rauchbier tasting
September 19, 2017Nuremberg, GermanyDisembark Avalon Expression

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