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November 23, 1996


Gently Down the Rhine, 3, Fast Facts

Zelda Pande

How to do it and what it costs: An eight hour steamer ride from Koln to Mainz is free on your Eurail Pass or German Rail Pass and will set non-pass holders back by 39 marks for a round trip. A Eurail Pass gets you a discount for a hydrofoil ride and I paid 45 marks, with a pass for the journey between Koln and Mainz. Students are half price and seniors half price on Mondays and Saturdays.

The KD Line does not operate between October 23 through March. The summer departure timings are slightly different so call the KD Line's Koln office at (0211) 2583011.

When to go: Shoot for a day in late spring. German summers can be quite hot. But on the other hand you can be caught unwares and could catch, by fluke, a cold summer day, the weather being rather variable.

How to get there: Cruises originate from Koln, Bonn, Mainz or Koblenz and all of these places are easily accessible by train which nearly arrive hourly from other major German destinations. Mainz is a tad bit out of the way, but since it is located very close to Frankfurt and there are trains running every half our between these two cities, head for Frankfurt and then change. Additionally it is possible to board a KD Lines vessel or cruise boat at most of the 40 Rhine landings, however you would need to make some enquiries at both the tourist office and the KD Lines office as to how to accomplish that. It is in all likelihood possible to break a Rhine cruise midway and walk about or stay over at any of those lovely little towns, so check up with the KD Line ticketing agent beforehand. But beware the clerks and agents are not the most politest or patient of characters; a little German may come in handy for better service.

What to wear: Carry a sweater at least, if you are going by hydrofoil, even if it is a warm summer day, if you wish to sit on the outside deck. A windbreaker may come in handy too because of the spray.

Where to eat: The steamers offer sumptuous choices of meals, wine and liquor served in traditional German style. The hydrofoils do not have much by the way of sustenance and you are welcome to carry a few snacks with you. At Koblenz it is possible to find some wonderful places to eat around the Alstadt or near the station. Try Restaurant-Café Dubrovnik, near the station for some economical meals. In Koln the pedestrian streets of Hohe Strabe and Schildergasse near the Dom is populated by plenty of restaurants.