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River cruises for those who hate tours?


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Consider a barge cruise, which are operated all over Europe. Google "barge cruise europe." The barges stop at a lot of small villages and you are free to get off the barge and walk or bike (they carry bicycles) along the tow path or into neighboring villages. Our barge cruise in Burgundy featured an "excursion" with an exceptional local guide every afternoon, which no one would dare miss because we came to love Patrice after the very first day. The barges also transport anywhere from 6 to 22 passengers so you will never be in a big "crowd." Our barge carried 8 of us, and it was my husband's favorite vacation of all time.

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We've done a short Netherlands cruise, a Danube Budapest to Nurnberg cruise, and Paris to Prague cruise/land trip, with Lux City and Rhine/Moselle cruise and small German towns in between. All 3 were on Viking. We loved Paris to Prague most, as it gave a nice combination of big and little cities, and the Moselle scenery (vineyards and castles) was fantastic. The bigger cities may be less easy to "diy" as the ship may end up docking a ways from the center city, but still doable. In Vienna, we docked a ways away from most tourist attractions, but could walk to the metro and take it a few stops in to see what we wanted to see.


In some of the towns on the tours, I got a little impatient, as I really love to wander and photograph, and (sorry if I offend) don't need as much history and detail as the local guides were often very willing to share. However, in those cases, I just wandered off on my own and made it back to the ship on my own, which was mostly pretty easy. I would usually but not always tell the Viking program director what I was doing, although it wasn't required.


The Netherlands and Germany have some great smaller towns to explore.

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