Neckar River day cruise

By Robert Meyerhof
This item appears on page 33 of the November 2013 issue.

My daughter, Gina, and I were in Heidelberg, Germany, on April 24, 2011 (Easter Sunday). It was a glorious day and we decided to take a cruise upriver to Neckarsteinach.

From the river, a view of the Old Bridge and castle in Heidelberg. Photo by Robert Meyerhof

From April 16 to Oct. 16, boats of the Weisse Flotte, or White Fleet (Neckarstaden 25, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany; phone 06221 20181, fax 20211), leave every hour, in both directions, from below the Old Bridge. The round-trip fare from Heidelberg to Neckarstaden was 11.50 (near $15.50). We bought our tickets at a kiosk right at the landing.

We left, punctually, of course, at 10 a.m. One of the nice features all these little excursion boats have in common is they always serve some snacks and have a full bar. Some of the passengers already had their first beer of the day — no sissy morning coffee for them! — and I thought it best to follow their example.

The trip, roughly 12 miles, took about one hour. The river Neckar, once polluted, is now clean and fishable again, thanks to strict environmental rules.  

Neckarsteinach is a pretty little town dominated by four small castles, two in ruins, two still inhabited. A “5-minute walk” will get you to one of them, but I passed. Instead, we sat down under some blooming chestnut trees at a picturesque beer garden overlooking the river. 

This was during Spargelzeit (white asparagus season) in Germany and the whole country was busily engaged in a Spargel-eating frenzy. Every growing region says its asparagus is the best. Naturally, I ordered some and so did Gina.

In the weeks to come, I had Spargel with drawn butter, hollandaise, schnitzel or with cooked or raw ham (my favorite), and even raw Spargel salad. Finally, I gave up; I was Spargeled out, so to speak. 

Your cruise ticket permits you to return on any boat, and so we did later that day.   


Los Angeles, CA