Rita Westerman, 11-time traveler & Vacation Ambassador, Westerville, Ohio
One of my interests has always been history—and the same was true of my husband, Curtis, who passed away in 2005. That’s one of the main reasons we have always chosen to travel with Grand Circle: the wonderful opportunities we have to discover all of the rich histories of so many countries around the world.
My husband and I have always loved to travel on Grand Circle’s River Cruises, but when I lost him in 2005, I was hesitant to continue traveling. However, my children encouraged me to go since I’ve always wanted to visit Germany and explore its historic gems.
Curtis and I always felt that large cruise ships really weren’t our cup of tea. When we went on our first River Cruise with Grand Circle, we realized how intimate and casual our experience aboard the ship was. The captain was always waving to us as we departed for our daily tours—and always greeted us upon our return. It was so nice and made us feel special. So I reserved my spot on Grand Circle’s Great Rivers of Europe trip and began my very first adventure since Curtis passed.
Rita takes a moment to enjoy the beautiful views of the gardens outside of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George.
When traveling to new places, I always try to visit as many different churches as I can: Catholic, Protestant, Lutheran, and more. I think it’s fascinating to learn about the differences in religion, architecture, and history between these countries and the United States. I was quite surprised as I entered St. Kilian Cathedral in Würzburg, Germany and was met by a gigantic menorah. I turned and immediately saw the large crucifix at the front of the altar. I thought, “How can a menorah and crucifix be in the same church?”
After speaking with one of the cathedral ushers, I learned that the menorah and crucifix signify the beginning and end of Jesus’s life. And although I thought this sight was odd at first, it made perfect sense to me after chatting with the helpful usher. What a discovery!
Rita, along with two of her fellow travelers, soaks up the sun on the upper deck of their ship.
I uncovered new and exciting treasures like this throughout my entire journey along the rivers of Europe—and I made sure I packed my days with as many opportunities as I could to find these hidden gems. My husband always said, “You have to go on all of the optional tours when you’re visiting a new place because you never know if you’ll be back.”
Heeding my late husband’s advice, I was sure to experience almost all of the optional tours on my Great Rivers of Europe trip.
And I took my husband’s advice one step further and pushed myself when other travelers in my group decided to take the easier road. When visiting Kelheim, my fellow travelers and I were given a tour of Liberation Hall. While most of the group opted to enter through the first level, I (along with another couple) chose to climb 266 steps to the top of the Hall—and what a view it was! I felt so proud that I was able to take that one extra step.
Rita heeds her husband’s advice and goes that extra mile by climbing 266 steps to the top of Liberation Hall.
When I returned to our river ship, I was presented with a Class A certificate for accomplishing such a noteworthy task. It was such a special moment for me.
After my trip on the Great Rivers of Europe, I’ve continued to carry on Curtis’s legacy and have explored the diverse histories of many other countries.
And, in keeping with tradition, I always try to experience every tour, unique adventure, and special moment each new destination presents to me.
Explore the rich history of Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and Belgium on our Great Rivers of Europe River Cruise.