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Romance of the Rhine & Mosel Rivers

Grand Circle Travel

July 18 - August 6, 2007

My trip to Brussels, Belgium began with the usual flight to Washington,

Dulles Airport from Binghamton.  Unfortunately, my flight to Brussels

was held on the runway at Dulles due to a backup problem with flights going to JFK.   

After a wait on the plane of almost 2 hours we were allowed

to take off for Europe.  The good part about this wait was that we arrived at

Brussels airport over two hours after our originally scheduled

arrival time.  That allowed us to be moved in to our rooms

promptly when we arrived at our hotel, Sofitel Bruges. 

It is a very nice hotel and it will be my home in Bruges for the next 5 days. 

The hotel is built within the walls of a 17th century monastery.

We are conveniently located near one of the large squares that

are found throughout Bruges.  Thursday and Friday were spent

in walking tours and general sightseeing. 

The red building in the background is the city concert hall and visitors

center located on the Zand Square.  The square was just a short 2 block

walk from my hotel.  The fountain in the center of the square

represents various aspects of Bruges life style.

Standing by some of the statues found in the square fountain.

One of the old buildings in Bruges.  Note the date of 1579

on the top part of the front wall.  Since I had over two  days to

tour Bruges, I am going to post photos of interesting sights

in the city in a random fashion.  It is a beautiful and interesting

city which I would recommend to anyone to visit.

You can tour the city by carriage or bus.

Bruges has many miles of canals around the city.  We had

a chance for a canal boat ride.  It was a fun excursion.

Belgium is noted for its 600 plus beers.  Above is a store devoted to

the sales of these local beers.  It is aptly named the Beer Temple.

A small park dedicated to the Canadian soldiers who

liberated this area during World War II.

In spite of a morning thunder storm, as we toured the flowers

around the city were in full bloom.

A typical cafe located on Market Square.

The Stadhuis (Town Hall).  The town hall in the gothic style

built in 1376 and is the oldest in Flanders.  The first meeting

of the Government was held in the Town Hall in 1464.

A typical souvenir shop on Market Square.

The Old Recorder's House.

This statue by Michelangelo entitled "Our Lady and Infant" is located in

the Church of Our Lady.  This the only Michelangelo sculpture is the

in Belgium.  This church was built over the 13th,14th, 15th,

and 16th centuries.  The church's brick tower is 122 meters high

and can be seen from all over Bruges.

A view of the flying buttresses at the back of the Church of Our Lady.

A shrine in the courtyard of a local church

near our hotel.  Note the stone grotto.

Its Independence Day in Belgium.   They are celebrating their break

away from Holland.  Above is the local band as it marches into

the square in from to the Town Hall.  Local dignitaries are in

 attendance.  They are seated to the right of the band. 

Local war veteran's carried in various flags

from Belgium's earlier battles.

After lunch we had a bus tour that started at Flanders

Field American Cemetery. 

While not as massive as the cemetery at Normandy

it is a very solemn site representing the soldiers 

who gave their supreme sacrifice in World War I. 

It is the smallest and only American World War I

cemetery in Belgium.

The cemetery has  a very interesting history, above is

The Memorial Chapel which is at the center of the cemetery.  

Above the Chapel door is engraved, "GREET THEM EVER

WITH GRATEFUL HEARTS" to remind visitors that those who

buried here died for their freedom.  The troops

buried here are mainly from 27th and 30th Divisions. 

There are the remains of 368`military and support personnel. 

There are graves for 21 unknowns, who could not be identified.

The graves were marked with either a Latin Cross or Stars of David. 

These same shapes of memorials are still used

today in Military Cemeteries.

A last look at Flanders Field American Cemetery

at Waregem, Belgium.

Oudenaarde, Belgium Town Hall (Stadhuis).  The Town Hall

has a museum of a dozen large restored tapestries

on display.  We also visited the tapestry repair

workshops located in a mansion

close to the Scheldt river.

Saint Walburga Church on the square in Oudenaarde.

Church of Our-Lady-Of-Pamele on the right bank

of the Scheldt river in Oudenaarde.

On one of the side streets of Oudenaarde was a construction

project to build a new apartment building with the original

building's front side being maintained as the

front of the new  building. 

A last look at a beautiful floral arrangement in Oudenaarde.

This ends a very nice day of touring around the

countryside near Bruges

.

It's Sunday afternoon, and we are off on a visit to the Fields of

Flanders to discover more about World War I.  Above is the Town Hall

of Yepres or Eiper, Belgium.  Located in the building is the Flanders Field

Museum.  It has very graphic images of the battle for this small

section during the war.  This building was destroyed completely

during the battle and was rebuilt after the war.

A model depicting trench warfare.  These trenches had lots of water

in them making them very uncomfortable to exist in. 

A model showing how areas were dug out under the trenches.  These

dugouts were used for planning, storage and communicating

about war progress.

Actual pieces of wooden frame used in the trenches. 

The "U" shaped brace was designed to allow water to

pass under the cat walks shown in the photo.  They

easily were rotted because they were in

the water all the time.

Our next tour stop was at Essex Farm Cemetery.  One of many

British cemeteries located in Flanders Fields.  This cemetery was

in use from 1925 - 1918.  This is the site where Dr. John McCrea wrote

his famous poem "In Flanders Field" about the poppy's of Flanders

Field while sitting in one of the many bombproof dugouts.

This poem inspired the use of the poppy as an enduring

symbol of remembrance to this day.  Dr McCrae died with

the rank of Lieutenant in January 1928 and

is buried at Wimereux, France.

The grave markers of three soldiers who lost their lives the

same day, February 25th, 1916.

This grave marker honors a soldier who was 15 years

old when he lost his life on Flanders Fields.

The grave marker of a Jewish soldier who died at age 22 in the battle.

Next we had a brief stop at the site of Yorkshire Trenches and Dugouts. 

Today the dugouts were blocked off as they were constantly full of water. 

Dugouts required constant pumping out to make it possible to use

them in support of the battles.  The dugouts were pumped out by

hand pumps.  The above trench is one of several that

remain open for visitors.  The bags are full of cement.

A gun port that was built into the trench wall.  When this

site was excavated most of the bodies found had bullet

wounds in their heads.   Historians theorize that the trench

was not dug deep enough.

This is a French Army memorial to their soldiers who died in the

first Germany poison gas attack of the war.

Our next stop of the afternoon tour was at the Deutcher

Soldatenfriedhof Cemetery.  This cemetery is the burial place

for the cadets and student volunteers of the German nation

who fought and died in the Fields of Flanders.  The cemetery

had a distinct darkness to it.  The stones with soldiers

names engraved were dark colored.  In the case the

of most wars victors get to use white marble for their grave

markers.  This cemetery had graves for

many unknown German soldiers. 

The German government commissioned artists to create statues

 for their cemeteries.  This one also adds to the darkness

feeling in the cemetery.  Note the poppy wreaths

at the feet of the statue.

Our last stop of the afternoon was at the British Tyne Cot Cemetery

which is the largest Commonwealth military cemetery on the

European continent.  There are several thousand British soldiers

buried at this site.  The image of so many grave markers

is breath taking when you first see the cemetery. 

The graves of two German soldiers buried at Tyne Cot. 

There were many instances of burials of enemy soldiers in

cemeteries on both sides in the war.

The flowers at the cemetery were in full bloom and

added to the solemnest of the cemeteries.

After a delicious dinner at a local restaurant in Ypres or Eiper,

we went to Menin Gate for the Last Post Ceremony. 

The names of nearly 55.000 missing service men are

engraved on the panels of this memorial gate

.

Each evening since 1923 there has been a Last Post Ceremony

conducted at  the gate.  Above photo shows the color guard who

post the colors during the ceremony.

Students from England's St. Lawrence School placed a wreath

at the gate.  There were several wreaths placed at the time of our

visit to the gate. 

Buglers from the city Fire Brigade play a musical tribute to the

fallen soldiers as part of  the Last Post Ceremony.  It was a very

moving tribute with several hundred citizens attending. 

A beautiful evening scene near the gate,  This ended our

pre-trip extension.  Tomorrow is our day to board the M/S

River Melody and the beginning of our two week sail to

Basel, Switzerland.  The pre-trip extension was

excellent and Bruges is a neat city to visit.

 

Monday morning dawned rainy and gray.  We left Bruges by

bus at 9 am headed for the city of Ghent about an hour away. 

When arriving at downtown Ghent, I was disappointed

by the street scene that opened before me.  

Monday was the last day of Ghent's summer festival. 

Pictured above is a view of the festival tents that were set up

throughout the city.  The major product being sold seemed to

be Belgium's many beers.  Note the canal boats tied up in this photo. 

Concert venues were also spread throughout the city. 

We were told that up 2 million people come to

the city for the 10 day festival.  

Stand up urinals like these were place around the city festival areas. 

The related urinal odor was present almost everywhere we walked.

Graffiti was a major challenge for the city fathers so they elected

to set aside certain alleys and walkways for these displays. 

Above is one of the more striking pieces of graffiti art. 

What do you do on a rainy morning?  Sit on one of the stage

venues where concerts are held during the festival.

Gravensteen.  The "Castle of the Counts" which was a

strong hold that was built by Count Baldwin I.

St. Niklaaskerk.  The first "Church of the Saint Nicolas" was

built around the middle of the 11th century.

A canal boat being used to collect floating trash in the cities canals.

Bron der Gehnielden.  Located in the "Burgemeester Braun"

square you find the above group of statues " Spring

of the Bereaved", by the Ghent sculptor Georges Minne.

A government building in downtown Ghent.  It was too bad that

the steady rain spoiled picture taking opportunities while visiting Ghent. 

It seemed to be a city with many interesting sites

and places to be explored.

 

We were bussed to the harbor at Antwerp to board our river cruiser.

M/S River Melody docked at Antwerp on the Schelde River. 

Antwerp is the second busiest harbor in Europe.   Many river

boats pass our river cruiser night and day.

Our Tuesday morning started with the safety briefing and port talk. 

At 11:am we began our Antwerp city walking tour in a rain shower. 

Above is the entrance to the "Steen" castle. 

I am standing next to the statue " Lang Wapper",  the National

Maritime Museum  is located in the castle shown in the rear of

the photo.  The statue is the Teasermof Thye Antwerpenaars. 

On the grounds of the castle is a large display of boats that

sailed on the Schelde River.  There were many large river boats

that carried bulk cargo on display.

Across the street from the castle was the Meat Guild House.  It now

houses the Museum of Applied Arts and Archeology.

Carriage rides were available on the Grote Markt.

The center of the Grote Markt was the Town Hall  This flag bedecked

building was most impressive.  The statue in the bubbling fountain on the

left tells the legend of the giant Antigon, who chopped off the

hands of sailors refusing to pay their tolls.

Ornate buildings on the Grote Markt.  There were many

cafes and stores on the Markt.

A statue to Rubens.

Groenplaats with the statue of P.P. Rubens and the Cathedral.  

 We had a free afternoon in Antwerp before sailing away at

4:30 pm.  I had lunch in town and did some more sightseeing

before returning to the River Melody.

As we sailed away from Antwerp, we first met this sea going

container ship.  It made the M/S River Melody look small. 

River traffic  was picking up as we sailed along into the sunset.

Wednesday, July 25th found our cruise stopping Willemstad.

Netherlands, where part of our group toured this quaint village

while the about 50 of the tour group traveled by bus

to Delta Works.  Above is the reception building for this

extensive system of  dikes, dams and additional

construction to tame the North Sea in the

southwest of the Netherlands.  

This is the controls building that controls the system of barriers

that control tide surges that flood this part of the Netherlands. 

This the actual control room inside one of the

movable storm flood barriers. 

One of the structures that support the movable towers

of the storm flood barrier.  The towers are moved downward

into the sea openings when a tide surge exceeds 9 feet. 

This system is designed to prevent tidal surges that killed

over 1800 people on February 1st, 1953.  The damage

as a result of this surge was extremely devastating with

vast amounts of property damage.

Another view of one of the surge protecting system. 

Note the large rip rock pieces used to prevent erosion.

I am standing on the walkway that leads to one of the

hydraulic towers that lift and control the surge barrier.

A view of part of the Delta Works.  This is part of the Schelde-Rhine

connection between Antwerp and Rotterdam.  The towers are

different heights due to the depth they have to reach in

order to control the water surge.  To date the Delta Works

has been activated 23 times.

After our tour of the Delta Works we bussed to Kinderdijk, Netherlands

to visit 19 sturdy mid-eighteenth century windmills.  These windmills

originally were used to help move water from  low lying

areas to canals that helped to drain the nearby farm lands. 

A photo of the structure of the fins of the windmill.  This wind mill is

being renovated a the present time.  Can you find the

workman in the picture?

This is the wheel used to move the windmill

blades around to capture the breeze.

The intake opening that allows the water to be lifted up to the

higher canal.  A steel water wheel picks up the water from below

 

the wind mill and delivers it to the higher canal.

As you can see these wind mills were very large and since 1997

are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A last look at these magnificent wind mills that all date from the mid 1700's.

Note the tilt of the middle house in this photo.  It is settling to the left in this

photo do to the poor earth conditions and drainage problems

under the building.  We discovered this house as we walked to

the Wind Mill restoration workshop near the wind mills.

The twentieth century way to move water up hill.  This facility was located

near the windmills and can move many times more water that

their 1700'th century counterpart.  The screw like devices can turn at a

rapid pace to lift the water from a lower level to a higher canal.

The River Melody docked at Düsseldorf.

Near the first stop of our walking tour of downtown Düsseldorf

were these four ladies each representing a different form of the arts. 

The statues were rescued after the city was

bombs as part of World War II.

One of the rebuilt buildings in downtown Düsseldorf.

The original stream where the settlement of

Düsseldorf was started.

Basilika St. Lambertus, a Jesuit church in 

downtown Düsseldorf

.

One of the oldest buildings in Düsseldorf. 

Dated 1288 on the front wall.

Little boys playing in the water in a public fountain. 

Note the boys that make up the statue.

King Wilhelm, the first ruler of Düsseldorf.   Note that one of the local

residents is sleeping a night of celebration off in front of the statue.

Friday, July 27th found our river cruiser docked at Bonn. 

Above is the main University building.

Academic Museum of Art

Minster Basilica with Cloister.  A nine hundred year old

basilica that was built on a Roman burial ground.

A statue of Beethoven dominates the square

in front of the Old Town Hall. 

The Bonn Old Town Hall.  Built between 1737 and 1738

under rule of Elector Clemens August.  There was a

celebration being held at the hall this morning.

Beethoven's birthplace.

 

After lunch we had a tour to The Augustusburg Palace in Bruhl. 

Augustusburg was the favorite residence of the elector and archbishop of

Cologne, Clemens August of Wittlebach (1700-1761).  This rococo

masterpiece is one of the most significant buildings of its kind in Germany.

The Palace's Baroque Gardens were created from1728 onwards by the

Dominique Girard according to the French tradition.  The Palace and it's

grounds are on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List.

After dinner we continued to sail up the Rhine river.  We came to

Remagen a little after 8:30 pm.  This is the site of a famous World

War II battle over the bridge that crossed the Rhine. 

 I am pictured in front of the west bank bridge tower. 

The towers on the east bank of the Rhine river.  Both American

and German flags fly over the towers.  The famous World War II

movie the "Bridge at Remagen" immortalized the battle for this bridge.

A almost full moon rose over the Rhine river.  It was the end

to a very enjoyable day of sightseeing along the Rhine river.

Overnight we have sailed into the Mosel river and docked at Cochem. 

It was raining lightly as we left our river cruiser for our morning

tour of the Imperial Castle and the town.  In terms of setting, few towns

anywhere in German can compete with Cochem,  which snuggles so

prettily on the north bank of the Mosel beneath picturesque

craggy hillsides flanking the meandering Mosel river.  Above is a

picture of the Imperial Castle that was the residence of the

royal Stauffen family from 1151 to 1924, before it was loaned to the

Archbishop of Truer. 

The entrance way into the castle.  There were many interesting rooms in the

castle with many pieces of Renaissance and Baroque furniture on display.

Our castle tour guide explaining about the history of the

castle and its various owners.

A photos taken from  the Imperial Castle (Reichsburg), the Mosel

river is in the background.  You can just make out the our river

cruiser River Melody just before the river bridge in the background. 

Waiting to enter a Mosel river lock. 

One of several we will traverse.

Castles looked down on our river cruiser from on high.

We sailed by many quaint river towns on out way to our next port of call.

We sailed by this home made river craft.

A typical vineyard along the Mosel river.  Note the white water pipe

snaking its way from the bottom of the vineyard to the top.

Above is the tractor and cart that travel up the white water pipe

in the previous photo to make it possible to tend the vineyard.

We passed the ruins of an old church along the river.

This is a photo of the close fit our river cruiser had

in one of the locks as we sailed up river!

After an overnight sail we arrived at Bernkastel with a morning

shower underway.  Our morning was spent taking a town walking

tour.  It was Sunday and very few shops were open.  Several of

our group were able to find a church where they could attend services. 

Above is the Landshut Castle built in 1277.  It greeted us upon

our arrival.   Unfortunately, the castle was burnt down in

1692 and has remained a ruin ever since. 

One of the city gates that protected the town in days of yore.

The bear fountain in the downtown area of Bernkastel.

Note the small house in the back of this photo.  It tips some

and has a small foot print on the street.  This was one

way to avoid taxes in olden times.

This is my tour group entering a local wine shop for a early Sunday

morning wine tasting.  The vineyards for the winery can be seen on

the hillside above the shop.

We sailed for our next port of call at 1:00 pm.  The sun came

out and it was a good afternoon to sail on the Mosel.

As we sailed along the Mosel river we passed the Lorelei Rock of

the Mosel.  Not as impressive as the Lorelei on the Rhine river.

A small riverside vineyard.  It seems to be hanging on the shore

almost ready to fall in the river.

A heart shaped vineyard on the river bank across from a Mosel river town.

Passing through a lock.  Our river cruiser captain is checking

to be sure we fit into the lock without striking the lock sides.

We arrived early in the morning of the 30th at Trier, Germany.  The had the

traditional city tour right after breakfast.  Our tour was led by local guides

who were sometimes difficult to hear and follow.  Above was our first tour stop, 

the Imperial Baths. The building of these palatial Kaiserthermen  was another ambitious

project within the enormous building program of the Romans during the first half

of the 4th century.  The baths in Trier were larger than any ever built outside of

the city of Rome itself.  Slave labor did the construction

and labor of running the baths.

Some of the passageways that lead to the underground

areas of the baths.

I am pictured with our super Program Director Marieka Essenhuff

who kept our group of tourists on track as we traveled along. 

The Porta Nigra or city gate which is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. 

This is the largest surviving Roman City gate worldwide.

 

This is the outward side view of the Porta Nigra.   Travelers entered the city

through this entrance.  It is a truly huge structure

over 96ft high and 120 ft wide.

The American embassy (just joking!) located in Trier, McDonald's. 

I did not dine at Mickey D's!

The Trier Cathedral.  A truly huge building.  It is Germany's oldest

diocesan church.  For over 1700 years the faithful have gathered

here to worship God, hear the good news and above all,

to gather strength in the Eucharist celebration

Christ's Last Supper.

The courtyard of the Cathedral.

An ornate fountain in Market Square.

Imperial Throne Room, Basilika, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. 

This is the largest single room from antiquity, the west wall and apse are

almost completely original.  Today it serves as a protestant church.

The Electoral Palace.  This building is adjacent to the Imperial Throne Room.

The Electoral Palace gardens.

After a great lunch at a local restaurant, I returned to the River Melody

that was docked in front of the Roman Bridge another UNESCO site . 

We sailed away from Trier at 10:30 pm heading

back down the Mosel river.  

Tuesday, July 31st, dawned cool and with fog having settled in over the

river cruiser River Melody at Traben-Trarbach.  We disembark

the river cruiser for an early excursion to Luxembourg. 

it is jacket weather as we board our tour busses.

Our first stop is at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. 

The cemetery is situated on a glade of which is 50.5 acres in size. 

It is one of fourteen permanent World War II cemeteries on foreign soil. 

This site was liberated by the 5th Armored Division on 10 September 1944. 

It became a temporary military burial ground on 29 December 1944.

The cemetery Chapel is made of white Valor stone from

the Jura mountains of France.  It rises 500 feet above its podium.

One of the grave areas in the cemetery that contain the remains

of 5,076 American military dead, including a woman Army Nurse,

who lost their lives in the service of their country.  These honored

dead came from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

There are 101 headstones mark the graves of the "Unknowns"

whose remains could not be positively identified. 

Also honored at the cemetery is the burial site

 of General George Patton, Jr,  he died in an automobile

accident after the war and asked that he be

buried with his men.

Old glory flew high during our visit to the cemetery.  On the pylons near

the chapel were displayed two large maps of the battle operations that occurred

during the battles of the Bulge.  Behind each of the pylons were

stone tablets with the names of the Missing in the action in the region.

After our stop at the American Military Cemetery, we had a brief

stop at Sandweiler cemetery for German Soldiers.  The above photo is of

the gateway leading to them burial grounds.  During the heavy fighting in the

winter and spring of 1945 along the Luxembourg-Belgium and Luxembourg-Germany

frontiers the American Burial Service recovered the bodies

of their own as well as German victims of the war. 

When the U.S. Army Burial Service had completed its work the German

cemetery totaled 5,599 graves.  Some are shown in the above photo. 

Note the dark stone crosses.  Additional German soldiers were buried later bring

the total of 10,913 German soldiers buried at Sandweiler, of

that number are 4,829 of these in a large comrades grave.

A typical grave marker at Sandweiler cemetery, note that one soldier was

listed as unknown and the other had his name engraved on the stone. 

There were four names to each head stone in this cemetery.

After the cemetery stops, we bussed on to the City of Luxembourg. 

We stopped at the Monument du Souvenir which takes the form of a

12 meter-high pyramid.  This obelisk is crowned with the "Gelle Fra" ( Golden Woman)

statue of the Goddess of Victory.  The monument was erected in memory

of the soldiers who fell in the wars fought by Luxembourg.

On our walking tour we stopped at the present Cathedral which was

originally a Jesuit Collegiate Church.  The church is a magnificent example

of flamboyant Gothic style.

The Grand-Ducal palace is an architectural and historical monument. 

It was built in `1572-1573 on the orders of Pierre Ernest de Mansfeld

Governor of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg.  It is only used

for state functions currently.

Place Guillaume is dominated by the statue of William II on horseback. 

William was King of the Low Countries, the Grand Duke of

Luxembourg and founder of the Grand Duchy.

This statue of Grand Duchess Charlotte (1896-1985) was unveiled in 1990, 

the Duchess was one of the  most important personages

in Luxembourg's recent history.

The Hotel du Ville (Town Hall) was built in 1838 in the neo-classical style.

A fountain designed by the native of Luxembourg sculptor Will Lofty

in the city's shopping center.  It is entitled, "marche des moutons"

("march of the sheep") and was cast in bronze in 1982.

Luxembourg is a beautiful, vibrant city.  Our short stay did not allow

time for an in depth exploration of the city's many charms. 

I hope to visit it again.  We returned to our river cruiser at

Traben-Trarbach for dinner and then set sail at 10 pm

for the Rhine River and the town of Boppard.

Wednesday, August 1st, found our tour group traveling by

bus to Marksburg Castle.  We are docked at the river port of Boppard. 

It is one of those picturesque river towns found along the Rhine river. 

This castle is one of the most spectacular castle's along the Rhine river. 

Surrounded by vineyards in the 13th century town of Braubach. 

This hilltop castle main claim to fame is that it has

never been It has never been destroyed,

thanks to several layers of counts and landgraves.

One of the entrances to Marksburg Castle.

On the way back to the ship, we had a stop at Maximilian's Brauwiesen

where we sampled both a light and dark beers,

sausages and big German pretzels. 

The River Melody set sail for up river town of Speyer at 4:00 pm. 

We will be sailing along one of the most beautiful parts

of the river for the next several hours. 

The Church of St. Severin with its twin towers dates back to the 13th century

and is essentially Romanesque in style.  It is easily

seen from the river as we sail away.

Liebenstein Castle. 

One of many picturesque churches found in the

towns along the Rhine river.

Maus (Deuernburg) Castle.  This castle is under private

ownership and visitors are not permitted.

Katz Castle.

The famous statue of the beautiful young maiden, Lorelei who sits

on a rock combing her golden hair and singing a haunting melody.

This is on the river side just before the Lorelei rock on the rivers edge. 

The Lorelei rock acquired world-wide fame in the 19th century

thanks to Heinrich Heine's romantic poem Song of the Lorelei. 

The Lorelei Rock located a few miles upstream from Boppard close

to the town of St. Goar.   This jutting cliff is 399 feet above the Rhine river at a

point where the river is both narrow and shallow, so that it has

always been a problem for river navigation.

Shonburg Castle.  The town of Oberwesel in the fore ground.

Shonburg Castle.

Gutenfels Castle.

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle.  Near Kaub on the rock cliff in the

middle of the river, and resembling a ship made of stone, stands the

old toll castle, which can be reached only by ferry. 

Nollig Castle.

Sooneck Castle.

It is almost dinner time and the River Melody has sailed up river for over

three hours and we have seen many beautiful castles and river towns

with their distinctive churches.   Sailing up river today has really brought

out the pure pleasure of this type of cruising. 

 

After sailing overnight we arrived at Speyer, Germany

at 7:00 am.  We will be docked here most of the

day with a traditional city tour scheduled in the morning.

Part of the Speyer ancient city wall, "Heathens Tower". 

Imperial Cathedral

Bishop's Residence.

Town Hall, built in 1712-1726.

Church of the Holy Trinity built in 1701-1717.

"Old Mint", erected in 1749 as the town's trade hall.

We sailed from Speyer at 5:00 pm heading up river. 

We arrived at Greffern during the night.  Our tour schedule called 

for us to begin our trip through the Black Forest to Baden-Baden. 

It was a very colorful drive in spite of foggy, rainy weather. 

When our bus arrived in Baden Baden we were greeted to a beautiful

fountain in a park near the city center.  This famous spa town  is located

in the narrow Oos Valley in the foothills of the Black Forest. 

The natural hot-water springs were discovered by the Romans. 

The entrance to the thermal baths which are the hottest in Germany. 

You can enjoy the wonders of the springs by bathing in them.  Some

people drink the spa waters.  Generally it is stated that the baths

are more beneficial than drinking the water.  I sampled the

water it did not taste too bad.

The Kurhaus, Germany's oldest (1838) and most famous casinos. 

The building is very ornate inside and a fee is charged to gamble there. 

There are  over 600 millionaires living in Baden-Baden

The casino band shell where daily band concerts are

held during the summer season.

Standing near a fountain in downtown Baden-Baden.  It is quite the

bustling shopping center. 

After our visit to Baden-Baden we were bussed to the Rhine river

where cruiser is docked at Strasbourg, France.  We

have an afternoon tour with a boat ride scheduled

for the late afternoon.

After a stroll through downtown Strasbourg, we arrived at the tour boat

dock where we had a sightseeing boat trip that was over an hour long. 

Unfortunately, our tour boat had a plastic roof so our

ability to take photos was severely limited.

Our river tour boat.

On our way to the boat dock we passed the restaurant,

Maison Kammerzell, which is considered to be

the finest half-timber house in the

Alsace region of France. 

Strasbourg's Cathedral of Our Lady.  This photo was taken

from the south elevation of the Cathedral.   The Cathedral is

hemmed in by medieval network of urban fabric, the Cathedral

is Strasbourg's symbolic monument.  Because of its downtown

location it was very difficult to get photos of the

high spires of the Cathedral. 

The entrance to Strasbourg's most notable building the famous

Gothic Cathedral of our Lady.  The east end

of the Cathedral was built in the 12th century.

Pictured above is the Cathedral's 16th century astronomical clock. 

It is a favorite with the many crowds who gather to

enjoy its midday performance.

To the south of the Cathedral, is the Palais Rohan was built as a palace for

Cardinal Rohan in 1704. Today the palace building houses several museums,

including the Museum of Archeology, City Art Gallery

and Museum of Arts and Crafts.

The Chamber of Commerce (1852), with Gutenberg's  statue

by David d'Angers, 1840 in front.

Located to the north of Strasbourg. the European quarter has established

itself on the confluence of the waters of the Ill river and the Marne-Rhin canal. 

The first building constructed, the Palais de l'Europe, houses the Council of Europe,

an institution created in 1949.  Along the canal also tower other parliament buildings.

The architecture of the Human Rights Building  (creation of the Commission and Court in 1950)

are established on the opposite bank of the canal in 1995.  The establishment of these European

government bodies has made Strasbourg an international capitol.

We sailed away from Strasbourg at 7:00 pm. 

We arrived in Basel, Switzerland to a bright and clear sunrise over the Rhine River. 

It is the last day of our tour and it does not seem possible that 14 days have rushed past.

We disembarked our river cruiser after a lecture about

Basel by a local guide.  We walked to a near by tram station where we used

our new passed to ride the tram to the Marktplatz. 

 

 We started our walking tour at this point. 

A former Franciscan Church that has become the City History Museum.

Basel has over 170 fountains of drinking water

around the city where one can refresh themselves.

The whole city is dominated by  the lovely Munster Cathedral. 

The church has a long embracing the Romanesque and Gothic styles.

The Cathedral's clusters.

Open-air art dominates the city.  The Tinguely  fountain is directly

opposite the Basel Theatre.  The artist Jean Tinguely used scrap

metal and pieces of everyday junk to create bizarre contraptions

like these seem in this water fountain.

Our tour group making it s way down one of the many

narrow walkways found throughout the city.

Basel's City Hall.  Probably the most colorful city hall I have ever seen. 

The City Hall was built in the 16th century to reflect the civic pride of the city's citizens. 

The ornate facade is embellished with shields, painted figures and  golden spire,

and the courtyard has interesting  frescos.  This was the end of our walking tour,

the afternoon was free time to explore more or begin to pack for the trip home.

 

It was a terrific river cruise, new cities were visited, historic sites

were explored and river cruising continued to be the best  way to visit

foreign countries.  For me new friend ships were made with travelers from

all over the U.S.A. It was fun getting to know Dan & Sylvia,

Penny & Richard, Barb & Bob, Pat & Rod, Bryon & Ethel, Paul & Mary,

Minnie & Terry, Pat & Tom and last but not least Mary from New Jersey.