12th entry and almost there!!
Today we have just left the Rhine River … now on the Moselle. We are docked in a city named Koblenz. It is a large city and we walked around the shopping district this morning when we arrived, and then back to the ship for lunch. The skies opened up in the last 15 minutes and the rains have started. Thunder and lightning … it is wonderful!! I guess it means no more shopping here today!! <smile>
This morning was a touring time, up early (on deck by 7 am) with cappucino, coffee, or pot of tea, camera and passing through the castle country at the confluence of the Rhine River and where it joins the Moselle River. Castles high up on the cliffs, in the misty air this morning – very romantic and beautiful. Mysterious and intriguing. My imagination was running wild with stories of what was and what is … and the feelings attached to the spectacular views and vineyards.
Huge castles, high and old (now used for hotels and restaurants) – it is thrilling to be near them. The scenery is spectacular. Very steep cliffs, castles built out of and on the rock cliffs. Amazing. Long pathways along the mountain side where walls once were, leading up the high walls surrounding the castles, attached to towers. Majestic. Great views, I am sure, from the castles – up and down the river, around the bend.
We went around to the left and made a sharp turn, into the docking point along the city walls of Koblenz. It was not far to walk into the main shopping area of the city – the sun was out mid morning when we left, and stayed out until we came back for lunch (a bit late, but they fed us anyway!!).
I am now sitting in my room, towel animal (an elephant today, with sun glasses on) beside me on the desk and a small duckling in the bathroom made of a washcloth … pretty soon we won’t be able to shower as all the towels will be in use!! <smile>. Curtains open to the view of the river and some old buildings of the city.
Yesterday we had two stops … I can barely remember as the days are now starting to flow into each other … much like the rivers. Some great towns and it would be fun to come back one day …. to try to remember and experience a few of the towns again. Mostly there was destruction after and during the war. In some cases by the allies at the end of the war, in some cases by the towns themselves in their own strategy. Some towns still have preserved some very very old buildings.
In the city of Mainz on the Main (pronounced Mine) River we had a guided tour – there was a Friday market in the center square. Ninety percent of the city was bombed after the second world war – leaving a huge church …. and a few homes around the church. I took pictures. The most significant sight in Mainz in my opinion was St Stephen church, although smaller than the one that was saved during the war, and built since …. has all blue stain glass windows. The church had approached the artist Marc Chegall to do the windows, he lives in Paris and was in his 80’s when they asked him. He said no as he was Jewish and swore never to return to Germany. Eventually he agreed, and although he kept his word to never return to Germany, he did the beautiful windows for this church … completely in blue as a symbol of forgiveness!! I was so moved by the story and then sat in the church … which has a beautiful blue hazy glow inside as all the windows are the same blue … with pictures throughout in the glass.
We saw a museum, also yesterday, of mechanical musical instruments (in the city of Rudesheim)!! Not something I would ever enter otherwise – but it was delightful and the home it was in was several hundred years old (I think 1515 or something like that!??. The young woman who toured us around, her father repairs the instruments, her grandfather purchased and found the instruments. Several generations in the family business. It was delightful to hear the music, but especially for the family connection. The ceiling in one of the rooms had original paintings on the walls …. hundreds of years old.
We stopped in a weingarten (like a beer garden, but wine is the main beverage) later and I had a bottle of water .. but there was live music … and the entertainer was dressed in laderhosen … kind of fun – more pictures <smile>.
We stayed in the town of Rudesheim over night … (we left there at 7 am this morning). During the afternoon, we took a long tram from the centre of town up over the vineyards (breathtaking view of the valley, the vineyards and the river) and to a monument (das Niederwald-Denkmal) in the memory of the end of the German-French war of 1871. The foundation of the monument was laid in September 1877. The sandstone is from a town we had been to, also on the river Main. At the top of this huge monument is “Germania”, a female figure symbolizing the unification of all German tribes. In the middle of the monument (to give you a sense of size) are nearly 200 life size sculptures of people. You can see it all down the Rhine valley. Truly unforgettable.
There have been a few towns on this tour that have been enchanting .. delightful and would be wonderful to return to. Miltenberg (in Franconia region, Bavaria state, country of Germany) is one …. quaint town, with the oldest Inn in Germany. It is also on the river Main. We went inside and sat in the lobby area and marveled at the ceilings and structure. It had been very famous and a wealthy town in years between 1400 to 1600 due to the trade along the river. The town charged much for taxes from the shipping of goods (wine, sandstone etc) but also from ships taking goods up and down the river to sell in other towns and so that is how it made its wealth. It claims to have been a regular stop of Frederick I, famous Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (this area has recorded history back to 9th and early 10th centuries).
The other romantic road town (Rothenburg) we went to a few days ago by coach and I think I wrote about it already. Almost completely in tact from mid-evil times. Quite amazing. The cobblestone walk ways and streets, the very hold half timber building homes …. famous and familiar sights all over Germany! It was a totally enchanting town!
Tomorrow is our last day on ship. I can hardly believe that a week ago I was shopping in Nuremberg!! Has it really been that long?? We are busy each day, with touring or sitting up on the deck drinking tea. Of course, like every cruise – eating is another thing that takes up much time!! <grin> The evenings include a quiet lounge and a little small scale entertainer. Sometimes it is the fellow who plays instruments and sings along, one night he did a disco evening with his lap top music, one day he played the accordian as they served beer and pretzels on the top deck. One evening a glass blower came aboard and was very entertaining. Last night we were early to bed as we wanted to be up to see the sights along the river this morning from 7 am to 10:30 or so.
Mostly we sit and talk, have a bit of wine left over from supper and drink a few pots of herbal tea. My new friend and roommate (Elwyn) is a singer and so we often burst into song (it must be very difficult for her as I hardly ever am on key <grin>). Two of the other travel agents and us hang out together and eat together, shop together etc. It is great fun. We hope to travel again together one day (one from Duncan, one from Toronto and us). We laugh a lot!! We talk to the other folks on board, many from Australia (this is an Australian cruise company). More tomorrow!!!!