Saturday, December 21, 2013

361 Magnificant Cologne Germany

I got my days a bit mixed up but not hard to do on such a cruise as we experienced.  We did the Marksburg Castle conquering after we visited Cologne Germany...This was the 3rd day up the river Rhine not the Castle it was the 4th Stop.  Now that you know I am confused I will proceed to write about our Magnifcant visit to Cologne...Our first German city, and probably the largest maybe not sure.  But these towering bell towers of the Catholic Church here know as the DOM were the first and most pronounced thing we saw from the ship as we docked.  You could not miss them as the reach over 500 feet in the air.  What a church on the inside too seen to the left here. An engineering marvel considering the construction started centuries ago in the year 1248.

Prior to this the most beautiful church I have seen was the National Cathederal in Washington DC.  This one eclipsed that by far and many other churches on our trip did also...Is GOD pleased by these houses of worship?
Probably but at this point I don't know.  I think the cities and the people are bearing a real burden maintaining these huge gothic churches. They are obligated now to that maintenance as these churches bring tourist to see them...So if they allow them to fall down tourism will suffer so they are committed to perpetural maintenance on these works of man to honor his GOD...

The view below of the same church shows scaffolding attached to the side of the left tower.  They told us it goes on and on and never quits. They have to take out huge limestone blocks and cut new ones and put back in its place. I can not imagine the efforts this takes and the money that is spent to do so...The ornate work all over this church is just unbelievable, no wonder it was not completed until 1880. Susan and I loved seeing it and I will always remember the experience. 

We got to see a lot of other sights in Cologne like the huge triple railroad bridge seen in a picture below.  It carries over 1000 trains per day we were told.
During the war probably in about 1944 our bombers
put this baby into the river big time and shut down the trains.  It has been rebuilt exactly as it was.  We were careful not to destroy this big church though and that was probably a very wise move...We would have looked like ruthless folk had we leveled this and other churches in Germany.  A wise move by the allies.

The old picture seen below was probably taken about 1942 when the Nazi regime was riding high and the bombs had not taken their toll on Germany yet. Same church only 71 years ago.  A lot of these proud soldiers probably paid the ultimate price before the war ended.

In our walk around Cologne we ran onto a vender selling roasted chestnuts...Gosh they were good and really big ones too. I brought a few home unroasted and have them in the fridge now waiting till spring.  I will try and plant them, hopefully they will grow and someday produce these huge chestnuts that they said came from Italy.  I hope it works as they are at least triple the size of the ones I grow now.

Two other cities treated me to roasted chestnuts also I think in Slovakia and Austria.  I don't know why I like them so much but I do, some of my children have taken up the appetite for them also, some have not.

The last picture here at the bottom is Susan standing in front of the Nazi Headquarters in Cologne. It is a museum now but in the 1930's the Nazi's came to town and set up the machinery to win over the people.  They got the job done by getting into the school system and winning the children over to their militaristic ways.  Kids loved the programs it kind of replaced the boy scouts of that eara.  This was not a highlight of the day for sure, actually rather depressing to see how an evil moron like Hitler could win control of a great nation.  We had to look hard to find this place, I don't think anyone else from our ship went to this building.

But we wanted to see it and I am glad we did.  Susan was taken back with what she learned there also.  A dungeon of a jail was in the basement where they held and torchered  political prisoners who fought the Nazi takeover.

After this depressing visit we lightened things up and visited the Chocolate Museum.  Actually we were getting tired and fussy about that time of day and only got as far as the snack bar and the souvineer shop of the museum.  A huge peice of chocolate cake plus a chocolate mixed drink got us back feeling good about the day in Cologne.  After we left there is was raining pretty good we opened our umbrellas and proceeded to walk quite a spell back to the boat.  Maybe at least a couple miles and when we arrived at this great boat below we were happy to see it.

The lights were on inside the boat and we were ready to call it a day and relax.  Dinner and friends conversation was just maybe an hour away...We enjoyed these meals and the people every evening...Cologne was a nice town, lots to see that we did not but who knows someday maybe...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

#360......The Taking of Marksburg Castle early November 2013

Our boat bumps the pier and I open the curtain on our sliding glass door and all I see is this statue..I said Susan come look at this, this guy must have been famous...I can not tell you who he is maybe it's Mark, not sure but bet he was at one time a somebody here at Marksburg Germany our second or third day out on our cruise up the Rhine from Amsterdam.  We are deep into Germany now and today we are to explore an old castle.  Marksburg Castle to be exact and I guess built about the year 1200 give or take a few years.  It is said that it is the only Castle in Germany that was never taken by an enemy force in all of its years.  But in the gift shop before entering the castle I suited up Susan with proper attire so that we could indeed take this castle to call our own.  She went along with my nonsense and you can see the lady behind her thought we were probably coo coo birds...But it made for a great photo opp.

It is great fun to be in the presents of such a landmark as this huge
castle along the Rhine.  Just to admire the workmanship of these people of so many generations past and to imagine what it was like and how they accomplished such a feat so many many years ago.  These castles were always built high on a rocky hill as high as they could find along these rivers.  It gave them a beautiful breath taking view of the river, the valley below as well as provide a huge task for any foe that might want to take over the home and kill them.  These people had to have been strong physically to accomplish what they did and to resist those who would do them harm.  The picture right below here is of the entrance door to the mighty castle. As you can notice the walls were probably close to 3 feet thick and the rocky mountain provided a

great foundation for such a huge structure.  It would never settle or lien one way or the other in it's 800 years it is as it was then, strong and perfectly straight.
Inside were many gigantic rooms, kitchens dinning areas bed rooms and rooms for who know what maybe a room for just setting around the huge fireplaces and talking about the last time some butt heads tried to take the place over and were repelled.

Off to the left here now you can see what a monster of a castle it was.  I don't know that observation tower must have been a couple hundred feet in the
air providing them a long view of any boats friend or foe that may be coming up or down the river.

One room had men wearing the suits of armor that they used there down through the many years that they needed to have many soldiers there for protection.  All the way to they early guns that then replaced the need for the armor and those huge swords to just wack the hell out of each other...I can not imagine the grizzly massacures that took place in those years of old...  Back when men were really men and if you were not you were not very long.
Susan and I here enjoying the view after the tour before heading on back down the hill to the boat tied up down below.  We did take the castle it was ours or at least fun to pretend but then we thought it over and decided hey what are we gonna do with this big cold thing and the taxes will kill us so we gave it up and just decided to sail away and enjoy the scenery along the river the rest of the day. 

The view below is out our room on the river boat it was always something to see if not wineries on the hill sides it was towns along the way.

Now and then there would be nothing but rocky cliffs and trees with fall color to admire and that was good also.  Also to the right here is the classic German town trademark of the twin church towers with bells in both towers that would ring alternately.  Every town had a huge Catholic Church and many had beautiful Protestant Churches also...Many times we were told of the turmoil that went on in years past between the people of different faiths...I am so glad that era has passed and that we all now realize how stupid it all was and that both Protestant and Catholic believe in the One Lord Jesus Christ and that the non essential teachings are just that, pretty much non essential...Till next time a Merry Christmas to all will try and write again before New Years.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

#359.....My greatest Adventure....Nov 2013

My Greatest Adventure Nov. 2013

Where to start maybe with the beginning.  I have always wanted to visit Europe especially Germany and Holland where my ancestors came from according to my verbal lineage relayed to me through my growing up years. So my gal and I booked this summer a fall cruise on a Viking River Boat from Holland through Germany, Austria, Slovakia and ending in Hungary  Lots of excitement as the time approached for our trip.  And pictured above is the first sight seeing we saw of the water pumping wind mills in Holland...these windmills for hundreds of years pumped water out of Holland so they could use the land that actually belonged to the ocean...yes they live below sealevel...kind of nuts my mom's side of the families ancestors.
Then on into Germany and the beautiful German churches and Bishops palaces of old. Many built almost a 900 years ago.  They are so huge and so gorgeous you just have to see to believe them.  And then the pigs feet which reminded me of my Dads side who came from Germany...these dummies eat pigs feet...I guess someone has to eat them. They probably are good but I guess we are spoiled...while my Dad ate these lucious treats I ate hot dogs and potatoe chips...He ate these and also clabbered milk which is just milk gone bad and turned to clabbored...don't that sound good?

Down here is the great boat we traveled on...almost 500 feet long and maybe 50 wide.  We had a great room on the upper deck with a viranda after passing through sliding glass doors...
We moved mostly by night up the Rhine river, then through serveral locks into the Mein River and then more locks downard to the Danube River to Budapest Hungary, visiting several German towns like Cologne, Regensburg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremburg and Passau...All of them were beautiful Bavarian towns where folk do what German Folk do...Make sausage and beer and pigs feet and great wine...We really had a great vacation...Very tired when over but worth the effort. Each day our boat would dock at a different town and we would have a guided tour of the town...go back to the ship for lunch an then have the afternoon to again explore the town on our was great fun and then each evening return to the ship (our home) and enjoy a nice dinner and conversation with fellow travelers.....Great food and beer and wine from the local areas we visited...great fun great vacation.  Will write more about it as time and recollection permits....