On the morning we arrived in Cologne, Germany it was foggy and drizzly, but soon the clouds cleared to a beautiful day. Our walking tour began along the Rhine River with the many restaurants and pubs that lined the avenue. There is a clock on a stone pillar next to the Rhine that does not look like a time clock. Our guide told us that this was the water level of the Rhine. There was a plaque on the pillar describing the largest flood and the most recent floods in the summer of 2013. The water level mark was at 6 and that was high water for this time of year. The levels are normally at 4.
As we walked up to the largest Gothic cathedral in Germany, the magnificent Cologne Cathedral, we were struck by its size, detail and beauty. The cathedral is locally referred to as The Dom is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We arrive in Braubach, Germany for our trip to Marksburg Castle. This Castle is one of the finest along the Rhine River since it has retained nearly all its original construction and is one of the best preserved castles along the river.
The day was finally here when we were going to see all of the castles along the Rhine, but Mother Nature almost did not corporate. Our day started with very very thick fog. Marianne, the Cruise Director was thinking we may not see any castles today. But not long after we set sail, the sun broke through the fog and cleared to be a crisp clear beautiful day.
We awoke in Mannheim, Germany this morning. This city is where Car Benz was invented and eventually became the world renowned car maker, Mercedes Benz. On our ride along the Neckar River we drive toward the hills of the Odenwald Forest, here at the foothills is Heidelberg, Germany.
On this rainy morning we arrived in Kehl, Germany for our day in Strasbourg France. Our tour bus took us over the Rhine River into France. Strasbourg is a large city and is the capital of the Alsace region in eastern France and a center of European politics. It is the home of the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Council of Human Rights. The European Union (E.U.) has its headquarters here. The buildings of these organizations were very modern in architecture. The city of Strasbourg has many beautiful parks to stroll through. Unfortunately it was a little wet today to enjoy a walk through many of the parks. Driving onto our next destination our guide pointed out the many stork nests in the trees along the street. If you looked close enough you could see them with their young.
We crossed the Rhine River from Germany on our way to the Alsatian town of Colmar, France. In years past people would have to stop at the borders check points to show passports before traveling into the next country. Now with the European Union there are no formal borders. This section of the Rhine River has a lock which the Viking Atla traveled through last night. Most of the locks the ship went through were at night so we did not get to see how it operated.
We woke the next morning in Breisach, Germany – the entrance to the Black Forest. The ship was docked alongside this quaint park were people were walking and running. There were swans swimming alongside the ship. Up on the hill we could see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Breisach’s landmark. This beautiful cathedral has two towers that dominate the skyline – one showcasing the architectural style of the Gothic period while the other shows elements that are distinctly Romanesque. This small German town is known for its wine and sparkling wine.
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