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June 17th: Würzburg, Germany

A photo journal only today, as I try to catch up with the blog!

A morning tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including a visit to the wine cellar for a wine tasting and lecture. 

An afternoon tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a quaint medieval town.

One of the special attractions of Rothenburg is the Christmas Store and Museum.

 

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June 15: Heidelberg, Germany

We only stayed docked in Frankfurt long enough to board busses for an hour’s drive south to Heidelberg.

We started the day in Heidelberg with a tour of the Heidelberg Castle, an important Renaissance ruin, which overlooks the old town from it’s perch on the hillside.

Within the castle, there was a very large wine barrel, said to be able to hold 45,000 gallons of wine. In order to dissipate the fumes, there were carved lion’s heads in the walls above the cellars, with movable jaws, that could open and release the fumes.

We rode the funicular down from the castle, for a walking tour of the old town.

Our tour included narrow streets, a closer view of the large Church of the Holy Ghost, the famous Heidelberg University, and the Student Prison, where misbehaving students might be locked up for a day or two, or as much as three months..

We had lunch in a traditional German restaurant, and then caught our bus back to the ship, which had moved several miles up the Main River to Aschaffenburg,

where we saw this rather strange reversible sculpture on the pier.

After dinner, Mike, one of the guests, entertained us with a couple of hours of piano music, much of which we could sing along to.

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June 14th: Castles and Vineyards on the Rhine Valley

10-07.57.38 We spent the morning cruising the Rhine Gorge, soaking up sunshine and looking at castles, picturesque towns and mountain vineyards. This is a 65 kilometer stretch of the river, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Our cruise director kept us entertained with nuggets of history, politics, and folklore. The weather was beautiful – cool when we entered the gorge at 6:30 am, then up to 75 degrees by noon, when we reached Rudesheim on the other side.

This statue of Emperor William I stands at the German Corner (Deutches Elk) – the point of confluence of the Rhine with the Moselle, at Koblenz, and marks the start of the gorge.

The Niederwalddenkmal monument is found above Rudesheim, where the Rhine Gorge ends. It constructed to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of Franco-Prussian War.

 

 

 

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June 11: Edam

With much of The Netherlands below sea level, a drive through the countryside shows large areas of land criss-crossed by canals. In some places, the land is being reclaimed by the government and carefully reset to a natural habitat. In others, we saw sheep grazing on the dyke, dairy cattle in the fields, and  a lot of ducks, geese, and other water birds in the canals. Read More

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June 11th: Zaanse Schans

The first thing you see as you come into Zaanse Schans are the 17th century industrial windmills, and the picturesque houses.

Zaanse Schans is a “living museum.” The houses are occupied, and not part of the tourist experience, but the windmills take groups in for demonstrations. Zaanse Schans is a very busy tourist spot – there were 20 busses in the parking lot when we left. We were very fortunate in being able to get into the workshops we did with no wait. (Just a lot of walking!) Read More

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June 10th: A Busy Day in Amsterdam

Canal Tour; Reijksmuseum; Miffys, Van Gogh Museum; The Red Light District

Breakfast

Our hotel offers an extensive and tasty buffet, including mimosas, to help get you on your way.

The Canal Tour

We started the day with  a 9:00 am departure for a 1 hour tour – from a loading area right behind our hotel. We  toured several canals, and ended up at the Rijksmuseum.

In the pictures below, notice the beams that stick out from the top of the buildings – these were used to set up pulley systems to lift goods off boats on the canal into 2nd floor store rooms.

And the second picture in the second row shows a bicycle parking lot. Bikes are everywhere, and we were told there are over 900,000 in Amsterdam. There are bike lanes, (also used by mopeds) and you take your life in your hands trying to cross over, since they do not have to stop for pedestrians.

The houses are very narrow, and often the sides are not at a 90 degree angle to the main wall. The facades offer a decorative and distinguishing element to the buildings.

Rijksmuseum

Our guided tour focused on the 17th century, and Rembrandt, and in particular The Night Watch. Because it is so easy to find this artwork on the web, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. Below are a few things I saw in the other parts of the museum.

Miffys

Since the afternoon was free, I wandered through the Museumplein, a large park in front of the museum, where there was a whole row of “Miffys.” More designs, and an explanation of the history of Miffys can be seen by clicking on this link: 60 Years of Miffy.

Van Gogh Museum

This was a must for me. Again, I didn’t try to capture everything in photographs – just the famous self-portrait shown below, and a wonderful depiction of Donald Duck as Van Gogh.

Red Light District Tour

This was an evening tour, 9:00-10:00, but we are far enough north that it was still light for pretty much the whole trip. Our guide gave us a lot of information about the history, regulations and changing conditions. I also found some further information on Wikipedia. Whether the District is a good thing or not tends to be part of an on-going dispute between various factions. It has not eliminated organized crime or pimps, but registration does allow the prostitutes to have free medical care.

In addition, there are many “Coffee Shops,” where marijuana may be purchased and smoked legally.
(You go to a Coffee House for coffee, Cafe for alcohol.)

However, it is an interesting area to visit, and since it is in the downtown area, it was only a short distance from our hotel.

Note the church in the middle of the district, and the last picture shows a corner “pissoire.”

By the time I got home at 10:45, I was ready for a good night’s sleep, whatever my body-clock might be thinking!

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June 8th-9th: Getting to Amsterdam – Part 2

One thing that definitely enhance the pleasure of my flight was the friendly and attentive care of our cabin steward, Scott.

Admittedly, he kept my wine glass full, but he also chatted with me, and let me know a bit about his career.

 

And Scott also served me my delicious dinner, and refreshing breakfast.. (Once again, I forgot to photograph the main course before I had broken up the piece of fish and started to eat it!)

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