Monday, August 15, 2016

2016 European River Cruise

For our fortieth wedding anniversary we took ourselves on a river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam.  We travelled on three different rivers: the Danube, Main and Rhein.  We also passed through five countries, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands.  Walt's dad always said how beautiful Germany was and how he would like to go visit again.  He was absolutely right.  The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and we took over 2200 photos.  That has been trimmed down significantly for this blog, which will just capture a small portion to get a taste of the scenery, especially in Germany.  Most impressive is that most of the German heavy industry is along these rivers and so was heavily bombed during World War II but it all has been restored beautifully  This blog will progress along the tour by day with links to photos for that day.  When the album comes up, click the first photo to get a larger photo plus to see the captions on the right under "Info".

But before showing the countryside what was intriguing was the fact that we had to climb from an altitude of 380 ft in Budapest to 1,332 ft before descending back down to sea level in Amsterdam.  To accomplish this requires passing through 68 locks.  Each lock raises or lowers a boat some amount.  The largest displacement was 82 ft.  If you think of 82 ft, that is an eight story building!  It is difficult to show the enormity of this lock in a photograph.  However, we took some interesting photos that give you a feel of traveling through locks that you can see here.  Here are two videos to give a feel of what it is like when the water drains out of a lock, video1, video 2.

The trip began in Budapest.  Photographs of our time there ares shown here.  We were two and a half days in Budapest.  Walt was there two years ago so could give a little bit of a guided tour for Nancy around the Chain Bridge areas.  The second day we visited the countryside and a horse farm and saw a horse show  The third day was ur first cruise day.

Next stop was Vienna.  Of special interest were the Hapsburg summer and winter palaces.  Totally awesome.  Photos are here.

The next day we cruised up the beautiful Wachau Valley.  Photos are here but don't have captions since the photos are just of the beautiful scenery as we cruised.   All suites have a balcony so that made taking photos easier.  A sun deck was available to take photos on either side of the boat.

The next port of call was Melk.  The feature here was an Abbey up on a mountain.  Photos are shown here.

Next on the list was Passau, which was another quaint medieval town.   The interesting feature, besides the church with the more than 17,000 pipes on a pipe organ, was a fortress across the Danube from where you could see the confluence of the three rivers surrounding Passau. Photos are shown  here.

Next stop was Regensberg, which is another of the many medieval towns along the river.  We always found the narrow streets and unique medieval architecture very fascinating.  Again, remember many of these towns were bombed out during the war.  Photos can be seen here.

This is followed by another cruise day through the beautiful river valleys,this time along the Main-Danube Canal.  Photos, because it was a cruise day, are not captioned but are shown here.

The next location is Nüremburg.  Walt was particularly interested in taking the WWII tour since he is somewhat of a WWII buff.  Nüremburg was the center of Nazi propaganda that ended in this location with the Nüremburg trials at the end of the war.  Because it had such an important place in the Nazi era, it was essentially totally destroyed by allied bombing at the end of the war.  But today you can't tell.  Photos are shown here.  Hitler definitely was an egomaniac, judging by the size of everything.

Bamberg was founded in 902 and remains a medieval-looking city known for its symphony orchestra and rauchbier.  The winding streets are filled with baroque patrician houses and are the home to the breathtaking 11th century Cathedral of Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich II.  Photos of the side streets, houses, cathedral and the palace of the prince-bishop, a rather large edifice, can be found here.

We took a one and a half hour bus ride to one of the last remaining walled medieval towns in Germany.  The towns name is Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  The trip was well worth it because this town is beautifully preserved and was absolutely gorgeous.  Because of the 30 year war, a major siege and then the plague in the 17th century the town came  to a standstill and did not grow.  This allowed the town to be preserved until it was rediscovered in 1802.   Not much was done to it so it does reflect the town as it was in the 17th. Century.  Photos are shown here.

On our return from Rothenburg ob der Tauber we toured the Bishop´s residence in Würzburg.  It is one of German´s largest and most ornate palaces.  The photos, that we were allowed to take, are shown here.

We then cruised from Würaburg to Wertheim.  Since this was just a cruise, we again just snapped pictures of the beautiful countryside.  Photos without captions are shone here.  Of interest was the wall built on my birthday except 79 years before I was born

The next stop was Wertheim.  It is at the confluence of the Main and Tauber rivers.  Noteworthy is Wertheim Castle that sits on top of a hill overlooking the town.  Photos are shown here

Next was an all day cruise along the Rhein narrated by the cruise director.  What was striking was that every town has a church unique to that town and almost every hill along the river had a castle, some of which have become hotels or hostels and others are simply ruins.  But most significant is the Lorelei that inspired Heinrich Heine to write the Lorelei.  There is a photo of the Lorelei.  Walt memorized the words and the tune some 50 years ago and remembered them all.  The photos, without captions, can be found here.

The next day we were at Koblenz where we had a tour of the Marksburg Castle.  We really enjoyed the castle tour as it took you back to medieval times.  The photos are shown here.

We then arrived at Cologne.  Of particular note was the city's 14th century cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic artistry.  It was spared allied bombing during WWII.  Photos are shown here and the captions give more details on the cathedral.

Our final stop was in the Netherlands in a town called Kinderdijk.  The main features here were windmills.  Photos of this port of call are shown here.

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