Monthly Archives: October 2018

Polders in Kinderdijk

In spite of being in Kinderdijk, home of the largest concentration of windmills in the Netherlands, I got only one photo of a windmill. Our ship docked around 2:00 pm on day 7 of our Viking River Cruise of the Rhine and we had to talk ourselves into leaving the ship because of unrelenting rain accompanied by a cold wind. If Kinderdijk hadn’t been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its nineteen 18th century windmills keeping the land dry for so many years, I’d probably have taken a pass on the included walking tour. And even though Viking provided us with sturdy umbrellas, it was a miserable walk.

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Windmill at Kinderdijk

Our guide led us first to the Archimedes screw that pumps water from the polder to the basin. Huh? OK, according to Dictionary.com, a polder is “a tract of low land, especially in the Netherlands, reclaimed from the sea or another body of water and protected by dikes.” The Archimedes screw is one method used to drain water from the polder, the other is a windmill and since much of the Netherlands is below sea level, the technology is essential. Incidentally, the threat of global climate change is severe to the Netherlands and the Dutch are leading the way in developing new methods to deal with rising water levels.

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Archimedes screw at Kinderdijk

Next, we moved to the outside of a windmill where our guide demonstrated the mechanism to turn the direction of the windmill by hand to face the wind.

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Turning the windmill

Although the information and demonstration were interesting, we were relieved to go inside a working windmill and get out of the elements. Once inside, we saw the living quarters and working mechanism. The under-wheel was on the main level along with a combination living area, kitchen, and bedroom.

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Under-wheel in windmill

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A sleeping area in the windmill

The second floor contained more sleeping areas for the many children in the miller’s family. The third level was the smoke attic where the miller smoked fish caught in a net as the water was moved. The fourth floor, called the grease attic, held most of the working mechanism of the windmill.

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The working mechanism in a windmill

The top floor was not open for us to tour.

When we were finished touring the windmill, we had the option to continue or return to the ship. Due to the nasty weather, we chose to return to the ship. We would end our cruise in Amsterdam the following day and hopefully, see more of the Netherlands in better weather.

 

Based on events from November 2017.

 

Categories: cruise, Europe, Travel, Uncategorized, UNESCO | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Under the Mistletoe at Brühl Palaces

Brühl, Germany, home of the Brühl Palaces where we booked an optional excursion for the afternoon of the 6th day of our Viking River Cruise of the Rhine, is located just 18 km south of Cologne. After a short bus ride following lunch, we arrived at the Augustusburg Palace, one of the first rococo buildings in Germany. Rococo style, also called Late Baroque, is characterized by elaborate but light and airy ornamentation and pastel colors.  Constructed beginning in 1725, the summer palace was a favorite residence of Clemens Augustus, Archbishop-Elector of Cologne. The palace took over 40 years to complete partly because Clemens Augustus’s brother didn’t think the first version was good enough so the palace designed by a German architect was completely demolished and construction commenced again under a French architect. Today, Augustustburg Palace, the formal gardens, and nearby Falkenlust Hunting Lodge comprise the UNESCO World Heritage site called the Brühl Palaces.

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Augustusburg Palace

Unfortunately, photography wasn’t allowed inside the palaces so I can’t show you the jaw-droppingly lavish interiors. You can see several images, however, if you click on this link to the official website and then click on the photos in the picture gallery. Be sure to notice the magnificent marble staircase which is especially impressive.

The outside photos will give you an idea of the opulence, however.

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Augustusburg Palace

As I looked at the interior of the palace and the surrounding formal gardens, I was reminded of Versailles which was built several years earlier in the ornate Baroque style, albeit on an even grander scale. After all, Versailles boasts 700 rooms whereas Augustusburg has only 120.

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Gardens at Augustusburg Palace

As you can see, the fountains weren’t operational in November but the gardens impressed us nevertheless.

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Augustusburg Gardens

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Augustusburg Palace

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Jim and I at Augustusburg Palace

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Lake at Augustusburg Palace

I was fascinated by a colorful duck swimming serenely on the lake and, after some research, discovered it was a Mandarin duck. They are native to China and Japan but prolific in Britain due to their importation in the 18th century. More recently, rogue Mandarins have escaped and can be found in Germany and in other forested habitats as far away as California.

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Mandarin duck

The orbs of foliage I spotted in the trees were even more intriguing. When I pointed them out to Jim, he claimed it was mistletoe which our guide subsequently confirmed. Mistletoe is actually a parasite that attaches to the host and literally sucks the life out of it. It’s very difficult to eradicate which, considering the abundance we saw, was quite alarming.

 

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Trees invaded by mistletoe

 

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A quick kiss under the mistletoe (Jim thinks this is a terrible photo but I kind of like it)

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I call this the juxtaposition of simplicity and extravagance

Although the hunting lodge, Falkenlust, is within walking distance, the tour bus delivered us directly to the gate. Too bad, as it would have been a lovely stroll through the woods.  The hunting lodge wouldn’t have required visitors to rough it whatsoever. Take a peek inside here. The over 9000 hand-made Delft tiles surrounding the circular staircase were a definite highlight.

 

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Just a small hunting shack in the forest

 

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The roadway from the hunting lodge

A small building behind the hunting lodge wasn’t open to the public but I did take a few photos through the windows of the renovations occurring inside.

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Work underway at the building behind Falkenlust

If you’re in Cologne, take the time to visit the Brühl Palaces. As the first examples of rococo architecture in Germany, their historical importance is unquestionable. We were definitely impressed and we enjoyed a pleasant afternoon there.

As we sailed away from Cologne later that evening, Jim captured one last memorable view of Cologne Cathedral.

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Cologne Cathedral

And, as we said goodbye to Cologne, we also said goodbye to Germany since our next port the following day would be in the Netherlands.

Based on events from November 2017.

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Ode to Cologne

We arrived in Cologne, Germany in the morning on day 6 of our Viking River Cruise of the Rhine. Cologne is the fourth largest city in Germany and one of the oldest in the country with a history dating as far back as the first century AD when the Romans founded the city naming it Colonia. Our included excursion for this port was a walking tour of the old city which we began soon after our arrival.

Our guide immediately told us over 90% of the Old Town was destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII. We were impressed with the results of reconstruction efforts.

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Old Town Cologne

Next to the river, what appeared at first glance to be a clockface turned out to be a depth gauge showing the water level of the river. As you can see below, the depth was under 2 meters which is why we suspected our ship scraped bottom a few times and the ship’s captain expressed concern about the next cruise.

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I’ve seen love locks on bridges in other cities including Venice, Italy but the 2 tons of locks on the Hohenzollern Bridge was definitely impressive. The city considered removing them and not allowing this show of commitment but the outcry caused them to reconsider and the tradition continues.

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Hohenzollern Bridge

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Love Locks on Hohenzollern Bridge

Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was constructed beginning in 1248 but wasn’t finally completed until 1880.  It was the world’s tallest building until 1884 when the Washington Monument displaced it. Today it is still visible from most of the city and I took numerous photographs of both the impressive facade and the interior.

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The twin spires as we approach Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral

Below are just a couple of the over 125 gargoyles decorating the exterior of the cathedral.

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Gargoyles on Cologne Cathedral

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Entrance to Cologne Cathedral

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Sculpture at entrance of Cologne Cathedral

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Our guide tells us about the cathedral

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Cologne Cathedral interior

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One of many stained glass windows in Cologne Cathedral

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Altarpiece in Cologne Cathedral

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Interior of Cologne Cathedral

The cathedral houses the relics of the three Magi, the wise men who brought gifts to the Christ child. Between the late 1100’s and early 1200’s, goldsmith Nicholas of Verdun created The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings which holds the relics.

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The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Cologne Cathedral

Next door to the Cathedral, we peered in the windows of the Roman-Germanic Museum, built in 1974 over a Roman Villa. The mosaic below depicting the story of Dionysus was discovered when a bomb shelter was built during WWII. Sadly, we didn’t have time to tour the museum.

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Mosaic in Roman-Germanic Museum 

As our tour moved on, our guide told us about Italian-born perfumier, Giovanni Maria Farina, who created eau de cologne in 1709 and named it for his adopted home. The fragrance featured scents of orange, lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, jasmine, violet, and sandalwood. In a letter to his brother, he wrote, “I have discovered a scent that reminds me of a spring morning in Italy, of mountain narcissus, orange blossom just after the rain. It gives me great refreshment, strengthens my senses and imagination.”  You can still purchase the original scent at the perfumery.

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Home of Farina Perfumery

Kölsch style ale was also created in Cologne, a hybrid of ale and lager brewing methods, served in a stange glass.

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Stange glasses for Kölsch beer

Following our walking tour, we made our way back to the ship for lunch prior to our afternoon excursion to the Brühl Palaces.

 

 

Based on events in November 2017.

 

 

 

Categories: cruise, Europe, Germany, History, Travel, Uncategorized, UNESCO | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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