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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Last walks in Europe - for now, anyway

On the Rhine, heading towards Amsterdam

The next walking tour was through the modern city of Bonn.

I last visited Bonn in 1969, when Germany was still divided into East and West. Bonn was then the capital city of West Germany.

Bonn is a university town. Kurfürstliches Schloss, the Electoral Palace, was the home of the Elector of Cologne and is now the main building of the university.

There were some interesting things to see in Bonn! Outside St Martin's Minster I had the experience of walking around two sculptured heads. According to legend, they were Roman legionaries of the all-Christian Theban Legion, who were martyred for their religious beliefs. These beautiful sculptures represent the heads of Saint Cassius and Saint Florentius.

I was also fascinated by the Thalia Bookshop in the Market Square, a tribute to the old Metropol Theatre that once serviced the area. The interior facade leaves no doubt that this was once a movie theatre, of the style familiar to many of us.

I used the escalators to rise to the second level for a wonderful panorama, then crossed to the other side of the balcony to use the elevator to go back down to street level.

It was late in the afternoon and the Market Square was a little cluttered by
trucks packing up after the day's markets.

I stopped to look at the view over the Rhine from the Alter Zoll (Old Customs House), then another flight of stairs down to Brassertufer where I crossed safely at the pedestrian crossing. I always have to think twice about which direction the traffic flows, though parked cars help a little.

View from the Alter Zoll to my crossing.

Heading for "home". Another rather long gangplank. Kennedy Bridge is in the background and Amsterdam is in the direction under the bridge. Perhaps the ship is turned around to make a nicer photo!

Netherlands - Nijmegen

Nijmegen is the oldest town in the Netherlands and, proving that not all the Netherlands is flat, this the only town in the country that is built on seven hills, just like Rome. It is also the only city in the Netherlands with an upper and lower town. The photo above is of Waal Quayside, our landing place.

Things look rather "new" here, because the town was bombed by American forces during WW2 and has since been re-built. This is the steep walkway up from the waterfront.

A very modern town centre at the top of the hill, then the walk back down to the ship at river-level.

From Nijmegen we visited the Kroller-Muller Musuem. I particularly enjoyed the sculpture garden, where we were welcome to walk on the grass, with a Rodin (above) and "Mister Jacques" (Wenckebach) - below.

That's all my walking in Europe, for this time. Going "overseas" next, to our island state, no passport needed.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Luxembourg and Trier

This seems to be turning into a travelogue, but I've tried to stick to mainly including photos of places where I have walked. The shoes are still going strong and are very comfortable. 

This is one of the shopping streets in Luxembourg.
The country has a highly developed economy, reported to have the world's highest nominal GDP per capita.

Smooth pavement outside the National Library
Although what I saw looked "new" compared with the older towns we'd passed along the Rhine and Moselle rivers, Luxembourg's history and strategic importance date back to a Roman era fortress site and a Frankish Count's castle in the Early Middle Ages.

Guard in front of Grand Ducal Palace, Luxembourg.
No, I didn't dare walk in his footsteps.
The "political" stuff about Luxembourg is that it is a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch. It is ruled by a Grand Duke - hence the need for a palace! It is now the world's only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy.

And on to Germany's oldest town . . .

Walking along Simeonstrasse, looking back towards Porta Nigra, fortified Roman
gateway  to the old town. The building dates back to the 2nd century AD.

Looking the other way, towards the Market Square and the
Church of St. Gangolph.

In the Market Square, and still more of the bags that I left behind.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Walking on Water

The Misty-Magical Moselle

Apart from the magic of sailing from Budapest, under the brightly lit bridges, on the Danube, at night, to the haunting sounds of the Blue Danube Waltz - the Moselle is one of the most wonderful places I've travelled in recent years. The water was so smooth and the reflections so perfect, that you felt you could almost step off the ship and walk straight across golden vineyards to the towns along the route. Well, I have to say that, to have an excuse for adding these beautiful photos to my "footsteps" collections!

What a wonderful place to "row, row, row your boat" on a calm Sunday morning.

After a morning's very scenic and peaceful cruising, we reached Cochem and it was time to start walking again.

A short and sharply steep gangplank led down to the path
beside the river.

You can see where our ship is docked, and the path beside - I took this photo
from the bridge in the next photo. Why is it that when travelling, we seek security
in taking plenty of photos of "our home"?

There are many day tour boats plying the river to cater for the many tourists "unfortunate"
enough to not have their own floating hotel.

 I chose to cross the bridge by foot and the effort was well worthwhile. I took my time walking up this flight of steps; I think there were about 50 steps, but I lost count when I ran out of breath! I found a narrow cobblestone road winding down a little further along near some strategically-placed coffee shops and restaurants, which was much easier for me on the return.

One last steep pinch and I head for the coffee bar.

The following morning we woke up at Bernkastel-Kues. The Moselle River divides these two towns, but they have merged their municipal areas.

A big "thumbs down" to the company who decided that overnight cruising would be acceptable to passengers
in such a scenic area. You don't pay for those balconies and not make good use of them! But I have heard since, that the complaints have been well noted. 

Back to walking on cobblestones again, I took the guided walking tour through the streets of Bernkastel.

It is 8 AM on a Monday morning. The crowds have not yet arrived in the Town Square


Bärenbrunnen (Bear Fountain)


This area is in the midst of a well-known
wine growing area. We are on our way
towards an old wine-cellar gate.

These are some of the things that I didn't purchase,
though I really love those shoulder bags!


By 10 AM people had arrived from everywhere!
Our ship's docking place is right at the end of the car park area.

This is the bridge across the Moselle to Kues,
but one that I didn't walk across.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A Cable Car and an Important Corner

Still in Germany, a morning with light fog at Rüdesheim am Rhein.

The Rhine river levels were still low - look at that long gangway - long this time, instead of steep!

However the streets of Rüdesheim, winding up & down from the river, made up for the steepness.

The little tourist train saved me some breathless steps on the way up,
though I did enjoy the careful walk back down to the ship after my exploration.

I was pleased to walk on the cobblestones in a relatively flat area at the top of the town.

I headed quickly to the cable car ticket office
and was on the first ride of the morning.
From my little cabin there were great views
over the golden vineyards.

The views were misty across the Rhine towards Bingen.

Heading towards the Niederwald Monument with the figure Germania, 250 metres above the Rhine, built between 1877 & 1883 to symbolise the re-establishment of the German Empire & Germany's unity. Unfortunately on this visit, it was having some restoration work done, so was all wrapped up!

But climbing the steps to the upper viewpoint was well worthwhile to me,
even though the misty conditions remained on the Rhine below.
After our morning in Rüdesheim, we cruised through the famous Rhine River Gorge. Perhaps one time I'll be lucky enough to enjoy travel via the train lines that seem to follow the river for much of the way, but either way, I don't think my footsteps will echo along the route!

Deutsches Eck
After the 65 kms of the Rhine Gorge, the end seems to be marked by seeing the first bridges across the river for a long time and we are approaching Koblenz, unmistakedly marked by the German Corner, which also marks the point where the Moselle River joins the Rhine.

A popular place for locals & tourists in the late afternoon sunshine of an October Saturday.

The equestrian statue is of the German Emperor Wilhelm I.

After our ship had berthed, I went ashore at dusk & walked a little in the town then out to the Corner.

The long river cruise ships that are staying overnight in Koblenz negotiate a very sharp turn into the Moselle River, where mooring is a lot smoother than on the fast-flowing Rhine.
As the sun sets, I'm walking back from the German Corner to my ship's landing place.