Köln and Koblenz

This morning, during breakfast, we came into Köln, mooring at about 8 am. After breakfast, or “breckee,” as our cruise director (Aussie) likes to call it, we picked up our tour cards and our boarding cards and got ready for the day.  We were broken into groups of 25, and herded by a guide who was using (as were we) the NASA developed QuietVox system.  Ingenious, really, your guide has a unique frequency, your sets tune to it, and then you follow, either closely or lolly gagging as the case might be.

Köln is Germany’s fourth largest city, and has a population of just over 1 million.  It was founded by the romans in 50AD because of its harbor capabilities, and then was overtaken by Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Frederick I during German unification.  The Cathedral, which used to be the tallest building in Europe, housed the relics of the Magi (aka the Three Kings of Orient).  The Cathedral is a magnificent piece of architecture, whose building spanned 632 years.  It is gothic of ethic proportions, and was extremely expensive to build.  The work began in 1248, and then continued for 300 years until the city ran out of money.  No work was done until 300 years later, when Frederick I agreed to fund half of the remaining costs, and donations from the city dwellers closed the gap.  Thanks to changes in technology, it only took another 32 years to build.

Our tour started along the Rhine, and we got to see the Maritime hotel, which is designed in the shape of a ship, to include porthole windows.  Our guide also pointed out to us that which they call the “lock bridge,” where lovers/spouses go onto the bridge with their names on a lock, which is fastened to a special board, and then the keys are flung into the Rhine.  From there it was on to 4711 Eau de Cologne, the store which sells the cologne created by Johann Maria Farina to help combat the body odor of yore.  Very, very expensive, and a bit overpowering.  I guess it helped with the body odor!  We also walked through the Jewish center, which was being excavated, and was located next to the Rathaus, where many couples were in the process of getting married in the obligatory civil service.                                         

The cathedral was next, and it was magnificent and overpowering both.  The opulence inside was coupled with building scaffolds.  Apparently, the day the scaffolding disappears and work is finished is believed to be judgment day!  The cathedral was one of the only buildings left standing after the bombings of WWII.  Most of the stained glass was preserved by the monks removing it from the windows and storing it. 

Wayne and I departed the church, and headed out on a mission - to find my wurzsalz!  Nine years ago I was given about 10 containers, and we are down now to the last one.  Our guide gave us direction, and we had success!!  I’m good for another 9 years!  Following that search, we hit the mustard museum, and reboarded the AmaCello.

After returning on board, we took off, headed for Koblenz, and the boat passed Remagen bridge as we moved towards the city, site of a  horrendous loss of life during WWII.  The afternoon was filled with three Mac classes, two of which we attended, one on the Lion operating system (didn’t need to), and one on photography post-processing (nicely done).  During the middle class, we slept!  The staff did manage to have the room set up appropriately, and made sure that it was MacMania attendees only, so there were no problems getting a seat.  Unfortunately, the rest of the problems with the space remain.  Neil Baumann, the man I wrote to yesterday, wrote me back to ask if things were getting better.  I gave him my honest opinion that control over the room was better, but that the space was totally inadequate for symposia.  I outlined the problems, and told him he ought to come and participate and see what we are going through this week as a group.  I also told him that thus far, I couldn’t see this conference meeting even half my expectations, and that I felt that none of us will get our money’s worth.  We’ll see what happens.

We arrived in Koblenz shortly after dinner, and geared up for a one hour walking tour of the city.  It was cold!  Koblenz is actually located where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet, known as the Deutsches Eck (German Corner). Overlooking the Eck is the second largest fortress in the EU, Ehrenbreitstein fortress.  Our nighttime tour took us through Florinsmark Square, the Church of Our Lady, the Four Towers that served as guard posts city center, Jesuitenplatz Square, and the execution square.  The city was almost completely destroyed in WWII, but largely rebuilt with post WWII allied reparation funding.  It is lovely to look at and walk through, and the architecture reminded me of being stationed further south in Ettlingen years ago.                                           

Post walk, I was too tired to blog, so it is coming out Sunday morning instead of Saturday night!

Guten Tag, alle!