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Munich and the Rhine

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Posted by rpickett 11:25 Comments (0)

Munich and the Rhine

Keflavik

semi-overcast 41 °F

As a result of an accident at Keflavik, Iceland airport, we were three hours delayed in Amsterdam, and missed out connecting flight to the US. Figuring that this was going to happen, I booked a wonderful 4 star hotel in the little village of Keflavik, only about 5 miles from the airport. Like most all of Iceland, the town is totally heated by a nearby geothermal plant that pumps hot water to virtually every building in the town and surrounding area.

Founded in the 16th century, Keflavík developed on account of its fishing and fish processing industry, founded by Scottish entrepreneurs and engineers. Later its growth continued from flight operations at the Keflavík International Airport which was built by the US during the 1940s. The airport used to hold a significant NATO military base and was a vital pre-jet refueling stop for trans-Atlantic commercial air traffic. It now serves as Iceland's main international hub. During World War II the military airfield served as a refueling and transit depot. During the Cold War, Naval Air Station Keflavik played an important role in monitoring marine and submarine traffic from the Norwegian and Greenland Seas into the Atlantic Ocean. Forces from the United States Air Force were added to provide radar monitoring, fighter intercept, in-flight refueling, and aerial/marine rescue. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, the base's role was cast into doubt. The base officially closed on 30 September 2006, when the United States withdrew the remaining 30 military personnel. In Iceland, Keflavík was renowned as a rich source of musicians during the 1960s and 70s, and is therefore also known as bítlabærinn or "The Beatle Town".

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Posted by rpickett 03:34 Archived in Iceland Tagged keflavik Comments (0)

Munich and the Rhine

Amsterdam

sunny 62 °F

This morning we cruised the canal towards Amsterdam and arrived at about 1:00pm. After lunch we boarded buses for our tour to Keuchenhof Gardens. A truly spectacular site. There are more than 7 million bulbs in bloom this spring, with a total of 800 varieties of tulips. A unique and unforgettable experience! Besides the spacious 32 hectares of flowers you can enjoy the spectacular flower shows, surprising inspirational gardens, unique artwork and wonderful events.

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Posted by rpickett 03:30 Archived in Netherlands Tagged amsterdam Comments (0)

Munich and the Rhine

Cologne

sunny 52 °F

After a quiet morning of cruising the Rhine, we tied up in Cologne (Koln), Germany about 1230.
Cologne was founded and established in Ubii territory in the first century AD as the Roman Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, from which it gets its name. "Cologne", the French version of the city's name, has become standard in English as well. The city functioned as the capital of the Roman province of Germania Inferior and as the headquarters of the Roman military in the region until occupied by the Franks in 462. During the Middle Ages it flourished on one of the most important major trade routes between east and west in Europe. Cologne was one of the leading members of the Hanseatic League and one of the largest cities north of the Alps in medieval and Renaissance times. Up until World War II the city had undergone several occupations by the French and also by the British (1918–1926). Cologne was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II, the Royal Air Force (RAF) dropping 34,711 long tons of bombs on the city. The bombing reduced the population by 95%, mainly due to evacuation, and destroyed almost the entire city. With the intention of restoring as many historic buildings as possible, the successful postwar rebuilding has resulted in a very mixed and unique cityscape.

Its most famous landmark is the Koln Cathedral, which was mostly spared during World War 2. During the War the stained glass windows were removed and then reinstalled. Some of the windows date back to the 1200's.
Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880. The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. The towers for its two huge spires give the cathedral the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir has the largest height to width ratio, 3.6:1, of any medieval church. Cologne's medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as "a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value" and "a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe".

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Posted by rpickett 08:35 Archived in Germany Tagged cologne Comments (0)

Munich and the Rhine

Rudesheim am Rhine and the Rhine River Gorge

semi-overcast 50 °F

This morning we toured the wonderful vineyard town of Rudesheim am Rhine and took a gondola ride up to the Niederwald Monument, which provided a wonderful birds eye view of the valley. Following our trip to the monument we were treated to a wine tasting of three Rieslings produced by a local vintner.

The area was settled first by the Celts, then after the turn of the Christian Era by Ubii and later by Mattiaci. In the first century, the Romans pushed forth to the Taunus. In Bingen they built a castrum, and on the other side, near what is now Rüdesheim, lay a bridgehead on the way to the Limes. The Romans were followed by the Alamanni, and along with the Migration Period (Völkerwanderung) came the Franks. Archaeological finds of glass from this time suggest that there was already winegrowing in Rüdesheim even then. The town's origin as a Frankish Haufendorf (roughly, "clump village") can still be seen on today's town maps. Rüdesheim had its first documentary mention in 1074. Its livelihood came mainly from winegrowing and shipping, particularly timber rafting. On 1 January 1818, Rüdesheim received town rights.

The Niederwald Monument was constructed to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The first stone was laid on September 16, 1871, by Kaiser Wilhelm I (William I). The sculptor was Johannes Schilling, and the architect was Karl Weisbach. The total cost of the work is estimated at one million gold marks. The monument was inaugurated on September 28, 1883. The 38 metres (125 ft) tall monument represents the union of all Germans.

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After a wonderful German themed pork featured lunch we got underway to traverse the Rhine River Gorge. The river has been an important trade route into central Europe since prehistoric times and a string of small settlements has grown up along the banks. Constrained in size, many of these old towns retain a historic feel today. With increasing wealth, many castles appeared and the valley became a core region of the Holy Roman Empire. It was at the centre of the Thirty Years' War, which left many of the castles in ruins, a particular attraction for today's cruise ships which follow the river. At one time forming a border of France, in the 19th Century the valley became part of Prussia and its landscape became the quintessential image of Germany.

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Posted by rpickett 07:56 Archived in Germany Tagged and the river am gorge rhine rudesheim Comments (0)

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