And They're Off!
Down the Rhine to the home of Eau de Cologne, Cologne itself, or Koln as the Germans call it. Inhabited since well before the Romans built a colony here (calling it Collonia) in the 1st century. Our ship docked near downtown and we had a guided walking tour through the "Old Town" to the cathedral. The old town actually dates from 1945 since the city was virtually leveled in WWII and the present buildings are reconstructions of medieval ones. The cathedral was largely spared (it was used as reference point by allied bombers) and is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world with a soaring vaulted ceiling. Begun in 1248, it took some 600 years to complete.
We toured a Germano-Roman museum full of thousands of artifacts unearthed from the former Roman colonial city. It was a little disappointing in that little of the information was available in any language other than German. Too tired to sample the local Kolsch beer (served in tiny traditional glasses) we moseyed down the main shopping street (a pedestrian mall) and got back to the quayside just as the rain started, so we repaired aboard ship for a refreshing Cappuccino. Food and service by the way has been excellent on the ship
We're to sail past Bonn tonight and enter the Rhine Gorge tomorrow morning.
Ship traffic on the Rhine is intensely heavy with hardly a minute passing without another ship hoving into view or sliding by less than 50 feet away. Built to pass under low bridges such as some of those in Amsterdam, the ships are constructed so that radar masts, rooftop awnings and even entire control stations (bridges for the nautically inclined) can telescope up and down, in some cases as much as ten feet.
Nave and altar (shaky hand-held photo, sorry)
Excavation of Roman ruins, downtown
Immense, intact Roman mosaic (25'X25') found adjacent to cathedral. It was left in place and the museum was built around it.