Category Archives: Majestic Rivers of Europe

Homburg Not Hamburg

This is the post I was unable to upload previously. We are now home in Wilmington.

Today we docked in the small town of Marktheidenfeld (try saying that three times fast). We had a choice of visiting a blacksmith, a paper maker, a winery, or a collector of antique pianos. We elected to visit the home of Michael Günther, an artist and collector of antique pianos in the small town of Homberg, Germany, which is not to be confused with the better known, large industrial city of Hamburg located in northern Germany. We thoroughly enjoyed our selected tour. We took a bus to Homburg and then walked through town to his home.

You might think this is the sign for a synagogue, but it is really the sign for a wine bar.
Homburg is located in the Franconia region of Germany which is famous for its white wines. The wine bottles of the region are shaped as shown in this decoration on a house. Several real wine bottles are in the decoration.
The rear steps to an ancient stone tower near his house.
We were led to a room in his home with six antique pianos and seating for all of us.
He played a classical selection for us on most of the pianos. This one is a harpsichord, which means that the instrument plucks the strings. Thus the volume of the note is the same no matter how hard you hit the key.
This one is also a harpsichord.
He also collects ancient musical manuscripts. This one was written by a student of Bach’s who copied the assigned music he was to learn to play into this book. It is interesting to think that Bach once held the same music he is holding now.
This is a piano. A piano creates the notes by hammering the strings so the volume of the note depends on how hard you hit the key. It has very simple construction, but had a good sound.
This is one of the most valuable pianos in his collection. It has no foot pedals, but the function of the foot pedal is achieved by using the knee to raise the bottom piece of wood below the keys. He got the piano over three other contenders despite paying less, because the previous owner thought he would give it the most tender, loving care.
This is a computer generated copy of a piece composed by Mozart when he was six years old. I am pretty sure I couldn’t have written this until I was at least seven.
I thought this was the most unusual piano. It was a very interesting and entertaining experience. I really wish we could have seen the rest of his house, some of his art, and the rest of his pianos.
His half timber house.
The view of the town from his grounds.
Street scene from Marktheidenfeld
A beer garden on the river behind our boat.
I had never seen a rose with flower clusters like this one.

Two Days in Paris

About nine years ago, we began our serious travel adventures by living in a Paris apartment for a month. In that time we saw most of the sites of Paris except for the Louvre. When asked our favorite city, we would always say Paris. In these two days our goal was to revisit some of our favorite sites and to take the included tour of the Louvre.

On the first morning, we took a free walking tour of the Montmartre area. We have taken free walking tours before where the only cost is a tip for the guide. We have always had a good experience and this time was no exception. The red windmill is famous as the site of the Moulin Rouge nightclub where you go to watch them dance the cancan.
This restaurant was made famous in the Amilie movie. She worked as a waitress there
These two restaurants were over the top in competing with each other for the most flowers. We ended up eating lunch at one of them. The tables are jammed closely together and you sit side by side facing the street for optimal people watching.
One of the real windmills in Montmartre. I don’t know if any of them still operate.
That’s our tour guide in the yellow dress. Montmartre is where many of the famous artists hung out. She had lived in Montmartre and was very knowledgeable about art. She blended humor with her stories.
The streets of Montmartre.
A vineyard in the heart of Montmartre.
The major destination at the top of the hill where Montmartre is located is the Sacré Coeur Basilica. This is the view from the back.
This is the better known view from the front. Since it is located at the highest point in Paris, it can be seen from many points in the city.
The mosaic above the alter in Sacré Coeur
After lunch, we took the Metro to our favorite museum in Paris, the Musée d’Orsay, home of some of the best impressionist art. Once we rode the Metro, it felt like we were really back in Paris.
The museum was once a train station and the clocks are read from the outside. You can see Sacré Coeur in the area above the VII.
The ground floor of the museum looks like a train station.
The Gate of Hell by Rodin.
The River Seine with the d’Orsay on the right and a part of the Louvre on the left.
By this time we had walked seven miles and were happy to find a bench in the Tuileries to put our feet up and rest for a while before walking back to our hotel.
The Opera Garnier. We ended our first day in Paris with dinner at a classic French restaurant near our hotel. Susan had the very French dinner of escargot and steak tartare (think uncooked meatloaf). I went with the escargot also, but had the rather unadventurous poached cod for my main.
We began the second day with the included tour of the Louvre. This is the pyramid which was added relatively recently to create a single entrance hall. The crowds already exceed the capacity it was designed for.
The museum is huge. It is built over what was once the moat protecting the walls of the city.
Venus de Milo
Winged Victory. This piece was in more than 100 pieces when found. The wing on this side is the original wing and the one on the other side is a plaster copy.
The museum building is as interesting as the paintings. In this hall there are portraits of the past kings. It is hard to tell at first glance, but all the portraits are tapestries.
Did I mention that the museum is huge? Some of the paintings were huge also.
This is the line waiting to see the Mona Lisa, which you can see straight ahead. We took a pass on the wait and continued our tour on our own. We had walked three miles by the time we completed our tour and found our way out through the maze of shops.
The Hotel de Ville or Paris City Hall.
This was our destination in the Marais area. We had falafels there previously and wanted to have them again. The line to the right is for seating inside and the line to the left is for takeout. We got seated right away as they opened a room for seating just as we arrived. The falafels did not disappoint.
The National Archives.

We are in the Atlanta airport awaiting our flight to Wilmington. There was one blog I have been unable to upload. I will try again when I get home. If successful, there will be one more blog. Thanks to everyone for following the blog and for your comments.

Our Transfer to Paris

On Wednesday we embarked on what was to be an eleven hour (including lunch and rest stops) from Germany to Paris. We were lucky in that we didn’t have to leave until 8 AM. Most of those that were heading home had to leave much earlier – some as early as 2 AM. Our route took us through Luxembourg which ticked another box on our list of countries visited. We had a lunch stop in the small French town of Metz, which was easily the highlight of the day. Metz is located in the former Lorraine region of France, so of course we had quiche lorraine. It was delicious!

The bridges in Metz were beautifully planted with colorful flowers.
The Metz Cathedral
The doors to the cathedral didn’t lack for statues!
The cathedral had beautiful stained glass windows including some by Marc Chagall.
We even had time to find the synagogue in town.

The hotel for the extension is a Marriott near the Opera Garnier. We are looking forward to revisiting some of our favorite sites in Paris.

A Scenic Sail to Rüdesheim am Rhein

This morning we sailed on the Rhine River from Cologne to Rüdesheim am Rhein. It was a morning of castles, churches, hills, rocks, half timbered houses, and vineyards. In other words, a morning of beautiful scenery.

According to our guide, this is one of the most photographed castles in Germany. It seems castles are either hotels or ruins.
You will notice that the leaves are in fall color in many of the pictures. I suspect that they are turning early due to the severe drought in the area.
The light yellow building in the back is a church and the white building attached to the front of it is a pub. The sole entrance to both buildings is thru the door of the pub. According to our guide, this is not uncommon.
This is the Lorelei Rock. It is a 433 ft tall slate rock located at a blind curve in the Rhine River. The name means “murmuring” in the old German language. At one time, the sounds of currents in the area and a small waterfall were amplified by the slate rock to crate a murmuring sound. The murmuring is hard to hear today due to the development of the area. Legend attributes the murmuring to the song of a beautiful girl who sat on the rocks combing her hair. Her beauty is said to have distracted the sailors resulting in many boat crashes on the rocks in the blind curve.
A nearby statue of the Lorelei.
Railroad tracks are located on both sides of the Rhine. Hitler knew that the Allied planes would not bomb the castles in the area, so he made the tunnel entrances resemble castles. It was easy to fix a bombed track, but much more difficult to fix a tunnel.
The building on the bank of the island in the river was once a toll booth for passing ships.
In Rüdesheim, we took a cable car to the top of a hill for views of the city. The fields are all grapes. Riesling is the most popular grape grown in the area.
On the top of the hill was this monument commemorating the German victory in the Franco-Prussian war.
The town of Rüdesheim is filled with numerous beer halls and gardens such as this one.


After a morning of sailing on the Rhine, we arrived in Cologne for an afternoon walking tour. Cologne is a large, relatively modern, industrial city. The main attraction here is the cathedral.

On our morning cruise, we saw these pillars from the Bridge at Remagen, a famous bridge over the Rhine in WWII. Toward the end of the war, the allied forces reached the Rhine and were surprised to find this bridge still in tact. This allowed the US Army to establish a bridgehead on the Eastern side of the Rhine. After the crossing, the Germans tried many times to bring it down, but it was 10 days before it finally collapsed. Capturing the bridge shortened the war and V-E day came two months later.
Cologne and the cathedral spires from our ship.
St. Gereon Basilica
Mosaic floor
The remains of a Roman tower
These plaques can be found in the sidewalks of many towns. They contain the names of Jewish residents who lived on that block and died in Nazi concentration camps.
The Cathedral
We went to a beer hall to sample the Kolsch beer brewed only in Cologne. Neither of us are beer drinkers, but when in Germany. . . ,
We walked down two blocks of the main shopping street near the cathedral and found three large candy stores. I guess the Germans like candy as well as beer.

Heidelberg Palace

Our destination today was Heidelberg, a two hour drive from the little town where we docked on the Main. The primary site there is the Renaissance palace on the hill above the town. The palace is considered to be one of the grandest palaces of the Renaissance. The courtyard is surrounded by four palaces, each one considered to be a masterpiece. Unfortunately, lightning strikes and wars have damaged the palaces which are now a ruin.

The palace from in town
The palace from the ramparts
The entry gate to the courtyard
Three palaces in the courtyard
My favorite palace
Details of another palace
There were a lot of statues on the palaces.
There were many nice views of town from the palace
The town was mostly pedestrian shopping streets with a lot of sidewalk cafes.
The former site of the synagogue
One of many plazas in town
Even the little town where we docked had a castle.

The Odds Catch Up To Us

Our cruise director keeps telling us how lucky we have been on this trip. There was a section of the Danube that was impassable last week forcing the cruise lines to book passengers in a hotel. We had enough rain before we reached that stretch that we had no problem getting through. We heard last night that the Danube is falling again and most likely will be impassable again next week. The best part is that despite high odds of rain several days, we never had any rain during any of our excursions. This morning in Wurzburg was fine, but when we headed out on our own after lunch, we started to hear thunder part way to our destination. We decided to head back to the ship and reached it just a minute before the rain hit.

Our morning tour was the Wurzburg Residence, the former residence of the Wurzburg prince-bishops and one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. The shell of the palace was built from 1720 to 1744 and the interior finished in 1780.
The Franconia Fountain in front of the residence hall.
The main entrance. The exterior of the building was large but not spectacular. The interior of the building was spectacular, but pictures were not permitted. I took the following four pictures of the interior off the internet.
The entry stairs.
A part of the 60 ft. by 100 ft. fresco painted by the Venetian Giovanni Tiepolo. It is one of the largest frescos ever created. The ceiling it is painted on is an unsupported vault. The vault did not fail when the building above collapsed on it during the bombing in the war, so there are five rooms with their original plaster work and decorations.
Most of the rooms had chandeliers that were made in Vienna. To ship them to Wurzburg without breaking, they were placed in a barrel of melted fat which was allowed to congeal. When they reached the Residence, they just had to melt the fat and clean the chandeliers.
The room called the Mirror Cabinet was perhaps the most amazing. The original room was completely destroyed in bombing raids in 1945. The room was recreated between 1979 and 1987 based on a preserved mirror fragment, numerous photographs, and a water color painting. Here is a description of the technique I found on the internet: The walls of the Würzburg Mirror Cabinet, consisted entirely of glass panels, which were prepared on the back using a special technique: either paintings were produced on the partially recessed mirror ground, or drawings were engraved into a gold ground that was applied on the back of the mirror and then underlaid with dark gloss paint. By this means, instead of displaying Oriental porcelain figures in front of the mirrors as was customary, a rich array of exotic figures and scenes could be incorporated directly into the mirrors.
At the conclusion of the tour, we had a wine tasting in the cellar of the Residence building where the wine is also produced.
Most of the barrels in the cellar had elaborately carved lids.
We also walked through the gardens. I liked the topiary tree in a pot.
The rear of the Wurzburg Residence. The gardens would have benefitted from a sprinkler system. The plants were being hand watered and the grass was brown.
The garden path.
Looking toward town from the Residence, there were a variety of steeples to be seen.
The fortress above the river was our destination when it started to thunder. Grape vines are being grown in front of the fortress and on many of the hills around town.
Wurzburg has an old stone bridge also. There is a bar at one end and it is traditional to have a glass of wine or beer on the bridge.
The stone bridge is a pedestrian bridge with a nice view of the fortress. It hadn’t started to thunder yet, but the clouds were gathering. Fortunately, the thunder started before we headed up the hill.


The town of Bamberg dates back to the 9th century. The medieval old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

The Bamberg Cathedral was completed in 1012. The two towers on the left are a rugged Romanesque German design while the two on the right are a more more picturesque Gothic French design.
The New Residence served as the seat and residence of Bamberg’s prince bishops.
The rose garden behind the New Residence building has 4500 roses.
The red roofs of Bamberg can be seen from the rose garden.
There were cobblestones and flowers all over the town.
The city hall was built in the center of the river because the bishop of Bamberg would not grant any land to the citizens to build their city hall. They solved the problem by building it in the center of the river on an island they created.
The city hall had frescoes on both sides.
There are flags hung over the streets for a five day festival that begins tonight.
The building is Bottingerhaus. I have no idea what it is used for as all descriptions I can find are in German.
All of the buildings in town seemed worthy of a picture.

We spent the morning on the walking tour of the city and returned to the ship for lunch and a departure to our next port. We are now on the Main River. Unfortunately, the bridges are very low on the canal from the Danube to the Main and on the Main; so we have not been allowed on the sun deck for safety reasons when the ship is moving. We are hoping for higher bridges soon!


In English we spell the city we visited today Nurenburg, but I am going with the German spelling as I always think a city ought to know how to spell its own name. The city is famous in history as the site of the Nazi party rallies under Hitler and the trials of the Nazis at the conclusion of the war. The city was chosen for the Nazi Party conventions, known as the Nuremberg rallies, due to its proximity to the center of Germany. Rallies were held in 1927, 1929, and annually from 1933 thru 1938. Today we visited the site of these rallies and the site of the trials.

Thanks to a very knowledgeable and insightful tour guide, we learned a lot about the Nazi history of Germany. We learned about the reasons for the rise of Nazism and antisemitism and why it is important to remember this part of their history so it is not repeated. Seeing these sites and knowing what happened there, made it an emotional day.

Congress Hall is the unfinished site being built for the rallies. It dwarfs the Roman Coliseum and was intended to be about 25% higher and have a cantilevered roof when finished. The architects advised that a cantilevered roof was not technically possible, but Hitler never accepted that.
The outside of the Congress Hall is granite blocks, but the interior is brick.
Construction stopped in 1939.
After the Nazis were defeated, Nuremberg faced the decision of what to do with the unfinished Congress Hall. According to our guide, Germany does not want people to forget what happened during the Nazi period as that risks repeating history. They also want to make use of the building. Therefore, the symphony orchestra performs in one wing of the building. We visited the Documentation Center in another wing of the building, which explains the causes, connections, and consequences of Nazi Germany. The Center is closed for remodeling so we saw a temporary exhibit.
The Zeppelin Fields or Rally Grounds were nearby. The large structure to the right of the stands is the podium area where Hitler stood to deliver his speeches. There is an equally large sitting area on the other side of the podium and a huge field in front of it. You can barely make out a few people in the stands to give you some scale.
A closer look at the podium with someone standing on it. As a point of interest, it is illegal to give the Nazi salute in Germany and our guide warned one could be arrested if they did it.
These are the rest rooms lining both sides of the rally grounds. There were six airplane search lights mounted to the top of each one shining columns of light into the sky at night.
This is the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials were held in room 600 on the top floor behind the blue covering.
The room where the trials were held is under renovation, so we could only look into it through this window.
There were some more attractive sites in town such as the Cathedral. Notice the blue and yellow Ukraine flag to the lower left.
Germany has accepted a large number of Ukrainian refugees. This group had a large number of people wrapped in Ukraine flags or wearing Ukraine tee shirts. I’m not sure if it was a refugee gathering or a support/fund raising rally. It looked like they were preparing for a quartet to sing for the group.
While Nuremberg was not as pretty as some of the cities, it did have some pretty spots.

Beautiful Regensburg

Regensburg traces its origin back to the Holy Roman Empire. Today, it is the fourth largest city in the state of Bavaria and is a major tourist attraction. We found it a beautiful city to walk around – so beautiful that we walked nearly 19,000 steps today.

We had a beautiful sunset last night. We hadn’t seen a lot of sun to that point. As you will see, today was a blue sky day with temperatures in the 70’s. That helped the town look more beautiful!
This stone bridge over the Danube was built in the 12th century and is considered a masterwork of medieval construction. Today, it is a pedestrian bridge.
Susan on the Stone Bridge.
Selfie on the Stone Bridge.
The only remains of the stone wall from Roman times.
It seems that every cathedral in Europe is undergoing cleaning and maintenance.
No maintenance on the interior.
A part of our guided tour was this actor in costume talking to our guide about the plague. A lot of it seemed to apply today.
We got a demonstration of cuckoo clocks.
The city hall. The yellow portion of the building is a dance hall.
We had lunch at this sausage stand under the stone bridge. We shared a plate of eight sausages and sauerkraut. There was always a line.
Several stores featured traditional clothes which are still worn for special events.