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  • Day48

    Fünf Fotos-Rhine Cruise Day 7

    May 31 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    This morning the M.S. Henry Chaucer left Koblenz around 7 a.m. enroute to our final mooring spot of Köln (Cologne) Germany.

    As we were making it up the river, our guide let us know that we would be passing a key WWII site soon, the remnants of the Ludendordf Bridge, a key strategic crossing in Remagen that was a critical pivot point to end the war in Europe.

    As American forces were planning to make a Rhine River crossing they were surprised to discover that the Germans had failed to destroy the Ludendorff Bridge. Fortuitously for Allied forces, this allowed the U.S. Army to get across the Rhine and to build adjacent pontoon bridges for strategic crossing. Germany made several attrmpts to destroy the bridge, and nearby civilians were killed by bombing campaigns. Hitler also ordered the execution of German officers for the failed demolition attempts.

    On March 17th, the bridge ultimately collapsed, killing some American troops who fell into the frigid Rhine or were trapped under heavy bridge sections. A day after Memorial Day, we were reminded of their sacrifice and the likelihood that other lives were spared by reduced weeks of battle.

    Here is some news footage from this event:

    In 1965, Remagen Mayor Hans P. Kürten wanted to commensurate the spot where the bridge once stood. Fifteen years later, his dream was realized and the Peace Bridge Memorial was created. The lives of Americans and Germans lost in the battle are memorialized.

    It was moving to pass by the memorial and to see the U.S. flag flying above.

    "Every day let us work for peace with our mind and heart.
    Each person should begin with himself."
    H.P. Kürten

    We arrived in Köln around noon, noting the dominant structure of the Köln Cathedral in the cityscaoe. We decided to take a trip into the city to get clothes laundered, to find our upcoming lodging, and to familiarize ourselves with the neighborhood where we'll be.

    When we departed from the coach that took us to town, we noticed a striking statue with a nun, but also with a star of David and a sculpted pile of shoes. When I saw the Star of David and the shoes, my mind immediately returned to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. I will never forget the image of piles of shoes of those murdered. I knew that I needed to learn more about the statue and the significance of the nun.

    We learned that the Statue portrays Edith Stein (Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce) a member of the Discalced (shoeless) Carmelite nun. She was raised in Jewish faith, became agnostic in her teen years, and she earned her Doctorate and became a teacher. She was forced to leave teaching because she couldn't earn an Aryan Certificate. She then became a nun and she was part of the effort to try to stop Nazi persecution of Jews until she was among those rounded up and murdered at Auschwitz.
    She is now one of the patron saints of Germany.

    This experience highlights the opportunity that I hope to continue to embrace in my lifetime: to explore the world with curiosity and to be a lifelong learner. I have been very fortunate to have had so many similar opportunities in my time in Europe to date.

    After leaving the Statue of St Teresia, we looked for the address of our next accommodations. We are excited about the neighborhood. It reminds us of the tree-lined neighborhoods in Barcelona.

    We stopped for a beer at a nearby café and then dropped by the laundromat. Although we were only there briefly to drop off laundry, I noticed the comfortable sitting area, several books available and Beethoven's 5th Symphony playing softly in the background.

    We decided to figure out the metro system, abs we took a route to the Cathedral. We do plan a visit back so I will comment more about it in a later post, but it's absolutely magnificent. It was an added bonus that organ music resonated throughout our visit.

    I think it could be possible to get a bit weary of European cathedrals, but that's not been the case. It is interesting that the cathedrals seem to draw more attention to tourists than church attendees. Regardless, they are beautiful works of art.

    As we left the grounds of the cathedral, we noticed a perfume store selling Cologne's trademark perfume mentioned by our cruise director: The Original Eau de Cologne 4711 created in 1708 is named after its location at Glockengasse No. 4711. I took a whiff, snd I would describe it as a formulation of citrus and floral scents. I've never heard of it, and I have no idea how widely known it is in America. The Brits on board certainly knew the reference.

    We returned to our boat for a last night cocktail and spectacular several course dinner. Jim C had an eggplant dish, and I had the Beef Wellington. Dessert was Baked Alaska which was served in a procession with sparklers.

    It's been a fine cruise, and we're excited about our next adventure. Guten Nacht!
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    I changed out my first photo. I failed to save it the first time.


    Sounds like a good cruise. I remember the controversy around Stein's beatification at the time.