"Life is a journey, not a destination"
Ralph Waldo Emerson
When we went to bed for the evening last night, we left the ship cabin drapes drawn as we assumed that the cruise would launch sometime during the night. We looked forward to watching the changing landscape, and the arrival to our next destination.
Instead, I woke up about 5:30 a.m. gazing at to the same industrial setting where we had been docked since Wednesday. About 30 minutes later, I watched as another cruise line river boat docked next to us, effectively boxing us in against the shore. Jim C woke up around this time, and I informed him that we remained at the site of our original mooring. As we speculating what was going on, the other boat traversed to the middle of the river, and our boat left the dock.
We decided to move to the upper deck to watch the sunrise and our ship's first movement on the river. We were the only ones on deck besides crew members, and we watched as the captain made a 180° turn in the middle of the river.
Shortly after we saw that we were slowly approaching the first of a series of several locks during the day as we moved north on the river. It turns out that Basel's elevation above sea level is 261 meters ( 856 ft) and Köln is a mere 37 meters (121 ft.) Thus, the series of locks are necessary to help ships navigate the dramatic change in elevation.
Jim and I enjoyed the private show of navigating the first lock. It was interesting to watch the ship's radar pivot nearly flat to the surface of the ship. The captain's bridge also lowered to accommodate passing under the lock door.
This was the first time that I witnessed a massive vertical door at the front of the lock compared to swinging doors. When we descended to the requisite elevation and the door rose and allowed the ship to pass under, we didn't think about the dripping water coming down from the bottom of the door onto the deck and subsequently us. We have now officially been baptized by the Rhine.
After a great breakfast and a passage through a second lock, we learned about the day's excursion to the Black Forest and the German lake town of Titisee. As we discussed plans for the day, Jim C decided that skipping three hours of coach time and choosing instead to remain on the boat to read and relax was the perfect option. I opted to take the excursion that was scheduled to begin about 45 minutes after we reached our 1 p.m. scheduled mooring location at Breisach.
Before the excursion we met some very sweet women from the UK. We shared details of our Europe trip and exchanged grandchildren stories. It was nice to make a connection.
I hopped on our coach, and I enjoyed having less people and more space. Our guide was a Bucks County, Pennsylvania native, and he was quite informative about the villages and towns that we passed through on the way to Titisee.
Among the things that I learned:
Germans are not fond of green asparagus preferring instead to cover the plants blocking the production of chlorophyll resulting in a less bitter white asparagus.
Rows of corn growing in the fields were for the production of animal feed and ethanol.
Germany subsidizes solar energy, reducing the cost of panels by 90%
This region is the warmest part of Germany, and excellent for growing grapes and wine production.
The Black Forest is named because of the dense nature of the forest comprised of deciciduous and evergreen trees. The trees include maples, ash beech, and silver pine. Non-native Douglas Fir trees, prolific in Oregon, are planted to replace harvested trees as they grow faster.
For a few centuries, avaikable single women in the Black Forest region wear a Bollenhut, straw hats adorned with red pom poms at festivals as part of traditional clothing. Married women wear black hats.
Our coach had a few segments on the Autobahn, the famed stretches of highway where no speed limit is enforced, except for busses and trucks. We watched as several cars whizzed by us as we traveled at about 70 mph.
As we navigated the hilly villages, we saw operating farmhouses and inns that had been in operation for over five hundred years. We noticed several hanggliders preparing for a large competition this weekend.
Our guide pointed out two huge ski jumps, and the opening "agony of defeat" line from Wide World of Sports and my entrenched inner voice uttering "Oh Hell No!" sprung into action.
We finally reached the town of Titisee, famed for its lake, cuckoo clocks and Black Forest Gateau. I have to admit that I enjoyed the trip to Titisee much more that the actual experience in town. If Leavenworth, WA and Joseoh, OR has a love child, it would be Titisee. While the surroundings were beautiful, the existence of souvenir shops pedaling cuckoo clocks, Black Forest Ham, cheese and the like diminished the experience.
I did go to a local Kaffee house and tried the Black Forest cake and a latte. It was really quite good. I asked if I could get a box to go so I could bring back a slice to Jim. Although I was given an affirmative response, I instead received a slice in a pastry bag that I placed in my day pack, much to the horror and audible gasp of the proprietor. I was worried for a moment that I m might have ruined Black Forest/U.S. Relations, but I think we're good.
I made my way back to the coach for the journey back to the two-hour journey to the boat. On the way back, we passed through Freiburg, a hub city in the Black Forest. It's known for its wine and university. We learned that Germany provides tuition-free higher education for all Germans as well as all residents of the European Union who can speak German at a collegiate level.
I also learned that Germany accidentally bombed Freiburg during WWII and didn't acknowledge it unto the 80's. While much of the city was also destroyed by the RAF, it was rebuilt to mirror its pre-war appearance.
When I returned to the ship, I joined Jim for a Captain's reception, and then we had an intimate reserved dinner in the ship's Bistro. The service and food were excellent.
It's time for bed. Tomorrow, we will wake up in France. Guten Nacht!Read more
"Life is a journey, not a destination"