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  • Day20

    No eau in Cologne

    September 30, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    While we were all tucked up in bed the ship was sailing from Utrecht to Cologne, arriving about the time that we were waking up. The really good news was that for the first time since we'd left Spain the weather was dry.

    The ship berthed practically in the centre of the city, so our guide collected us directly from the ship for the leisurely walk through historical Cologne. Its most famous landmark of course is the cathedral, and we headed off in that direction.

    To put it bluntly, we were somwhat disappointed by Cologne. It had had to be totally rebuilt after the war, but it wasn't done very well, particularly when compared to other cities which were rebuilt in ways which were far more sympathetic to their history. Certainly there are some attractive old buildings but they are generally surrounded by other buildings which are more modern and totally unattractive. Even the cathedral itself is hemmed in by an ugly museum of Roman history and various other nondescript structures.

    True, it is a world heritage listed building with a history going back to the 13th century. It's also huge, being the tallest twin spire cathedral and the third tallest cathedral of any type in the world. However the building looked rather grey and dirty over most of its stone walls, giving the impression that it needed a good pressure clean. In reality it isn't that simple, and there is quite a bit of major restoration work being done continuously to the exterior.

    We then went inside, and that was impressive. That's where we could gain an appreciation of the size of the building and admire its many stained glass windows. From there we wandered through the old town square and on to a brewery where we were treated to an "authentic " German experience. There were some light snacks laid out and, as part of the deal, those of us who wanted them were served two glasses of beer. Unlike the famous steins of Munich and elsewhere these glasses were only 200ml. Not much chance of anyone getting drunk. While we were onshore, our ship was sailing from Cologne to Bonn, so we were shepherded onto buses for the 30 minute drive to the ship.

    Throughout the trip so far we have been highly impressed by the smooth organisation and by the precision with which everything takes place. Our buses arrived in Bonn exactly as the ship was berthing.

    As mentioned, we felt that Cologne wasn't an especially attractive place, particularly when compared with other cities such as Amsterdam, Barcelona, Toledo and Madrid which we have visited recently.

    However, the day was to look up considerably. Back on the ship and after lunch the wind dropped and the sun began to shine. Furthermore we were just entering the most interesting stretch of the Rhine, so it was a great opportunity to get out on to the deck and start taking photos of the passing scenery of castles, churches and very attractive small towns.

    Dinner this night wasn't on board ship but instead was at a real live castle and hosted by a real live princess. Not that we were too overawed by the latter, since Europe is filled with faded royalty. Nonetheless, the grandly titled Princess Luise Dorothea von Hohenzollern-Namedy turned out to be a very charming lady and she welcomed us all in a long and gracious speech. We then had a free run of the grounds and most of the rooms of Schloss Burg Namedy . To pay for what must be the very expensive upkeep of the castle and grounds it is now run as a reception centre. We had exclusive use of it for a very pleasant dinner in the large reception hall.

    The Princess and her late husband's family are great sponsors of classical music and opera, and the evening concluded with a short recital on the grand piano given by an up and coming expatriate Australian pianist Robbin Reza.

    After that, it was all aboard the buses for the 15 minute drive back to our ship.
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