New York, NY the day before ...

I flew to New York the day before my flight to Germany.  I didn't want anything to cause me to miss my flight.  I had hoped to wander around downtown and see the Rockefeller Plaza tree, and some of the famous churches, but was just so exhausted from the day and excited about the trip that I just stayed in.  This was the view from my hotel room.

Arriving in Germany

I arrived in Frankfort at 6a local time and took a 9a train to Köln (Cologne),

finally arriving at the River Queen at 10:30a.  Since the day is one where everyone is arriving, nothing was planned until later in the evening.

My "hotel" for the next seven days.  I love the idea of waking up in a new city nearly every morning!
My suite
The shower controls took me a bit to figure out.  The hot water was not on the left as it is at home.  Once I figured that out, I was happy happy happy.
I walked to a medieval Christmas market near the boat.
Then went to the Lindt Chocolate Museum.  The "lotus" tree in the picture below was actually a chocolate fountain. Yummmmmmmm
After touring the chocolate museum (and buying too many chocolates) I walked farther into town to two other Christmas markets (one at the Neumarkt is the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in Köln; the other was at the Alter Markt) before going back to the ship for an almost involuntary nap before dinner.
At 6p there was a welcome and safety briefing in the lounge with Captain Doede Smit (who is from the Netherlands), Cruise Manager Darinka Kilpa, and Hotel Manager Ferdinand Selig.

Dinner Menu
Starter: Pan fried taleggio marinated in honey with apple on bouquet of green garden leaves and Italian dressing..
Soup: Clear vegetable consummé with "Backerbsen"
Main Course: Pan fried halibut topped with olives, red onions and garlic sauce served with Mediterranean vegetables and tagliatelle pasta
Dessert: Assorted German cheeses with crackers

After dinner entertainment: Piano music by the crew musician, Krzysztof, in the lounge.

Köln, Germany

Walking tour of Köln this morning, then on our own the rest of the day.
these houses are in the "Fischmarkt" (Fish Market) part of town.
The date on the grey house (1685) is when it was built!
The town hall, built around 1330
The Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral) ~ the foundation stone was laid in 1248, with building continuing until 1520 when it was finished. The remainder of the building was unfinished until 1842-1880 when it was finished following the original Gothic designs.

A fountain in town that was inspired by the Grimm Fairy Tales story of the Shoemaker and the Elves
  Two more Christmas markets, one at the Kölner Dom.
I had lunch here after the tour.  A local brewery where the beer is made fresh ever day and served in tall thin glasses from a tap right at your table.
 I went to two museums ~ the Römisch-Germanisches Museum, a fascinating look into early Rome culture in Köln. 

Then to the Museum Ludwig ~ a contemporary art museum.  Saw several original Andy Warhols, Roy Lichtenstein comics, and some VERY explicit sketches by Picasso that looked like his version of Kama Sutra!

Christmas Welcome Dinner Menu
Starter: Winter salad on blueberries, garlic chip and Parma ham topped with lemon cinnamon dip.
Soup: Cream of wild tomatoes and oregano
Hot Appetizer: Composition of steamed salmon with fennel mousse.
Main Course: Pork "Wellington" ~ port tenderloin with mushroom duxel wrapped in puff pastry and creamy peppersauce, potato cake and buttered vegetables.
Dessert: Assorted Swiss cheeses with crackers.

After dinner entertainment ~ The Kölner Shanty Choir
The accordians were amazing, especially the young girl who played sort of a dueling accordions duet with one of the other players.  They both have won awards for their playing and I can see why.  I never saw anyone play accordian before and it was just incredible. Both hands have to operate as one!

Shared my dinner table with a couple from Canada, John & Rose.  He is originally from Cork, Ireland.  Also Bill, who lives on a sailboat in Mexico just south of San Diego.  Ruth and Marsha, friends who live in Sun City, Arizona ~ near Aunt Nan & Uncle Ron.  Paul from the Austin, Texas area, and Emma from Marietta, Georgia.

At midnight, the River Queen sales to Koblenz.

Koblenz and Rüdesheim, Germany

Arrived in Koblenz at 8a. Almost overslept for the walking tour.  Cold this morning, low 30's.  Shops were all closed for Christmas, but it was still a good tour.  Great guide with lots of poems and stories.  loved the one about "Peppermint."
X marks where the boat was docked
There were fountains all around most of the downs that were designed for dogs (and other animals, I suppose) to drink from. Dogs were well behaved and well trained, but very different from "American" dogs. The dogs in Germany were not friendly.  They walked near their owners and even when passing close by showed no interest in anyone.  Their tails did not wag and they didn't look at anyone  just straightforward, strictly business, like their owners.
This is the Schängel Fountain in the courtyard of the present Town Hall of Koblenz and is surrounded by beautiful Renaissance and Baroque buildings.  It was built in 1940, dedicated to the poet Josef Cornelius, and took its name from the French "Jean," that means young boy. 
The Deutsehes Eck (German Corner) where the Rhine and Moselle meet.. From 1953 to 1990 it was also called the Denkmal der Deutschen Einheit (Monument to German Unity).
one of the old grave markers that has been moved and mounted to a wall of the church

Not as old as most of the other statues and buildings.  It was created in the late 1800's to honor a local old woman.  They called her "Peppermint" because she sold peppermint candies.  She had lots of cats and dogs but was never very well off financially because she also liked her brandy.  One day she was in the cathedral praying to God for a little money to feed her cats and dogs when a priest overheard her. Pretending to be God, he told her that if she spent less on her brandy she wouldn't have the problem of feeding them.  knowing that it was the priest speaking and not really God, she basically told him where he could go and that old women needed their brandy.
This is a fountain in the Görresplatz that tells the story of the city of Koblenz.  The base is an overflowing rowboat carrying barrels of wine. Each stage of the city's existence is stacked on the one previous, sort of like a totem pole.  It shows the town being sacked by the Franks, and destroyed by the Thirty Years War and both World Wars.  On the top is the city as it is today.
This clock has the face of a man who in the 1600's was arrested for not paying taxes and put in prison.  at his sentencing, he stuck out his tongue at the town council.  the eyes move left and right every few seconds, but on every hour he sticks his tongue out.
A mural painted on the wall.
Pieces from the Berlin Wall

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein near Kaub. It was a customs post built in the 14th century.
Left Koblenz at noon and cruised upstream to Rüdesheim.  While we cruised, there was a "Fruhschoppen" lunch and market, with crafts in the lounge. Learned to make paper and ribbon stars from one of the crew, a wonderful lady named Ursula from Slovakia.

I was freezing!!!!! Only able to stay outside for just a few minutes!



Cheesecake! Covered with marzipan!
Arrived in Rüdesheim too late to see the Mäuseturm (Mouse Tower) I remember from childhood, the one mom painted a picture of.  It was a point of taxation built by Bishop Hatto of Mainz and Castle Klopp. It later served as a signal tower to warn the passing river traffic of Bingen Hole and the treacherous reef.
The picture Mom painted sometime between 1969-1972
Dinner tonight at a wonderful restaurant called Hannelore's.  Mushroom soup, stuffed duck, potato dumplings, red cabbage, a wonderful red house wine, and cinnamon ice cream for dessert.

Me, Bill, and Ruth
some of the friends I made on the cruise. L-R Marsha, Paul, and Emmalynn, who had a massive heart attack and died two weeks after she got home from this trip.  She had been a teacher for her entire career and had never flown on a plane before this trip.  When she retired from teaching, this trip was her reward to herself.
Lesson to take from this:  Carpe diem.  Seize the day. Don't wait to enjoy life.