Thursday, May 09, 2013-Day 20
The Idun left Koblenz at 4 am bound for Cologne. Last night we had been told that while none of our remaining tours would be affected, we would have to spend all day ashore on Friday as the ship needed to go in to dry dock for two hours. We began to speculate what had happened during the trip to cause this dry docking, but we were reassured it was a minor procedure. We were not convinced but also not worried at all.
During breakfast this morning we were able to watch the approach to Cologne as the ship motored gently downstream. Traffic on the river increased markedly, Barge after barge passing by fully convinced us that this river must surely be the world’s busiest.
Out ship docked beautifully, smoothly, about three blocks from the wonderful cathedral. We had been to the city and seen the cathedral in ’87-’88, but not from the river.
This was Ascension Day and today is a holiday in Germany. We disembarked and met our guide who proved to be superb. A shower of rain was falling gently, the first rain to affect us on the trip. However, it wasn’t enough to deter us and off we went on a walking tour heading to the cathedral.
Our guide told us that the Dom (cathedral) had been started in 1248, when the city had about 50 000 inhabitants (Financially, that would have equated to a city of 10 000 000 today). It was said that the bones of the three wise men had been brought here from Italy, and this gave rise to the building of the cathedral as a home for these relics. It took over 600 years (off and on) to build this fabulous cathedral and it was finished by using the original plans. Imagine how many generations helped build it.
Today, over 100 people come to work every day at the cathedral. They are the exterior cleaning crew who are constantly employed to keep the cathedral clear of grime, bird droppings, seeds and weeds etc., which fall/sprout on the building. (They have even had small trees growing in certain flatter areas of the roof)
We strolled around the outside in the shower as a service was going on inside. Eventually tourists were allowed in as the service drew to an end. It was so wonderful to hear the choir singing and catch the last part of the prayers.
Our guide pointed out to us a replica of one of the finials on the top of the cathedral. It was over 30 feet high and weighed Lord only knows how many tons. It is hard to imagine the craftsmen hoisting this to the top of the cathedral.
When we came out, it was time to head back to the ship. As Cynthia and I made our way slowly back to the ship, we tried to cut across a courtyard of red bricks. We were asked gently by a city worker, to detour around the red brick area. We noticed signs posted around the area. They stated that the Cologne Philharmonic orchestra was in a recording session beneath our feet. The red brick area was the roof of the Cologne concert hall!
We had learned so much about this city in such a short time. Like other places on this trip our appetite to re-visit had been increased.
We relaxed through the afternoon and watched the people come and go on the dockside. Cyclists mingled with pedestrians and children rode their scooters. It seemed the whole city was out and about, enjoying life on this Ascension Day.
At 6.15 pm we had our daily briefing in the lounge. That was followed by the Captain’s reception and after that we were asked to join the skipper and Gerhardt the hotel manager at their table for dinner.
Woowee…Harringtons and Davies had hit the big-time…not!
The dinner with Harringtons, Captain Igor and Gerhardt proved to be a very pleasant experience and Gerhardt looked after us very well. I know Don felt it was a little over the top the way we had three waiters and the Maitre D hovering around us, and I agree with that completely. However, they absolutely spoiled us.
Tomorrow we head downriver and dock in Rotterdam. One full day excursion remains and that’s that. I don’t know if it will be possible to post anything regarding this last day’s excursion before we get home. I will try, but…if not…thanks for coming along for the ride and for your support and comments.
Our time in Europe is fast growing short. Goodbye for now and God bless.