Back to the big smoke today. We were well and truly on the Rhine and a parade of barges passed us, going upriver from the Netherlands and Germany. I have no doubt we were just one of many vessels heading down river. It’s a very busy waterway. Because the Rhine’s water level was so low the barges passing us rode very high in the water, even if they were carrying cargo. Not too much profit there. We heard the next day that the water levels were the lowest they’d been in 130 years.
And then we moored at Cologne, confronted with a formidable flight of stone steps to get to dry land. Had the river been higher, the trip to the top would have been shorter. It was enough to actually prevent some of the less able-bodied among us from going ashore at all.
Cologne has many claims to fame – its fabulous cathedral and its 1477 eau de cologne being the best known. But maybe not everybody knows it was a very important Roman stronghold, more of which is being dug up as they expand the underground train system. As we walked towards the cathedral following our lollipop, the guide told us the main station had been built next to the cathedral to join the old with the new. But in fact the vibration from all those trains rumbling past have put a strain on the cathedral. We did wonder about the fabled German engineers when we heard that.
Then we walked up some steps to an apparently empty square being guarded by a bunch of official looking men behind simple barricades. The guide explained that the square was above the roof of a music auditorium, and the sound of feet crossing the square could be heard during recitals. So the area was fenced off in those times. Uh-huh. Well done, engineers.
We took a look at the cathedral, a majestic Gothic building which seemed to have been spared the allied bombs, although some of the stained glass had been replaced with inferior modern panes. If we’d had more time we would have visited the Roman museum.
That evening it was time for the Captain’s Farewell Cocktail & Gala Dinner. The end of the trip loomed, but much laughter and fun was had by all. We were introduced to ALL the staff on the Amavenita – captain, crew, hotel management, room attendants, chefs, wait staff. Everyone except the second-in-command, who (as usual) was up in the wheel house as we headed for Amsterdam.