COLOGNE, GERMANY – 2016 CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND CATHEDRAL

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December 17, 2016

The final stop for the river cruise was Cologne, Germany.   Founded in the 1st century AD as a Roman Colony, Cologne has a vast history.   I , of course, was there to see the Christmas Markets and to visit it’s huge Cathedral.

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As you can see, the Christmas Markets were  so crowded, it was difficult to navigate  through the crowds.

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Though I still managed  to enjoy  some Christmas baubles.

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I would love to see  the  giant cow who wears this.

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It took  almost 700 years to complete the building of  the  Cologne Cathedral , 1248 – 1880.  It is massive in size and quite dirty.

 

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The gold sarcophagus is believed to hold the remains of the Magi, the 3 kings that visited Jesus after his birth,  making  the Cathedral a major pilgrimage destination. The remains were given to Cologne  from Milan, Italy in 1164.  The shrine to hold them was built by artisans from 1190-1220.

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Close up of the sarcophagus ( borrowed from the Internet).

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This Madonna  shrine shows many of the  pilgrimage offerings left behind.  There was also 2 large framed cases full of more  relics hanging beside the Madonna.

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The Cathedral is also filled with  enormous and spectacular stained glass windows.

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Least we not forget  – the aftermath of WWII.

 

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

Thanks for traveling alone the Rhine River with me!

SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSIC CABINET MUSEUM, in Rudesheim, Germany

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Brömserhof building, built in 1542, now home to the museum.

December  17,  2016

Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum is  the  most unusual collection I have ever seen,  nor  could I ever  imagined  to exist,  until I saw and heard  them.

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This museum’s fascinating  displays  of automated musical instruments is the 1st in Germany.  There are  approximately 350 exhibits, dating from the 18th to the 20th century, all privately owned by one person,  Siegfried  Wendel.   The owner’s hobby in the 1960’s  was to  rescue  (and repair)  these exhibits from becoming scrap metal.

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This piece played 8 different musical instruments.

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This showpiece played an unbelievable 18 different  musical instruments.

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This exhibit, built between 1892 and 1930,  the Hupfeld phono Liszt Violina,   played 6 violins at one time.

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Some  musical cabinets were beautiful,

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some whimsical,

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some with creepy clowns,

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and one was  very, very, interesting.

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This musical cabinet, built  from 1888 to 1892,  the “Land of the Dolls” featured 27 dolls, each  playing a different instrument.  This is the largest doll automated calliope  ever built.

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FYI – Many of these can be seen and heard on You Tube.

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The gift shop was as interesting as the museum, as  99 % of the items  for sale, of course, played music.

If you are ever visiting  the town  Rudesheim, Germany,  be sure to visit this museum – you will  be amazed!!!

Thanks for reading!

 

RUDESHEIM, GERMANY – 2016 CHRISTMAS MARKETS

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Dec. 17, 2016

Rudesheim, Germany  was another enchanting  town along the Rhine, guaranteed to steal your heart.  Existing back  as early as 1074 , in 1818  officially became a town and known for its wine making.   It was delight to walk the hilly, windy  streets  that weave through the town and see…..

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epic aristocratic homes, such as this one built in 1542,  now the home of Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum

( the topic of my following blog)…..

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the  half-timbered buildings…

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with the old time guild signs hanging from many…

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and, of course, the Christmas Markets..

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with their Kohler “kiss” candies….

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their decorations and…..

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Christmasy trinkets.

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Rudesheim’s  Markets even had a large  train and town  set to bring alive that  kid in your heart   so many of us had forgotten about.

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Lastly , lit up like a fairy tale against the dark night sky  is  the  65 foot Eagle Tower from the  15th century town’s fortification .

Rudesheim was such a captivating town,  it left me wanting  to explore it’s many more sights, but alas, time  ran out and it will have to be saved for another time.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

ALONG THE BANKS OF THE RHINE RIVER

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December 16, 2016

Grape Vines, grape vines, grape vines a many  sit along the  banks of the Rhine River .  Most of the time the boat would  travel at night except for one morning.   Here is a sample of what can be seen as the boat navigates along the Rhine in the Germany region….

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The town of Unkel

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My fav….

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The remains of the  Ludendorff  Bridge in  the town  of Remagen, Germany.   The bridge was built during World War I to get German troops to the western front.    During WWII ,  troops needed a way to cross the Rhine.    Nazis’ attempted to destroy the bridge as the Americans approached but the soldiers fought their way across, capturing it.  The Nazis’ continued to try to take the bridge down, but to no avail.   Eventually,  with the burden of carrying soldiers and armor  the bridge collapsed on March 17, 1945  killing 30 soldiers.   But by then thousands of troops had crossed the river over the bridge.   The battle for the  bridge inspired both a a  book and film  called ” The Bridge at Remagen”.

“Today we may say aloud before an awe-struck world: “We are still masters of our fate. We are still captain of our souls.””   Winston Churchill

Thanks for reading!

CHRISTMAS MARKETS IN COLMAR, FRANCE / ALSACE REGION

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December 12, 2016,  Second Stop

Second stop of the day after Riquewihr, Germany  was Colmar, France in the Alsace Region.   Colmar is another picturesque  town full  of 15th and 16th century half-timbered buildings.

The Christmas tree is believed to have originated  in   Alsace in the 16th century when it was part of Germany.  The Christmas Tree  custom spread to other countries by way of marriage.   The Christmas decorations were everywhere!!

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These buildings were in  an area called  Petite Venice in Colmar.

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Birds of the day…

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Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

HEIDELBERG, GERMANY -A CASTLE & CHRISTMAS MARKETS 2016

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December 15, 2016

Heidelberg was another delightful  stop along the Rhine  River tour.   The Heidelberg Castle is a breath-taking sight  nestled 300 feet  in the hill above the city.  Built in 1386 and  over time it has been ravaged by wars, fires, and struck twice by lightening and captured by the French.

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The castle has been somewhat restored but not open to the public.

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The world’s  largest wine barrel sits in the castle.   With the capacity to hold 58,000 gallons, it stands almost 20 feet tall and has a dance floor on the top.

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The courtyard stands in its ruin condition.

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The view of the town and the Neckar River  below  the Castle grounds is spectacular !

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The beautiful  view is referred to a landscape of roof tops.

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Even the opposite side of the river is lovely, looking like a stately  miniature  display.

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Walking the streets has  a  fantastic discovery in every step – such as Heidelberg’s Old Gate Bridge

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The bridge statue of Prince Elector Carl Theodore who had the bridge built 250  years ago.

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there are historic  buildings…..

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eye-catching  Christmasy  decorated buildings and windows…..

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tidy, colorful narrow streets….

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and of course, Christmas Markets !

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Each Market Hut holds a different delight!

 

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Did i mention Gluhwein?   It is a mulled wine concoction  ( tasting similar to  cough syrup) that is sold at all of the Christmas Markets.  Each market also has it’s own distinctively decorated ceramic  mug  in which it is served.    While I was not a fan of the wine, I did love the cups !

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The Christmas Pyramid resembles a windmill with rotating figurines.  Today they are driven by electricity but in the way past  the hot air rising from the candles provided the energy.

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I just love the Christmas Markets along with everything that can be found there.

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The Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas store can be found at most Christmas Markets and it is unbelievable!   It is everything Christmas and guaranteed to bring out the kid in you, no matter what the age.   If your holiday spirits need a lift, check out her web sight!

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Kathe’s  windows displays  can be topped by none !

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Each Kathe store is also decorated magnificently!

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Thanks for reading and soak in the Christmas joy!!!

 

 

 

 

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BADEN-BADEN, GERMANY – CHRISTMAS MARKETS 2016

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December  14, 2016

Baden-Baden, Germany is the stop of the day as the river  boat navigates along the Rhine.  A picturesque  city that borders the Black Forest and is well known  for the  mineral water spas and the upscale casino.

As usual, I enjoyed the beautiful  buildings, the Christmas decorations and Christmas Markets such as……

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Beautiful  buildings…..

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Beautiful decorations…

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Just a reminder that this is Germany……

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Plus this endearing  little  couple who were quietly  enjoying the afternoon.

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The Loewenstein  Restaurant  had lavish decorations starring their logo “Lion” but also includes  Santa  with his sleigh and reindeer ……

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Christmas Market Huts lined the paths of a  beautifully maintained park lawn with  city buildings and the hills  of the  Black Forest  as their backdrop.

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This market hut wins for the most numerous items in their decoration and this is only half of it.

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Plus an Angel’s Himmelspost an d Christ Kind, which translation  I pieced together means a sky-post for the German Santa.

 

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There were  also a colorful  “stained glass’ displays  made by school children at the Markets

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One a side note – I  couldn’t resist trying this cute gingerbread martini with dinner.  While it tasted pretty darn good,  it was also a bit strong so I sipped it very slowly.  Then I noticed….

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the gingerbread man was not too  fairing well .  I  decided that was a prediction of things to come.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Holiday Windows Across Alsace, 2016

 

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December  14, 2016

Just  windows,  for  your  viewing   pleasure……

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Why the witch?????   –   Tis the season to be jolly!!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strasbourg, France – Christmas Markets 2016

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December 13, 2016

Strasbourg, France, a beautiful city  dating back to 1262,   was the destination for today.  Also the last of  the Alsace Region for this trip.  A spectacular  day it was as Strasbourg has so much to offer.  Beautiful buildings,  many different Christmas Markets, and holiday trimmings everywhere I look.

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Half-timbered buildings mixed with…

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different styles and  architecture …

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many  festively decorated for the season!

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La Petite France is a  particularly  scenic area in Strasbourg.

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Traditional  guild signs  hang from many of the retailers.  Alsace pottery  is beautiful, comes in all kinds of colors and patterns and largely consists of endless sizes of  casserole dishes and accessory  pieces.  Casserole is actually a French word.  A merchant in one of the shops told me that Alsace was the home of the first “crock pot”!

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Mazipan, tempting  in all shapes and sizes can be found in  patisserie  windows.

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Nutella is dressed up also for the holiday !

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Storks are migratory birds that return to Alsace to nest every year and are much loved in the area.  Their now empty nests  remaining in the  trees are huge!

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Cute  Christmas Market huts were lined up in a rows.

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Better watch out – Santa has a look out on one of the huts so he can  see who is naughty and who is nice.

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Fashionable  holiday  window decorations  are a must – after all,  this is France.

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Fashion comes in  many ways..

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Gingerbread men are always a favorite.

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Their is no limit to our love of gingerbread men.

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Traditional trimmings along with…

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the imaginative were plentiful.

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When darkness fell, the city lit up with the magic of the season.

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Strasbourg’s Cathedral, which is 472 feet tall,  looked incredible.

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May your Christmas and every day in the future,

sparkle with happiness and new surprises.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

RIQUEWIHR, FRANCE – ALSACE REGION

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December 12, 2016

First stop for today as we navigate the Rhine River is Riquewihr, Germany.   Riquewihr is a small, darling, medieval town in the Alsace region.  The Alsace region  is a cultural and historical region on parts of the  Germany/France border.  Ages past this area would sometimes be considered part of France, other times, it was part of Germany.  It has its own language, Alsatian, and  a  unique combination of both country’s cuisine.

The purpose of this stop was , of course, to see the Christmas Markets,  but once Main Street – I fell in love and spent my time  there. Here is a sampling…

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Porch decoration of a local retailer.

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Kathe  Wohlfahrt  Christmas store is a wonderful shop that you can easily spend hours and hundreds of euros in!

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This is just one room in the Kathe Wohlfhart store.

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This unique coach sat outside of the Riquewihr Music Museum.

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Thanks for reading!!

 

 

 

 

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