Monday, June 29, 2015

Euro Trip--The Castle Edition

OK, now you are going to get castles, castles, castles...

Perhaps the highlight of the Rhine cruise for me were all the castles that lined a significant length of the river.  But the castle morning opened cool and rainy, still we piled into buses and headed up to the Marksburg Castle for a tour of the never conquered castle with its 12 foot thick walls.


It is well preserved as a tourist stop with cannons, wine kegs, and (jutting out of the wall) the WC...




A view from the castle...


Then it was back to the boat (ship?) to begin the cruise past the castles.  Thankfully the weather 
cleared, and we could enjoy the sites (and the hot chocolate with rum).  So here's more castles than you'll ever want to see again...











We passed the infamous Lorelei statue and her rock that mythically lured sailors to their doom...



Even the road/railroad tunnels had castles...



And vineyards, many on very steep slopes...   I imagine immigrant labor was used to harvest the grapes...  Anyway, the Riesling from this area is infamous.



But we aren't done with castles...  on our road trip to Millau and back, we found a couple more...  the first from Puy, I think, or maybe it was Mende, or?


We were driving over some mountain ranges on a narrow road trying to find Vallon de Arc when this beaut popped out of the woods, the chateau de Champ...


Enough castles...  but they sure were cool...  a favorite part of the whole trip.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Bride of Euro Oddities

More curious pics I took on the great Euro adventure... and some new friends.

From Rudesheim am Rheim...  they are very proud of their wine...


And they will ship it anywhere...


My favorite advertising poster, from a fashion shop in Cologne...  This is amazing!  Style, style, style...hair, dress!, chair, shoes...


Speaking of fashion, I did think this was a laundromat in Lyon, but look again... a clothing store.


From Speyer, a modernist tribute to Orpheus...


A couple cars...  a new front-engined Ferrari (Silicon Valley isn't the only IPO center) and, well they still make MGs!  We just can't get them here.



Here's our cruise crew...  the first night's dinner established our group of reasonably like minded souls, and we hung out with them pretty much the whole cruise.


Speaking of the cruise, we had some good entertainment several nights.  A classical duo while docked at Cologne, and a fine French/German singer on another night...




And one of the finest bottles of wine I've ever drunk, and drunk I became...   Not that expensive, locally, unfortunately probably not found outside of France.


I'll finish with a wildflower from deep in the French forests...



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Euro Oddities 2

From the narrow, cafe laden streets of Lyon...  these guys blew my mind (well, we had a lot of wine with dinner!)...  but what are the chances of street musicians, with this instrumentation, playing this tune (Brubeck lives!)?

video

Euro Trip--The Cathedrals

OK, here comes the standard tourist stuff...  great cathedrals of Europe (or a few of them anyway).  On the river cruise, the standard day tour usually included a major cathedral.  Then we found a few on our own (we couldn't always keep to the program!).

The first biggie was in Cologne.  Gothic style...  centuries to build.



Curiously, the Raiders of the Lost Ark contributed their discovery to this cathedral...


Tourists...


The next major religious edifice was in Strassbourg...




A cool organ loft...  and an amazing clock that tracked almost anything that had to do with time.



In the town of Colmar, a featured stop on the cruise (and home of a great Alstacian Pinot Gris!), there was a cathedral apparently of Romanesque style but, due to long construction times (centuries), it evolved into a Gothic style (flying buttresses).


We finally decided to play hooky from the tour schedule to rest up a bit then explore on our own.  While the boat (ship?) was docked at the little town of Breisach on the German side of the Rhine, and everyone was taken into the Black Forest, we walked up to this cathedral on the hill overlooking the town.  Had a great apple strudel in a little cafe as well.


But my favorite was the Romanesque styled cathedral in Speyer.  There was something minimalist about this church that quite moved me after all the ornate excesses of the Gothic styled cathedrals.




This cross really defines the Romanesque style...


Somehow I don't think these organ pipes are original, but the style really fit the minimalism of the cathedral... and they look really cool!


OK, so much for European cathedrals...  at some point, we'll get to the castles...

PS...  The Tour de France is coming up.  The Tour actually begins in Holland, in the major city of Ultrecht...  Ultrech was a major center of the Catholic religion before Martin Luther came along.  The cathedral here is quite spectacular...  and the Tour will ride through the arch that can sorta be seen in this pic...