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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Great Journey to Europe – Part X

We wake up this morning docked in Cologne, Germany. Patsy and I take in the early breakfast and make ready for the walking tour of Colognebig cathedral today. For those that do not realize it, this is where it all started.

Eau de Cologne became the generic term all over the world and Cologne is the city where it all started in 1709. An Italian perfumer, John Maria Farina (Giovanni Maria Farina, 1685 – 1766) made Cologne famous by naming his fragrance after his new hometown. He started producing the fragrance in 1709 and still the firm of Maürer & Wirtz produces the same formula there today.

 Gathered and ready to hit Cologne
 Cologne’s fat pigeons
 Another group waiting to depart

Unfortunately, our guide this morning is so full of himself, it makes it hard to listen to what he has to say. He goes on and on about his first book and what he is thinking might be his second book. He seems to be very well versed on architecture and wants to let us know this but he stays grounded in the minute details of what he has to show us and never seems to understand that we are not as interested as he might think. You would think that when he asks if there are any questions, the lack of response ought to give him a cluemaybe he thinks that we have taken it all in and absorbed our fillhe just does not get it.
We are visiting the Cathedral of the Three Kings (the Wisemen who visited the birth of the Crist Child) and the place is fabulous, but I have no desire to know the exact dimensions of each of the stained glass windows on every wall of the structure.

 The Cathedral of the Three Kings (Cologne)








Eventually we have to walk away and leave the guide with those that have the desire to listen to his mundane drivel. A group of us peeled offpretty much the usual suspects—we headed out the door and down the steps to a massive town square and over to a pastry shop which turned out to be an entrance to the main downtown train stationthe cinnamon flatbread was fantastic.
Then we make our way across the square where we have spotted a coffee shop. Knowing that we need to continue to support the local economy, we partake of their beverage—I know you are thinking we have found another place to imbibe a couple of more beers, but this time it is still early morning and we order some coffee.
Patsy, Ginger & Jerry Leininger, Buddy & Carolyn Morgan, 
Jim & Leslie Clemments

While we are taking in the activity of the square, a spontaneous pep rally breaks out on the massive steps leading up to the Cathedral entrance that we made our exit from. They were too far for us to determine their language, but we were entertained by their performance.

 Spontaneous Pep Rally

Making our way on our own back to where the Amadeus Elegant is docked and knowing that we will not have another chance to support the local alcohol industry, several of us begin to look for another establishment that will take our meager Euros and provide us a beverage in kind. Carolyn and I find an establishment run by a guy and his two children (son & daughter) that is open and willing to serve us. We are quickly joined by Buddy and we order a round.

 Our last German Beer

Making our way back to meet up with the others, we come across the stragglers who have waited on us to return.

Jerry & Ginger Leininger and Leslie & Jim Clemments

At lunch today aboard the Amadeus Elegant, Patsy and I are joined by Stan and Christine Key and Lee and Joanne Billingsley. What a great bunch of people we have met and gotten to know on this trip.

We spent a little time in our cabin filling out the Gohagen questionnaire and getting our tip package ready for the Amadeus Elegant crewan obligation all European riverboat travelers must undertake.

Next up is the port talk by Shelley on what our tactics will be for tomorrow morning’s arrival in and departure from Amsterdam. Sounds easy enough!

Professor Josiah Osgood (Georgetown University) has our attention at 3 PM to finish up his lecture on the Romans and the Rhine. He discusses how some of the German stereotypes persist until today and how the Germanic people moved from the east side of the Rhine into all the other areas of the European continent. His take on the entire subject is that the German General Flavius Stilicho (sometimes Stilico, a member of the Roman Army) insured the better organization of the German peoples and the fact that the Rhine froze over on New Year’s Eve in 406 AD for the first time in many years, allowed the peoples in the east to cross over and begin to move into the western parts of Europethus beginning the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Almost immediately following the lecture, Patsy and I make our way to the aft library and gather with Giesela Boelhouwer and Juliane Heynen (those Saskatchewan ladies), Ginger (and later Jerry) Leininger, Sara Hill, and Joanne (and later Lee) Billingsley for some very spirited discussion on all that we have seen and done during our trip.

Following our trip aft, we head to our cabin to get (semi) dressed for the Captain’s farewell dinner. We find seats this time with Lee and Joanne plus Dave and Joyce. Boy, the stories that were told that evening would make your ears curl. Nothing was left to wonder about. A great deal of the stories centered on our days on the campus of Texas A&M; a common thread that we all have. Roy Bud (Ball State attendee) stopped by and talked just a little. I had the chance to discuss our common past in the military several times and enjoyed meeting him very much. Roy was a two tour in Vietnam Army Captain who left the second time pretty well shot up. A True Veteran.

After dinner, it seemed that nobody was going to be the first to exit the dining room. Everybody wanted to hang on and talk just a little more. We all had become such good friends, no one wanted to leave. Eventually we had to hug everybody and say our goodbyeswe were on one of the early busses to the airport and some others were staying for the two-day extended tour of Amsterdam.

Morning found us docked in Amsterdam. We were up early and had our bags out for our last luggage pickup and handling by the Amadeus Elegant crew.

Bags ready – Last morning

Hello, I’m A’DAM

Patsy and I made our way down to breakfast; joined by Kevin and Becky, then Rick and Tamara Dirkse (from Rockwall).  Before you know it, we are on the bus to the airport. Our bags were loaded early and I feel very lucky that they were easy to findthe loading and multiple flight carriers was not thought through very well by the Goahgen guys. Luckily enough, we were much earlier than the other departures that the guides were able to call back and get the situation corrected for the next departures.

We made it through the passport check and baggage handling without too much trouble, but the airport was really crowded.

While waiting in the staging area, the guy next to me got up and left the area and his bags. I first thought he was behind me just stretching his legs, but when he didn’t come back around and sit down, I ask the lady across from me if he was still behind me. She immediately got up and reported him to the Dutch authorities. When he did walk back up, they took him off to the side, inspected his carry on and questioned him for some twenty minutespretty gruffly, I might addbefore they let him resume his seat.

Once again, I headed through the security checkthe Dutch having this a bit backwards from the US. I didn’t make it—two shoulder replacements caused the machine to go crazy. I underwent a fairly rough full body frisk before I was passed and allowed to board the flight.

Coincidentally, we were departing west only a few days ahead of the Malaysian Air flight 17 that was shot down over eastern Ukraineanother time we were in the right place at the right time.

We had a fantastic time and would do it againbut only after I have checked more of my wanta-go-tos off my list. Man! Was I glad to get back home to my Pups: Little Gus and Otis!

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