Visiting the medieval town of Rothenburg (founded in the 1300s), we explored walled ramparts, incredibly old

buildings, and cathedrals.  The town is famous for its Christmas Museum and souvenir German beer steins as well.

 We soon continued to Wurzburg, where Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen invented the X-ray machine.  Its Residenz is

one of Europe’s most impressive baroque palaces, set next to Dom St. Kilian, one of Germany’s largest

Romanesque churches (686 AD).  We discovered a shop with pottery by local artisans, and had a local dish made

from a large onion stuffed with sausages.  Tourists are also encouraged to drink the city’s famous “smokey beer”—

accidentally discovered from an unfortunate fire.

      Castle ruins, divine chocolate, and glass blowing was found in Wertheim   Although founded in 1183 AD, the

Romans were here with their walls well before the city was officially built.  Wertheim is especially famous for its

glass museum and the ruins of the von Wertheim family castle (blown up accidentally in a 1619 gunpowder

explosion). On to Heidelberg  described as the “epitome of German romanticism”!  Heidelberg Castle is

considered to be the most magnificent castle ruin in all of Germany and took 400 years to build.   Heidelberg also

remains an important university town, now with 28,000 students (founded in 1386, it is Germany’s oldest

university).   Drunken, brawling miscreant students were housed in a segregated jail facility to keep the sons of

nobility and wealthy merchants away from the more common criminal class.  Those in lockup fought boredom by

leaving detailed, charming graffiti on the walls.  

      Our ship stopped at Rudesheim (known for its wines such as Riesling) during its harvest festival.  Next

morning, we started our journey up the Rhine River—an area famed for its many castles. We passed Lorelei Rock,

famous for its tale of a mythical woman who would lure sailors to their death on its shores.  In Koblenz, we were

greeted by a huge statue of Emperor Wilhelm I—located at German Corner (Deutches Eck)—where the Rhine

meets the river Moselle.  We had time enough to take a cable car up to the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, which

gave us magnificent views of the city below and a variety of museums to explore.  At our last stop in Germany we

viewed the magnificent Cologne Cathedral.  Some argue that Cologne Cathedral is even

more grand than Notre Dame, especially since it was almost destroyed during WW II.  That evening, our

shipcrew bid us farewell by staging a series of entertaining comedy skits.  Many of them came from Eastern

European countries ravaged by conflict and war (Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine).  But all remained cheerful and high-

spirited anyway.  

      The final stop of our European river tour was Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Holland).  We toured this Venice-

like city by boat via its many canals, which brought us many close-up views of everyday life in this Dutch

metropolis. Bicycles were everywhere!  Of course, the Red Light district of Amsterdam has long been famous,

since prostitution is completely legal in the Netherlands—as is what the Dutch call "low impact” drugs (marijuana,

hashish, peyote).  In all, Amsterdam was a good place to end our journey, but it was hard to part with the

enchantment of Old Europe!