Thursday’s Pretty Windows in Germany and France.

For Dawn’s “Lingering Windows” challenge this week, here are a few more which I spotted recently in Germany.

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Flowers were everywhere, and really prettied up this rather plain town hall,

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as well as most of the houses.

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This popular restaurant in Strasbourg was built as an a tannery in 1572. It became a restaurant in 1949, and was renovated for its fourth centenary in 1972.

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This one was really nicely planted out, and now the windows aren’t very visible at all. 🙂

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my pretty windows this week. To see more, just click here.

Wordless Wednesday: Race you to the top!

If you’re feeling energetic you can climb the spiral stone staircase up into the South Tower of Cologne Cathedral. There are 533 steps to the observation deck, but the top of the spire at an altitude of 157.3 m, is accessible only via a ladder on the outside. There is no elevator. 🙂

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Thursday’s windows: Cologne Cathedral

What a breathtaking sight is this Gothic masterpiece! The construction of Cologne Cathedral was begun in 1248, and wasn’t completed until 1880. In 1530, work on the church stopped, but the crane stood on top of the building for 300 years, as a symbol of hope that it would one day be completed. When it was finished in 1880, it was the tallest building in the world. The foundations were 50 feet deep and there were 10,000 sq metres of glass in the windows. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the Unesco World Heritage list of culturally  important sites.

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On entering this magnificent building, I was absolutely amazed at the height of the ceilings and the light streaming in through the windows behind the altar, which seemed to bathe everything in a celestial glow.

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There are countless stained glass windows, each one very beautiful and quite different from the other.

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As you can imagine, it’s impossible to do the windows justice with photos. We were told that coloured glass was thought to be the nearest thing to Heaven’s light, and thus captured the imagination of the people of the Middle Ages. The faithful who were mostly illiterate, received the message of the Gospel verbally, and their faith was encouraged by such reinforcing visual images, created by light reflected from these windows.

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Most of the windows are original, as they were taken out and put in a place of safety before the bombings of the two world wars. Much of the church was damaged during the bombings, but the windows were luckily unscathed.

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The most recent window in the cathedral was unveiled in 2007. It was designed by the famous German artist, Gerhard Richter, and is made up of 11,200 identically sized squares of glass. This very modern window is a veritable kaleidoscope of colours, and some people don’t like it at all. What do you think?

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I hope you’ve enjoyed my windows for the Thursday theme. To see more of this week’s interpretations of the challenge, just click here.

Thanks for the memory…….Castles on the Rhine.

As we sailed serenely down the Rhine, I was reminded of that 1938 song by Hoagy Carmichael, ‘Thanks for the memory’. Whenever I’ve heard it sung, I’ve wondered about those “Castles on the Rhine” which come after “Candlelight and wine,” in the lyrics. Well yesterday my curiosity was finally assuaged, as we passed castle after castle, seemingly without end, until we arrived in Braubach. A few of you have asked me to please show you some views from our cruise ship, so here goes. You’ll probably be as “castled out” by the end as I was. 🙂

As we neared Braubach, we caught sight of the beautiful Marksburg Castle, the only hill castle along the Rhine which has never been destroyed, making it the most original castle in the entire valley of the Loreley. We were able to visit it later, but that’s a post for another day.

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Today we are in Cologne, and I’ve been out most of the day looking at the magnificent cathedral. Tonight we have a classical music evening after dinner, in sharp contrast to last night’s entertainment, which ended up with our young Program Director doing a very convincing impersonation of Elvis singing ‘All Shook Up’. His white suit, dark shades and hip gyrations were right on the nail.

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Have a great weekend everyone. I have only one full day of our cruise left and it’s back to England on Sunday, and on to Florida on Tuesday. It’s all go! I’m rather looking forward to being able to relax for a change. Being on holiday is so exhausting. 🙂

A walk in the Black Forest

I’m having a great time on the Rhine River cruise, and have been kept very busy from early morning until bedtime, with sight seeing, eating, entertainment and of course family times. My dear mom-in-law is quite the celebrity on board, and when she returned to her cabin after dinner on the second night, she found it decorated with a banner, balloons and a ‘birthday cake’ made out of towels. 🙂

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Yesterday our ship docked in Breisach, and we went on a morning tour and were able to take a walk in the Black Forest. It was a lovely morning as we set out for our half hour mini-hike through the picturesque landscape.

One of the first things we saw was this old log-cutting machine. Quite a nifty contraption. I wonder how many men it took to lift the heavy logs into it.

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These mountain goats looked quite content and took no notice of us at all, as they nibbled away at the foliage growing out of the rocks.

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After a while, the trail became quite steep and the ground underfoot was very rocky, so we decided that my 100-year-old MiL, shouldn’t go any further. We left her sitting on a large boulder just under this viaduct, whilst the rest of us climbed up to the top.

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She was quite happy to wait here, and when we got back about twenty minutes later, said that she’d been listening to the birds, and had seen a train going over the top of the viaduct.

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Here are a few pics of what we saw on our way. Just click on any image to see the gallery.

To end off our visit, we watched a demonstration on how to make a Black Forest cake. It involved a huge chocolate sponge cake sliced into three layers, and sandwiched together with lots of delicious cherries, liberal quantities of Kirschwasser, cherry jam, and a whole bucket of whipped cream, all topped off with grated black chocolate. Yummy! I did pick up one of those recipe cards, and so did my MiL. I’m sure she’s going to try it when she gets back home. 🙂

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I have so much more to tell you and show you, but now I have to get showered and dressed so that I can have breakfast before our trip into Strasbourg. I’m sorry I haven’t managed to get to all of your blogs lately. Thank you so much for your lovely comments and visits.