On Our Way At Last

Today we went on a bus journey to Marksburg Castle. This is a 700 year old castle which was never conquered or destroyed.
It has an amazing location with majestic views of the River Rhine. We were again struck by how low the water levels were. The guide Deiter was very knowledgeable and amusing.

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Afloat at Last

Today we set off in a bus to make the long journey to Cologne in Germany. We left Rotterdam at 08.30 and got to Cologne at midday. By the time we had got off the buses and got our listening devices working it was probably around 13.00. Our guide was very amusing and slightly camp: he reminded me a bit of Eddie Izzard, the cross-dressing, politically active comedian. He made lots of jokes about how laid back people from Cologne were, and how unlike Prussians and Bavarians.

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Still Dry, Slightly Less High

Today we went on a bus from our hotel in Amsterdam to Kinderdijk, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a village in an area of polder which has 19 windmills involved in the maintenance of the land, which would otherwise be flooded as it is below sea level. In fact, most of the maintenance is now done by a diesel and an electric pumping station, but the windmills are kept in full working order partly to preserve the World Heritage status, but also to help out the two main pumping stations in extreme circumstances. We were shown round the site and saw inside one of the windmills. The millers still occupy them, and the accommodation is incredibly cramped by modern standards.

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High and Dry

Today we were due to start another river cruise with Viking across Europe from Amsterdam and ending in Budapest in Hungary. Two days ago we received an email from the company telling us that due to low water levels we would not be able to join the ship in Amsterdam. We were to stay in a hotel there instead and make the journey by bus on Monday to Kinderdijk, our next destination. We were given the impression that we would then journey to Cologne in Germany (our third stop) by bus and join the ship there.

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Still No More Heroes

On November 2 2006 I wrote a blog post entitled "Where Have All The Heroes Gone?". It followed a visit to Paris, during which we had visited the Hotel des Invalides.

I noted that the dome of the Eglise du Dome took over 20 years to build and houses the tomb of Napoleon, whose remains are encased in 5 coffins and a sarcophagus of red porphyry. The remains of some other state heroes are also located there, including Ferdinand Foch.

My point in 2006 was that I couldn't think of a single politician or military leader in the World then that would be so revered by the general public that they would support a memorial on this scale. The question is "Eleven years down the line, has anything changed?".

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From Russia with Love 11

Date: 18 July 2017 Location: Viking Akun moored in Saint Petersburg Got up too early as usual. We are going to the Peterhof Palace, departing at 07.30. Weather again looks better than was predicted. Took about 30 minutes on the bus to get to the Peterhof Palace. Our guide was again Alexei, who has a…

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From Russia with Love 10

Date: 17 July 2017 Location: Viking Akun moored in Saint Petersburg Another great breakfast. Wosog had pancakes and I had eggs Benedict (one egg). Weather today is pretty bad: heavy rain showers predicted. At 08.15 set off for the Catherine Palace in Pushkin, which is a small city near Saint Petersburg. The palace was almost…

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