Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Day 4 Part 1 - Koblenz May 12

Busy, busy day!

Stress day for Program Director Nick, Conceige Sondre, the staff of two ships and Viking.

High water last week meant that ships weren't getting to the right docks in time, bottlenecks were being created by barges that had been delayed and got further delayed going through the locks, some captains were not cooperating and, in short, everything that could go wrong sort of did.  A lot of adjustments and changes had to be done in a very short time and costs add up.

We had to have our belongings outside the cabin door by 8 a.m. although they didn't take them until after we left.  Had breakfast -- omelet, bacon, cheese, pineapple juice -- and then we left the Kvasir at 9:00 if we were going to Marksburg Castle (which Andrea did) or 9:15 is we were going to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress overlooking Koblenz (for me, any guesses why?  If in doubt check out the link for the Castle).  The fortress is Europe's second largest preserved fortress.  It was constructed between 1817 and 1829 in its present-day design.  The origin dates back to the first century AD.

The other group had a walk to the buses that took them to the castle.  Our group had taxis waiting to take us over about 10 blocks to the end of a gondola which crosses the Rhine.  The ship crew had found out only about 20 mins. before the ship docked that we were not docking where expected and they had to arrange the cars to get us to the required location.




Playmobile was having an exhibition at the Fortress so several life size figures were standing at the gondola station and we also saw several more inside the fort.


 
The gondola station is near the huge statue of Kaiser Wilhelm 1 at the junction of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.  In 2002 it became a UNESCO World Culture Heritage Site and is fringed by the flags of the German states, the European flag and the flag of the U.S. which is dedicated to the victims of 9/11.

Each gondola car was quite big, had multiple windows and took us over the Rhine to the heights across the river.  I quite enjoyed it.  Certainly was something different.

We were met at the top station by our guide dressed as a 17th Century gentleman who was really a spy trying to find out information about the fortress.  Took a few minutes to catch on to his persona but it wasn't too bad.  Very quiet spoken so sometimes hard to catch all his words.

We walked across a large field leading to the gates. 

Apparently there are numerous tunnels under the grounds.  The builders had certainly thought of the possibilities of attack and used several different sized windows and wall angles, open spaces, nooks and crannies, moats and gates to do all they could for the defense of the area. 

The bricks here were designed to minimize the effect of any direct hit and the windows angled to make it harder to get a shot in and to provide a specialized angle for the shooter inside.



The corner here is again designed to minimize the damage from anything shot at it.











It was very surprising how large the walls and actual fortress were once you entered it further. 















 
This was the square overlooking the rivers.  A large building just shows to the left and there is a smaller building just out of the picture on the right that is now used as a cafĂ©.  From here you can get a marvelous view.

Can you pick out Kaiser Wilhelm 1 statute just to the left of that white area in the center of the picture?  And notice the gondola cars coming across.  Two are showing.


I was a bit sorry we were not able to visit the city but maybe another times.

At the end of the tour and a visit to the souvenir store, we boarded our buses to drive up to a dock just below Marksburg Castle in Braubach where a steamboat was waiting for us and the other groups for the next step of our day.

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