The cruise from Boppard to Sankt Goar through the ‘Romantic Rhine’ is an experience to cherish forever, the stretch of river where you can see castles, villages and vineyards all along. Boppard is a town and municipality in Rhineland-Palatinate, lying in the Rhine Gorge (Upper Middle Rhine). During this 2 hours boat journey you can experience the splendour of the medieval times and can catch the breathtaking landscapes and the fine architecture of the Middle Ages. In all, there are around six castles in this short stretch.
Cologne Cathedral or High Cathedral of Saint Peter is the Roman Catholic cathedral located in Cologne, Germany. Cologne is located on both sides of the Rhine River, less than eighty kilometers from Belgium. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. This renowned Gothic architecture monument was declared a World Heritage site in 1996. It is Germany’s most visited landmarks, attracting an average of 20,000 visitors a day. Construction of Cologne cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed to the original plan, in 1880. Its highest spires give it the largest façade of any church in the world.
In 1164, the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel acquired the relics of the Three Kings (the three wise men in the Gospel of Matthew who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh) which the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa had taken from the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, Milan, Italy. The relics have great significance and drew pilgrims from all over Christendom. It was important to the church officials that they be properly housed and thus began a building program in the new style of Gothic architecture. The design of Cologne Cathedral was based quite closely on that of Amiens Cathedral in France, in terms of ground plan, style and width to height proportion of central nave. The plan is in the shape of a Latin Cross, as is usual with Gothic cathedrals.
During the World War II, the cathedral suffered fourteen hits by aerial bombs which badly damaged it. The twin spires were an easily recognizable navigational land mark for Allied aircraft bombing. Repairs were completed in 1956. An emergency repair on the northwest tower’s base carried out in 1944 using poor quality brick taken from a nearby ruined building remained visible, until 2005 as a reminder of the war, when it was decided to restore the section to its original appearance.
The Rhine Falls (German: Rheinfall) is the largest plain waterfall in Europe. The falls are located on Neuhausen am Rheinfall , a municipality in the canton of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland. It is 150m wide and 23m high. The Rhine falls were formed in the last ice age, approximately 14,000 to 17,000 years ago by erosion-resistant rocks narrowing the riverbed.
The nearest community is Neuhausen am Rheinfall, where tourists can also view the Worth Castle. Boat trips can be taken up the Rhine to the falls and the Rheinfallfelsen. There are also viewing platforms with spectacular view of the falls built on both sides of the Rhine.
See this mobile restaurant which offers Samosa, Vada Pav, Idli Chutney etc. You can imagine the number of Indians visiting this place. An Idli Chutney is costing almost 500 Indian Rupees.
Black Forest is the largest forested mountain range in the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in south western Germany. It is bounded by the Rhine valley to the west and south. The region is almost rectangular in shape with length of 160 km and breadth of 60 km. Originally Black Forest was a mixed forest of deciduous trees and firs. At the higher elevation spruce also grew. In the middle of the 19th century, the Black Forest was almost completely deforested by intensive forestry and was subsequently replanted, mostly with spruce.
It is believed that the cuckoo clocks are developed and evolved in the Black Forest area. A cuckoo clock is typically a pendulum-regulated clock that strikes the hours with a sound like common cuckoo’s call and has an automaton cuckoo bird that moves with each note. The mechanism to produce the cuckoo call has been in use since the middle of the 18th century and has remained almost without variation, until the present. It is unknown who invented it and where the first one was made. The cuckoo clocks were exported to the rest of the world from the mid 1850s onwards.
The design of a cuckoo clock is now conventional. Most are made in the “traditional style” (also known as “carved”) or “chalet” to hang on a wall. In the “traditional style” the wooden case is decorated with carved leaves and animals. They have an automaton of the bird that appears through small trap door while the clock is striking. There are two kinds of movements one day (around 30 hours) and eight day clockworks. Some have musical device and play a tune on a Swiss music box after striking the hours and half hours. The cuckoo clocks are mostly weight driven, though very few are spring driven. The weights are made of cast iron in a pine cone shape and cuckoo sound is created by two tiny pipes in the clock, with bellows attached to their tops. The clock’s movement activates the bellows to send a puff of air into each pipe alternately when the timekeeper strikes.
Never miss a visit to Drubba clock factory the alpine nest of the cuckoo clock when you are in the Black Forest area. Here you can witness a demonstration to explain the making of authentic cuckoo clocks in their original form, each piece carefully crafted for precision. A visit there is always a memorable experience and also it is the perfect place to buy your souvenir piece which comes in different sizes and designs to suit your pockets. They have service centers all around the world. In India they have service centers in Mumabi and Bangalore. From the Drubba clock factory you can take a short walk to the Black Forest among the chirping birds and gushing streams.
Malpe is a natural port about six kilometers to the west of Udupi town in Karnataka. It is an important port and fishing harbour on the Karnataka coast. It is situated on the mouth of Malpe River. Malpe is a hub of Mogaveera population. Mogaveera were originally a fishing community, reside mainly in Dakshina Kannada. Blessed with scenic views the harobour is the hub of busy fishing and commercial activities. There are frequent local buses available from Udupi bus stand to Malpe.
Paris the capital and most populous city of France is situated on the river Seine. It covers an area of 105 square kilometers and a population of 2.24 million. Paris was founded in the 3rd century BC by a Celtic group called the Parissi who gave the city its name. By 12th century, Paris was the largest city in the western world, a prosperous trading center and the home of the University of Paris, one of the first in Europe. In the 18th century, it was the center stage for the French Revolution and became an important center of finance, commerce, fashion, science and the arts, a position it still retains today.
Often referred as the ‘city of love’, Paris always attracts tourists from all over the world. Paris earns its name as a place where romance blossoms… Many couples aspire to go to Paris on their honeymoon because the city is so well known for its romantic walks along the Seine River, sidewalk cafes and of course the Eiffel tower – all aglow at night. The beautiful architecture of the city, the lovely hotels and being the center of arts makes it a hot spot among the lovers and French the ‘language of love’. Being the place of enlightenment in the 18th century, it was called the ‘city of lights.’ Paris became the center of education, philosophy and learning. Paris was one of the first cities to start using street lights during the Great Exhibition of 1889. The streets suddenly grew safer and people were no longer forced to stay in their house all night. Paris the ‘city of art’ always attracted artists from around the world to educate themselves and to get inspired by its resources and galleries.
Monuments and Attractions
The center of Paris contains the most visited monuments in the city, including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louver as well as the Sainte-Chapelle, Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. The banks of the Seine from Pont de Sully to the Pont d’lena have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. Other landmarks are laid out east to west along the historic axis of Paris, which runs from the Louvre through the Tuileries Garen, the Luxor Column in the Palace de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe to the Grande Arche of La Defense.
The Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ De Mars in Paris. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Constructed in 1889as the entrance of the 1889 World Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for the design, but it become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. The architectural height of the tower is 984 ft, the tip is 1063 ft and the top floor is 906 ft.
Tour Montparnasse or Montparnasse tower is 689 ft office skyscraper located in the Montparnasse area of Paris. Constructed from 1969 to 1973, it was the tallest skyscraper in France until 2011, when it was surpassed by the 758 ft Tour First. The tower has an observation deck on the 56th Floor with amazing view of Paris. A few flights of stairs will take to the terrace of the tower which also offers wonderful views of the city of Paris.
A visit to Paris will never be completed without a cruise in the Seine River. There are few companies which offer different type of boats for cruises. Most of cruises starts and finishes at Eiffel Tower. Some companies offer cruises at night also. One can enjoy the architectural excellence of the Parisian buildings from the cruise boat.
The Zouave Statue
The Zouave statue is the most famous feature of the Pont de I’Alma, a bridge that spans the seine halfway between the Eiffel tower and the Invalides. This 142 m long bridge was completed in mid 1850s and inaugurated in 1856 by Napoleon III. The Pont de I’Alma is one of the most photographed bridges in Paris, as it is famous for the statue of a Zouave Soldier standing on its single pier. The Zouaves were a group of prestigious light infantry regiments linked to French Nort Africa between 1830 and 1962. The Zouaves were among the most decorated units of French Army. The Zouave Regiment participated in the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War. The battle ended in the victory of France, England, Piedmont and the Ottoman Empire over Russia.
Each of the four piers of the Pont de I’Alma was adorned with statue representing a regiment that fought during the Crimean War. The Alma Bridge was rebuild in 1974 as it had become too narrow and unstable. The statues were transferred to other locations with the exception of Zouave, which was place on the bridge’s pier.
The Zouave statue served traditionally as an unofficial standard to indicate the rise in the water level of the Seine, until the pier was rebuild and slightly elevated. The Parisians knew that the river was dangerously rising when the water reached the foot of the Zouave statue. The year 1910 is known as the year of the “Flood of the Century”, as the waters rose by 8.62 m and reached the shoulders of the Zouave statue.
The Pont Alexandre III
The Pont Alexandre III is a deck arch bridge that spans the Seine in Paris. It connects the Champs-Elysees quarter with those of the Invalides and Eiffel Tower. This is the most ornate and extravagant bridge in the city of Paris. The bridge with its exuberant lamps and winged horses at either end was built between 1896 and 1900. It is named after Tsar Alexander III, who had concluded the Franceo-Russian Alliance in 1892. His son Nicholas II laid the foundation stone in October 1896. The style of the bridge reflects that of the Grand Palais, to which it leads on the right bank. The Nymph reliefs are at the centers of the arches over the seine, memorials to the Franco-Russian Alliance.
The Place de la Concorde
The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris. Measuring 21 acres, it is the largest square in the French capital. It is located at the eastern end of the Champs-Elysees. The place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 and was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV was torn down and the area renamed Place de la Revolution. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square and it was here that king Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Elisabteth, Georges Danton, and Maxmilien Robespierre. In 1795 the square was renamed Place de la Concorde as a gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the Revolution. After Bourbon Restoration of 1814, the name was changed back to Place Louis XV. After the July Revolution of 1830 the name was returned to Place de la Concord and has remained since.
The Luxor Obelisk
The Luxor Obelisk is over 3,000 years old and was originally situated outside of Luxor Temple, where its twin remains to this day. It first arrived in Paris on December 21, 1833 having been shipped from Luxor via Alexandria and three years later, on October 25, 1836, was moved to the center of Place de la Concorde by King Louis-Phillipe. It was gifted to France by Muhammed Ali, Khedive of Egypt.
The obelisk weighs over 250 metric tons and height including the base is 75 ft. It is decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the king Ramses II. Its original pyramidion is believed to be stolen in the 6th century BC, was replaced by the government of France by a gold leafed pyramid cap in 1998.
The Louvre Museum (French: Musee du Louvre) is the worlds’ largest museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st Century are exhibited over an area of 6,52,300 square feet. The Louvre is the world’s second most visited museum after the Palace Museum in China.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants for the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as place to display the royal collection, including a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as museum to display the nation’s masterpieces.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Due to structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musee Napoleon, but after Napoleon’s abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X and during the second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and bequests since the Third Republic. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments – Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, Paintings and Prints and Drawings.
The Louvre Pyramid
The Louvre Pyramid (French: Pyramid du Louvre) is a large glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace. The Pyramid is actually one of four, with two smaller one at its side and an “inverted” Pyramid that acts as skylight for the underground mall. The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louver Museum. The pyramid is about 70 feet high and its base has sides 115 feet long. The building was commissioned by the then President of France Mr. Francois Mitterrand in 1984. It was one of the most controversial of President Mitterrand’s Grand Projects in Paris.
The construction of pyramid has triggered many controversies as the pyramid being an unsuitable symbol of death from ancient Egypt in the middle of Paris. It has been claimed by some that the glass panes in the Louvre Pyramid number 666, the number of the beast, often associated with Satan. Irrespective of all these controversies, on its completion in 1989 it has become a landmark of the city of Paris.
The Mona Lisa
The most famous and much sought after exhibit in the Louvre Museum, without doubt is the “Mona Lisa”. You can see the visitors crowding around this portrait to photograph it. The Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci which has been acclaimed as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”.
Believed to be the portrait of Lisa Gherardini the wife of Francesco del Giocondo is in oil on a white Lombardy poplar panel and is believed to have been painted between 1503 and 1506. It was acquire by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic and is on permanent display at the Louvre Museum since 1797.
On April 6, 2005 following a period of curatorial maintenance, recording and analysis, the painting was moved to a new location within the museum’s Salle de Etats. It is displayed in a purpose-built climate-controlled enclosure behind a bulletproof glass. Since 2005 the painting has been illuminated by an LED lamp. About 6 million people view the painting at the Louvre each year.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Winged Victory of Samothrace also called the Nike of Samothrace is a marble Hellenistic sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory), perhaps of the 2nd century BC. Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world. Historian H.W. Janson described it as “the greatest masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture,” and it is one of a small number of major Hellenistic statues surviving in the original, rather than Roman copies.
Overall the work measures 18 feet in height. The statue made of white Paros marble, stands 9 feet tall including the wings. The base and the pedestal are sculptured from grey white-veined marble from the quarries of Lartos in the island of Rhodes. The statue consists of several blocks of marble, carved separately and then assembled.
It was created not only to honor the goddess, Nike but to honor a sea battle. It conveys a sense of action and triumph as well as portraying artful flowing drapery, as though the goddess was descending to alight upon the prow of a ship. It is considered as one of the Louvre’s greatest treasures, and since the late 19th century it has been displayed in the most dramatic fashion, at the head of the sweeping Daru staircase.
The Grevin Wax Museum in Paris is located on the Grands Boulevards on the right bank of the Seine. The museum was founded in 1882 by Arthur Meyer, a journalist for ‘Le Gaulois’, the French daily newspaper. It was named after Alfred Grevin the first art director of ‘Le Gaulois’ and a caricaturist. He was best known for his caricatures of contemporary Parisian women. He was also a sculptor, cartoonist and designed costumes and sets for the popular theater.
It is one of the oldest wax museums in Europe. It also houses a hall of mirrors and a theater for magic shows. It contains more than 450 characters arranged in scenes from the history of France and modern life including a panorama of French history from Charlemagne to Napoleon III, bloody scenes of French Revolution, movie stars, and international figures… You will also see the wax statues of Mahatma Gandhi and Shah Rukh Khan. Please do not miss the scene with Quasimodo and Esmeralda and Mother Theresa with Pope.
There is also a section, which demonstrates the making of the wax statues. When in Paris, this museum is a must visit.
The making of the wax statues are demonstrated…
Situated near the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges and Aiguille du Midi, Chamonix is one of the oldest ski resorts in France and is known as the “gateway to the European Cascades”. The north side of the summit of Mont Blanc, and therefore the summit itself are part of the village of Chamonix. Chamonix commune is well known among skiers and mountain enthusiasts. It is very near the junction of France, Switzerland and Italy. The River Arve which originates from the northern side of the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps flows through Chamonix. It receives water from the many glaciers of Chamonix valley, mainly the Mer de Glace.
We checked in to Hotel Alpina for a night which is right in the center of Chamonix. Even though it was a poorly maintained hotel their restaurant at the top floor was really nice with a wonderful view of the snow caped mountains from the balcony.