Peggy and I are coming to the end of the blogs on our Rhine River cruise. Today, we will take you to Breisach, Germany. Our final Rhine River post will be on the Black Forest. After that, it will be off to the Nile! All photos in this post were taken by either Peggy or meunless otherwise noted.
The history of Breisach follows the history of the other towns we have visited along the Rhine, dating back to ancient Celtic times, becoming part of the Roman Empire, and then part of the Holy Roman Empire with several countries laying claim since. The city saw extensive damage in World War II as the Allies invaded it from across the Rhine.
Of course there is a story. Similar sculptures and other representations of the bull and woman are found throughout Europe. An ancient Greek myth is to blame. The bull happens to be Zeus. And the naked lady? She’s Europa, a Phoenician princess who Zeus seduced. Zeus seducing a princess isn’t news. He had a thing for maidens. His challenge was that his wife (and sister) Hera, the goddess of women, marriage and childbirth, disapproved of such behavior. Zeus went to great lengths to hide his activities from her, one of which was to transform himself into various animals for his seductions. Perhaps you’ve heard the story of Leda and the swan, where Zeus became a swan and seduced Leda. One version of the myth is that she laid two eggs, one of whom hatched into the beautiful Helen of Troy. With Europa, Zeus became a beautiful white bull who met the maiden while she was innocently picking flowers. Naturally, she had to pet his gorgeous white flanks and climb up on top of him (what maiden wouldn’t), whereupon Zeus charged off to the Mediterranean Sea, jumped in, and swam to Crete, where he had his way, so to speak. Minos, the King of Crete, was one of three sons born of the union.
The founding of the European Union led to renewed interest in Europa, given that the ancient Greeks named significant portions of Europe after her and the Europeans could claim that a 2500 year old myth provided some justification for the union.
We found several other things of interest on the hill:
Just before we reached Yellowstone NP on our four month trip around the US last fall, we drove through Grand Tetons National Park. I’ll be featuring photos Peggy and I took of the Grand Tetons and the Absaroka Range today.
As Peggy and I drove across the 9,658 feet (2,943 m) Togwotee Pass, we were excited. We were in the Rocky Mountains and had just crossed over the Continental Divide. We were back in the West! Rivers would now be flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Soon we would get our first views of the Grand Tetons— not that there was anything shabby about the scenery on pass.
The Grand Tetons are a baby range, relatively speaking, less than 10 million years old. Compare that with the Rockies at 50-80 million years or the Appalachians at over 300 million. That’s what gives them their rugged, good looks. Erosion hasn’t had time to wear away their jagged peaks. Earthquakes along the Teton fault on the east side of the range are responsible for their height. Plate tectonic movement, which is stretching the region in an east west direction, is responsible for the earthquakes. When the tension becomes too great, an earthquake takes place, usually of 7 to 7.5 magnitude, i.e. big. Seesaw-like, the mountains rise and the valley next to it falls along the 40 mile fault, with each earthquake averaging around 10 feet of up and down movement. It is estimated that the mountain range has risen some 26,000 feet with 6,000 feet showing above the floor and 20,000 buried under it. Geologists estimate that the last major quakes were about 5,900, 8,000, and 10,000 years ago.
Peggy and I have just returned from our three week exploration of Egypt and invite you to join us as we explore the 25 million people mega-city of Cairo with its ancient pyramids, journey by riverboat up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, and conclude by visiting the ancient city created by Alexander the Great. Along the way, we will wander through ancient temples, meet powerful gods and pharaohs, explore King Tut’s tomb, visit one of the most impressive mosques of Islam, stop by a factory where they pursue the ancient art of making papyrus, and have many, many more adventures. We were wowed by the history with its incredible temples, tombs and statues, impressed by the friendly reception of the Egyptians we met, captured by present day Egypt, and amused by the humorous stories our guide Sabaa shared along the way. Today’s post is an introduction, an appetizer if you will. The series will start in mid-April when I conclude our Rhine River trip. It wouldn’t do to confuse the rivers. Right? All of the photos in this post are by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
I know this has been long for an introduction, but believe me when I say it hardly touches on our experience. On Monday, Peggy and I will take you back to our fall trip around North America, this time featuring Grand Teton National Park, where the description ‘grand’ hardly covers the mountain range.
Today Peggy and I are continuing to post about the trip we took up the Rhine River last summer to celebrate Peggy’s 72 birthday. All photos are taken by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
Whenever our riverboat stopped at towns and cities along the Rhine, Peggy and I would go exploring if we had the time. Wandering on our own, traveling at our own pace, and making detours whenever something captures our attention is our favorite way to travel. We also feel that it is also the best way to experience an area. This is true whether we are hiking in the wilderness, exploring a small town, or visiting a large city. We found Boppard, Germany to be an ideal walking town. It was picturesque, historic, and easy to explore in the limited time we had.
Its roots date all the way back to Celtic times. It became a Roman fort during the time of Julius Caesar. Bouncing back and forth between the various powers that occupied the region since, it thrived during the Middle Ages and has maintained its medieval charm down to today where it is noted for both its wine and tourism.
Farther up the Rhine we came to Speyer and its massive cathedral. The Speyer Cathedral was built in 1030 and added to in 1077. It is considered to be an outstanding example of Romanesque architecture. Eight kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire were buried in its vault over a period of 300 years. They’re still there.
Next Monday we will be visiting Grand Teton National Park and one of the world’s most beautiful mountain ranges.
Peggy and I just returned from our visit to Egypt and trip up the Nile River. Wow! What an incredible experience. We are excited to share it with you. I’m now putting together an introductory blog which I will post later this week. Several more posts will follow as I go to work on sorting though our experiences and some 3000 plus photos. Grin. My apologies for my absence the last three weeks. We had really thought there would be time for reading and commenting on posts. Ha.
Peggy and I are wrapping up our visit to Yellowstone today from our journey around the US last fall with pictures of a few of the many scenic views found in the park. All photos are taken by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
Continuing our exploration of sites we visited on our family Rhine River trip last summer, we will explore Heidelberg Castle today. All photos are taken by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
Visiting Heidelberg Castle can make you feel like one in a million. That’s the number of people who tour the castle each year. We dutifully waited our turn on the funicular railway that would take us the 260 feet (80 meters) up to the castle and the beginning of our tour.
Heidelberg Castle was built in the 13th and 14th centuries. There were originally two castles, an upper and lower, but lightning and fire destroyed the upper one in 1537. The lower castle has since seen its share of wars requiring frequent renovations. It, too, finally succumbed to a lightning strike and fire in 1764— making it fair game for people to use its stones in building their homes, a custom of repurposing that has existed since time immemorial. A serious effort began in 1800 to preserve what was left. Sections have also been renovated. Regardless of its past history, the present structure is very impressive.
Today,Peggy and I are continuing our exploration of Yellowstone National Park, which we visited as part of our four month, 12,000 mile exploration of the US between September and December this past year. All photos in this post were taken by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
Located 50 miles north of Old Faithful, the travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs are one of the most unique and beautiful of Yellowstone’s hydrothermal created landscapes. The terracing is a result of underlying limestone. Hot water dissolves the limestone and deposits it on the surface. The bright colors, like the colors of the hot springs in the Yellowstone Caldera to the south, are created by thermophiles, tiny microorganisms that thrive in the hot springs. Different types of thermophiles have different tolerance for the heat and come in different colors based upon their exposure to sunlight. Those that can tolerate the most heat live deep in the pools and tend toward blue and green. The ones living on the cooler outer edges are more in the brown and yellow range.
Peggy and I took a day to drive up from where we were camped in the town of West Yellowstone to visit Mammoth Hot Springs. On the way up we saw a lot of great scenery that I will feature in another post and two hydrothermal features I haven’t covered in this series yet: mud pots and fumaroles.
And now it’s time to visit the terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs. A convenient road takes you around the terraces. Walkways off the road take you to the lower terraces. The following photos were taken from the walkways.
The road snakes around the upper terrace. There are several pullouts that allow close up views of the various formations.
Erupting geysers are one of Yellowstones best known features. In fact, half of the world’s active geysers are located in the National Park. Peggy and I photographed lots of them when we visited last fall on our four month trip around the US.
The reason behind Yellowstones record breaking number of geysers is that much of the park is located in a giant caldera, a collapsed volcano. Semi-molten rock exists in some areas as close as 2-5 miles below the surface. This extremely hot rock heats ground water flowing near it and creates Yellowstone’s hydro-thermal features including geysers, hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots. We featured hot springs two weeks ago. Today is the geysers’ turn. They erupt when the super hot boiling water creates pressure in channels leading to the surface that erupts as steam out of a vent. As the pressure is released the geyser subsides until the process is repeated. They come in all sizes. The most famous is Old Faithful, given its name due to the regularity of its eruptions.
When Peggy and I, along with our two kids and their families, did our Rhine River trip this past summer, one of our favorite stops was Heidelberg, Germany. It seemed to have it all: An ancient castle looking down on the city, a river running beside it, one of the top universities in the world, a fun, lively, historic downtown, impressive churches, and plenty of weird, like the brass monkey who hung out next to the Old Bridge across the Neckar River. The photos are all taken by Peggy and me unless otherwise noted. Today, we will be focus on weird.
I found plenty of other weird stuff around Heidelberg to keep the monkey and his mice companions company.