September 10, 2012
The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal begins near Bamberg. With the completion of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal in 1992, uninterrupted water transport was again made possible between the North Sea and the Black Sea.
Walking tour again! Bamberg prides itself with being on seven hills, as it symbolizes similarity to Rome. One of the hills, Cathedral Hill, houses the tombs of emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II. We strolled through town and saw the Old Town Hall which is built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River accessible by 2 bridges.
Town Hall View 1
Town Hall View 2
We visited the Neue Residence or New Palace where the bishops after the 17th century have lived. We ended the afternoon in the magnificent Rose Garden having wine and beer, Rauchbier (a smokey, bacon tasting beer). The garden provided excellent views of the city.
View from the Rose Garden
The local bacon flavored beer.
Art in the Cathedral.
Late this evening we leave the Rhine and traverse the boat to the Main Danube canal…..these canals are many and varied. Some are over a hundred years Old and some are relatively new. Some were created to move goods because it was cheaper than driving miles yet time has found that these rivers and canals are used regularly by tourist more that for moving goods. Most of the route there are bike paths and roads on the side of the canal. Some canals so narrow we barely fit and others hold multiple boats docked side busy side. You can rise up or down 3 feet or 80 feet depending on where you are in the canal system.
Traversing an eighty foot deep canal at night!
September 9, 2012
We really enjoyed the long sail morning….the scenery on the river is just majestic and the sailing so peaceful. We will have at journeys end traversed a series of 68 locks and canals which depending on other river traffic means that one gets there when the river allows. Here in Würzberg, the Würzberg Residence dominates the hillside and offers wine tastings.
However, we opt for a short bus ride to the medieval walled city of Rothenburg or the “Red Fortress above the Tauber”. Here we walked and shopped the entire city on the ground and in the air by climbing to the top of the city walls and taking the catwalk around. The city which has around 3000 residents was hosting one of their medieval festivals so everyone was dressed in costume. While we were each given 15 Euros for lunch we found a local place and had the most delicious meal for 5 Euros each! Rothenburg has a wonderful Christmas Museum and shop where one could spend hours!
Beautiful brass and gold signs adorn the shops.
Grape vines growing on the side of a building.
Cranking the Pipe Organ
Renaissance Festival Characters
September 7, 2012
Here we took a short bus ride from Frankfurt to Heidelberg to visit the 15th century Heidelberg castle, an imposing Gothic Renaissance ruin of red stone. It is a massive castle. Heidelberg also houses the oldest college in Germany, Heidelberg University. While at the castle we rode the first of many funiculars down the side of the mountain into the cobblestone pedestrian down town. We ate at a local restaurant having the traditional pork and sauerkraut meal at Hotel Georg zum Ritter dating back to 1592 before returning to Frankfurt.
Walls of Heidelburg Castle
Wine Cask in the Castle
Funicular down to town.
Then after dinner since we were having a late sail, we strolled into Frankfurt and partook of the local scenery and beer.
Frankfurt Town Center
The river at Frankfurt at night.
Wertheim is a small walk able city of old cobblestone streets; a step back in time. We sailed all morning admiring the river scenery and then had a glassblower jump abroad at one of the canals. He treated us to a glass blowing demonstration and invited us to see his wares when we arrived later in the day in the town. But before strolling the town we hiked up to the ruins of Burg Wertheim (castle) and the major landmark of the area. Wertheim has a medieval town center with half-timbered houses, small streets and lots of little outdoor cafes. A great place to drink a cold beer after hiking up to the Burg.
Coming round the Burg!
River from the top of the Burg.
Inside the Burg.
Time for a beer!
December 18, 2012 1:30 pm
September 6, 2012
Tis is a morning of sailing and enjoying the dramatic scenery of the Rhine Gorge. We are sailing a 35 mile stretch of cliffs and castles from Koblenz to Rüdesheim. We passed the imposing Lorelei cliff and learned of its legend.
In Rüdesheim we chose to first visit Siegfrieds Mechanisches Musikkabinett. It is a marvel of self playing musical instruments spanning four centuries ….. some so elaborate and delicate the the guide only handled them with gloves.
We followed this with a gondola lift ride across the valley to the Nederland monument. This is a beautiful wine making valley.
The Rhine valley from the gondala lift.
At Neiderwald Monument over looking the valley
Enjoying the local wine
September 5, 2012
The boat docks in the city so it is so easy to walk everywhere. This morning we toured the Roman Germanic museum. It is so amazing to see these historic Roman ruins in a German City.
Then it was over to the historic Cathedral or Dom just a few steps away. Afterwards, the girls went to taste the local beer, Kölsch, the boys climbed to the top of the Dom’s bell tower.
The Bell Tower
A view as we climbed the tower steps
Aview from the top
Then it was a longer trek to the Chocolate Museum ( Imhoff-Schokoladenmuseum), where the chocolate was absolutely sinful! We bought some chocolate pasta for a souvenir.
The Chocolate Museum
The view fromthe deck of the boat was awesome as we sailed away that night.
The Dom and the Opera House
Julie, Rocky and Nikki
Milkie & Cliff
Nikki & Peter
Diana & Bob
September 1-21 2012
We are joining our sailing friends for a 3 week leisurely cruise of the Rhine, the Main and the Danube Rivers beginning in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and ending in Budapest, Hungary with a our good friend Peter guiding us in the city of his birth. This will be a slow cruise on the River Odyssey, a long river boat of 4 decks with 165 passengers and 42 crew. The boat is complete with a gym, running track, sun deck, bar/lounge and dining room. Cabins are quite spacious and everyone has either windows or balconies. And of course for all of who cannot leave our toys behind, there is Internet throughout the ship.
We will see the sights of 16 cities of The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary while enjoying 4 birthday celebrations and other on-board entertainment and parties. Travel on!
We had the standard Fire drill:
Fire Drill Time
Our ships fireman
Our captain overseeing the drill
Amsterdam – windmills and bridges
Sept 1-3 2012
Our journey began with an overnight flight from New York City for Julie and from Lagos Nigeria for Rocky. We enjoyed a wonderful continental breakfast in a old hotel, The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, in the heart of the city of Amsterdam. We had ample time to explore the city, walking to the river flower market and the maritime museum. We broaded the River Odyessy, our home for the next 15 days and later took a ride through the 17th century ring canal system. We also took a walk through the Rijksmuseum marveling at its collection of art. Though it is autumn, the weather was absolutely heavenly. There were hundreds of bikers everywhere; more people bike that drive! One night we went to the top of the Doubletree Hotel and sat in ist roof top lounge in starlight watching the city.
The Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky and square
from inside the Maritime Museum looking out.
The Heineken Beer Truck roaming the streets of Amsterdam
Canal Cruise – wondrous architecture
December 17, 2012 1:57 pm
August 16-23 2012
Namibia is just coming out of its winter, and the temperatures were 40 F at night, and 60 F during the day with crystal clear skies throughout. After an excellent lunch, I returned to my room and tailored the talk for what was to be a mixed group of attendees at the evening’s presentation, including Ministry of Mining staff, University Professors and geology students. After the meeting, Ben, who is Department Geology Professor at the local University, took me on a nighttime tour of the campus and geology building, although since it was Friday night, campus was fairly empty.
We went to dinner at a beautifully quaint historical German-area restaurant in the center of town, and I had my first Oryx steak. Ben was my host throughout, and was a gracious and wonderful host, providing many insights into the life and livelihood of the energy and mining industry in Namibia.
I arrived in Kumasi via a short 45-minute flight from Accra. Cyril and Van -Dyke picked me up and took me through the town as people we leaving church in their colorful Sunday-best. Although Accra on the coast, is the better known town, Kumasi is larger boasting a population exceeding 4 million people! It is a diverse city that hosts manufacturing, agriculture, and the Kumi Numari University of Science and Technology or KNUST as it is known.
We checked it at the Golden Tulip Hotel, a very nice, modern hotel, that was hosting a Professional Tennis Tournament Finals that day. Since my room would not be ready for an hour, we took a trip over to the University to check out the Science Department. KNUST celebrated its 60the Anniversary this past year, and it is a large University of 28,000 Undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. It has a rural, landscaped, sprawling campus on which nearly 10,000 students reside. Although it was founded decades ago, the University was renamed after Ghana’s first President only in the last decade. Geophysics sits under the Physics Department, and their 4-story linear classroom and office buildings remind me of similar, past educational buildings in Florida. Given it is Sunday, and the day before the Islamic Holiday, Eid el Fitr, there are not many students out and about – their school term is about to begin. Ghana is about 60 percent Christian and 30 percent Islamic, and although students have committed to coming to the lecture tomorrow during their holiday, there is some concern of number of attendees. The Geophysics Department is made up of 27 3rd and 4th year undergraduates, and about 10 graduate students. In a strange twist of fate, Cyril is one of the recipients of last year’s SEG Student Symposium, and attended the Annual Meeting in San Antonio. As the most senior graduate student in the Department, he serves as a role model for many of the younger students.
We return to the Hotel where I bid farewell until tomorrow, complete my check-in, and unpack my bags in time to grab a late lunch and catch the finals of the tennis before Cyril and Van Dyke pick me up at 10:00am in the morning, I have a chance to take an hour’s jog in the region of the Hotel, where I discover the country’s Armed Forces Museum, a pavilion displaying a wide assortment of WW1 and WW2 tanks, artillery and aircraft. Upon pick-up, we head straight to the University, where I set-up in a 46-seat presentation classroom, before taking a brief introduction tour to the Provost, the Physics Department Chairman, and the Geophysics Professor’s office. We return in time for the noon program, where the Student Chapter executes a structured program, and Van-Dyke introduces me. The room surprisingly fills to capacity as Petroleum Engineering majors and Physics Professors join the Geophysics Department for the lecture. After the lecture, I answer a range of questions, some technical, but others about how to get on a path to a career. Clearly, employment is of key interest to these students who see most Geophysicists in the country as expatriates, and worry where the opportunity is for them.
Tuesday begins early, as we had agreed the night before to use this morning to “squeeze in” a bit of local sightseeing by traveling out of town to a popular weekend recreation spot for locals. The guys pick me up at 8:00am, and after fighting a bit of traffic, we make our way out of town into the lush, green countryside. The lonely, winding road we are on is only punctuated along the way by occasional villages, as common as anywhere in rural Sub Sahara Africa. These villages are hives of activity as children’s play and grown-up commerce bustle in the marketplace. About 10km from our destination, we stop to give a ride to an elderly woman beside the road needing a lift. She brings with her a 10 liter plastic container with her day’s wares of Palm Wine, to be sold to villagers and visitors at the place where we were going. I shake her hand and introduce myself, noting that her gracious smile doesn’t hide the life of hard work that is evident in her hands. Her skin is taunt and tough, worn thin but strong like leather stretched over a sinew skeleton. We began travel down a winding cliff-faced road and enter a deep ravine floored by a large lake. This is Lake Bosumtwe, the remnants of a million year-old meteor impact crater. The lake is home to a number of surrounding villages that draw life from fishing and using its waters, and derive income from hosting weekend visitors. After sightseeing the shores, we depart for the long climb out of the ravine. At the top, we stop for a few panoramic pictures, and meet an elderly gentleman who has need for a ride back to town for church. It is on our way, and we oblige, but we are running late, so we do not stop, other than to drop him off at the local church. The ride back is uneventful, until we get to town and encounter a worse traffic jam than when we had left. Finally, while at a standstill 1/2 mile from the hotel, we decide to improve our options, and while they continue to fight traffic to get the vehicle to the hotel, I walk the route, now familiar from the previous day’s run. I reach the hotel first, collect my luggage from my room and check-out before Cyril and Van-Dycke reach the hotel to meet me. We then load-up and proceed to the airport where we say our goodbyes, and I check in for the flight to the next leg of this lecturer’s tour.
Akwaaba – Welcome to Accra! The flight from Kumasi back to Accra is smooth and uneventful. Mark, a geophysicist with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, (GNPC), and National SEG Representative for Ghana, picks me up at the airport and delivers me to the hotel, only 10 minutes away. This Golden Tulip Hotel is very up-scale, with a large swimming pool and exercise room. It is decorated today, as are most institutions in Ghana, in black and red in 48-day mourning for their recently deceased President, John Atta Mills. In the evening, the mild weather and gentle ocean breezes bring me and a crowd to dinner taken poolside, while a live band provides entertaining music for the evening. Jonathon, a GNPC driver, picks me up at 9:00am for the 45-minute drive to the GNPC offices in the city of Tema. We travel down a well maintained, divided lane Toll Road to the Tema exit, and then to the ocean’s side. Tema is a Port City, chartered by Ghana’s first President, and serves as the country main Harbor for import and export. As such, the roads are full of trucking containers and are a bustle of activity. GNPC has historically been located here since their founding, but they are preparing to move into Accra when the facilities under construction currently are complete. This will put them in closer contact with their service providers and partners, who are dominantly located there. At GNPC, Mark greets me and takes me to visit GNPC ‘s Chief Geologist, and then I reconnect with Manager Ferdinand, who had greeted me days earlier. The presentation room was set up well, and quickly filled with over 40 GNPC staff, (Geophysicist, Geologists, and Petroleum Engineers), Students from the local University, and staff from Tullow Oil, who are operators of Ghana’s largest Offshore Oil Field, “Jubilee”. The talk goes well, and is followed by nearly 30-minutes of questions and answers. We exit to the steps to the building where we take a group photograph of a core of attendees.
Notice the colors of mourning.
Ferdinand and Mark then take me to lunch at the Imperial Peking Restaurant before returning to GNPC offices where farewell greetings are made and a driver is arranged to return me to the hotel. The next morning, the hotel will provide transport to the airport, where the short 90-minute flight from Accra to return to Lagos will end this first tour.