Germany
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Although I had previously been in Germany several times, this is my first tour that included the eastern part of the country.  The tour began in Frankfurt May 15, 2002, and concluded in that same city May 24, 2002.  We made a big circle around Germany, as you can see from the map below.  Click on the map for a full-size version.

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The earliest history of Germanic tribes goes back to almost the time of Christ, but Germany, as a modern state, is really not that old.  Like Italy, Germany was a collection of independent kingdoms until the late 1800's.  Although there were early German emperors, local princes and kings still had much power.   In 1871, a united Germany was born, with the Prussian king as its emperor.  Modern Germany resembles the U.S. in some respects.  There are 16 states, each with its own legislature and governor.  However, unlike the U.S., not all German states are equal.  Bavaria, for example, has more power than some of the other states.    Germany has a population of about 82 million, and is slightly smaller then Montana in size. 

The tour began in Frankfurt (population 652,000), but there is nothing much there of interest to tourists, except for the restored Römerburg Square, which I didn't see.  The city was pretty well destroyed during WW II, and today, it is just another  modern city, although very important to the German economy.    We stayed at the Queens Frankfurt Hotel, which has since become a Holiday Inn.  After a short bus ride north, we embarked on the first attraction, a two-hour cruise on the Rhine River.  The Rhine is one of the great rivers of Central Europe, winding from the Swiss-Austrian Alps to the North Sea, flowing through five countries in the process.  In one section, it divides Germany from France.  Here are some of the photos I took on the cruise.  We passed ruined medieval castles, terraced vineyards, pretty towns, and the fabled Lorelei cliff.  At one point, groups of French and German school kids joined our cruise to terrorize the adult passengers.  A few of the German kids are shown in one photo.  (One took my seat when I got up to walk around.)

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After a short stop at the site where the Remagen bridge of WW ll fame once stood, we proceeded to Cologne, another city badly damaged during that war.  The main attraction in Cologne (population 1 million) is the magnificent Gothic Cathedral, with it's 500 foot plus spires, began in 1482, but not completed until 1880.  The cathedral was partially covered in scaffolding, so I did not attempt a photograph.   We spent the night here at the Renaissance Koeln, which I believe is now The Linder Hotel City Plaza, and in the morning, headed north, through the industrial Ruhr valley, to the quaint "Pied Piper" town of Hamelin, where we had a lunch break.  Here are a few photos from Hamelin, including a statute of the piper.  The street dancers performing in two of the photos are from the Ukraine, formerly a part of The Soviet Union.

 

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We then traveled on to Berlin, population 3.4 million, the capital of reunified Germany. 

Click here for Berlin/Posdam tour.