On our “Grand European Tour” river cruise last summer, we went through a total of 63 locks! I guess many of them were at night, but we also experienced going down and up in locks quite often in the daytime also. This was my perspective (taken from the balcony of our stateroom) of descending into a lock.
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Leading Lines
Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #80 is about leading lines. Leading lines are one of the “rules” of composition: There are indeed “rules” of photographic composition, which like many other rules, are made to be broken. Whatever their skill level or experience though, understanding and knowing when to use the “rules” of composition can be helpful for any photographer. This week, our challenge will explore a key compositional element, Leading Lines. …Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be helpful for creating depth as well.
This is how I spent the last two Junes, 2018 and 2019.
Our road trip (mostly) on Route 66: Sedona and Winslow, AZ
We visited the Painted Desert, too: first, horizontal lines.
Undulating formations which slope downward.
In Santa Fe, colorful pillars…
and a souvenir shop with paintings lined up along a counter.
When on Route 66, here’s a sight not to miss: Cadillac Ranch. It had rained the night before.
A year later, we were on a river cruise in Europe. One of the first ports of call was Cologne, Germany with its famed cathedral, with stained glass windows reaching toward heaven…
…and soaring arches decorated with sculptures of saints.
Later we crossed the bridge to return to our ship. The inner side of the bridge is covered with “love locks” – padlocks people leave in honor of their sweethearts. They stretch on as far as the eye can see!
Next stop was Marksburg Castle, which afforded beautiful views of the Rhein River and town below (I wish I could photoshop that pole out, but I don’t have the software).
And here’s a different view: a steeple rises up as seen through a turret.
Marksburg is definitely a “must” on any Rhine River cruise. It’s like a fairy tale castle!
Farther on down the river, a swan swam over near our ship.
We were passing through a lowland area.
I loved the small town of Miltenberg, which was so picturesque!
Inside a church, hymnals were stacked neatly in the narthex. One is drawn to the word Gotteslob, which perhaps means hymnal.
Our final stop on the cruise was Budapest, Hungary. A memorable part of the day we were there was a walking tour through the old Jewish Quarter.
Thursday Doors: Marksburg Castle
Of all the Rhine River hill castles from Bingen to Koblenz, Marksburg Castle is one of only two that has never been destroyed nor fallen into disrepair, so it has been continuously occupied for nearly 700 years. It is located above the city of Braubach in Germany and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The castle was used primarily for protection – it was built as a fortress – rather than a residence for royal families.
It was established in 1117 and being so well preserved, it is a destination on many Rhine river cruises. Marksburg was our second stop in Germany. We toured it in the morning and in the afternoon, we were treated to a narrative about other castles we were seeing as we sailed down the Rhine River.
I am incorporating this narrative into a post for Norm’s Thursday Doors. There are many cool doors (some are more appropriately called entryways) but other interesting things as well.
At the castle, we were split into two groups, since the total number of people on the tour was very large. One can only tour the castle with a guided tour, which lasts 50 minutes. Dale and I were in the first group, that began the guided tour right away; the other group had to wait for the next tour about 15 minutes later. Meanwhile, they could browse in the gift shop, have a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, and admire the spectacular view! Due to the uneven terrain typical of medieval sites, the castle is not wheelchair accessible.
The main entrance, typical for a fortified castle, is via a bridge over the moat and through a large gateway.
Marksburg was occupied by a number of different families over the centuries, whose coat of arms identify them. Our guide told us about each of them. To learn more about these families, follow this link.
In 1866, due to the Austro-Prussian War, Marksburg was taken over by Prussia. It then became housing for soldiers and was in danger of falling into disrepair due to government neglect. In the year 1900, the German Castles Association, with the help of the emperor, Wilhelm II, purchased the castle for the paltry sum of 1,000 DM (Deutschemarks). Court planner and Berlin architect Bodo Eberhardt then carried out extensive restoration at the castle. To this day, the headquarters of the German Castles Association has its headquarters at Marksburg.
For the benefit of the tourists, many of the rooms are furnished as they would have looked during the times in which they were occupied.
The chapel was simply decorated; the ceiling was quite lovely.
As would be expected, the castle has several levels.
There is also a room with very colorful and interesting armor as it evolved through the ages!
The view from the top – I’m pretty sure this is the exact scene that is shown in Viking’s TV commercials!
Some of us elected to walk back down instead of waiting for the bus.
CB&WPC: Hickory Dickory Dock…
…the mouse ran up the clock! The theme for Cee’s B&W photo challenge this week is words ending in -ock. These are “-ocks” from my travel over the last two years.
And now, a rock hit from 2018: Guns ‘n Roses, Sweet Child of Mine. (Also in B&W!)
Traversing the Panama Canal
March 27, 2017
Today we traversed the Panama Canal! We entered the canal from the Caribbean side at about 6:00 a.m. A narrator came on board to broadcast what we were watching. When I woke up enough to go outside on our veranda, I took some pictures of the rising sun silhouetting some of the large equipment as we entered the canal.
Entering on the Caribbean side, ships enter a large bay next to which the city of Colón is situated; then they wait their turn to enter the channel into the Gatún Locks. The Veendam entered the narrower of the older locks. From the ship’s deck, I could see cars and trucks going across on an underpass – hard to believe there’s a road down there. Next to the Veendam was the Norwegian Pearl, a larger cruise ship that needs more width. The New Locks were built to accommodate even large cargo and cruise vessels. These were built a little distance away. We pulled up alongside the Norwegian Pearl and watched as it was raised, gradually revealing each of its lower decks. Passengers lined the decks of both ships.
Railroad tracks on either side of the locks were used for locomotives tethered to the ships at various points. The Veendam employed about six of these locomotives, which did not actually pull the vessel. The ship operated on its own power but the locomotives with taut ropes attached to the ship kept the ship centered, even though it was nearly as wide as the channel. These motorized engines drove up and down the tracks on incline and decline ramps as we passed through each lock stage. The doors of each lock were almost completely submerged, but rose as the water emptied from one section of the locks to the next. We started out being raised at a series of three stages, each set of doors submerge as the water level filled to match the next stage.
The canal is an amazing feat of engineering, especially since it was conceived and built a century ago against all odds. The locks technology, of course, was already well-known, there being a number of examples early in the 19th century. But originally the French engineer put in charge wanted to simply carve a passage straight through the isthmus, as had been his experience building the Suez Canal. However, the isthmus of Panama had mountains and its terrain covered with jungle. It rains – hard – half the year, making construction projects even more difficult. It was an American engineer, John Frank Stevens, who conceived of a series of locks through the mountains, ending in the largest manmade lake at that time, Gatún Lake, the result of damming the river. This dam was necessary in order to maintain the water level of the lake at 88.5 feet.
For more on the history of the Panama Canal, the web site is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal
An excerpt from another web site explains how a ship goes through the canal:
To transit the Panama Canal, a ship entering from the Atlantic side at Colon would first navigate through roughly seven miles of dredged canal at sea level through marshy lowlands. At Gatun, the vessel would approach the enormous, sloping earthen dam that holds back the water in Gatun Lake. The vessel would then ascend a three-step lock and enter the man-made lake. From there, the next 32 miles of the journey to the Pacific Ocean would be upon the placid waters of Lake Gatun. After passing through the Culebra Cut, the lake would terminate at Pedro Miguel, where the ship would descend down a one-step lock into a small intermediary lake before descending the final two steps back to sea level at Miraflores. From there, the vessel would again navigate through another seven miles of dredged lowlands before entering the Pacific Ocean near Panama City.
Although the Panamanian jungle was a challenge to the engineers of the canal, the high amount of rain ended up being an advantage: each vessel that passes through the canal uses 52,000,000 gallons of water per transit. An average of 25 ships pass through the canal daily. Multiply these two numbers and the importance of the rainy season becomes obvious – a lot of rain is required to replenish the amount of water displaced each day!
In 2016, construction on widening the locks to accommodate larger ships was completed.
Gatún Lake is situated between the Gatún Locks on the Caribbean side and the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side. It snakes around in various directions and has created many islands and peninsulas. The scenic views of this lake were quite pretty.
In the lake, where we spent about two hours, I saw lots of cargo ships, mostly container ships, with some names I recognized – NYK, MSC – and some with names I was not familiar with. Large container ships have the capacity to carry up to about 14,000 20 ft. containers (or about 7,000 40 ft. containers).
At the far end of the lake, we passed under the Centennial Bridge, a fairly new construction.
We then entered the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks which lowered the level of the water and we could watch as water poured out into the next section.
Our ship was released on the Pacific side at 4:00 p.m. before passing under an even larger bridge, the Bridge of the Americas, which cost $104 million to build. This bridge marked the end of the canal and the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.
Both of these bridges sustain a lot of traffic and are high enough for tall ships to pass under them.
The most difficult part of observing all this was the oppressive heat. I minimized my exposure to the direct sun by staying in the shade as much as possible. Even though the water was warm, it was refreshing to take a dip in the swimming pool once we were through the canal!