Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - Luxembourg City to Cologne

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June 14th 2016
Published: June 14th 2016
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We started the day driving up the N421 which in a smaller incarnation was the road known by the World War II Americans as they Skyline Drive, because like the road in Virginia it follows the ridge line with land sloping off to either side. It was the scene of intense fighting for the first 1-2 days of the Bulge battle. We went back to Baugnez, but the museum was again close, although we did locate the memorial to the massacre, including a rose garden with roses donated by the rose growers of Tyler TX. Nearby is the Hotel du Moulin where an American general was nearly caught by Peiper's group but left his lunch on the table and managed to escape. Eight of his soldiers were not so lucky, and were summarily executed behind the hotel by the Germans. We then drove up over Elsenborn Ridge, the northern shoulder of the Bulge, where Ge. Walter Lauer put together a staunch defense out of almost nothing and saved the Elsenborn for emplacement of artillery, which then commanded the entire area. It is the only area in the Bulge where no ground was lost. Sepp Dietrich's 6th Panzer Division was stopped cold. We then proceeded directly to Kiln.

Cologne (German Köln) is the center of the largest metropolitan area in Germany, with some ten million residents. It was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Germany during World War II, and pictures from 1945 show virtually no building standing intact, the the cathedral largely spared and standing high above the ruined city. Founded in the first century CE by the Romans, it has always been an important trade city. It is also distinguished by being the most flood-prone city in Europe and having some of the fewest sunny days, with less than 1500 hours of sunny weather per year. Beginning in 1945, rebuilding started and was largely complete by 1959.

Despite the devastation visited upon the rest of the city, the Cathedral (Dom) remained standing, although significantly damaged. Even most of the stained glass survived. As we came over a low ridge, the whole city was spread out below us, and the Cathedral dominated the skyline (that and the TV broadcast needle). The Cathedral has the largest front facade of any church in the world, and the highest spires north of the Alps. Although the Cathedral itself dates back to the early 1200's, it contains a large crucifix dating back to 976, and is the oldest in the western hemisphere. Just outside the front entrance to the Cathedral is a portion of the old Roman gate into the city. It dates back to he founding of ht city in 50 CE.

After touring, we participated that great medicinal ritual known in Germany as drinking very large beers, then went to dinner in a restaurant looking out on the flood-stage Rhine River, with barges and other boats going by.

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