The train ride to Bingen was through the same kind of German country. We saw scores of women working in the fields as previously and we saw every arable piece of land under cultivation. It was a dull day and the boat trip on the Rhine is definitely something for a bright day.
However, we got aboard the boat at Bingen and started on the trip down the Rhine, which is the water highway for hundreds of miles.
Along the banks of the river were thousands of acres in vineyards. These were built in the same terraces as we had seen in Italy and elsewhere.
Amongst these were very old castles which were most picturesque. There were also ruins of churches, old monasteries and similar places which are over 1,000 years of age.
On the river itself there was plenty of interest, for we were passing tugs and their barges continuously.
It was surprising to see one tug tugging so many laden barges. They are pulled along behind with a long length of cable between them and I counted up to eight of these attached to one tug.
I can well imagine how beautiful this Rhine river would be in bright sunshine.
We had lunch on board and also afternoon tea, both of which were well served. There was a very cold breeze blowing which made the trip a little unpleasant as most of us did not prepare for it.
The next day was still very black and the light was too bad for photos. We went in a motor bus to see the sights as usual and this occupied the morning. Cologne, or Koln as it is known here, is quite a big city and is very old. I saw the ruins of the great wall which was built by the Romans 2,000 years ago.
The wonderful cathedral was another interesting piece of architecture and workmanship generally. We saw the priceless treasures collected over hundreds of years. We walked through the interior where 30,000 people can meet together and looked up to the spire 520 feet from the ground. It is adorned with 800 statues life size and thousands of smaller ones, both inside and out. We saw where the French under Napoleon stabled their horses inside and fired their rifles through the valuable coloured glass windows. It was all interesting and is something which would take hours to describe.
We saw the only statue of the Kaiser which is in existence. After the war an attempt was made to knock the statue down into the Rhine river below, but the solid bronze was too heavy and the only damage done was the breaking of the sword.
We crossed by the two bridges over the Rhine, one of which is also for railway traffic and carries 800 trains per day. In the afternoon we had a look at the shops and visited a cafe to hear the music and study the people.
They have some queer ideas as compared with our country. For instance, the bed has only two quilts. One is fairly thin and is filled with down and the other is a huge thing like a mattress about 12 inches thick, but it is very light as it is also made of down. The pillows are square and much larger than ours. There is only one bathroom in the hotel and it is a work of art to get a bath. Apparently the people travelling here don’t bother much about having a bath.
Fruit is very scarce and expensive. Butter is also served in very small pieces. The women are not smartly dressed, but appear quite happy, in fact all the people appear to be contented and happy. The shops close for lunch between 12 and 2 but they remain open until 8 at night and open at 9 in the morning.
My association with some of the people has shown quite clearly that they never want another war and their feelings towards the English are very friendly.
We left Cologne for Brussels on Friday morning, 20th May.