May 8

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We docked in Cologne the evening before our scheduled visit. Luckily, we had gone up to the Sky Deck to look at the full moon just as we were approaching the city. We thus had an unobstructed view of the magnificent twin-spired Cologne cathedral lit up at night. The next morning when we left the boat to begin our walking tour, a lot of police officers were out in Cologne due to expected protests over the construction of a mosque. Yet we saw no disturbances as we followed our guide through town. He showed us pieces of local artwork, some based on local legends (the elves of Cologne), some a bit risqué (a bare-bottomed man squatting over a rain gutter). After the tour we shopped again and visited the cathedral. They claim to have a gold casket that holds the bones of the Three Wise Men.  We had a little time left before lunch so we walked out onto the Hohenzollern Bridge where we found hundreds of padlocks affixed to the grillwork. All were engraved with the names of couples, sort of a modern variation of carving initials into a tree. That afternoon the boat sailed towards the Netherlands. Tony and Bill went to the Sky Deck to take pictures of the area because their ancestors had lived nearby. Jenny and I went to the lounge to hear the cruise director speak about Germany since its unification. Afterwards, we stayed in the lounge chatting to fellow passengers while Tony and Bill sat nearby and played cribbage. The crew served rich hot chocolate to all of us and later we all partook of afternoon cake and coffee. That evening, the crew put on a show for the passengers.