Friday, October 30, 2009

Another Morning of Rest

Day 15 - Today's optional tour was to Baden-Baden with a ride through the Black Forest. Ted and I had done this previously and opted to stay on the ship and take in the Discovery Series Cuckoo Clock demonstration. The clocks are all hand carved and hand painted. They are really beautiful. We bought a hand carved mantel clock during our early 1990s trip and just enjoyed seeing the craftsmanship. The ship was sailing and the tour group caught up with us in Strasbourg, France.

As an aside, when we were having our disembarkation talk, the question was asked if anyone needed a Value Added Tax (VAT) form. This would be used to get a refund of the tax you paid if you had spent more than $120 in any one store. No one on the ship needed one. I think this speaks to the strong Euro against the U.S. dollar. Everything was quite expensive this trip and people simply were not buying.

My father's family came from the Strasbourg region and Ted and I had visited here on our previous trip. We were anxious to see the Astronomical Clock once again. It is housed in the Notre Dame Cathedral and has a long history.

There is a tribute to our servicemen carved on a pillar in the cathedral.

The first clock was built around 1352. This stayed in place for about 150 years until it finally failed. Work on a replacement began in 1547 but due to the religious turmoil of the time was not completed until some thirty years later. Major modifications/rebuilding work took place again in the 19th century.

The clock is on four main levels and provides a variety of astronomical information; i.e., time, tide, moon phase, etc. It's magnificent in itself, but what makes it such a tourist attraction for visitors to Strasbourg is the collection of automata that perform on the various levels. These include a cherub turning an hour glass, another hitting a gong and a figurative representation of the four ages of man.

The main "show" takes place at 12:30 daily. On the top level, figures of the twelve apostles parade in front of Christ and bow before him while a cock spreads its wings and crows. Because of our schedule we were not able to see this again. However, now you must pay to be in the Cathedral at that time. Also, it was 2 Euros (about $3) to turn the light on to even see the clock! Add that to all the signs about pickpockets and it certainly put a damper on our visit.

In the afternoon we enjoyed a sightseeing tour by boat along Strasbourg's canals. We had to go through two locks to circle the city.

Our tour concluded at the Palais Rohan (mini-Versailles) and we walked on our own through the city back to the ship.

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