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A Lock

Amazing! Now I think I now know how a cockroach must feel when it gets stuck right at the bottom of the bathtub! Well I think this would have to be a close experience anyway.

If you have the time, just watch this video by Feisty Tortilla on Youtube. I think it gives everyone a better feel for just what it’s like.

 

We sailed through many of these enormous locks as we travelled all the way from Amsterdam to Budapest on our recent European river cruise. And yes. it was very easy to feel just like that cockroach at the bottom of your bathtub many times over! Afterall, there are some 16 locks just within the Main-Danube section of the journey alone.

Going into a Lock on Viking Tor.

Going into a Lock on Viking Tor.

As we sailed into each new lock, the water would be let out. Our Longship would then gradually sink down, down, down  following the changing water level. The light would slowly seem to fade inside our elegant stateroom.

Following the water level down onboard  Viking Tor

Following the water level down aboard Viking Tor

Soon the only thing we would be able to see from the longship, would be the amazingly steep sides of the soaring lock walls just outside.

Ascending high above us, they began to appear as sheer towering cliffs (only much smoother and usually a greenish-brown shade that indicated they were rich with algae of course).

Initially these experiences worried me a  little.

Once in a lock, it appeared that the only way out (had we needed to get moving in a hurry) was via some very steep ladders built into its sheer sides. So as we sank lower I would initially find myself muttering a few of my own little Hail Mary’s…hoping to goodness that the enormous gates at the other end would actually open as they should.

Well of course,  they always did. We would then simply sail off once again into the rich splendour of the Upper Franconian Landscape.

Breathing a sigh of relief  as the gates open after the water had been sucked out of the lock.

Breathing a sigh of relief as the gates opened as always after the water had been sucked out of the lock.

Sailing out of a Lock and into the splendour of the Upper Franconian Landscape

Sailing out of a Lock and off into the splendour of the Upper Franconian Landscape

After a while, I found I became quite accustomed to these locks. I guess because there are just so many of them.

Viking tells us there are about 68  or so altogether between Amsterdam and Budapest. Their workings and the technological genius of their mechanics are really quite intriguing to watch. Dearly Beloved (D.B.) certainly seemed to think so. He loved to photograph them using MY camera!

Once I realised  that the gates would always work without a hitch, I actually even started to look forward to passing through them myself.

Sheer cliff like walls of a lock.

Sheer cliff like walls of the lock taken by D.B.

D.B. loved taking photos of the inner workings of the locks.

D.B. just   loved taking photos of the inner workings of the locks.

More inner workings by D.B.

More inner workings by D.B.

Eventually. D.B. and I would even get up in the middle of the night so we could watch the spectacle of our Longship passing through another  new lock in the darkness. It became a little mini-adventure of sorts. We even began to look forward to it.

The locks also seemed to become somehow more exciting in the dark of the night.

And more inner workings by D.B. The engineer likes to know how things work.

More inner workings by D.B. The engineer likes to know how things work.

According to the Danube River Cruise website, the Rhine – Main – Danube Canal was a dream first discussed by Charles the Great (better known as Charlemagne) way back in the 8th century. Even then Charlemagne could envisage the positive outcomes a connection would have for trade and transport between the countries.

But it wasn’t until many centuries later that Germany’s King Ludwig built the first smaller, much shorter section of this original canal. The inaugural section connected Bamberg to Nuremberg in 1836. It saw many productive outcomes. For nearly a century or so it was instrumental in promoting European business and trade.

But with the introduction of  train transport at the commencement of the 19th century,  river transport soon started to decline.  The final damage of course was afflicted during World War 2.  This saw the first canal structure close altogether.

But new plans for a much longer….. a much grander canal were soon on the drawing board.

The Rhine Main-Danube-Canal (as we know it today) was only just completed about twenty or so years ago in 1992.

Today the canal runs from about Bamberg on the Main River to Kelheim on the Danube. It now allows longships and  boats to travel all the way from the Atlantic Ocean in the West to the Black Sea in the East.

This amazing 20th century engineering achievement  has of course once again opened up the river trade and transportation routes right across Europe.

Today more and more people are cruising these waterways every year. Dearly Beloved (D.B.) and I certainly found it a most delightful way to journey through Europe.

Sailing on Viking Tor.

Sailing on Viking Tor.

By around midday on Day 7  we would be arriving in the beautiful medieval city of Bamberg. Built across 7 hills and close by the confluence of 2 rivers…..the Main and the Regnitz Rivers…. we were  most certainly looking forward to exploring these new German treasures.

Germany seems to have so many UNESCO World Heritage protected cities and historical buildings.  They are all  so architecturally  and historically rich and so extremely difficult to replace. We must surely continue to look after what we have; to preserve it,  so we can enjoy its magnificence for generations to come.

Watery vista along the Danube.

Another lovely watery vista along the Danube.

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