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Another view

I just got a book by Bernard Levin out of the library, "To the End of the Rhine" by a Kraut Michael Palin (Pole to Pole) facsimile.

Just grab a look at this geyser, he is just sooooo typical Germanic. Smile? no he has never even raised a giggle - even at Octoberfest but he puts himself in every picture with his "my shit dont stink" expression.

However he has great feeling for Rhine etc. I'll colour him blooooo.

Take it away Bernard!!!!

"..... I had not so far embarked upon the bosom of the Rhine. The next stretch of the journey seemed to call for a progress on the water, and I signed on, therefore, from Kreuzlingen on the Swiss side of Constance, for the voyage to the Schaffhausen Falls, where I trusted that the boat would stop safely short of the drop. (sic - hey dude, that was my little joke. You guys dont have jokes) (It is from the bridge across the Rhine at Constance that the river is measured; from there to Rotterdam there are huge boards on both banks, marking the progress of the Rhine, measured off in kilometres, with smaller boards marking the tenths. At the Constance bridge the first of the boards says defiantly, 'o'.) I was not to know that this placid stretch of water, strewn on both sides with tiny villages, castles, churches, monuments, inns, towers, meadows and life, would prove to be among the most beautiful and enchanted stretches of the entire river.

The Rhine at Basle, Strasbourg and Cologne is more imposing, at Mainz and Worms more historically significant, at Bonn more political, at Duisburg and Djisseldorf more powerful in their role of purveyors of goods and services to the twentieth century, along the route of Seventy Castles more enrapt in legend; but from the moment the Rhine leaves Lake Constance, via the southern arm at the western end, until the traveller hears the roar of Falls downstream as he approaches his journey's end, there is no part of the Rhine more powerful in the heart's-ease and delight that it provides."

Right on Bernard, just what I would have expected!!! Also you will notice the midpoint town of Stein am Rhein. Well as per my own observance (later on?) of the Kraut diligence in making every town boootiful, he sort of bears this out in also suggesting that Stein is a must to get off and have a peep.

And then Bernard backs me up on Wagner bit - I sort of like this blokenzie

"..... the Nibelungenlied takes place on its waters and its banks, and Wagner set to music not only the legend but the river itself; the Rheingold Prelude is one of the most lifelike musical depictions of a tangible scene ever written, and a blind man who had never heard of the composer, or for that matter the Rhine, could be in no doubt that he was listening to the flowing of a mighty river."

(dum de la dar dum, dum de la dar dum etc) Have a listen (extra loud) to Das Rheingold - Entry of the Gods into Valhalla to see what I mean. I'd say if you started it (10.5 minutes) on your Walkman at the top of the steps, you would reach the climax just as you got to the falls.

I'll send you a tape of a really great version by good old Otto Klemperer. It's on side A about half way (line up the tape and pen marks). Here's the cover story.


Entry of the Gods into Valhalla

As Das Rheingold draws to its close, the Gods are gloomy and filled with foreboding; clouds hang low over them. Donner, god of thunder, swings his hammer; after a tremendous thunderclap the clouds disperse, to reveal Valhalla, the glorious new stronghold, radiant in the evening sun. And leading to it, spanning the Rhine, is a rainbow bridge. The great arching 'rainbow' motif wells up in the orchestra, through a shimmer of divided strings and six harps, to be succeeded by the noble Valhalla theme on the brass. After gazing for a while at the magnificent prospect, Wotan seizes a sword (trumpet arpeggio theme), and resolutely leads the gods across the rainbow bridge-refusing to be dismayed by the plaintive song of the Rhinemaidens, lamenting the gold that has been stolen. Finally the rainbow motif is heard once more.

I hope I (and Bernard) have conveyed to you some of the sights and (especially) feelings to be sampled in this area, based on what I have seen/experienced and what I would still like to experience. But dont get too overcome and try to cross that rainbow bridge. There's a bit of froth in the way.

OK, that's the exact text (HTML) I did in 1998, but in 2003 I am now able to fully indulge in my fantasy with a full minute of old Super 8 movie of the Falls, with Wagner in the background (ie the final 60 seconds of the tape I speak of above).

Please believe me that it was no accident that the movie and music fit so well together (as Bernard says, even a blind man could be in no doubt of what this all about). The chords were ringing in my ears as I took the movie in 1977 and I knew at the time that sometime in the future I would put all of this together (but had no idea it would be on a thing called a computer).

Because of the file size it is maybe still a bit futuristic for on-line viewing, but with broadband quickly becoming the norm, please take a look if you have the facilities already, but be warned that the file is nearly 2 Mb (see below for "smaller" version)

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