Dawn finds us approaching the city of Arnhem, site of "A Bridge Too Far." We dock at a quay and, after another outstanding breakfast (Jack says, "You can’t have too much smoked salmon.").
Dick boards a bus for a tour of the area and its famous WWII battlefield. It turns out we are only a short ride from the site of the John Frost Bridge, better known as "A Bridge Too Far." The current bridge is not the one from 1944, but the support pillars are from that time and show distinct signs of battle scars and bullet marks. The original bridge was blown up by the Germans sometime after the September 1944 battle. There is a small park by the bridge and we stop for picture taking. The park contains some displays of "Then and Now" photos with overlays of the old buildings on the new picture.
It gives you a good feel for what was where in 1944. None of the buildings in the area of the bridge survived the war and the city was heavily damaged so most buildings are post-war construction with no character. Such a waster!
We then ride out to the area of the airborne drop and the glider landing fields. These are some 10 miles from the bridge and are virtually unchanged in appearance. They are still farm and pasture land with only historical markers indicating their place in history.
Our next stop is the Airborne Museum located in and under the Hartenstein Hotel. This hotel, first a German headquarters and then the British Headquarters during the Battle of Arnhem, has been turned into an outstanding museum dedicated to the events of September 1944. They have excavated 4-5 stories deep under the hotel and have an excellent, "walk-through-the-battle" experience with artifacts, light and sound making it feel like "You are There;" sort of!
After a not long enough stop here, we drive to the British War Cemetery where many of the British dead from the battle are laid to rest. As with all British War Graves it is beautifully maintained and very moving. We are told that area school children are required to tend the graves at some point in their schooling so that they will learn and never forget the sacrifices made by the British on their behalf.
We return to the boat by way of the route taken by the British soldiers when moving from the landing zones toward Arnhem. Back on the boat we have lunch and watch the river banks slide by as we make our way to Nijmegen.
Nijmegen is only about 10 miles south of Arnhem by highway and lies on the Waal River.
We dock below the old town and the cruise director conducts a walking tour up through the old town to the Grote Markt Square. A large street market is just breaking up and, after walking its length, we break off and explore the site of an old church and Medieval fortification ruins overlooking the river and the General Gavin Bridge.
We find our way down off the heights above the bridge and stroll along the riverside walk back to the boat with our sore feet reminding us our walking days are pretty much over. It is has been very interesting to see Arnhem and Nijmegen and to add them to our list of historic places visited.
We enjoy our cocktails on our balcony as we sail past Nijmegan and the along the river dotted here and there with farms and windmills. We are sailing for Antwerp, 136 miles away, at 6PM while we enjoy an entertaining talk by our very funny cruise director over more cocktails and then another tasty dinner. Tonight there is a 60's dance in the lounge, but we past and retire to our comfortable beds!