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April 2010

Essen and the Ruhr: European Culture Capital 2010

North Duisburg Landscape Park

ABOVE: North Duisburg Landscape Park. INSET BELOW: The Kokereibad swimming pool in Essen's former Zollverein coking plant.

Kokereibad, EssenEssen, Germany and the surrounding Ruhrgebiet (a.k.a. the Ruhr Metropolis) have earned "European Capital of Culture" honors in 2010, and they're celebrating with special exhibitions, concerts, and other events throughout the year.

If a trip to Essen isn't yet on your calendar, you can take solace in the fact that many of the Ruhr region's attractions are "evergreen." Former coal mines have been turned into museums, a gasometer has been filled with water for use as a diving center, and other relics of Germany's Industrial revolution have been reborn as exhibition centers and concert venues. 

A lot of interesting things are happening in the Ruhrgebiet, which is easy to reach from the major population centers of Germany and Western Europe. For more information, see:

Welcome to Essen

Essen for the Ruhr Metropolis Route of Industrial Heritage

Photos: Manfred Vollmer.

Silversea's 'Silver Wind' in Venice

ABOVE: A nighttime view of the Silver Wind at Venice's San Basilio cruise terminal

The 2010 Mediterranean cruise season is underway, and Venice--one of Southern Europe's more popular cruise ports--has welcomed a growing number of passenger ships in the last few weeks. Today, we shot video footage of the Silver Wind leaving Venice on its way to the Adriatic and points beyond. (See below.)

The Silver Wind is one of six ships owned by Silversea Cruises, a luxury line that offers upscale comforts in a European atmosphere. We haven't sailed on the Silver Wind, but you can read about our experiences on a Silversea Silver Whisper Mediterranean Cruise and a Silver Whisper Northern European cruise at

For more information on Silversea's cruises in 2010 and 2011, visit

'Seabourn Spirit' leaves Venice Cruise Terminal

Seabourn Spirit in Venice

ABOVE: A Venice water bus precedes the Seabourn Spirit up the Giudecca Canal.

Seabourn Spirit is a small luxury cruise ship from "The Yachts of Seabourn," as the company formerly known as Seabourn Cruise Line is now called. The Seabourn Spirit entered service as the Royal Viking Queen in 1988, joined Seabourn's fleet in 1996, and was refurbished in 2007. It has a capacity of 208 passengers in 104 suites.

Cheryl took the video below as the Seabourn Spirit left Venice Cruise Terminal's San Basilio pier, turned, and cruised up the Giudecca Canal on its way to the Adriatic. The departure proceeded at a glacial pace, so the video has been edited to keep it from rivaling the movie Titanic in length (if not in production values). 

Note: Listen for Venice's church bells as you watch the video. Also, if you look carefully, you'll see our dog Maggie, star of Maggie in Venice, peering into the frame near the end of the clip.