It seems like the North Sea tidied up here to give space to the Rhine. The onlooker has a clear, sweeping vista of the river separating into a wide delta and eventually, having completed a 1,320-km journey, disappearing into the sea. More than 58 million people live in the Rhine's catchment area and 20 cities have developed along its banks. The last of these is the global harbour city of Rotterdam, with its futuristic architectural wonders. Amsterdam, a colourful, cheery centre of culture; Gent, a vibrant student city; elegant Antwerp, with its buildings from every epoch; and of course, the biggest city: the happy-go-lucky Cologne – the Rhine passes through all of these on its way to the IJsselmeer. And the only thing to be heard at this expanse of water is peace, the sound of the wind, the seagulls and the sand crunching beneath your feet as you walk briskly across the mudflats.
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