Rollen auf dem Fluss (With apologies to Creedence.)

We unfortunately left the sunshine behind as we entered Germany. The transit from the Czech Republic to Germany was by bus and our first stop was Nuremberg. This turned out to be a bit of a loss as a rock concert prevented us from visiting the (in)famous “Triumph of the Will” stadium (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triumph_of_the_Will) and the trial museum was not open either. We had to content ourselves with a visit to the market and a sample of the famous local sausages.

_ND86966

Nuremberg market square with the 14th century Schooner Brunnen fountain in the front and the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) in the background.

It was difficult to imagine this square as the site of Hitler’s final speech in “The Triumph of the Will.” May it always be remembered today for sausages and Lebkuchen, gingerbread cookies.

 

_ND86971

The Männleinlaufen, an animated clock on the Frauenkirche

 

_ND86975

We finished our visit to Nuremberg with a view of the town from the Castle.

After Nuremberg we arrived at the boat in Bamberg and spent our first night on board. The next morning we set off in the pouring rain to see Bamberg.  As it was a Sunday, a lot of museums were closed and we were unable to enter the Cathedral due to Sunday services, but we had a pleasant, if damp, view of our first German town and would certainly return.

_ND86980.jpg

The Fuersten gate to the Bamberg cathedral has two interesting statues; “Ecclesia” and “Synagoga.”

_ND86995

Ecclesia is crowed with heaven. She used to carry a staff with a Crucifix, symbolizing the power of the church on earth. (Original statues were removed in 1937.)

_ND86994

Synagoga is, however, blindfolded and carries a broken rod. (A not too subtle message!)

 

_ND86983.jpg

According to legend, the bishop of Bamberg would not grant the citizens any land for the construction of a town hall. This prompted the townsfolk to ram stakes into the river Regnitz to create an artificial island, on which they built the town hall they so badly wanted.

_ND87000

The bridge over the river runs right through the town hall. (On the inner wall is a plaque dedicated to Claus von Stauffenberg. From the Bamberg area, he was one of the leaders of “Operation Valkyrie”; the plot to assassinate Hitler.)

_ND86987

Beautiful statue on the bridge

We ended with coffee and cake (yes, there is a theme here!) in a Konditorei and returned to the ship, feeling warmer!  We left around midday heading for Wurzburg down the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

We traveled several rivers during this cruise and enjoyed them all! We are total lock and canal fanatics, having transited the Panamá Canal, the Suez Canal, and parts of the Kennet and Avon Canal. If the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal is less well known than Suez or Panamá, it is an amazing engineering accomplishment with a long history. Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhine–Main–Danube_Canal

For those who are wondering, the Viking river cruise boats are very much like miniature ocean liners. They are carefully sized to fit the locks but despite being very long and narrow, they do not feel cramped at all. Indeed, the general feeling is one of extreme spaciousness. Because of low clearance, the bridge, and indeed everything on the top deck, can be lowered.

The clearances on the canal are so low that the top deck was closed for most of the first part of our trip.  The cabins are lovely the bathrooms are a textbook layout for a semi-dry bath. Great ideas for our next camper! Our boat was the https://www.vikingrivercruises.com/ships/longships/viking-alsvin.htmlTake a tour here: https://www.vikingrivercruises.com/content/360/start.html?secure=true

The next day, we took a full day excursion to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.  The rain was not constant and we enjoyed an extended walking tour of the town, which is one of the best preserved of the old towns, many of which suffered extensive bomb damage during World War II.

_ND87026

The medieval feel is quite strong and included a costumed minstrel band singing, drumming and asking for beer up and down the high street.  Great fun.

We spotted a stork’s nest and walked the town walls and visited the Hauptkirche of Saint Jakob (high or main church).

The church contains the Altar of the Holy Blood, a reliquary said to contain the blood of the Christ.

 

On our return to Wurzburg we visited the Bishops’ Residenz, a UNESCO listed site built between 1720 and 1744 by the prince bishops.  A very opulent palace created for some very powerful men of their time, with extensive marble, gold stucco and frescoes.

Nothing modest about this palace

The ceiling frescos were later featured in the PBS series “Civilizations.” Beyond the theme of the superiority of Europe, they feature amazing trompe d’oeil elements like people who begin as paintings on the ceiling and end as statues and figures painted so that they appear to be standing outside of the fame of the ceiling; an amazing 3-D effect. Religious scholars could use this palace as the setting for a discussion of the doctrine of the poverty of the Christ. (Yes, that is sarcasm.)

venetian-room.jpg

Grand Stairway (Photo from the Web.)

We declined the all day tour to Heidelberg as the sun was peeking through and we preferred to sail on the river and enjoy the view.

We weren’t the only ones enjoying a quiet day on the river.

Lumpia, pancit, ribs!

The cuisine on board was excellent European food, so we were surprised to learn that the chef is actually a Filipino. When he learned the Fred had lived in the Philippines, a Filipino feast was prepared for lunch.

We stopped briefly in the small town of Collenberg. At one time it had an interesting motte and bailey castle. The motte was a hill overlooking the Main River and the bailey extended down to the river’s edge, allowing it to control traffic.

Local official checking out the river boat. He collected a toll in cookies.

The following day we were due in Mainz in the mid morning but were delayed because of heavy lock traffic on the Main River.

Tied up at Mainz. You can see how long these river boats are.

This messed up the guides that Viking had booked so we headed out alone for the Gutenberg Museum, which was the highlight of the day for us.  We viewed the Gutenberg Bibles on display in the museum, which are amazing and still so colorful after all this time. We watched a printing demonstration in German, which was fun for both of us and showed the color techniques. (Denise speaks German, but Fred does not. He had the greater challenge!)

_ND87118

Been a long evolution from this to an inkjet on your desk

If they can fit, so can we!

With our plans to ship our camper to Europe, we were always alert for signs of campgrounds and campers. It was interesting to see this beast parked on the street in Mainz.

Memorial to the cruiser “Mainz” sunk at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight. Note the graffito of a peace symbol. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Heligoland_Bight_(1914))

Mainz is known for beautiful architecture

That afternoon we visited Rudesheim am Rhein.  We wandered the town and headed for the Rheingau Wine Museum at Brömser Castle. https://www.ruedesheim.de/en/wine-culinary-art/wine-culture/The museum, located in the 1,000-year-old castle, was itself interesting and dealt with the history of wine making but the fabulous part was the castle tower itself.  This was accessible to those wishing to climb it, which we of course did, and enjoyed spectacular views of the river and town from the top.

Threatening skies

We love prowling the winding stairways of medieval castles, cathedrals, and other buildings. This little tower was one of the best textbook cases of how these passages were laid out to favor both communication and defense. For those of you who are not medieval fortification nuts, the stairs were built as a clockwise spiral so that an attacker climbing the stairs would have his sword arm blocked by the central support. A defender, on the other hand, would have his right hand free. The steps were also often uneven, so as to cause someone not familiar with the stair way to stumble. And, of course, they were only one person wide so that attackers could never take advantage of numbers.

We missed the two museums devoted to torture and crime, although the toy and railway museum might be a better bet. A good reason to go back? Of course! Where else can you find an inn with a medieval tower flying the Harley-Davidon flag?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.