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Friday, April 29, 2016

Day 11, April 1, Morning Cruising and Bamberg, Germany

Most mornings so far have been like this: up, dressed, breakfast and on a tour by 8 to 9:30 AM.  this morning is a little slower.  Our four hour tour of Bamberg will not begin until 1:30. So we relax in our room and take photos of the passing scenery.  I take note of the wind farms and solar panel on many homes.  The homes are painted in colorful choices.  Set against the bright, new grass makes for great photo opportunities.

I was fascinated by the many stairs leading down to the river/canal.  The stairs are about every tenth of a mile in some areas, even in rural settings.  Some are moss covered.  Others are well worn.  Wonder what government decision led to these steps to the water?  I guess that is one thing that comes to me with the different countries, a different culture exists here.  Buildings, etc. seem to be viewed for long term use.  I do not mean the 20-50 years of the US mentality but centuries.

This is a working river with barges moving by often.  Almost every barge has one or two autos and a small boat on the deck.  One even had a Playskool playset on the deck.  We were told many of the folks basically live on the barges.  Bet they do not have the great service we are getting on this cruise!

Aquivit Terrace lunchtime

The wonderful crew on this cruise are great fun as well as excellent in service.  Not to even mention how efficient, helpful and just plain fun!  Hubby and I each are falling in love with crew members.

In addition to the lovely scenery along the river the waterfowl are prolific.  I would like to share a little bit of a heron doing a fly by.  Also, a bit of swan preening one morning as we were waiting for our turn at a lock.

After a delightful 'light' lunch on the Aquivit terrace, it is time to board the bus for Bamberg.  We are told to try to experience the smoked beer.  Seems this is one of the many claims to fame for this picturesque little town.  Its historic city center is a listed UNESCO world heritage site.  Unlike so many German cities, Bamberg was not targeted for bombs by the Allies during WWII.  That means there are buildings and walls dating from the 10th century.  

We manage to be the first to the bus so we pick the front seats!  Great for shots out the front window as we travel through the countryside.

Hubby noted that all the semi-truck tractors were snub-nosed.  He wondered why and I had no answer.  Maybe one of my readers will have an answer.....

 This flat land girl was interested in the tunnels.  Not something you run across on the plains of Texas.  Oooooooo, look what the lights look like in a tunnel.

And how does one pronounce this word?  My dirty mind can only think of one way to pronounce it.  And my nephew would laugh.

We arrive in this old city and it is really something to see.  Colorful, unique buildings line every street onto which we turn.  This becomes even more exciting as we enter the old town area.

We learned the smoked beer was sampled by a few of the group during free time.  BTW look at the insignia hanging on this sign. Jewish star?  That is what we all thought, too. Wrong, Ole Great Beer Breath!  It was a six point brewers star used as a symbol hung out in ancient days to say the beer was fresh and pure.  That symbol became universal as a way by beer makers even today to say their beer is fresh.

More of my beloved half timber buildings.

Random antique stores.  Even more random tongue in cheek statues.

The Roman Catholic root connection is evident everywhere.  Then one turns a corner and is confronted with the Holocaust by a simple plaque.  The city in memory of the lost Jewish population installed stumbling blocks.  A small rise or indention to make you stumble and remember the Holocaust victims.

And as life moved on from WWII, we move to the next part of the tour.  Views of the City Hall from the 'little Venice' fisherman's village.

 As just a reminder, real people live in this real, old city.
Front view of the city hall from a different location.
There was just so much to love about this city.  I have about 300 photos of just Bamberg.  It is really hard to decide which to share.  But this post is getting too long.  I'll finish with what we were greeted at our boat when we returned:

And if you wish to see more photos of Bamberg ......

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Day 10, March 31, Würzburg, Germany

The Fortress Marienberg
The cloudy skies of yesterday persist as we approach Würzburg in the morning fog.  More locks last night.  I know for sure as there was one pretty good bump as the captain must have steered a bit too close.  Not sure how they do as well as they do.  Anyway, it was fun to sail through the night with the curtains open to see what can be seen.

Hubby's legs are needing a day off from walking.  I will go on today's walking tour with D and her friend, Marygail.  Hubs and I go to breakfast while the ship is still sailing toward Würzburg.  Richard, the morning chef, cooks the usual 2 eggs over easy for Hubby.  The eggs have the most beautiful, deep gold yolks.  I forgot to mention that on Easter Sunday there were Easter eggs everywhere.  Some were chocolate while others were brightly colored boiled eggs.

And then there were rabbits, Chocolate rabbits.  Some of the folks we met from Michigan and us decided they were multiplying....  That's what rabbits do.  BTW the vase is from Keukenhof and has been crying for flowers.  Have not had a chance to stop at any of the markets so far.

Alte Mainbrücke or the Old Bridge 
The call comes over the speaker to begin boarding the buses for transfer to the Bishops' Residenz and a Walking Tour of the city.  It is 9:30 AM.  And we are off and running.  Well, actually sitting on a bus driving through a city.  So much to see that it is difficult to get the best photos.  So I settle for blurry with window reflections cause I want to record everything possible.  I can always google the names of things the lady with the accent is saying.  Blah, blah church, fortress, lions on a bridge?  I could only get a lion's rear and not the lion bridge.
Käppele Church in Würzburg

Lion on the Ludwig Bridge.
A couple more glimpses of the fortress and then we arrive at the morning's focus.
The Bishops' Residence
Interior photos were not allowed.  The interior was stunning.  A bishop wanted a place to rival Versailles.  With a big inheritance he started his dream.  He died and his replacement completed the project.  For perspective of the composite photo, the main opening is behind the statue.  It is large enough for carriages to enter.  Would not want a guest to get wet after all!  The stories of the way the original bishops would manipulate kings was not news.  But this particular diocese managed to be declared Prince Bishops.  How?  Well, simple.  Did the what the king needed, performed the marriage to a 13 year old girl.  That is what the guide said so it must be true.

An aside, Würzburg as with many of German towns and cities we visited were destroyed by 80 to 96%.  This particular palace was saved by the leader of the Monuments Men, John Skilton.  There is a nice exhibition in his honor in the Palace.  The next room is the souvenir shop.  I spend a little on post cards and a book to be able to share the interior with Hubby.  Then it was time to gather my backpack from the storage area and head for the tour bus.  I felt like Cinderella after the horses had all turned back to mice.  But I knew my Prince Charming was already mine, just lounging around back on the ship.

St. Kilian Cathedral (Dom St. Kilian)
Saint Mary's Church
We road the short distance to the old part of town and de-bussed.  Is that a word?  We walked around the outside of a group of churches and entered a courtyard of sorts.  There we find sculptures that are surprisingly modern.

Gothic Marienkapelle Church

Now I really do appreciate all the wonderful architecture and art pieces.  The stories of what, when and how certain churches, chapels and cathedrals were built is very interesting.  My brain is full.

Apparently the tour is a little ahead of schedule so the guide takes us to an area of open air markets.  I spy flowers.  Tulips for 5 euro.  I can still hear the guide so that means she is within 150 feet.  I select the bouquet, pay and am back with the group before anyone even misses me.  And on a leg that is 9 weeks out from surgery with cobblestones for sidewalks.

Then the group has one last thing to do, walk to the middle of the Old Main Bridge.  The tradition is to have a glass of wine while standing in the middle of the bridge.  I forgo the wine and just snap a few shots.  Then it is to the meeting point to board the tour bus to return to the ship.

The ship sets off for the next docking.  We pass under a very low bridge then sail past several of the sights we visited on the walking tour.

Trailer park, Romo style

Before I go on deck to get photos of the passing lives I take a few minutes to arrange the tulips in that vase that has been begging for flowers.  I even add the postcards to the ledge so Hubby can enjoy the sights I have seen.  Later we go to bed with the smell of fresh tulips in the air.  And one less chocolate bunny.