November 7, 2019
Yesterday afternoon we had a presentation about the Main – Danube Canal. We thought we were already in the canal, but no…we were going to approach it a bit later. Jessie told us about the history of the canal which joins the Danube River to the Main River. There were many attempts to build a canal and they all failed for one reason or another. Finally in 1960 construction was started on the existing one and it was completed in 1992. It is 106 miles long and contains 16 locks. The first set of locks raises the ship to the highest point in the world that can be reached by water – at the European Watershed. We will reach that right before Nuremberg. Then the second set lowers the ship. The ships were made to perfectly fit through the canal and it is a quite tight fit!!. These locks fill with 10.5 million gallons of water in 20 minutes. Remarkable.
We had dinner in the Bistro restaurant tonight for the first time. Dinner here requires a reservation and you can see the chefs working in the kitchen. There is room for only 20 passengers in there. We sat with another couple from UK and had a great evening with the usual wonderful food.
After dinner, there was a crew talent show with 8 different acts. It was a lot of fun and laughs. Then we had time for dancing. Nice evening.
When we woke up this morning and went to breakfast, we were surprised to find that the ship was already docked, three hours early! Gabor told us that because there aren’t as many boats this time of year, we made it through the locks in record time. We stayed on the regular schedule though as the guides weren’t available to make it any earlier.
So, after the briefing on Nuremberg where we will go at 1 PM, Norm and I took a long walk to the lock we passed through this morning. It was a nice morning for a walk. In much of the canal, the planners made one side into the transportation side with bike and walking paths and roads, and the other side is more like a park which is beautiful. Where we docked was at a shipyard and building site on the opposite side, our walk was along the river on the side next to the woods.
After lunch we had a bus tour of the city followed by a walking tour. There is a lot of Nazi history here and our guide, Margarita, did a nice job of explaining the sites. The Third Reich held court here against a background of marching fields and Hitler’s rallies. These rallies began in 1927 and continued through the following decade. After Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, they became massive propaganda events. This was Hitler’s favorite city and every September he held a 10 day rally at Zeppelinfield which we visited. The podium he stood on and is featured in many WW II movies, is still standing. Creepy.
As also saw the Colosseum which is bigger than the one in Rome. We saw the Palace of Justice where the Nuremberg trials took place in Room 600.
Margarita was very good in explaining how Hitler came to power and convinced people that life would be better for them without mentioning the atrocities that were taking place.
90% of the city was destroyed during the war. On January 2, 1945 alone 1/2 million fire bombs were launched. So much of the housing now looks like boxes – but many have gardens behind them – but some of the historic area was spared due to protective barriers that were constructed.
Margarita told us that the city is rated in the top 20 for quality of life and is a multicultural city with 40% of the population from backgrounds other than German or European. The population is 530,000. She also told us that many people think that their highways have no speed limits, but that’s the case for only 30% of them. Still a lot, I think!
We saw three lovely churches, the city market, St. John’s cemetery which is known as the most beautiful in the world, and the impressive Imperial (Kaiserburg) Castle. The castle is one of the most important imperial palaces of the Middle Ages and in a bit of trivia we learned that it was the model for the one in Disneyland. There is a large moat which never contained water but provided a barrier to intruders. Now it contains parks and community gardens.
The day was another full day with good weather. We have been so lucky. When we return to the ship, they always have different varieties of hot tea waiting for us, and there is a cookie jar filled with different homemade cookies – that never seems to empty. Life is good on the Emily Bronte.
Some photos are on Facebook if you follow me there and again, I promise to blog them when we return as I realize the narrative is pretty dry without the visuals.
Heading to Bamberg tomorrow and we have now completed half of the trip.