November 8, 2019
After breakfast today we headed out to tour Bamberg. I chose to do the Walk and Discover and Norm stayed with the city tour group. Luckily here we also had the city tour with the Walk and Discover group so we didn’t have to miss anything, we just did not have the free time that the other groups had. But the tour was wonderful and well worth it! Great guide as all have been on this trip.
Bamberg is a UNESCO world heritage city and it is just lovely. Only about 5% was destroyed in the war so the buildings are original and charming – medieval in style. The city was designed by Emperor Heinrich II during the 11th century and he planned it to be as grand as Rome. It never became as large as Rome but it has many lovely buildings and a stunning network of canals like Venice. In fact one section along the river is called Little Venice. The town is built on 7 hills like Rome.
We started off at 9 with a 5 minute bus ride to the town and then each went with our respective groups and guides. My group hiked up the hills, through forests and vineyards to the St. Michael’s Abbey which is empty now except for a restaurant but quite beautiful. Then we went on to the Altenburg Castle at the top of the highest hill in the city. 5 miles of hiking all together and another 2 once we reached the town.
We were on the trail of the Way of St James (santiago de compostela) which is always marked with the scallop shell.
We learned that education in the public universities is free. The students pay a small administrative fee of 100 euros a semester which includes the public transportation! Taxes are about 40% here and there is an additional 8% church tax. If someone doesn’t want to pay the church tax, they can apply for it to be dismissed but then they would not be able to have weddings, funerals, baptisms or any sort of ceremony in the church. It is strange because most people here are not religious. Guess that is why they need the tax.
An unusual feature of this town is the old town hall which is situated in the middle of the river. It is really a beautiful sight.
The Bamberg Cathedral (also known as the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Georg) is a Romanesque building in the center of town. It has 4 grand towers that guide you there from any direction. It was founded in 1004 and inside, you find a statue of the Bamberg Horseman, the symbol of the city. Many of the buildings have scaffolding around them and are being repaired. This cathedral will be under construction for 14 years (7 more) and cost 50 million euros! The beautiful painted walls were all erased because when it was restored after a fire King Ludwig thought it should be returned to its”original” state, so the walls are plain sandstone. Our guide thought that was a rather stupid move!
The town is known for its smoked beer, Rauchbier. This is the only place in the world where you can find it. Norm tried some and said it was good!
Unlike some of the towns we have visited along the rivers and canals, there is no flooding here any more. They now have the canals which has solved that problem.
We arrived back at the ship for a 12:45 departure. There was a Bavarian buffet for lunch and all of the servers wore hats and aprons in Bavarian style. There was a roast pig, many specialties and of course, large pretzels. We sat with a new friend, Howard, who is from the UK and surprisingly had never had this type of pretzel. They are pretty much like the ones in Philadelphia which of course were brought there by the Germans.
Tomorrow we will be in Wurzburg . The scenery along the river is really pretty. In some places the fall colors are still nice and it is relaxing just to sail smoothly along.