Passau, Germany with pictures

November 5, 2019

This is our first stop in Germany. The forecast was for rain so we opted to tour the town vs going with the Walk and Discover group on the hike where we would not have visited the town. As it turned out, it didn’t rain until we were back on the ship. But the town was charming with plenty to see.


First, though, It want to mention something unique from Melk that I forgot to write about yesterday.

We saw a reusable coffin! It had a trap door that could be opened by a lever when the coffin was placed inside the grave opening. The reusable coffin was invented to accommodate a 1784 decree by Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II. He ordered that bodies must be interred without clothes in linen bags to save wood and hasten decomposition. Under the decree, coffins could be used only for transporting the body to the cemetery. Joseph’s decree was so unpopular that it was never implemented. False but persistent claims that the body of Mozart, who died in Vienna in 1791, was placed in a reusable coffin are reflected in the movie Amadeus.

melk coffin

Passau is close to the Austrian border in Bavaria. People here actually consider themselves more Austrian than German. It is known as the “city of three rivers” because the Danube is joined here by the Inn and the Ilz. Because of this, the town has had many major floods and there is a wall that has markings that indicate the year and the water level.



Our cruise director, Jessie took us around the town- it is one of her favorites. We have the whisper system with earphones that recharge in our cabins which makes it easy to hear the guides even if we get separated by short distances.

Jessie told us about the town’s history and the manufacturing of swords here. The symbol of the town is the Wolf and it was stamped on the blades of the swords which the warriors believed would protect them.IMG_7169

Here is a lot of dark history here including the hangman, which pretty much every town had back in medieval times. Also Nazi history – Hitler lived here as a boy and Himmler lived here for a period too.

Most of the town is in Baroque style as a result of rebuilding after a devastating fire in 1662 when most of the city was destroyed.

We visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral (yes, every town seems to have a St. Stephen’s!) which has the world’s second biggest organ with 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. It is a beautiful example of Baroque architecture.


The Old Residence and the New Residence housed the clergy and now are used as museums. Also beautiful Baroque buildings.

The Old Town Hall has a pretty garden courtyard and interesting paintings on the outside.


We had time to walk the streets and alleys and to visit another church (there are 47 here) where we sat to listen to the organ. One of the shops had magnificent cuckoo clocks of all sizes as well as nutcrackers and ornate beer steins. It is beer country after all. Jessie says you have to have a sausage and a beer in every town! As we travel further north, it will be more wine country but Bavarian beer is the thing here!

As I write this, we are going through one of the 66 locks and it seems like the concrete wall is just inches from our cabin and its floor to ceiling windows! Very interesting to pass through so many.

Tomorrow we will be in Regensburg. We are enjoying this ship, the friendly staff and the other passengers. We have met people from Australia and the UK and just a few other Americans. Great to chat with them and, as always, learn from others.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Melk, Austria with pictures

November 4, 2019

The morning we arrived at our last Austrian city, Melk. We were divided into groups to tour the Melk Abbey. The Walk and Discover group is always #4, so we had the last tour. It is a lovely sunny day and we took a bus up the hill to the Abbey. This charming town has only 5000 residents. The highlight is the Abbey which starred life as a Hapsburg Palace. It has been a monastic school since the 12th century with a library that is world renowned for its extensive collection. It was reconstructed in the Baroque style in the first 40 years of the 18th century. The building has 468 rooms and 1365 windows! It contains a high school for 700 students. Mozart has performed concerts here.


IMG_7082The above picture is our cruise director from the Netherlands, Jessie.


Reinhold was our guide through the courtyard and the museum areas of the Abbey which highlight the history through the years.

IMG_7104 - Copy - CopyIMG_7106 - Copy - CopyIMG_7108 - Copy - CopyIMG_7111 - CopyIMG_7113 - CopyIMG_7114 - CopyIMG_7117 - CopyIMG_7119 - CopyIMG_7134 - Copy

The whole place was just spectacular- the library contains 100,000 documents, many rare manuscripts and all the books were re-covered to look the same. The church is the most beautiful I have ever seen and I have seen hundreds.

Unfortunately no photos were allowed but we later bought a small book with explanation and pictures. Here are two – the library and the inside of the church.

 IMG_7139 - CopyIMG_7138 - Copy

After our visit we walked through the town and through a forest area and returned to the ship for lunch.

IMG_7135 - CopyIMG_7133 - CopyIMG_7127 - CopyIMG_7128 - CopyIMG_7130 - CopyIMG_7132 - Copy

We left this port at 1:45. We will travel next to Passau in Germany and it is fun to watch the beautiful small towns and experience the many locks along the way.


I had the opportunity to have a wonderful hot stone massage followed by tea with a special apricot Austrian dessert. Just had to try that!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Vienna, Austria with pictures

November 3, 2019

After our previous 2 full days in Vienna, we were looking forward to returning, and we were not disappointed. After breakfast, we joined a one hour bus tour of the city around the Ringstrasse, the ring road that surrounds the historic section. This is where the original wall stood, encircling the old city and the ring road totally replaced it by 1960. The magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral is in the very center of the ring. We saw many of the sights that we had explored last week including the beautiful Opera House, which is the largest in Austria and considered one of the best in the world. Like so many historical buildings, it was largely destroyed in WW II, rebuilt and reopened in 1955. Our guide, Michelle, was a wealth of knowledge.Then we had a walking tour and we explored the Hofburg Palace with its 18 courtyards (we didn’t see all 18)! The Palace has thousands of rooms but we did not tour the inside. It is also the home of the crown jewels, relics of the Holy Roman Empire, the Vienna Boys Choir and the famous Spanish Riding School. It houses the world’s 4th largest art collection.We saw the Lipizzaner stallions in their stables and I did get some photos of them. Beautiful. The new riders start with the oldest horses to learn as the horse teaches THEM!

IMG_6947 - CopyIMG_6949 - CopyIMG_6951 - CopyIMG_6957 - CopyIMG_6961 - CopyIMG_6964IMG_6966IMG_6967IMG_6971IMG_6973IMG_6983IMG_6984IMG_6985IMG_6987IMG_6989IMG_6990IMG_6997IMG_7001IMG_7003IMG_7004IMG_7009IMG_7010IMG_7011IMG_7012IMG_7018IMG_7021

The city is known, of course, for music and the main composer is Johann Strauss. Every concert here includes the Danube Waltz. Vienna remains the last great capital of the 19th century ball with over 200 still held every year, some with as many as 9 live orchestras! We were fortunate to have attended 2 concerts previously and had an extraordinary string quartet on board after dinner too.

The city has 1.8 million people and it is quite large in area, 4 times larger than Paris. There are really no slums since the city has ordinary housing in amongst the beautiful historic buildings and this works well.

After our walking tour (many items covered in my first Vienna post), we ended at the Cathedral during mass. I walked in just to hear the music. Then we returned to the ship for lunch since we were on the Walk for Discovery tour in the afternoon.

What an experience that was! I wrote that it is the first time it is being offered. There were 26 of us in the group. We went on a 1 hour bus ride back towards Bratislava to a small town called Hainburg. We were met by two guides in traditional dress. The town is on the banks of the Danube and the ride here was beautiful- thousands of windmills, many vineyards and views of the river too. The wind generation of power is one of Austria’s biggest industries.


The hike took us along the river, to the ruins of the castle of Rothelstein and then into the forest and up to Braunsberg, a limestone massive rock overlooking the Danube and the views were stunning. (Posted some pics on Facebook). It was windy at the top and many families were flying kites up there. It was a strenuous walk, but the group made it! We will see how many continue on the next 4 of these special events! Our guides entertained us with history and legends all along the way. We ended with a short walk to the center of Hainburg where we heard some of the bloody history near the old city walls. Then our guide entertained us by playing the hurdy gurdy in the shadows of the ancient wall. A great way to end the day here.


It was dark on the way back to the ship and also a bit rainy- we were glad it held off all day.

After dinner, a string quarter came on board for a one hour performance which was just wonderful. Tomorrow is our last day in Austria – the town of Melk.

This afternoon I have to say we had our cell phones tuned to the NY Marathon site where our son Adam was running in his third NY! We could follow his run and were so proud of him. Congratulations, ✨Adam. ❤

Our other son Mark and his wife Ramsay are on the first leg of their 2 month honeymoon.

Adventures all around in our family. Stay tuned for more.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Bratislava, Slovakia with pictures

November 2, 2019

Bratislava is Slovakia’s largest city and its capital. It is only a 1 hour drive to Vienna which makes these two cities the world’s closest capitals. It is the only national capital that borders on two independent countries – Austria and Hungary.


We arrived about 1 PM today after our trip on the Danube from Budapest. We passed through one of the 66 locks that we will encounter on our trip to Cologne, Germany. IMG_6870IMG_6867

Our guide here was Maria and she was excellent.


We first took a small train to the Bratislava Castle which was a fortress in the 9th century and became a Renaissance castle in 1562. It was rebuilt in the 17th century in the baroque style, was destroyed by fire in 1811 and was in ruins until the 1950’s when it was rebuilt. It is on a hill and the wind was very strong so everyone was shivering! But we enjoyed the castle and the gardens. The statues of soldiers on the two archways have no arms or heads since the ruler at that time was making a statement against wars.



The town is a delight, with a town hall that dates back to the 14th century. St. Michael’s Gate is impressive as are the churches, opera house and Presidential Palace. We had free time and went to the oldest shop to purchase local wine and Slovak pastries. Yum!


Meet Cumil, Bratislava’s somewhat notorious sewer worker statue. Is he resting? Is he heading down to clean up your mess? Or is he peeping up women’s skirts? Debate rages on as to what this guy is actually doing as he pokes out of a sculptural manhole in Bratislava’s old town district. The odd statue was installed in 1997 as part of an effort to spice up the look and feel of the area which was traditionally marked with drab Communist-era architecture and decoration.


Now here is something we haven’t seen anywhere else.  It is a 90 minute beer bike tour through the old town.   15 people can pedal this thing while drinking beer.  And they were all singing!


Maria shared a lot of history including what it was like in Communist times – they seized power in 1948 – and took over many buildings, changing them to the stark Soviet architecture. Some still exist today. After the fall of Communism in 1989, Czechoslovakia became a democratic society. The “Velvet Divorce” occurred in 1993 and the country split peacefully into Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Maria said that the decision was political and that if there was a referendum, probably 75% of the population would have voted against it.

We are on a riverboat that has almost all British passengers, so they chuckled at the mention of “referendum” given what they are going through with Brexit! There are only about 8 of us Americans on the ship!

There is a bridge with an observation area on the top that they call the UFO. We could see people above it outside, it must have been really cold up there.


We are enjoying life on board the Emily Bronte which is part of the Riviera Cruise line. We enjoyed the hot tub yesterday with the sights of Budapest at dusk in the background. The food has been excellent and Jessie and Gabor, our cruise director and concierge, are very good.

The castle by night as we left Bratislava.  Gorgeous.


Tonight we leave for Vienna and since we spent a couple of days there last week, we are looking forward to our return. We joined in an optional walking tour package in 5 ports and the first one is tomorrow after our regular sightseeing tour. Apparently this will be hiking in the forest near Vienna. This is the first time they have offered this option and will be wanting our feedback. 28 of us have signed up. Should be fun.

Every evening after dinner Jessie gives us highlights of the next port. There is also a pianist in the lounge. No casino of course, so my evenings end earlier than on the world cruises!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Budapest, Hungary with pictures

October 29, 30, 31, and November 1, 2019

We arrived in Budapest from Vienna on the Railjet – again the fast train.  It took just over 2 hours.

Our hotel is the Sofitel Chain Bridge and it overlooks the Chain Bridge, the Danube River and across to the Budapest Castle.  Our window overlooks it all and the view is just beautiful. The hotel was a great choice. There happened to be a Medtronic conference there and these robots were wandering all around the lobby.

IMG_6532IMG_6533IMG_6552 - CopyIMG_6555IMG_6557IMG_6669IMG_6716

Rubbing the jolly fat policeman’s stomach is said to bring good luck, particularly in love! In his lifetime, the inspiration behind the statue was said to be a lover of food and women. He was immortalized during the 19th century, with a round belly to symbolize hearty Hungarian cuisine.


We toured the city on October 29 and 30 and then boarded the beautiful Emily Bronte riverboat where we stayed checked in and explored some more.


We stayed overnight there and had one additional day before sailing to Bratislava.  I will post the pictures all in this one posting.

We were glad that we had 3 previous days in Budapest because November 1 was a national holiday and a lot of places, including all shops except those run by families (very few) were open. Even the City Market was closed and it is something to see, we had 2 meals there. CNN rated it one of the best markets in the world. Hungary is known for paprika and goose liver pate and there are many shops that sell both. Here are some pictures of the City Market.


The tour with the cruise was an excellent one.

Hungary is now 1/3 the size it once was and has a population of 10 million of which 1.7 million live in Budapest. This capital is really 2 cities, Buda and Pest pronounced Pecht. 2/3 of the population lives on the Pest side and our hotel before we got on the river boat, was on that side overlooking the Buda Palace across the Danube River. The Buda side is richer.

Our guide spoke flawless English and said that she learned it in secret under the blankets of her bed in Communist times…. From Michael Jackson! English was not taught and was forbidden to learn in Communist times. It is said that Hungarian is the second hardest language in the world after Chinese.


The tour was by bus and ended at Buda Castle, which we had explored a couple of days ago. There is a funicular that takes you up, but we chose to walk. We walked around that area as it is huge and beautiful. The buildings are all museums now. We wanted to see the Hospital in the Rock, but it was closed so we only saw the outside. 2/3 of this city was bombed and destroyed so much has been rebuilt since WW II.

IMG_6549 - CopyIMG_6560 - CopyIMG_6561 - CopyIMG_6563 - CopyIMG_6565IMG_6569IMG_6570IMG_6571IMG_6574IMG_6575IMG_6576IMG_6594IMG_6602IMG_6641IMG_6645IMG_6647IMG_6653IMG_6656IMG_6659IMG_6663

The synagogue here is the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world. It was designed by Catholic architects and because of that it has an organ which is not typically part of synagogues. Outside of the synagogue is a cemetery and a tree of life in silver commemorating the 600,000 Hungarian Jews that were killed during the Holocaust. There are 600 leaves each engraved with the name of a family member killed. We revisited the synagogue and had a guided tour on Wednesday. It can hold 6000 people, 3000 sitting and 3000 standing! And it is beautiful inside and out. It was rebuilt with generous donations from Tony Curtis and Estee Lauder both of whom were born here.


Hungary has the richest geothermal springs in the world and there are 24 spas here. They have to actually cool the water before it can be used in the pools!

Like in Vienna, coffee shop culture is big, dating back to the times when people lived in very small apartments with no heat or electricity and so they went to coffee shops for much of the day and evenings. Most buildings had a coffee shop in those days and it is still very popular.

As really had a chance to see so much of the city in our 4 days here. We enjoyed their food, wine and hospitality. We planned to do the hop on hop off bus on Wednesday but the concierge at our hotel advised against it because Putin was coming to Budapest and the traffic would be bad. So we walked everywhere that day. And we got stopped along the street for about 30 minutes because his motorcade was going to pass and the police would NOT let us cross. We have never seen so many police in a city before- they were everywhere.


They do love their goodies here.  The donut library.. what a great idea!!


Here are more of the sights.


One of the not to be missed sights in Budapest is the heartrending display by the river. It is called Shoes by the Danube and is 60 pairs of bronze shoes modeled on footwear from the 1940’s. It is to commemorate those who were shot into the Danube by the Hungarian Nazis.


Just a few more shots before we left this beautiful city.


We did the hop on hop off on Thursday after taking our bags to the riverboat. It was fun and we did have an overview but our guide on Friday was much better.

I am writing this as we travel the Danube on our way to Bratislava, Slovakia. We just passed through a lock. There are 66 locks on our way to Cologne!

On we go!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, Food, November, October | Leave a comment

Vienna with pictures

October 27 and 28, 2019

We went from Prague to Vienna by train, Railjet, which is a fast train. It took us 4 hours and 10 minutes and we had good wi-fi aboard. The railway station was beautiful! I even watched a movie – but also watched the beautiful countryside as we traveled.


We stayed at the Hilton Vienna Plaza which was located very close to all of the beautiful museums and historical sights. Here’s the view from our window!


It was a beautiful day, so we went out walking right away. Here are some of the sights we saw.


We walked to the Jewish Museum where we saw this impressive memorial dedicated to the 65,000 Austrian Jews who were exterminated during the Holocaust.IMG_6394IMG_6395

We visited St. Stephen’s Cathedral which is the tallest structure in Vienna and is simply spectacular. Over 3 million people a year visit here.


The original church was built in 1147. Several fires and bombings led to reconstruction over the years.The multicolored roof tiles were replaced after a fire and add a very different artistic element to the church. Here are some pictures of the inside.


We continued our walk, had dinner at the Opera restaurant across from the gorgeous opera house, and headed toward the Kursalon for a concert.


The concert featured selections from Mozart, Strauss and others.  There were voice and ballet performances as part of the concert.  Photos during the performance were prohibited inside of the Kursalon, but here are some of the outside and inside of the building.  It was built in 1865-1867 in the Italian Renaissance style.  Strauss earned his title as the “Waltz King” here and there is a golden statue of him outside the building.


Of course, before the concert, we had to have the famous Sachertorte! Good thing we shared it – delicious but very rich.


A terrific first day.

On our second day in Vienna, we had booked a NY Times Journey called “Vienna: Historical Food, Wine and Coffee Tour”. Their tours are based on the NY Times 36 hours series.

To see the actual specifics of the tour (which we HIGHLY recommend), you can click here.

We walked to the meeting place and were met by our two guides for the tour, Patrick and Wolfgang. They asked why we chose this tour and then told us we were the first two people to book it – and would be the only ones on the tour!  They do other tours for Urban Adventures but this was the first NY Times Journey tour.  They have been trying to work with the NY Times and it finally happened.


It was the best day!  For one thing, we had individual attention all day.  It was supposed to be a 3 hour tour and it lasted almost 5 hours. Wolfgang is on the left and Patrick on the right in the picture below.  They were outstanding.


We had a stop at Daniel Moser, a coffee cafe, and the owner gave me a lesson on making the specialty coffees.  Then we got to enjoy them.  Wolfgang told us how coffee and wine bars are gathering places in the neighborhoods where people can stay as long as they want and are never pressured to order more.  Lots of great conversations happen over coffee.  On November 1, all public establishments will be non smoking – and there were still people smoking here.

What fun to learn how to make these drinks and they were delicious too!


And of course I liked the sign between the restrooms!IMG_6468

From there we went on to the synagogue in the Jewish quarter where we almost didn’t get in because we didn’t know we needed our passports.  Luckily the guard knew Wolfgang and Daniel and our driver’s licenses were sufficient.  Lots of security including armed guards around the synagogue.

We had a long talk by a guide in the synagogue – lots of  information and context for the building and its history.IMG_6476 

The Stadtempel is the main synagogue in Vienna.  It is huge and beautiful.  It was never destroyed in the war during Kristalnacht (when all of the other 93 synagogues and prayer houses in Vienna were destroyed) because it is in the midst of other houses (and does not look any different from them) and also there was an old church nearby and the Nazis were afraid to burn it because the church and other buildings would burn too.  People took the scrolls out and hid them before the synagogue was entered by the Nazis.

We did get to see the beautiful doors behind which the scrolls are kept today.


Our tour was a walking tour and we did a LOT of walking! Next we visited the only kosher winery in Vienna.  The owner is a former mechanical engineer who sold his company intending to retire but found that he missed people too much and so he ended up buying a wine store!  We had both white and red wines and discussed the preparation of the wines with him.


Daniel and Wolfgang took us to a restaurant where they did the ordering for us.  We had Viennese specialties – wonderful!


After lunch we went to Naschmarkt where Patrick introduced us to wonderful chocolate at Zotter.  I could not believe the incredible variety.  The picture shows only about 1/3 of them. We tasted two kinds and some kids kept coming to sample too! And of course, we bought some too.


Then we regretfully had to say goodbye to Wolfgang and Patrick.  Later they sent us an email with all kinds of information since we will be coming back to Vienna when we are on the riverboat.

We chose another concert with Vivaldi, Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss selections at Palais Schonborn.  The same soprano singer from the night before was part of this concert too.  The orchestra was smaller but equally wonderful. Again, no pictures during the performance were allowed.


Wolfgang recommended a restaurant called Zum Schwarzen Kameel – The Black Camel, so we went there for dinner after the concert.  We sat outside and had a great evening.


A few other pictures from this beautiful city.


The next stop on our trip is Budapest.  We will take the train there – about a 2 hour trip.

Stay tuned!

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, October | 1 Comment

Mainz, Germany

November 11, 2019

We sailed through the last 2 of the 66 locks today and will leave the Main River and spend the rest of our cruise on the Rhine River. The part we will be on until we reach Cologne does not have any locks. It is pretty chilly and the leaves are still nicely colored but we are watching the world pass by from inside. First of all for a lot of the trip on the canal, the bridges are too low for anyone to be on the sun deck, and also it is too cold. We did use the hot tub before the deck was closed off.

Today Gabor gave the talk on Mainz and Jessie did a talk on European Architecture through the ages which was just fascinating. We have seen so many of the buildings that she referenced in her slides. She also gave a handout that covers most of the styles with examples.

We arrived in Mainz after lunch. In the morning on the ship they did the traditional Fruhshoppen which is sausage and beer In the morning. Lots of people went to that but we chose not to!!

Mainz is a bigger town than the last few (220,000 people) and it took a bit of walking to get to the main area. Lots to see, though. There happened to be a carnival festival in town and there was a bandstand with music and young people in all sorts of costumes on the streets and near the concert stage.

Mainz is known for being the birthplace and lifelong home of Gutenberg, the celebrated inventor and father of modern printing. We could see inside some of the museum but because it was Monday, it was closed. Two of his original 1452 bibles are on display in the museum, will have to see those next time!

We visited the Mainz Cathedral which is built of sandstone and has 6 towers. The first stone was laid in 975 and it was consecrated in 1009!

The St. Stephen’s Church has beautiful stained glass windows designed by Chagall, the only church in Germany that has them.

There are two interesting towers that remain here and we saw both the wood tower and the iron tower.

We also had tried a delicious sugared pastry that was shaped like a pretzel. The bakeries here are hard to pass by. The wine is excellent too, and this area is the center of the wine industry.

I have to say the beautiful towns here sort of seem like a fantasy world, each one is more charming than the last. We only have 2 more days to go and it will be hard to leave, but it has been wonderful. We would highly recommend Riviera.

My plan is to repost each of these blogs with the pictures inserted when I get home so that you can see the things I am describing.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Miltenberg, Germany

November 10, 2019

Arrived in Miltenburg this afternoon after passing through areas of beautiful vineyards. We walked through the streets where grapevines encircle many houses.

This is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval towns. Lots of flooding has occurred here. It is on the Santiago de Compostella route, evidenced by the marker with the scallop symbol. Rathaus would be the town hall not a house for rats. Oh wait, politicians gather here so..

We visited churches, town gates and a Jewish cemetery before it got dark. The market square is remarkable and is surrounded by beautiful half timbered buildings. By the time we got back to the ship it was dark but an easy nice walk back and nicely lit up.

Again, because it was Sunday most things were closed, just a few coffee shops and bakeries were open. But we wouldn’t have missed walking in this town for anything. We keep thinking they can’t get any more charming, and this was among the most wonderful. Many of the buildings have placques that date them to the 16th century!

Tomorrow we will be in Mainz then on to Rudesheim. We will leave the Main River and start the Rhine River section.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, November | Leave a comment

Wertheim, Germany

November 10, 2019

We arrived here early and could see the town as we had our breakfast. Jessie was taking us on a walking tour at 9:30 and she advised that it would be cold. It didn’t really seem that much colder than the crisp fall days we have been having, but we are always dressed for it.

We are spending But the morning here, at 11:30 we will depart and head for our afternoon destination, Miltenberg. I will do a short posting about that town separately.

Since it is Sunday, almost everything is closed, but it is a very attractive medieval town with many half timbered houses, and in fact, the only one painted with blue in all of Germany! It is called the Blue House and the color comes from using blue glass fragments. We saw the narrowest house in Franconia and also a half timbered house that was being renovated so we could see what is behind the walls.

The church bells were ringing long and loud and we could hear organ music coming from the church. We saw some of the same chalk markings on the houses that were evident in other towns, the Catholic blessing. The Protestant Collegiate Church is particularly interesting . It was built in 1383 and has two clocks on its tower. The one facing the castle has an hour hand only, while the one facing the town is a full clock. Outside the church is the Angel’s fountain made of red sandstone. It has two little angels holding the town’s coat of arms.

Lots of buildings have high water flood markings on them. This town has both the Main River and the Tauber River flowing by and it is the reason for the flooding here.

We did stop into the beautiful glass shop that was open. There is also a famous glass museum but it is closed today.

We made the big climb up to the Wertheim Castle on our own as Jessie’s tour was only about 40 minutes long. This castle was the original fortress that was built in the 12th century and is one of the largest and most beautiful castle ruins in Germany. It was partially destroyed by a powder explosion in 1619 and was heavily fired on in the Thirty Years War. It was fun to climb higher and higher into the castle ruins and the views of the town and the rivers was really something.

We got back to the ship just in time for sailing, then lunch and to enjoy the daytime sail to our next stop. The fall colors are still very nice and are seeing castles, towns, herons, swans, ducks and of course are passing through some locks.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | Leave a comment

Wurzburg, Germany

November 9, 2019

Yesterday was a full day so I didn’t even get a post written! We arrived here more than 5 hours early, again, minimal river traffic so we made good time. Our tours weren’t going to start until 1 PM, so we asked Jessie what we might explore in the morning. We walked all through the town and then, based on her advice, we went to the Wurzburger Residenz for the 11 AM tour in English. What a bonus that turned out to be! It was built to compete with Versailles, and it is pretty spectacular. Unfortunately no pictures are allowed there, but Reinhold, our guide, told us we could ask “Mr. Google!” The beautiful staircase is something to see and above it on the ceiling there is a depiction of the (in the 1700’s) 4 known continents painted in frescoes. We were glad to have a guide for explanations. In the White Room, the entire room is covered in sculptures and the whole room was completed by the sculptor in 9 months!!. Amazing.

Much of the Residenz which was commissioned by the Prince Bishop Johann Philipp when the fortress residence was not grand enough for him!

The town was 90% destroyed in March of 1945 by a fire bombing, but the staircase and some other parts of the complex survived.

Here are 60 churches in the town and we visited the main one, the Wurzburg Cathedral which is consecrated to St. Killian. It is one of the 5 largest Roman Catholic Churches in Germany. This area was the site of the Thirty Years War where more than 900 “witches” were accused and burned.

We learned that most of the roofs are the red type seen everywhere here. If you see black, it is slate which was rare and expensive back then, so it means that the building was of great importance. The churches were very important and very ornate in most cases. The cathedral here is an interesting combination of old style and new and there is a Jewish menorah as you enter, symbolizing the Old Testament. By the way, St. Killian, who is revered here, was born in Ireland and is the patron saint of rheumatism. The things you learn when you have a great guide!

It didn’t mention that on yesterday’s hike, we were on part of the Santiago de Compostela, the Way of St. James. If we had continued we would have had to hike 1000 km. to Spain where the pilgrimage ends. We saw that place in our travels previously. The route is marked by the scallop shell symbol. Sabine was our guide on that hike and she was great too.

Our guide, Stephanie, told us that the city has about 135,000 residents and 50,000 students. Medicine is one of the main focuses in the University here.

We ended the city tour on the Old Main Bridge which was modeled after the one in Prague, the Charles Bridge. It is not as long and it doesn’t have as many statues, but it is beautiful and the tradition of drinking wine on the bridge is going strong here! Norm bought two bottles and went back to the ship and I joined our next guide, Dorothea for the 5 mile hike!

The hike was a good one, again through forests, up long and steep staircases and up to near the Marienberg Fortress. We actually ended after dark and were the last 11 people back to the ship!

Tonight after dinner they made bananas foster in the lobby and we had our dessert in the lounge. Then Jessie gave her talk about the two towns we will visit tomorrow and the raffle followed that. I won a purse!

Watch for the posts about Wertheim and Miltenberg, the destinations for tomorrow, November 10.

Posted in Europe, Europe trip and river cruise, Excursions, November | 1 Comment