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Wurzburg

October 19 - Day 29

overcast 10 °C
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Another night of quietly progressing through the German countryside with regular pauses for locks and low bridges. Opportunity for some to have a sleep in and late breakfast as we did not arrive in Wursburg until around 10.30am. Most of course were up at the usual time to compete with each other at the breakfast 'pig trough'. 

The day started out quite cool and went downhill from there temperature-wise. Another fascinating restored medieval village which was home to occupying US troops until the 80s. Nice mix of old and new in the centre. Also nice mix of young people shopping and socializing. Max temp of 10C was not the best thing for those with head colds. 

Our Scenic Free Choice was a visit to the "Residence" - another "palace" built by the "royal bishop" to demonstrate once again the affluence and influence of the Catholic church. A town of many churches; our guide claimed the highest percentage by population in the world and explained that this was because the royal bishops (usually the second or third prince in line for the throne) could not marry (officially) and therefore the only way to leave a legacy was to build community infrastructure - so why not just build another church. This particular "prince" had a penchant for wine and the cellar under one wing of the residence is now a massive wine cellar where the tourists sit and taste by candlelight. Local wines are provided gratis with all our meals. They are all "quaffers" - safe but young and lacking in character. 

Fortress Marienberg is the castle on the top of the hill across from the Old Main Bridge. Started about 1200. The bridge was built in 1473-1543 to replace the destroyed Romanesque bridge. It was adorned with well known statues of saints about 1730.

By 1000 BC a Celtic fortification stood on the site of the  present fortress. It was christianized  in 686. The first church was built as early as 788. In 1720 the foundations of Wurzburg Residence were laid. Massacres of Jews took place in 1147 and 1298. In one day in 1945 90% of the city was destroyed by incendiary bombs. Fires continued for 2 more days. Mostly women rebuilt the city in the following 20 years. Men were either dead or POWs. 

Posted by suengarry 01:43 Archived in Germany Tagged wurzburg Comments (0)

Bamberg - Falconia

Day 28 - Tuesday October 18

semi-overcast 14 °C
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After a restless night of coughing we gave in to our 'diseased state' and stayed on board. Like many of our original group and some of the new travelers we have fallen to a 'European' cold/flu. Most frustrating after the Moscow bug. We have some antibiotics so we can avoid another foreign doctor episode with a bit of luck. 

Bamberg is a city of 70,000 which is one of the few German cities which escaped allied bombing. The old town is another world heritage site. The city is located on 7 hills (like Rome) with a church at the top of each. The main Cathedral was completed in 1012 but within a hundred years had burnt down and been rebuilt. A bit difficult to make any other comments as our ship is docked in an industrial area with a view of a grain loader (could be worse!) Bamberg is famous for it's Rauchbier (smoked beer).

We are now at the end of the Main-Danube canal as we are about 3 kms from the Main River (which eventually meets up with the Rhine River). In our sleepless state last night we felt the slowing of the boat as it entered 8 locks and then the quiet of the ship moving downward in the locks before the engine kicked into gear and travelled to the next lock. 

We set sail for Wurzburg after lunch today. When we entered the Main River (Mien) we are on a stretch of water 387kms long with 26 locks. Will take about 22 hours to go as far as a push bike could go in 1/2 hour! Most of these locks will happen at night so they just go by unnoticed except if you are the crew steering a boat about the same size of the lock without tipping all the passengers out of bed. It is a relaxing way to travel and it is so good not to be living out of a suitcase. The holiday is slipping away quickly as we get towards the end but there is still lots of things to do and see.

Posted by suengarry 12:40 Archived in Germany Tagged falconia bamberg Comments (0)

Monday October 17 - Day 27

Nuremberg

semi-overcast 11 °C
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Oct 17 Mon Nuremberg

Sue and Garry failed the Bavarian dress up for dinner last night - as did everyone else on board except for our mad relatives and their shipboard friends. They were the 'envy' of most and went down well with the oompapah band that came on board for an after dinner entertainment. No photos though; "what happens on board stays on board!"

Early today we passed the European Divide - we are now in the Main-Danube Canal heading towards the Rhine River.  We are now going downhill in the locks and the first 2 this morning were each 30 m drops. The boat just fitted in the lock with about 20 cm on each side. In others there wasnt a lot of room front and back either. 

After lunch we  arrived  in Nuremberg. It was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire around the 12th C. 698 Jews were massacred here in 1298. During the 15th and 16th C it was the centre of German Renaissance, religious reformation and growth in influence of the Lutheran church. 

During the Nazi period it was important for big rallies. In 1935 Hitler passed
the anti-Semitic laws here which revoked German citizenship for Jews. It was also an important site for military armament production including shipping and submarines.  The old city was severely damaged by allied bombing 1943-1945. Another example of 'justifiable war crime' - providing you are on the winning side.  Extensive reconstruction has occurred since then. 

The city is not the most attractive but it still has the reconstructed old walls and towers and plenty of green space. Modern apartments have a garden at the front and a larger space at the back for vegetable growing. There is an incredible variety of architectural styles among the many apartment blocks. 

We visited the Palace of Justice housing courtroom 600 where the Nazi War criminals were tried and the Zepplin Field where Hitler held his propaganda rallies attended by millions (most of whom apparently paid for the pleasure).  This area became an embarrassment to modern Germans and was deliberately damaged when it was thought the neo Nazis would use it as symbol of their cause. There was also the stadium Hitler had intended to be the only place where the Olympics would be held after he won the war. And the great road  2 km long and 60 metres wide. It was to lead south from the Congress Hall to the March Field and was to be paved with 60000 granite slabs mined from the concentration  work camps  it was essentially finished by 1939 and was used as a runway for the US Air Force after the war.   It is now used as a car park for big events but also as the starting grid for the Nuremberg 200 car race. 

 Hitlers plans  for this area were to create the best and biggest buildings to showcase the might of the German people. Work stopped on these in 1939. 

Today they have inserted a modern steel and glass structure into the side of the shell of what was to be the NSDP Congress Hall. This was to be where the victorious Hitler planned to welcome party faithful and dignitaries. It was based roughly on the Roman Colosseum complete with marble columns and was to seat  50000 people under a glass dome ceiling. It is now called the Document Centre and houses an interactive history of the events in Nuremberg associated with the party rally grounds and the outcomes of National Socialist tyranny. 

  Nuremberg was the heartland of Nazi propaganda as Hitler saw it as a city steeped in tradition. The city was fundamental to his appeal to German pride and his own self-aggrandisment. Not surprising then that the allies chose Nuremberg as the site for the most significant war crime trials. 

Posted by suengarry 09:30 Archived in Germany Tagged war nazi nuremberg trials rallies Comments (0)

Regensburg

Oct 16

sunny 13 °C
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Oct 16 Sun - Day  26

Started the day in another deep lock. The German tour guide on board is going to give a presentation on how to deal with the "squareheads"  and give us a quick German lesson. This could be interesting or avoided as his sense of humour is German! In Berlin we found the Germans very helpful and friendly but maybe in other areas we will find attitudes a little different. Some frustration today as we cannot watch the rugby between Aust and NZ.

Today we are touring Regensburg and then being fed Bavarian food and beer. Will have quite a few hours to wander around which we enjoy. Walked several kilometers. The river flows in 3 almost parallel streams through the centre of town. There was a Flea Market with hundreds of stalls selling everything 2nd hand. Enormous Gothic cathedral in the centre of town which was built over a period of 250 years in the middle ages from 1275. The stone bridge over the river was built in 1175 and used by the Crusaders to cross the Danube in the 2nd and 3rd Crusades. 

Was part of the Roman frontier and during WWII was used as part of the concentration camp system. Hitler spent some time here with his family and during the war it received little damage. The centre of the city is a World Heritage listing.

Posted by suengarry 09:39 Archived in Germany Tagged regensburg Comments (0)

Linz to Passau

Saturday 15 October - Day 25

sunny 13 °C
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Travelled overnight to Linz, 3rd largest city in Austria and 30 kms from the Czech border. Hitler used it as an industrial city.  Was a Celtic settlement the Romans first noted it as a trade settlement in 799 AD. It has the usual array of churches, mostly rebuilt from bits that didn't crumble with age or get bombarded during Medieval times. Home to the astronomer Kepler and to Hitler for some time during his childhood.

Margaret has gone on a bus tour to Cesky Krumlov in Czech Rep and Colleen and Michael to Salzburg for the day. We chose to stay on board and float down the Blue Danube and relax and just let the small villages pass by. Only about 30 on board so it is very nice. Temp started at -2 and should get to 13. The sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky - the wind is cool but inside it is T shirt weather. We have to go through 68 locks to get to Amsterdam so each day we do the shuffle into the locks which so far have been quite large compared to the locks we moved through in the Midi Canal. As most of the boat movement is at night a lot of the slow moments going under low bridges and through locks happens at night. There is very little boat movement going into locks or when mooring so the boat is both very stable and well captained. The only clue that we are moving is the sound of the motor. Lots of river traffic as barges move cars, coal, gravel etc into these landlocked areas. The Danube continues to amaze us as it flows very rapidly and is very wide. This afternoon we docked in Passau which is back in Germany. As the others will still be on their day tour we will have several hours to wander before dinner. Tonight we dine in Portobello's fine dining restaurant. We are not sure who is going to buy food and cook for us when we return home!

Passau was a complete surprise. Located on the confluence of The Danube, Inn and Main Rivers it has a large fortress on the hill and a very large cathedral -  St Stephens Dome which houses Europe's  largest pipe  organ. Houses are 2 or 3 stories with a flat facade. Some wonderful doors and doorways made of both metal and wood. The old town is very  tourist oriented so we didn't see any signs of 'real' people.

Posted by suengarry 08:52 Archived in Austria Tagged danau passau bohemia massif Comments (0)

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