Nuremberg, Germany

E.T.A. Hoffmann on the upper two floors of Schillerplatz 26 from 1809-1813.
E.T.A. Hoffmann lived on the upper two floors of Schillerplatz 26 from 1809-1813. The house is now a museum.

Yesterday we visited the beautiful walled city of Bamberg with it’s 75,000 residents. Our guide explained the main difference between Bamberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which we visited the day before, is that Bamberg is a living city. People live here and welcome 13,000 university students and over 6 million tourists each year.

This statue of Hoffman and his cat Murr stands in front of the theatre that also bears his name.
This statue of Hoffman and his cat Murr stands in front of the theatre that also bears his name.

What a clean city! We enjoyed walking by the house where Ernst T.A. Hoffmann, the famous Romantic author and composer, lived. Nearby we also saw his statue next to the music hall named in his honour.

Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the seat of a Bishopric with a Bishops Residence and the Cathedral on the high hill. Bamberg is sometimes called Rome of Northern Germany since it is built on seven hills, each crowned by a church. We enjoyed listening to the stories of our guide as we walked over the bridges and admired the Half-timbered houses including the town hall built on an island between the tributaries on the river.

Bamberg's Old Town Hall, standing in the river and connecting the two sides of the town, is adorned with beautiful frescoes.
Bamberg’s Old Town Hall, standing in the river and connecting the two sides of the town, is adorned with beautiful frescoes.
Geyerswörth Palace, the former prince-bishop's city palace was built .from 1585-1587.
Geyerswörth Palace, the former prince-bishop’s city palace was built .from 1585-1587.

We visited the oldest bakery in the town which goes back to 1492. Our families will enjoy some of the stollen (fruit bread) we bought to take along home.

Afternoon crafts at "kid's club"
Afternoon crafts at “kid’s club”

Matthew and Miriam are enjoying playing with their new friends from Australia and the United States. The children’s activity director is doing a good job having crafts and other activities for the children to enjoy. Grandpa is enjoying our time together as a family.

Our Cruise has reached it final Port, Nuremberg. We will be docked here for two days. This morning we had a city tour which has a deep history from WW 2. Hitler held his huge rally here. Our Guide pointed out one Nazi Building which today is used by the government for Immigration and Refugee resettlement. He said it is wonderful that a building has made a huge twist and is now a centre to welcome people to Germany who are being persecuted and suffering in their home land. We also saw the building which hosted the Trials against the Nazi’s.

Wilmer at the entrance to the Kinderweihnacht (Children's Christmas Market)
Wilmer at the entrance to the Kinderweihnacht (Children’s Christmas Market)

Walking around the famous Christmas markets we enjoyed looking at what the vendors were offering for sale. Janelle pointed out items Janet always enjoyed exploring and taking home as gifts.

We were impressed with the beautiful Nativity Scene. The figures were crafted out of wood. It was located at the corner of the Children’s Christmas market. We of course needed to enjoy the Glühwein (hot mulled wine/Christmas Punch), the Nuremberger Rostbratwurst (Bratwurst) and the famous Kartoffelpuffer (fried potato and onion pancakes).

Wooden Nativity scene at the Weihnachtsmärkte
Wooden Nativity scene at the Weihnachtsmärkte

Now it is time to pack up. Tonight is the Captain’s farewell reception and dinner.  The children have prepared Christmas carols which they’ll sing during the reception.  Janet would have loved hearing Matthew, Miriam and the other children sing.

Tomorrow we fly home. Thank You Janet for planning this tour. We had a wonderful time as a family. We missed you! We will remember this time for years to come.

The Martins, dressed for the farewell dinner
The Martins, dressed for the farewell dinner
Matthew and Miriam with Uniworld staff members Veronica, Ramona and Preston, and the most important member - Santa Louie
Matthew and Miriam with Uniworld staff members Veronica, Ramona and Preston, and the most important member – Santa Louie

~ Wilmer Martin.

Reflections from the River Duchess on the Main

Janet and I decided a year ago that we wanted to take our family on the Main River from Frankfurt to Nuremberg for a Multi-generational Christmas Markets Cruise. Janet said, “at this stage of our lives, let’s focus on quality family time.”

Janelle, Alan and Matthew and Miriam with Wilmer in Frankfurt
Janelle, Alan and Matthew and Miriam with Wilmer in Frankfurt

Janet loved these river cruises where you get to explore and experience the culture, history and life of a new communities each day when the ship docks. Janet passed away suddenly on September 7th and we are doing this cruise in Janet’s honour and memory. It is a bitter sweet experience for me. As my friends told me, make sure you take enough time to grieve. Grieving and sadness comes naturally. It is a blessing to have family around me and doing what Janet and I loved doing – traveling, especially in Germany and visiting Christmas Markets – during my time of grief and loss. We are having a wonderful experience as the pictures show.

Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus seen in the background of the Frankfurt Christmas Market
Kaiserdom Sankt Bartholomäus seen in the background of the Frankfurt Christmas Market

I have flown into Frankfurt hundreds of times over the years. On Monday, December 13 and Tuesday, December 14 I experienced Frankfurt. We had excellent guides provided by Uniworld, who helped us appreciate the history and culture of Franconia.

We learned at the Kaiser Dom that this is where the King was chosen and coronation occurred. For over a 1,000 years Frankfurt was part of the Holy Roman Empire of Germany.  Today Frankfurt is sometimes called little Manhattan as it is the financial capital of Germany, has the tallest skyscrapers in Germany, and all the major banks are located here.

Enjoying family time at the Captain's welcome dinner
Enjoying family time at the Captain’s welcome dinner
Riding the carousel at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Did Grandpa pick one that was too small?
Did Grandpa pick a horse that was too small?

We enjoyed visiting the Christmas markets drinking their hot Christmas punch, eating our first Bratwurst and having fun visiting the Christmas market stalls.  We were told the Christmas Markets trading began as the winter markets where people would stock up for the winter. Janet would have enjoyed seeing Matthew and Miriam enjoying riding the merry go round with Grandpa.

As the River Duchess sailed the Main River our first Port City was Wertheim. We particularly enjoyed visiting nearby Michelstadt. When our coach arrived in the parking lot there were already 12 other coaches waiting on Christmas markets visitors. We were directed to the old city by following the Wooden Nutcracker. This Christmas market is also unique for all the wooden crafts. We enjoyed seeing the Wooden Weihnachtspyramide (Christmas Pyramids) operating in the old city.

Miriam and Matthew with the Nutcracker
The nutcracker welcomes Matthew and Miriam to the Michelstadt Christmas Markets
Weihnachtspyramide at Michelstadt Christmas Market
Weihnachtspyramide at Michelstadt Christmas Market
Würzburger Residenz, photo by Heribert Pohl via Wikimedia Commons
Würzburger Residenz, photo by Heribert Pohl via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday the port of call was Würzburg. High on the hill overlooking the Main River was the Bishop’s Palace. In the Morning we had a tour of the New Residence which is located in the old city near the Christmas markets. Our guide told us that this Residence was built with 360 rooms. We toured 9 rooms showing extreme wealth and power. Taxation was 80% and the peasants felt abused by the power of the church and state. Hearing the stories and visiting the Bishops Palace helped us understand the History of the Peasants revolt. The extreme wealth showed the need for the Reformation and why Martin Luther’s message and 95 thesis were so readily accepted in the 15th century.

The Aschfeld Church's altar made with local stone
The Aschfeld Church’s altar made with local stone

In the afternoon we visited the delightful Church-Castle of Aschfeld. We were welcomed by the Mayor and several of the town directors. A highlight of our visit was sitting in St. Bonifatius Church and listening to the Organ play 3 verses of a hymn with the Mayor quietly signing along. Later we met Laura, the 12 year old organist. We were told her grandparents are the volunteers who look after the church; keeping it clean, opening and closing each day.

Around the fortified church, inside the walls we could visit some of the 41 historic houses.

Matthew blowing the warning horn
Matthew blowing the warning horn

When the village was attacked, the villagers would withdraw inside the walls to their house (room) and wait out the siege.  Matthew enjoyed being the fireman blowing the warning horn. We all enjoyed visiting the village store, the post office and the kitchen. St Nicholas came and shared a message of peace and hope to us as we enjoyed coffee and their delicious stollen. He asked us to carry Gods message of peace and Good will to our homes.

Miriam meeting St. Nicholas
Miriam meeting St. Nicholas
Matthew and Santa Louie listening to the Mayor in Aschfeld
Matthew and Santa Louie listening to the Mayor in Aschfeld
Miriam experiencing school life using a slate and slate pencil.
Miriam experiencing school life using a slate and slate pencil.

Today the River Duchess is sailing the Main from Kitzingen to Schweinfurt. This is a winding narrow section of the River. The boat will pass through 14 locks of the countless ones we will use on our total journey. Tour members are enjoying visiting the Christmas Markets in Rothenburg on the Tauber during this sailing. Since I have visited this city many times Janelle and I decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the sailing. I look forward to hearing Matthew and Miriam and Alan and Christiane’s stories this evening.

Matthew and Miriam enjoying Dinner with the Captain and other children
Matthew and Miriam enjoying Dinner with the Captain and other children
Miriam enjoying time with Grandpa
Miriam enjoying time with Grandpa

 

~ Wilmer Martin

Frankfurt, Germany

Enjoying the food and atmosphere at the Frankfurt Christmas Market
Enjoying the food and atmosphere at the Frankfurt Christmas Market
Grandpa thinks these sausages are a foretaste of heaven!
Grandpa thinks these sausages are a foretaste of heaven!
Riding the carousel at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Did Grandpa pick one that was too small?
Riding the carousel at the Frankfurt Christmas Market. Did Grandpa pick one that was too small?
Matthew, Miriam & their friend Xanthe (from Australia) with Grandpa at the Dinosaur Museum in Frankfurt
Matthew, Miriam & their friend Xanthe (from Tasmania), with Grandpa at the Dinosaur Museum in Frankfurt
One way to help Matthew and Miriam remember what they see, and to reflect on what they learn, is scrapbooking about the trip. Thank you Aunt Janelle!
One way to help Matthew and Miriam remember what they see, and to reflect on what they learn, is scrap-booking about the trip. Thank you Aunt Janelle!

Family Time

Janet and I had booked a Christmas Markets Cr‎uise as our Christmas gift to our children and grandchildren. Janet loved the River Cruise Holidays. Each day you wake up to a new community. We are doing this in her honor. A great family time.
Janelle, Alan and Matthew and Miriam with Wilmer in Frankfurt
Janelle, Alan and Matthew and Miriam with Wilmer in Frankfurt
Grandpa with Matthew and Miriam boarding the River Duchess
Grandpa with Matthew and Miriam boarding the River Duchess

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Beautiful happy couple from Trai Mat Village
Beautiful happy couple from Trai Mat Village
Ruth Martin talking to 83 year old at Cao Dai Temple
Ruth Martin talking to 83 year old at Cao Dai Temple
Women gardening in Da Lat
Women gardening in Da Lat
Beautiful garden city of Da Lat
Sue Miller and Mary Elaine Byler in the beautiful garden city of Da Lat
Sue and Mary Elaine with a family of fabric vendors at the Chicken Village
Sue and Mary Elaine with a family of fabric vendors at the Chicken Village
Taking bananas to market
Taking bananas to market
Transporting Rice Husk on the Mekong River
Transporting rice husk on the Mekong River. Do you see the eyes?
Choir at the quadrennial conference of the Vietnam Mennonite Church
Choir at the quadrennial conference of the Vietnam Mennonite Church
Wonderful art at a workshop employing handicapped indivdiuals
Wonderful art at a workshop employing handicapped individuals
Learning from workers at the rubber plantation
Learning from workers at the rubber plantation

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