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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.