Tuesday Sept. 25 - Regensburg (still in Bavaria)
First things first Happy 9th Birthday to my niece Kate! I was looking after the boys the day she was born. I can't believe that was nine years ago.
Our bus left this morning at 8:30 for Regensburg (remember we are currently docked in Passau and using our ship like a hotel). I guess if you stayed on the ship, there was a shuttle bus to take you in to Passau. Viking takes very good care of its passengers.
The Viking buses are very nice - clean, comfortable and they have a toilet on board. All of our tours have been great and we have an Audiovox system in our room that we take with us for the day so we can always hear the guide.
We signed up for the Jewish Walking Tour in Regensburg today. Our guide, Sylvia, was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate. If you visit, I recommend booking a tour with her.
After we arrived we had the usual 15 minute wait for everyone to use the bathroom. One of the annoying (but necessary) aspects of group travel.
We started our tour by walking over the amazing 300 m long Old Stone Bridge constructed in the 12th century. It is the oldest stone bridge in Europe. It was damaged twice - one by Napoleon and once in the war.
Regensburg was the first capital of Bavaria and is 2000 years old. It is another amazing medieval city that was untouched by WWII and it is a UNESCO site.
We toured over to Germany's oldest sausage kitchen. It was built for the people working on the bridge and it stuck around for 800 years. We had hoped to stop in before we had to leave Regensburg but we didn't make it. Next time!
From here we walked over to the Roman structures dating back to 179 AD. Marcus Aurelius erected the city walls on its founding.
We visited the outside of St. Peter's Cathedral. Another splendid Gothic cathedral but this one has a donkey tower from the former cathedral still attached to support this one. The donkeys hauled materials up a dirt path.
The outside has many statues of biblical scenes. Our guide pointed out one unfortunate sculpture depicting Jews suckling on a sow on the south side of the church facing the old Jewish Quarter. Our guide in Bamberg pointed out similar messaging on the cathedral there, though not as crude. As I mentioned in another post, most people in medieval times were illiterate so they communicated through pictures and statues.
Napoleon was injured around Regensburg (not seriously) and spent some time here healing.
We walked through the old town and learned of the Jewish history in the area. It is the oldest Jewish community in southern Germany.
We sat on the sculpture, Mizrach by Dani Karavan made in the spot of the former synagogue which was destroyed by the Nazis in Nov. 1938 during Kristallnacht. It's a memorial to the former Jewish community and is intended as a place for people to gather together.
Oskar Schindler lived in Regensburg for a brief time post WWII.
Sylvia passionately discussed the Stumble Stone (Stolperstein) project and shared the story of a family who owned a shoe store. Sylvia is part of the team working on the project for Regensburg and there are 210 stones in the city.
We toured passed the city hall. On the side of the city hall there are measuring rods. This is so merchants who were doing business would know how Regensburg measured length.
Sylvia showed us how headstones from the Jewish cemetery were used in building construction. No one knows if it was used as just building material or if it was a "trophy" or statement to use the headstones. Regardless, it is disrespectful. This is not something Sylvia enjoys showing people but she said it is part of our history.
I am so glad that we took the extended tour to learn more about the Jewish people of Regensburg. I cannot do the history justice in a blog post so please, if you visit Germany make sure you take the time to learn about the Jewish history. All of our tour guides so far have mentioned the importance of teaching about the dark times so that we can learn from them - from the Crusades to WWII. There is a lot more to the places we are visiting than charming medieval buildings.
Since we had to bus to Regensburg instead of docking here, Viking provided lunch for us. More beer. I actually only take pictures with beer - I don't like it (unless I'm in China but that's another story). James drinks my beer.
After lunch we had some free time. As I was doing research for this trip I learned about a stationery store in Regensburg. I made it my mission to find it while we were there. Mission accomplished! I didn't buy much but it was fun to look around.
We took the bus (about 1.5 hour ride) back to the ship and had dinner. This evening we had entertainers on the ship - singers from Regensburg. They were fabulous!