Sunday Sept. 23 Bamberg
I've mentioned in previous posts that because of an unusually hot and dry summer, the water levels on the rivers are low. This is not normal but it is cyclical - just like flood years are cyclical. The water levels on the Main River (what we are on now) isn't impacted as much because the levels are controlled by all the locks. We need to get on the Danube and that's where water is low water. The Danube doesn’t have any feeder rivers to increase levels and it has a shallow pebble bottom. That is bad news for ships. And for river boat passengers.
The first day on the ship we were told during our welcome briefing that we may have to switch ships a week in to our cruise. This morning we learned the details of what the ship swap will look like. Tomorrow we will leave the Viking Skirnir and after our excursions we will be bussed to Passau to board its sister ship the Viking Modi. Passengers on the Modi will be bussed to the Skirnir. Only our program director, Stephen will move ships with us. We are happy for that - Stephen is excellent!
The saddest part of all this is the Faber Castell excursion I signed up for in Nuremberg has been cancelled. As a stationery lover, I was really looking forward to visiting.
After the ship swap details talk there was a presentation about optional excursions for the second half of the trip followed by a nautical talk with the ship's chief engineer.
We arrived in Zeil am Main around 1 pm and boarded the bus to take us a short drive to Bamberg. The Viking Skirnir will continue to sail and we will meet her in Bamberg at 5:30 pm.
We met Nick (another awesome guide) and he toured us through Bamberg. We are still in Franconia (Bavaria). The old town is a UNESCO site - the largest medieval town with 1400 buildings. Bamberg was not an important community in WWII times so the old town was not bombed. Some in Bamberg felt slighted that they were ignored in the war. The legend goes they decided they were spared so the Allies would have a picturesque place to drink the best beer in Germany to celebrate their victory. Germans are competitive about their beer and sausage. Kind of like how each Mediterranean country/region brags they have the best olives and olive oil.
I love Bamberg! I felt like I was walking around a (German) scene from Harry Potter. It is Sunday so many places are closed.
Bamberg was found in 902 AD on seven hills and each has a church. We only walked up one and saw the cathedral and palace area with Gothic, Baroque and Romanesque styles all in one! Another cathedral that took hundreds of years to complete.
The town hall was built over/on the Regnitz river at the confluence with the Main River. Very unique with frescoes painted on the side.
Every place we visit, our guides warn us about the bike lanes and to stay clear of them as a pedestrian. Nick gave us some wise advice from his experience - never argue with a German girl on a bike. You will lose. Noted.
We learned about rauchbier (smoke beer). It is an ancient process of drying malt over open fires (of beech wood) to get a smokey flavour. The brewery is from 1405 and back in the day, the brew master had a fire break out. The barley was burnt and he was too stingy to throw it away so he brewed with it. People liked it and voila - rauchbier!
We all had a sip of the beer James ordered. James liked it the rest of us thought it smelled and tasted like a campfire.
Our guide also explained the stumble stone project to us and we found some on the way to the bus. Bamberg is the northern terminus of the Main-Danube canal. We sailed through the canal this evening.
This evening we packed up. Our suitcases need to be in the hallway by 7 am tomorrow.