Friday Sept. 21, 2018
We are now cruising the Main River.
After breakfast we watched the ship go through a lock from the lower front deck. Usually you feel a bump when you enter a lock because they are only 12 meters wide and the ship is about 11.5 m wide. This one though was different. First we kind of bumped the side, then there was a loud scraping noises with a few sparks. Yikes!
The upper deck of the ship is closed and will be the entire time we are on The Main. They are able to lower the railings on the top deck and the Wheel House (where the captain sits) retracts down to fit under bridges.
Going through locks is interesting. It's pretty amazing that we can sail right through different elevations BUT we went through A LOT of locks on this trip (I think there were about 70 in total). They become tedious and noisy when you are trying to sleep. People in balcony suites said they didn't use the balcony much because sitting against a slimy green wall isn't super appealing.
Here is the process of going through a lock. Now times this by 70...
After we got off the ship we saw the damage. Oops. Apparently scrapes and dings are "normal".
The weather wasn't great today and with the upper deck being closed, we didn't do much scenery watching, We are sailing through Baden-Wurttemberg (bordered by France and Switzerland). Many famous Germans have called this area home including Albert Einstein, Karl Friedrich Benz (Mercedes Benz), Sophie Scholl (a political activist who actively opposed the Third Reich during WWII) and tennis player Boris Becker.
Later in the morning we had a glass blowing presentation on board. Karl Ittig from Wertheim was entertaining and very interesting. I had no idea that so much glass came from Wertheim - a town of 20,000 people and 1,000 of them are in the glass industry. The region is famous for glass and it is a science and craft passed down through the generations. If you do this cruise in the opposite direction (Budapest to Amsterdam) - you visit Wertheim.
We learned about fiber optics and had a demonstration about how they are made. It was fascinating.
We arrived in Miltenberg in the afternoon and had a tour of the charming town. It was not bombed in WWII and is considered the pearl of the Main River. It is full of half-timbered, gabled houses. It is an old town dating back to Roman times in 2 AD.
We are now in Bavaria and we learned about the rivalry between Bavaria and the rest of Germany. Bavarians are thought to be snobbish and our guide confirmed they are because they make the best cars (BMWs and Audi), best sausage, have the best Oktoberfest and the best football team.
Our guide shared some funny stories - including the reason why their Catholic Church is full every Sunday with mostly women. They go to swoon over their priest they have nick named Father What-a-Waste.
She also shared the story of their former priest who was charged criminally in 2006 for interrupting a neo nazi political party gathering. They organized a rally in the square of Miltenberg and thousands came to the rally. Because of free speech the rally could not be stopped. Once the leader took to the microphone in the square the priest started ringing the church bells...and he didn’t stop until the group got angry packed up 45 minutes later. The priest was charged with disrupting free speech but the town happily pitched in to pay the €5,000 fine. Here's an article about it
Our guide pointed out numbers on the doorways of businesses. Chalking the doors happens on Jan. 6 (3 kings day or epiphany). In Germany, kids go door to door, they sing songs and to collect money for third world countries. Those who donate have the symbols written above the doors with the new year. The 20 and 18 are the year of the donation, The * is for the star of Bethlehem, C+M+B are the initials of the three wise men (Caspar, Malchior and Balthazar). They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” And the + symbolizes the cross. Chalking the doors is a Christian tradition and doesn't have to involve kids singing and donating money. It can also just be a blessing on the house.
We saw an 8 generation butcher shop and Germany’s oldest hotel - the Reisen. People (including princes and nobles) have stayed at The Riesen since the 12th century.
You may notice the grey skies. Well, it started to rain - no pour...and I bought an umbrella. Once I purchase an umbrella on a trip, you can bet it will never rain again. A small price to pay to ensure good weather.
We took cover in a coffee shop and enjoyed some local treats.
We only had about 3 hours in Miltenberg before we had to get back on the bus to meet our ship down the river. At most stops so far we take a bus to see sites while the ship continues sailing. We would have enjoyed more time here. It was a delightful stop.