Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (17)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013-Day 18
It was overcast as we got up this morning. However, we had the feeling it would be like most other days and clear by mid-morning. We were right, for by the time we’d breakfasted and boarded the buses at 9.15 am, it was much warmer and blue patches were appearing. We were headed from Freudenburg where we’d docked, to Wertheim,  a 15 minute drive away.

Approaching Wertheim, Castle Above.

Approaching Wertheim, Castle Above.

Our buses arrived and the guides met us. After introductions, we headed into this wonderful, charming old town via the tiny entry gate. Our guide told us the gate had been much taller, but the ground around it had been raised to help prevent flooding, making the gate seem much smaller.

Small Gate To Enter Old Town

Small Gate To Enter Old Town

If Disney had found this place, it would have been the back drop to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and such fairy-tale adventure movies. It is absolutely gorgeous. Wertheim is situated at the confluence of the Tauber and Main Rivers. It is a centre of glassblowing in the region and has four glass-blowers earning a living here. It has a castle (of course!) but the charm of the place is on the old city centre which is full of narrow, cobbled streets and wonderful old buildings.

Half-Timbered Houses

Half-Timbered Houses

I honestly don’t have much more to say about Wertheim except to urge you that if you are ever in this region, don’t miss this gorgeous little town. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Goodbye for now and God bless.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (13)

Friday, May 03, 2013

The Idun docked at Regensberg, Germany this morning at around 8.30. The skies were grey, we’d had some rain the previous evening and the temperature had dropped considerably from our lovely day yesterday in Passau. However, conditions were ideal for getting around on foot. After breakfast Don and Lynore joined the scheduled walking tour of this beautiful city, but Cynthia and I decided that we’d go exploring on our own a  little later in the day.

I did a little reading about the city and discovered that like many other cities in the region, it had been founded by the Celts who called it Ratisbon. Later, the Romans renamed it Ratisbona. the city is at the confluence of the Regen river and the Danube and is part of Bavaria. In fact Regensberg is the capital of the Bavarian administrative region. The old medieval centre of the city has been declared a Unesco World heritage Site.  I also found out that Oskar Schindler lived in Regensburg for years, and now one of his houses bears a plaque to his achievements commemorated in the Spielberg epic Schindler’s List.

About 10.45 am Cynthia and I set off gently along the quayside where the Idun was moored. We wandered along to the ancient sausage and sauerkraut restaurant, (Alt Wurstkuche) where you can buy those delicacies for about 2 euro.

The Wurstkuche, The Ancient Sausage Kitchen, Regensberg.

The Wurstkuche, The Ancient Sausage Kitchen, Regensberg.

Just along from the restaurant is the old stone bridge (Steinerne Brucke) which was built between 1135 and 1146 and for more than 800 years was the only solid crossing along the Danube.

The Stone Bridge, Regensberg.

The Stone Bridge, Regensberg.

We turned away from the river and climbed slowly and gently up to the cathedral square through narrow streets. The twin spires of the massive St. Peter’s cathedral towered above us.

Twin Spires Of St Peter's Cathedral Overlook The Square

Twin Spires Of St Peter’s Cathedral Overlook The Square

We entered and immediately the sounds of the outside were left behind. Inside, the only sound was the shuffling of feet on the stone floors and the whispering of the visitors. You could almost feel the prayers of the ages hanging from the walls. It was an amazing structure. We sat and allowed ourselves some peace and quiet, then offered some prayers for those we love and left.

Interior Of This Massive Cathedral

Interior Of This Massive Cathedral

As we gradually made our way back to the ship, we came across Don and Lynore, who were also going our way. The four of us, along with two Aussie ladies from another ship anchored her, chatted as we walked the riverbank back to the ships. It’s just so easy to make friends on these riverboats.

Other Craft Moored At Regensberg.

Other Craft Moored At Regensberg.

We also passed excavations of Roman ruins. The site had been planned for a new hotel, but I guess the owners of the hotel must now be looking elsewhere.

Excavation Site Of Roman Ruins Near The River

Excavation Site Of Roman Ruins Near The River

Lunch for the four of us followed, with Amy and Steven from California as our table-mates. We headed for the cabins afterwards. Cynthia and I had a nap…tough eh….and then spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the deck of the ship, watchingthe river traffic and the pedestrians make their way along the river.

The ship left Regensberg around  5.00, heading for Nuremberg. It had been a great visit to this lovely place. Goodbye for now and God bless.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (12)

Thursday, May 02, 2013-Day 13

When we woke this morning the sky was grey and overcast. However, we still believe the sun will burn through by sometime later in the day. Passage through a series of locks  in the night had kept Cynthia awake for periods of time. I didn’t feel or hear a thing. Being hard of hearing sometimes has its advantages.

We joined Don and Lynore for breakfast at 8 am and Don summarised this day nicely, as being a”soft” one. In half an hour, at 9.30, Vlad, our cruise director will give us a little talk on Germany. We then dock at Passau soon after and have a walking tour of parts of the town until close to noon This also includes an organ recital in St. Stephan’s cathedral. Then we get back to the ship for lunch and cruise some more to another smaller town called Vilshofen. Those who wish to stay longer in Passau can do so for a bus will take them on to Vilshofen where they can re-join the ship. Finally, around 6.30 pm, the ship sets off for the next major stop at Regensburg. Those are the plans.. more later on how things actually pan out.

It’s 2 pm now as I continue. Our walking tour was a success, only marred by Cynthia not being with us. She’d had a tough night with little sleep, so she decided to stay put to rest.

Passau is situated at the confluence of three rivers, the Inn, Ilz and the Danube. In the picture below the Inn comes from the left. The Danube is centred and the Ilz is the small one which comes from the right.

English:

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our guide took us along the bank of the river Inn, up through a narrow alley and into the Cathedral square.

Looking Across The Inn River To The South Side Of Passau

Looking Across The Inn River To The South Side Of Passau

We arrived at the rear of St. Stephan’s and walked around the front to enter.

Don And Lynore At Cathedral Square In Passau

Don And Lynore At Cathedral Square In Passau

Entering this massive cathedral is a breathtaking experience. Not only is the cathedral in great shape, but there must have been a thousand plus people in there, all comfortably seated waiting for the commencement of the organ recital…and what an organ to be sure!

The largest church pipe organ in Europe with 1...

The largest church pipe organ in Europe with 17,774 pipes in the St. Stephen’s Cathedral of Passau, Germany. Niemczech. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is the largest cathedral organ in the world, and the second largest pipe organ in the world. It has 17 774 pipes, 233 stops, and four carillons. All five parts of the organ can be played from the main keyboard, one at a time or all together, offering the visitor an unforgettable acoustical delight. We were in front row seats with the organ as far to the rear of us as possible, yet, due to pipes located at the high altar area, we heard the sound in stereo. It was magical.

Don, Lynore and 1000+ Others Wait For Recital To Begin

Don, Lynore and 1000+ Others Wait For Recital To Begin

When the concert ended, we made our way downhill, back to the boat. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were in Italy, for this historic old centre has a definite air of Italy, with it’s jumble of winding, cobbled lanes, underpasses and archways leading off the main streets.

At 3.30 the ship moved on up the Danube to Vilshofen to pick up those who had extended time ashore, and then headed off to Regensburg.

Goodbye for now and God bless.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (11)

House and Vineyard Terrace, Wachau Valley Austria

House and Vineyard Terrace, Wachau Valley Austria

Wednesday, May 01-Day 12.

We had a very, very pleasant cruise this morning. Our ship glided along the river through the Wachau Valley, still on the Danube,  heading towards the small town of Melk. From our hand-out I can tell you that “the town has been an important spiritual and cultural centre in Austria for over 1 000 years. It became the site of a Benedictine monastery in 1089 when Leopold ll gave one of his castles to the monks from Lambach. Ever since, and now over  900 years, the monks have lived continuously and worked in what is known as Stift Melk, following the rules of St. Benedict.”

Approaching the Monastery At Melk From Downriver Danube

Approaching the Monastery At Melk From Downriver Danube

Now, I believe there are approximately 33 monks assigned to the monastery, half of whom live there and half work in parishes around the region. The monastery brings employment to around 300 people who are guides, gardeners, cleaners etc.

Approximately 460 000 visitors per year come to see the monastery and the organisation of the tours is a thing of beauty. The buildings and grounds of the place are said to be more beautiful than those at Versailles, but as we didn’t get to see the grounds in the short time we were there, I can’t begin to compare.

Great Hall In The Monastery

Great Hall In The Monastery

The library there has over 100 000 books. At one time a copy of the Gutenberg Bible resided at Melk, but the monks sold it to somewhere in the U.S.A in order to make repairs to the monastery.

The Fab Four At Melk Monastery

The Fab Four At Melk Monastery

After our tour, Cynthia and Lynore made their way back to the bus for the ride back to the ship. Don and I wandered down from the monastery, through the lovely little town of Melk, crossed the bridge over the river and hoofed it back to the ship.

Town Of Melk Below The Monastery

Town Of Melk Below The Monastery

We arrived there the same time as the girls’ bus, so we were able to make it back to the ship at the same time. Where the bus dropped the ladies, there was a Gasthaus. Of interest on the side of the building were some high water marks from years gone by when the Danube flooded its banks. One was from the 1500s when the water level reached the bedroom windows of the house.

Note The Levels Of The Danube On Left Side Of House

Note The Levels Of The Danube On Left Side Of House

When everyone was accounted for, the ship set off upriver around 4 pm. We are now continuing up the Danube through the same Wachau valley to Passau, Germany, our next stop.

Goodbye for now and God bless.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.