Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (16)

The Prince/Bishop Of Wurzburg's  Former Palace

The Prince/Bishop Of Wurzburg’s Former Palace

Monday, May 06, 2013-Day 17

Well, good people, the day dawned sunny and warm as we slid into the docking point in Wurzburg this morning.

“On 16 March 1945, about 90% of the city full of civilians (and military hospitals) was destroyed in 17 minutes by 225 British Lancaster bombers during a World War II air raid. All of the city’s churches, cathedrals, and other monuments were heavily damaged or destroyed. The city centre, which dated from medieval times, was totally destroyed in a firestorm in which 5,000 people perished. Over the next 20 years, the buildings of historical importance were painstakingly and accurately replicated. The citizens who rebuilt the city immediately after the end of the war were mostly women – Trümmerfrauen (“rubble women”) – because the men were either dead or taken prisoner of war. In comparison  Würzburg was destroyed to a larger extent than was Dresden in a firebombing the previous month.“ (Wikipedia)

We hadn’t long to wait before we were told the buses were outside waiting to take us to the Prince/Bishop’s palace in the centre of the town. These prince/bishps were officers of the church but they also had enormous political clout. When we got off the bus and faced the palace, I was flabbergasted. It looked a little like the palace at Versailles, and indeed, we were told later that the bishop had ordered his architect to visit Versailles and build him something along the same lines!

Massive Gates Provide Entry To The Palace

Massive Gates Provide Entry To The Palace

Sadly, but understandably, we were not allowed to take cameras, bags, bottles into the upstairs rooms we were going to see, so they were all stored in  a large wooden box which was then locked until our return.

I can’t begin to tell you of the grandeur of the palace (now owned and run by the state). However, the best part for me was the entrance to the ipstairs chambers via a grand, stone staircase. The ceiling above is covered by the largest ceiling fresco in the world. It was painted in 14 months by an Italian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo  who painted the four continents (of that time) on the ceiling.

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo - Apollo and the Con...

Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – Apollo and the Continents (Europe, overall view) – WGA22331 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was totally amazed at the scale of the painting, the fact it was painted on a curved ceiling, and it’s 3D imagery. It was amazing.Würzburg, Residenz

Something else the guide told us was that the palace had 360 rooms. 300 of them were destroyed by the bombing and all those have been faithfully restored by the state.

After the tour, which involved a lot of standing in one place to listen, Cynthia and Lynore took the bus back to the ship while Don and I wandered down through the town and on to the stone bridge over the river, copied in the style of the Charles Bridge in Prague (and also ordered by the prince/bishop). Don forced an ice-cream upon me and I relented and took it. However, the only evidence of us pounding the ice-creams down, is a pic I took of him!  Heh! Heh!

Don enjoys His Two Scooper on The Bridge At Wurzburg

Don enjoys His Two Scooper on The Bridge At Wurzburg

We made our way back to the ship along the lovely river walk. Lunch was served and we headed off to Karlstadt where the Idun was due to dock again to pick up passengers who had undergone an extra tour of Rothenburg.

About 5.30 the Idun docked at Karlstadt, a beautiful town on the Main. DSCN8981We actually pulled up against a tiny jetty jutting out from the bank. The captain of the ship inched his way up to the landing and crew hopped ashore. Little boys ran up and down the shore and campers on the side waved and made us welcome. It was a strange sight to be within spitting distance of the land waiting for our friends to re-board.

Campers At Karlstadt. Note How Close We Are

Campers At Karlstadt. Note How Close We Are

Our passengers came aboard and dinner was served.

Karl The Glass-Blower Get His Stuff Ready

Karl The Glass-Blower Get His Stuff Ready

After the meal we were treated to a demonstration of glassblowing by Karl Ittig, the glassblower from Wertheim, the little down river where we are headed. imagesKarl is one of five glass blowers making their living in this little town. His presentation was interesting, informative and well received by his audience.

It had been a full day. Goodbye for now and God bless.

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Viking River Cruise-Apr./May 2013 (9)

Lock Gates Closing Behind Us At Gabcikovo

Lock Gates Closing Behind Us At Gabcikovo

Monday April 29-Day 10

This morning we slept in a little longer as the ship was cruising nicely up the Danube. Around 1.00 pm, the Idun entered a set of locks at Gabcikovo where there is also a hydro power generating station. The locks here are some of the deepest on the Danube with a lifting capacity of about 60 feet. We were able to watch the whole process from the sun-deck of the ship.

Lunch followed as Don, Lynore, Cynthia and I were joined by Bob and Hazel, a lovely couple from Ontario. They were both well into their eighties. She was hard of hearing too, and had me pegged for a”Marcus” so I went with it. However, she didn’t believe me when I told her my middle name was Aurelius!

At 2pm, the Idun came to rest at its moorings near the centre of the city of Bratislava. I think this is one of the features I like most about the river cruise…we can often get off and within a 10 minute walk, we are in the centre of the city.DSCN8767

The city tour rolled around at 2.30, but I was on my own today as Cynthia decided to rest after a disturbed night and Don and Lynore were on a different trip. The tour took us to see the castle, destroyed by fire in 1811 and rebuilt in the 1950s.

We were dropped at the edge of the old town and our guide Bea walked us through. It was reminiscent of Prague with its cobble stoned streets and pastel coloured buildings.

Narrow Streets In The Old City

Narrow Streets In The Old City

I enjoyed the tour but was glad to be set free to walk back. I wandered around the square for a while looking at buildings, vendors’ stalls and even sat for a while people watching. The trams were interesting too, as many of them were brightly painted in mural form.

Colourful Tramcars

Colourful Tramcars

In spite of the breeze, the 25C temperature encouraged me to head back to the boat around 4.30. Cynthia was still snoozing when I reached the room, so hopefully she will feel a little better this evening.

Dinner came and went very nicely. Don and Lynore told us of their visit to a local home where the owner brewed his wine and gave them tastes. They bought some to try too and generally had a fine visit.

Wine Barrels At Entrepreneur's Home (Don and Lynore's Trip)

Wine Barrels At Entrepreneur’s Home (Don and Lynore’s Trip)

At 9 pm, on board came a Slovakian folk group. In total they were two violinists, a double bassist, a young man on the dulcimer, a female singer and two dancers. They played and danced local or national folk tunes and we clapped along with them. They were wonderful musicians and their energy was inspiring.

The vessel set off for Vienna at 11pm. If all goes well, we should dock at 6 am. It’s time for me to get my beauty sleep now, so goodnight and God bless.

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