Monday May 12 -- Wurzburg to Bamberg
We sailed through lock after lock during the night and continued to do so throughout the morning. Eventually, we tied up at Hassfurt (a small industrial dock) simply to let us off to board buses that took us into Bamberg. While we were off, the ship would continued through three more locks until it arrived at Bamberg where we would board again later in the evening.
During the morning, our cruise director (Joey) made a presentation on Main-Danube Canal and provided a handout which detailed the height of the 68 locks that we pass through in total between Amsterdam and Budapest. The highest locks and the greatest density of locks are in the Main-Danube Canal. The highest elevation that we will reach is on exiting the Hipoltstein lock, which takes the ship to 1332 feet above sea level. It is here that we pass into the watershed that is essentially the divide: to the north and west the Main flows north to the Rhine, to the south and eats the Danube flows south to the Black Sea. We will reach this lock after our visit to Nuremberg tomorrow.
We ate lunch on the ship and then boarded buses for an afternoon in Bamberg. We had another very good guide and despite two downpours of rain during the visit, we had an interesting and informative day.
Bamberg was founded in the 11th century and is one of the few cities that was not destroyed by bombing in WWII. It is the starting point of the Main-Danube Canal that was built between 1960 and 1992. Bamberg is also a thriving cultural centre and a university town, as well as also being a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its plethora of Gothic, baroque and Romanesque architecture.
Our walking tour took a couple of hours and as it was the "special extended" tour we had an extra explanation about the brewing heritage of the city while being guided to the brauhaus where the 'Hecht Schlenferla Rauchbier' was created. A good number of us went into this brauhaus to taste the "smoked beer" or Rauchbier. The beer is quite a dark brew and has a smokey bacon flavour (caused by the drying of the malt barley over smoking fires). We both enjoyed a pint while washing down fresh pretzels from the bakery next to the bar. After this diversion, we walked around a little more before returning to the bus.
The ship had been delayed again in its passage though the locks since dropping us at the buses earlier. We did not board until after 7:15 and had to rush to prepare for dinner. We sat with a single gentleman, Carl (who is now traveling on his own as his wife has Alzheimer's), from South Carolina and a Chinese couple who live in San Francisco. The meal was the first where had really slow service; we waited for wine and we waited for all courses.
After dinner we had fun with a lot of other guests when four crew members (Franck, Gunter, Tony and Joey) played the game 'liars club'. Each crew member had to define several words and the audience had to guess which crew member was telling the truth. Each of the players was very good at the game and our team of six only correctly identified the true definition once.
Shortly after the game, we went to bed. It had been a long day.