John & Brenda's Excellent European Adventure - Part Deux travel blog

My Morning BD Greeting

Kristjan's Towel Sculptures

Brenda Hugs Viesie Before She Heads To The Doctor

Karl In His Shop

The Steep Road To The Burg Wertheim

Soaring Turrets In The Ruins

The Crippled Viking Danube From The Burg Wertheim

View Of The Tauber River Valley From The Ruins

Fellow Tourist Enjoy The Panorama

Cheryl And Robert Negotiate A Narrow Walkway

Wertheim's Beautiful Market Square

Yours Truly On Talent Night From A Still Of Cheryl's Movie (Note:...

August 23, 2011

Well, here it was, my 63rd Natal Day and I woke up to a big poster and balloons on our cabin door, courtesy our neighbours, Cheryl and Robert, aided by supplies from the ship’s crew. When Brenda and I returned from breakfast, our bed was decorated with cute towel sculptures constructed by our stateroom attendant, Kristjan. I also received lovely cards from the Smiths, Helen and my loving and lovely bride. I later found I had many welcome emails and Facebook wishes from friends and family…thanks everyone!

Our port this day was Wertheim, home to the shop of our glass blower, Karl. At the dockside we ran into Viesie who had been having peripheral vision problems during the last day and she was off to the ophthalmologist for a ship-arranged appointment. The guided walking tours had started so we headed first thing to Karl’s shop to beat the anticipated rush to pick up the items the girls had picked out the previous night, including a couple of small items Viesie asked us to pick up for her. The purchase was painless (just hold your nose and pay) and we were able to leave our packages with Karl and do a little touring.

Our walking objective was the Burg Wertheim, the ruins of a massive castle destroyed in 1634 by imperial troops (that’s why they could never have anything nice). The heat and humidity was in full force as we made our way up the steep cobblestone road to the castle ruins. We really didn’t realize the size and scope of the ruins from the lower levels, recognized as one of the largest castle ruins in all of Germany. For €1 we were able to access a large part of the castle that was sealed off, albeit with very steep and narrow stairs for access, which provided fantastic vistas of the town, the Main and the nearby Tauber River.

Dripping wet, we began our descent back down to the town and the glass shop where we found a long line-up of our fellow passengers making their purchases…smart, that early visit. Karl’s family escaped from East Germany in 1958 to set up their business in Wertheim and they have ties to the U.S. through working with Dale Chihuly and establishing the Eugene Glass School in Oregon. Back on board, we discovered that Viesie had a detached retina and required immediate surgery, likely in Cologne. We quickly delivered her glass items as she and Denise hurriedly packed to leave the ship before our 1:00 p.m. departure and we can only trust that everything worked out O.K. for her.

Through our cruising afternoon the passengers were entertained with German lessons and a cooking demonstration which we skipped for the fresh air of the Sun Deck. Dinner was in the bloody hot dining room and we skipped out after the main course. Maître d’ Pavel located us in the lounge to deliver a tasty birthday cake he had planned to serve with great ceremony in the dining room…dodged a bullet there!

Entertainment for the evening was a talent show for which Robert, Helen and I volunteered while under the influence and the questionable assumption that we might have “talent”. I told my “Archibald” joke (almost flawlessly), Robert delivered an oration of “The Anteater” by Roald Dahl and Helen read a delightful excerpt from “Wind in the Willows”. Other than a very entertaining gypsy dance and comedy act from stateroom attendant Laszlo, I am thinking most of the other stuff was quite forgettable.

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