Our excursion to magical Rothenburg on Wednesday was truly a highlight. Our guide told us we would be travelling the “romantic road” to Rothenburg and what goes on in ze bus stays on ze bus! Well, the one in charge of the B’s obviously got stressed about this and I wondered if he was going to jump into a spare seat for the journey! On we travelled on this romantic journey, which was the trading route in Medieval times, passing vast agricultural areas growing sugarbeets (which are refined into molasses and sugar), and fruit trees which are mainly apple for the cider and all the large and tasty German cakes and pies. Not a lot of livestock was to be seen in this flat and fertile part of the country.
Now I must tell you – we pass signs for Einfahrt and Ausfahrt – we have seen hundreds of these in our travels over the years and have worked out they are the Ins and Outs of German autobahns and buildings! The boss’s translation was quite inaccurate!
We pass vineyards on very steep slopes and large privately owned solar farms where the power is sold back to the grid – all coal plants in Germany will cease to operate here from 2032 and nuclear power plants will close in 2023. On this romantic road we also pass half timbered houses in picture postcard villages along the way. The tour guide gives us a voucher to get a discount off a cuckoo clock – I mention this to the boss who is less than interested and tells me he already has a cuckoo clot or two that he is travelling with so we dispense with the idea of bringing home ze cuckoo clock!!
Rothenburg, in the Franconia area of Bavaria, is truly one of Germany’s most spectacular historical gems dating back to the 1200’s. Everything has been impressively preserved and safeguarded and there is a colourful mixture of Baroque and Renaissance buildings – and, of course, you travel ze romantic road to get to zis quaint treasure.
By the way – the petrol in Germany is between 1.40 and 1.60 EUR a litre which seems to equate with what we pay at home. No need for petrol today as we glide about 200 km down the Main Canal to meet up with the Rhine early tomorrow morning so a lovely relaxing day onboard and a visit to the small but extremely efficient galley to see how they prepare 600 meals a day – 3 each for 150 passengers and 50 crew (not to mention the four courses at dinner!) The very interesting explanations of preparation, service and hygiene were given by the Head Chef on zis boat who works for 7 months with just 14 days off. Tonight we dine at Table la Rive for another degustation and if we don’t stop having these multiple tastings I can tell you this boat may become grounded by the weight!! We sail along the Main Canal all night through many many locks and berth in Rudesheim by breakfast time. We spend some time in this quaint German town at the side of the Rhine famous for its Riesling wines and travel up the cable car to the Niederwald monument at the top of the hill which gives magnificent views of the area.
We have only three days left on this lovely riverboat and arrive in Cologne tomorrow and Amsterdam on Sunday. Meanwhile, the crew are obviously worried we are underfed so a special Medieval Feast has been arranged for us tonight at Marksburg Castle. I can tell you for sure that this country is absolutely drowning in ze beer as would we if we took up the offer of having one 20 times a day! We don’t – the one in charge of the B’s won’t allow it!
We are currently sailing on the Rhine towards the Lorelei which is a 433 ft steep slate rock above the Rhine Gorge. The rock and the murmur it creates have inspired various tales and legends.
The Rhine is an important shipping route for commodities including, grains, minerals, chemicals, coal and oil products including heating oil. Suddenly we are seeing a highway of vessels sailing up and down this very busy river. This is also the section of the ABC – another b…………..eautiful castle or church and there is absolutely an abundance of them!
On Saturday we arrived in Cologne and parked this riverboat just behind the massive cathedral. Our walking tour took us to the bridge with all the padlocks – there must be millions of them here adding to the weight of this structure. The magnificent cathedral hovers over the city and took over 600 years to build including stops and starts. Since 1950 it has been in a continuous state of restoration because the sandstone is deteriorating and vast areas are having to be replaced. The spires stand 157 m tall and the detail on the exterior is truly impressive. Sadly the blackened sandstone hides some of the true beauty as you need to look carefully to see the intricacies of the design. The interior is 8000 sq ft in size and has capacity for 20,000 people. The many huge stained glass windows are spectacular and the treasures inside are breathtaking. It is nothing short of a miracle that this cathedral survived the Second World War (although it was badly damaged) when the city of Cologne was almost destroyed.
Tonight, because ze Captain obviously is worried about the online appraisal we have to complete on our trip, he is putting on a farewell cocktail and dinner so the chefs in that very small galley are at it again all for us! We are currently sailing the 260 km to get to Amsterdam by tomorrow morning where this cruise ends.
Today our journey of 1000 km on these rivers from Budapest ended in the city of Amsterdam – a city of 850,000 residents but over 1 million bikes. The only way to see this charming city is by doing a canal cruise which we did and then walking around to view the quaint houses (many of which are leaning as they sink into the mud). The city is a mess this morning after a monstrous gay parade last night and the aroma of the wacky baccy lingers in this city which is so tolerant of diversity. It has been an adventurous journey with changing water levels, changing boats, changing countries and cultures and so very interesting. Now we fly to London to continue our journey.
Tot ziens voor nu – farewell for now