Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Half the Fun is Getting There

After several ocean cruises, we decided to give river cruising a try.  It's definitely a relaxing way to travel, especially since we didn't have the girls in tow.  I would say the average age of the cruisers on our Viking longship was around 65.  Of course, there were older folks, too, like the sweet couple from South Carolina who were in their mid 80s.  However, they were pretty spry octogenarians since they golf and go out dancing every week.

We kicked off our river cruise trip Saturday morning when the alarm woke us up at 4:30 since the car service was collecting us at 5:45 am for a run to Heathrow.  We flew to Frankfurt and then changed planes for the crop duster over to Nuremberg, Germany.  That was one hairy ride.  The vicious winds had our little plane weaving from side-to-side as we zipped down the runway for takeoff.  That was my first experience with horizontal turbulence since it's only the vertical, shake you up and down sort I've experienced in the past.

Since we arrived in Nuremberg the day before our cruise embarked, we had the chance to walk around the old town and get a feel for it.  We had a late lunch at the Bratwursthausle beneath the shade of the chestnut trees. I took this pic of it the next day when we were touring with the Viking folks that morning and it hadn't opened yet.

We shared a table with an older German couple.  I sipped a soda because the only thing on the menu was sausage and pig knuckles and beer, oh my.  I'm not a big fan of pork and so I just soaked up the atmosphere and people watched as folks passed by on the street.

The husband was in hog heaven, literally and figuratively, with all of the great sausages to sample in Germany.

The next morning, we went for a private tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber that our travel agent arranged.  The car was this swanky made-for-the-chauffeuring/touring market BMW that had bells and whistles I didn't know existed.  The driver/tour guide wore a suit and I decided right then and there this was definitely the best way to see Germany.

Located in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Rothenburg is a precious medieval town with not just one but two sets of city walls - both inner and outer.  

I could have just gobbled it up and asked for seconds because it was so danged cute.  

I would have been hard pressed to find a public building that wasn't bedecked in flowers and just too picturesque for words.  

Signs hanging on the buildings were just beautiful.  And I love anything with a date on it, like the one above with 1661.

And churches with beautiful handcarved altars.  

And decorative city wells like the ones above.

Our tour lasted almost 6 hours and I spent over an hour in the mothership Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village and Museum.  Overcome by the holiday spirit in July, I blew my entire souvenir budget before we even set foot on the cruise ship for our eight day Danube adventure.  Aint it purty?

The little elves are gonna change it from 220 volts to 110 volts so it will spin with the simple throw of a switch versus candle power and then UPS it to my in-law's house in about 7-8 weeks.  Down the road, my girls can argue over who has to take this monstrosity to ferret away and gather dust in their attic once I'm dead and gone.  Until then, I'm giving this holiday pyramid spinny thing a place of honor in the house every November - gotta deck the halls before Thanksgiving so we can all enjoy it well in advance of the big day.

Travel guru Rick Steves had warned us NOT to waste our time on the schneeballen (translates to snowball in English) in Rothenburg, but we just had to indulge.  Rick was right - the fried shortcrust pastry dusted in powdered sugar wasn't particularly tasty but it was all part of the experience.  You can see a reflection of the husband lining up his shot of the schneeballen in a shop window.  

On the drive back to Nuremberg we detoured to the abbey church in Heilsbronn, seat of one of the great German monasteries during the medieval period (1132-1555).  I do love a good tomb with a sarcophagus atop it.

Around 3:00 pm we boarded our Viking longship, the Legend, on a canal of the Danube River.  Auf wiedersehen to fast paced touring and guten tag to a leisurely cruise.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I love the view in there. I think it is really nice in there.
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