The original schedule called for us to wake up on December 20th in Regensburg, but the long delay at the second lock put us a few hours behind. Until we saw the sheer volume of river traffic, the idea of an advanced schedule at the locks meant nothing to us. The final lock we encountered prior to docking at Regensburg gave us a bit of insight into the matter.
One thing I found particularly interesting was the number of cargo vessels that had an automobile parked on the roof of the tow boat. I guess when the crew was granted shore-leave they didn’t want to have to rent a car.
Regensburg is where the canal connects with the Danube River. The juncture is actually just beyond the city, and I’m not sure many vessels the size of those traversing the canal could go much beyond Regensburg on the Danube. Here is a map of the city.
The canal is at the top of the map and there are some islands between the waterways. Once we entered the Danube, we had to back up to the dock. Just beyond the dock was the oldest stone bridge on the Danube. Our vessel could not have gone under it.
We had already eaten breakfast by the time we docked, so we were quickly ready to leave the ship and get on with our walking tour. Because of our numbers, they broke us into three groups. Our radio receivers were numbered accordingly and we were off… into the misty rain.
Our tour guide, who was from Austria (I think) informed us that there were numerous shops where we could buy umbrellas. However, he maintained a fast pace and did not allow us time to stop in one of those shops.
That’s our guide charging off in the distance. OK, I may be exaggerating.
One of the facts our guide pointed out was that the wealthiest families in many towns would build high towers that served no real purpose. If the family lived in the structure, they only occupied the bottom-most floors. The towers were nothing more than symbols of their wealth. I guess you might call them the Lexus and BMWs of their time.
I can’t recall what our guide told us about this building. I just recall the wall behind him. I would guess the structure was at least a couple of hundred years old and the builders obviously weren’t all that concerned about making sure everything squared up.
We shortly moved on to the one part of the tour about which our guide was most knowledgeable. St. Peter’s Cathedral.
Based on the number of old churches and cathedrals we saw on our vacation, it would be easy to envision a month-long tour of Germany where the participants would do nothing but walk through these wonderful edifices. It seemed that every town – regardless of how small that town was – had at least two magnificent structures designed specifically for worship. My guess is that, following the Reformation, the original one was for Roman Catholics and the newer one(s) for non-Catholics.
Notice that the one side of the structure seems much brighter than the other. The building was being cleaned, slowly but surely. That was the case with many of the older buildings we saw throughout the trip.
The height of the spires is also to be noted. In most cities and towns we visited, no building could be built higher than the church steeples. Thus, wherever you were in a city, if you could see the steeples, you had a rough idea of where you were.
It was difficult to get good pictures inside the churches. Some didn’t want anyone to use a flash. In many cases, the flash resulted in a darker image because the items being photographed were too far above or beyond to have the flash provide any true lighting. Turning the flash off meant the automatic camera would leave the shutter open a fraction of a second longer; unless one has nerves of steel and can hold a camera perfectly still, the resulting picture will be blurred – sometimes beyond recognition.
Bear in mind that the population of Regensburg today is a mere 130,000. Construction of the present day cathedral began in 1273 and took 600 years to complete. I doubt if the population was anything near what it is today when the construction began. Obviously the building fund for churches back then was not solely the responsibility of the parishioners… at least not directly. Government, wealthy land owners, and larger church organizations had to have been involved, and it may have been similar to St. Lukas in Munich; The town’s civic leaders insisted on a structure that would clearly demonstrate the power and wealth of the town… whether the town was all that prosperous of not.
That was the end of that walking tour. As I recall, our tour guide left at the front of the church. We explored the inside on our own.
We then made our way back to the river front to take a closer look at that stone bridge.
Although the gates have long since been removed, one can see how the structures at the end of the bridge served to keep the wrong sort of people out.
The Wurstkuche was listed on our map as a historic site, but we never did determine its age. We did stop in for a pre-lunch snack. We had to enter through the kitchen and stoop as we walked into the dining room. The dining room had two long tables with benches. We ordered a serving of Nuremberg brats. These were bratwursts that were about 4 inches long and as big around as a person’s pinkie finger. Supposedly, they were made that size so they could fit through a keyhole for patrons who arrived at the beer gardens after the government-enforced closing time. I had a dark beer and Lu had a coke. She also helped herself to a roll from the ever-present bread basket on the table. Had we known one of our shipmates was going to pick up the tab, I might have ordered a steak… or at least another beer.
On our first night in Munich, we had eaten three pretzels out of the basket and learned that the “honor” system applied in restaurants as well. The waiter expected to be told how much bread, rolls, or pretzels we ate and charged us accordingly.
There was another bridge between the old stone bridge and where our ship was docked. I walked out to the middle hoping to get a decent picture of our vessel. Ours was the third one – the farthest from the bridge.
I also took another picture of St. Peter’s.
By now, the rain had stopped and it was now snowing again. Unfortunately, my jacket was already soaked through. Whatever Scotch Guard had been there when it was new was thoroughly wiped away from numerous trips to the dry cleaners.
I took the above photos trying to figure how we managed to pass under bridges on the canal without taking off the captain’s head. Standing on the bow with the radar units in their lowered positions, I was sure we would scrape the bottom of the bridges. Then, when I saw the pilot house a good bit higher, I could only wonder at how many times the captain involuntarily ducked.
Following lunch, Lu and I took a taxi to the Romantic Christmas Market on the far side of town. The most uncomfortable part of that excursion was putting my wet coat back on. We wondered around the market for a while, but bought very little. We had been led to believe that we would see glass blowers and other artisans plying their trades. Perhaps they had taken the afternoon off.
In any case, we walked back to the ship and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the German people going about their daily routines.
Back on board ship, we enjoyed another fabulous dinner and a pleasant evening chatting with our new found friends.
By 8:00 PM we were once again sailing. But this time it was on the Danube and there was no ice to crush against the side of our ship. We slept better than the night before. It was much quieter and we had done a good bit more walking.