Friday, August 7, 2015

A taste of Bavaria...

We had a wonderful day Thursday exploring Regensburg -- the oldest city on the Danube and one of Bavaria's most beautiful and one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe! The city center escaped damage in the war and its architectural gems and half-timbered buildings exude a timeless charm. (Okay, I lifted that entire first paragraph from the brochure, but it's totally accurate and succinct!) Some pictures:

Still standing are the Roman gates from 179 AD. It was completely refreshing to be in a city that had *not* been destroyed and rebuilt a dozen times over the past centuries! 

And I finally got to see some stained glass! My favorite! St. Peter's Cathedral in Regensburg. The church has existed since about 700 AD and rebuilt in its present state in 1320. 

Tiny narrow cobblestone streets lined with shops and cafes. 

The Prinzess! Reminded me of my Princess Vanny! 

Folks are very fond of their sausages around here! An ancient sausage restaurant...I think it may be the "Lunch Box" of Regensburg! 

Okay, I had an unfortunate mishap on the lovely cobblestone streets of Regensburg. We were walking along when my sandal caught a cobblestone and I went into one of those slow-motion, arms flailing, legs-sprawling falls. My sisters (and some other travelers) sprang into action, checking me for injuries and soothing my wounded pride. I was suddenly aware of June vigorously scrubbing the back of my shirt with some tissue one of the ladies gave her. 
"Ohmigosh, is my back bleeding?!?"
It was bird poop. 
Fresh bird poop. 
To add insult to injury, while I was spread-eagle on the streets of Regensburg, a bird pooped on my back. Sheesh. 
(My hands were scraped up, but overall, I'm fine. It could've been much worse. Like, for example, a dog could've pooped on me.)

(Funny signage near the river. I think we can all agree this would be a bad idea. A sign seems unnecessary.)

We had lunch on the ship then boarded buses for an excursion to the Danube Narrows and Weltenburg Abbey. 
Hey Mama D! 

The boat trip down the narrows was nice -- some of the rock formations have been given fanciful names, like "the terrified virgin."

At the Abbey we had free time before our tour, so we decided to get some refreshments at the cafe -- and there we encountered the equivalent of the classic Seinfeld character "Soup Nazi." Except that, instead of "No soup for you!" it was "No still water for you!!!" (If you don't specify "still" or tap, they will automatically bring you sparkling, which none of us like.) This waitress arrived at our table already in a huff and things went from bad to worse quickly! We were at a complete loss as to what we could've done to make her so angry but the combination of heat and exhaustion ended up making the whole thing hysterical! She finally threw up her hands (literally) and turned us over to another waitress. Some of our shipmates were sitting nearby and witnessed the whole crazy episode and not only enjoyed it immensely, they shared the story, so we've been getting a lot of teasing from our fellow travelers! 

We did take the opportunity to have a banana split in memory of Aunt Ruth Oates. We told stories and lifted our spoons in her honor! 

The Weltenburg Abbey is a Benedictine monastery built in 700s on the site of a former Roman temple to the goddess Minerva. It's the oldest monastery in Bavaria and the oldest monastic brewery in the world. (Yep, those monks and have been making beer since 1050!)

The Abbey church was ornate and beautiful, although it was odd for the altar art to heavily feature a non-biblical scene - it was huge sculptures of St. George, slaying a dragon to save a princess? Hmmmm. 

Beautiful ceiling.

Ancient organ. 

Puffy plaster clouds. They were everywhere in the abbey church. Um. Okay. 

One more cafe stop on the way back to the boat. (Germany, where the beer flows

Every evening when we return to the ship, hot and sweaty, we are greeted by crew members who say "Welcome home!" And hand us cold towels, a refreshing drink and a little snack! Thursday we were also greeted with some Bavarian music as a preview for the evening's Oktoberfest! 

(Our wonderful waiter, Peter)

(Is that you, Quentin Tarentino?) 

Chef Ronald explaining the dishes...


Floating by castles during dinner…

Meals in the restaurant were lively, but leisurely. Lingering over good food and conversation…

June joins the musicians...

And our wonderful program director Boris. 

A city tour of Nuremburg is on the agenda for Friday -- our last day! 

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