Friday, June 26, 2015

Meandering in Miltenberg

Top L to R: Duck, Swans
Bottom L to R: Walking couple, Camp
It’s a scenic trip from Würzburg to Miltenberg along the Main River, so we spent some time watching the world go by. Mallard-type ducks seem to be common around the world with their iridescent green heads and their wiggly tails. There were also a variety of wading birds that looked a good deal like our own blue herons, but what we don’t see a lot of in the US are wild swans. Those large, white, elegant birds seemed to be around every turn as we sailed down the river. People out for a stroll are not uncommon on the trails along the river and we did see a couple, who could have posed for Grant Woods’s American Gothic, pause to watch our ship. Not far from the walkers were very neatly arranged campgrounds. In the summer, families camp in certain areas and spend their time on the river. Some of the spots have been used by the same groups for years, but most of these folks aren’t ‘roughing it’; the camping trailers look very comfortable.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Following the Romance Road to Rothenburg and Würzburg

Rothenburg from the Wall
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the ‘Red fortress above the Tauber’ is a small German town with many of its buildings preserved from medieval times. Rothenburg has long been valued as a prime example of a ‘German Home Town’. During Nazi rule followers were brought from all over the Reich to see the ‘the most German of German towns’. And during World War II, the U.S Assistant Secretary of War knew the historic importance and beauty of the town, thus ordering the army not to use artillery in capturing Rothenburg. A US military leader was sent to the local German military commander to negotiate the surrender and save the town, in spite of Hitler’s decree that all towns would fight until destroyed. After the war ended the residents, with the help of funds from around the world, rebuilt what had been damaged during the war. More lately, the traditional buildings of Rothenburg have appeared in several movies. In the 1940 Walt Disney movie Pinocchio it was the model for the village. The
Medieval Rothenburg
Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962) movie featured Rothenburg in the trailer with the camera flying over the town from the valley towards the Town Hall. It has also been used for location shots in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1 in 2010 and Part 2 in 2011). Dave noted that pretty much every medieval community from Prague west could have been in the Harry Potter movies; he’s not nearly the fan I am.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Unexpected ~ Nuremberg and Bamberg

Nuremberg Market
All I knew about Nuremberg was associated with Nazi occupation and with the later trials; Bamberg was just another city in Germany to me. Local guides in both cities were excellent at using history to explain how these cities had changed and how they had retained the heritage they wanted the German children to embrace. I have a greater appreciation for the people, past and present, in these cities and how they are building their culture.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Peeking in on Prague

The next series of Near-Normal Traveler Blogs reviews our tour/cruise with Viking. Since I’d
Alexej on the right
not taken a formal tour of anywhere in years, I had a bit of adjusting to do. First, and happily, I wasn’t in charge of anything. Second, and irritatingly, I wasn’t in charge of anything. In this episode we were taken around the old area of Prague by an excellent local tour guide. Alexej had been speaking English and doing tours for about 20 years – since she’d been in high school. When she began taking her required foreign language courses, the only language provided was Russian. However, midway through her junior year, Czechoslovakia became the Czech Republic; the students in the language classes refused to learn any more Russian and demanded to learn English. Luckily, their teacher spoke English and could comply with their wishes. That summer Alexej’s mother got her hired by a tour company and she’s been leading groups ever since.