Well, I'm frustrated tonight and apparently am going to be frustrated for the rest of this trip. The computer suddenly won't recognize the ship's wireless connection. I've done everything I know how to do to rectify this situation, starting with rebooting (always a scary thing to do since my problems recently!), running diagnostics, etc. Everyone else with a wireless device is connected (including Walt with his iPhone), but somehow my computer has lost the ability to recognize the connection. I am going to continue writing daily entries and HOPE I can post them upstairs in the computer lounge. Something to do when I have insomnia, as I did last night. Posting this journal takes about an hour, so I don't want to tie up the ship's 2 computers when normal people are awake and wanting to use them.
There was excitement this morning as we hit Wasserscheide, 1,299 feet above sea level. This is the highest point on the Main-Danube canal and from here on, as Mike puts it, "it's all downhill." I missed the first lock, but the second one was pretty spectacular too. I said at one point that waiting to go through a lock is just slightly more exciting than watching paint dry, but once you have actually gotten into the lock and descended, it's pretty neat.
We started at the very top and have come down the length of these walls and will soon be floating out through that little opening I have outlined in red at the bottom.
While we were all watching the ship approach the lock, we saw this guy in a suit and tie standing on the side of the road like he was waiting for a bus...or a boat, which seemed strange because there is NOTHING around there--no road for a car, no other buildings, no nothing. He was also overdressed for this walking/biking trail along the river. We joked about this being a scene out of North by Northwest and thought maybe crop dusters should be flying over head.
(I took this through a plastic partition, so it looks bad)
But no, our ship pulled over and put out the gangplank so he could come aboard. Turns out he's an historian who was coming to give us what turned out to be a fascinating lecture on the European Union, its foundation, its member countries and why they joined, who benefits, who doesn't, etc.
After lunch it was time for excursions. Mike, Char and Walt went off on the "war excursion," which visited the Documentation Center, and the courtroom where the Nuremberg trials were held to get a full background on the Nazis. I opted for the city tour and went off on my own excursion. The city tour goes around the old town and you get a sense of the city as it was in the 1000s and 1100s. As our daily guide puts it, "Perhaps more than any other city in the country, Nuremberg traces both the fortunes and the misfortunes of German history--from being the treasure chest of the German Empire to hosting Nazi Party rallies."
Our first stop was the coliseum, which Hitler was in the middle of building when he had to stop to overtake a country or two. It resembles the one in Rome, but much larger. It was going to be even larger yet, as there was another level planned to be added to it.
(I should add parenthetically here that I was sitting on the left side of the bus and there wasn't ONE place or thing that was on the tour that was on that side. It was always "if you look to your right you'll see...." Consequently I got horrible photos)
We drove inside the uncompleted building to get an idea of the size it was supposed to be and to have our guide (who looks eerily like Ann MacNab) show us photos of the plans for the building, which were halted because of the time and money needed to be spent on the war.
It was interesting to hear about how the children in Germany today are taught about the Nazi party and what happened in Germany during World War II. Walt said that their tour guide was only 30 and his great grandparents had been children in the 40s, so it's somewhat difficult for him to relate, and will be more difficult for his children.
From here we drove up the hill to Kaiserburg, the castle that towers over the city. It is first mentioned in a document from 1050, which concerned a petition by a nobleman to change the class of his maid so he could marry her, since it was then not allowed to marry outside of your own class. Apparently the petition was granted.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Nuremberg became the center of the German Renaissance. It was an early center of humanism, science, printing and mechanical invention. There are stones in the castle grounds which date from that period.
We did a lot of walking on those cobblestones I love so much.
When we had finished at the castle, it was time to walk to town, a fairly short walk down a fairly steep hill. I am used to hanging on to Walt under such conditions and I was feeling very unsteady with just my cane, until I spied one of the Viking staff, Branislav, and asked if I could use his arm. He very nicely guided me down to where I could walk with just my cane again. Later, I had program director Henrieta take our picture so I could remember how helpful he was.
We ended our official tour at the fancy fountain in the center of the town square. I'm afraid I missed the story about this place, but Char says that n their tour guide told them that it was built with funds Germany received from the Marshall Plan. I must research this when/if I ever have an internet connection again.
Kitch (whose wife had remained on the ship, still nursing her cold) and I went off to do some exploring and photo taking. I found a McDonald's and took a not at all exciting photo (so I won't even post it) and we walked through the very busy marketplace (I thought those places had wonderful open air biergartens with guys in Tyrolean hats playing oom pah pah music. Lots of beer. No hats. Rock music. Not at all what I hoped from Germany!) On the other side of the market place was Our Lady of Nuremberg church.
It was a lovely place, devoid of all that frou frou that has been making me angry with Catholic hierarchy all week. Just a church dedicated to devotion. And I was taken with this pieta, which I found in a little room at the back of the church.
I felt her pain. Literally.
I wandered into a crepe shop nearby and discovered Ron and Barbara having a snack, so I joined them and got an iced coffee (which it turns out is coffee with ice cream in it and whipped cream on top). Then I bought a few post cards and by then it was time to get back on the bus.
The crew were passing out cups of delicious hot chocolate as we arrived back on board.
Enough to tide us over for 30 minutes until dinner.
Started off with some cheesy breadsticks with a nice dip, then segued to white asparagus veloute (another word for soup!) with ham and croutons. Then came Provencal herb crusted rack of lamb with red wine glace and goat cheese pesto. The guy at the table next to me was very surprised when I grabbed his dessert to photograph it, because I'd forgotten to photograph mine! This was Bavarian style vanilla cream with fresh strawberry sauce (at least 1/4 tsp of the sauce on mine!)
After dinner there were entertainers, 3 opera singers to sing Mozart, Puccini, Rossini, and "Sound of Music"! They were great fun and got the audience involved as well.
They received an enthusiastic standing ovation at the end, with Dirk the first one on his feet!
And now I'm going to try posting this upstairs, though Walt said he went and tried and couldn't get a connection there either, so I am going to hope that this is an internet problem and not a computer problem. Who knows when this will get posted, but at least it's ready when I can do it.