Continental Divide here we come
Bamberg is our last stop on the Main River before we leave it and enter the Main-Danube Canal. Bamberg’s main claim to fame seems to be beer. There are though the usual run of old buildings, medieval churches and cobbled streets. The interesting beer here is called ‘smokey beer’, our guide pointed out that it was not to be confused with ‘smokey bear’. The group found this most amusing. Anyway, Allthego and some of our fellow cruisers gave this beer a go in the establishment where it was created many years ago. It is a dark, red beer and indeed had a smokeyness to its taste, it’s also supposed to have an aftertaste of bacon. It is called ‘Rauchbier’. Not Allthego’s cup of tea. Bamberg also had a magnificent rose garden overlooking the town.
After leaving Bamberg we joined the Canal. This was built between 1960 and 1962 and links the Rhine with the Danube. Ships can thus sail the 3,540 km from the North Sea through to the Black Sea. There are 16 locks. They are enormous, 625 feet long, 40 feet wide and 3 are 81 feet deep (about 6 times deeper than those on the Canal du Midi, we didn’t even offer to toss ropes in these ones).
Our next stop was in Nuremberg, 90% destroyed in WW2 and now substantially rebuilt with many ‘look alike’ restorations. The former Nazi presence is still seen at the Parade Grounds where Hitler held his ‘conventions’ in the 1930s and we also drove past the Courtrooms where the Nuremberg trials were held after WW2. Nuremberg is famous for its Ginger bread and toy manufacturing. But it also strongly promotes ‘3 sausages in a bun with mustard’ , the answer to Big Mac’s. These are quite tasty and we had one each as a light snack.
Moving along the Canal in the early evening we passed through the 3 locks that mark the high point of the Canal and where it crosses the Continental Divide of Europe, a somewhat understated concrete wall beside the Canal.
The Canal section ends after 171 km of cruising at Kelheim. It is a really major piece of German engineering that had been in the planning and concept stage since the 1920s. The Canal joins the Danube River near Regensburg and we have a great afternoon here. It is the time of the Regensberg Burgerfest and the streets are filled with locals. There are street stalls of all sorts of food and drinks. Numerous entertainment band stands were tucked away in courtyards providing German folk singing and also popular music. Including some ‘Von Trapp family singers’ look a likes. All ages were out and about enjoying the sunshine between the intermittent rain showers.
That evening we set sail for Passau and on the way pass by ‘Walhalla’ (also referred to as ‘Valhalla’) which is the Germanic paradise where the gods awaited the mightiest of men. It was modeled on the Parthenon in Athens and was built in the 1830s by King Ludwig 1; after he visited Greece and thought it was a good idea to have one of these in the German forest overlooking the Danube. It is said to be full of busts and monuments of ‘none of the best known Germans’, it was a bit of a white elephant it seems.
Overnight we will reach Passau and then head off for the day on a train trip, leaving Germany and heading for Salzburg in Austria.