Sunday June 9, 2013

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These trips (I’ve often explained) are not holidays – they’re learning experiences, adult education, like being in a travelling university. And there’s so much to take in, it’s not just your LEGS that feel tired at the end of a busy day: it’s also your BRAIN!

I mean, for starters there’s geography: getting your head around the countries, rivers, cities and landmarks of the places we visit. Then there’s history – in this case, masses of it, with glimpses back beyond the Roman Empire … a major focus on the Middle Ages (with 600-900-year-old castles and walled towns littering the landscape) … and frequent references to World War 2 (Hitler, the Nazis, Allied bombing raids, etc). And there’s art, architecture and religion everywhere you look – especially in the countless cathedrals that Europe’s founders were addicted to building.

Take the ‘bergs’ and ‘burgs’ we’ve been visiting. Back a few centuries, it seems, every German town worth its salt was given a name that ended with one or the other – and the country is littered with them. A ‘berg’ (in case you’re wondering) is a town on a hill. A ‘burg’ (on the other hand) is a town with a castle.

Yesterday, for example, after our non-weight-watchers hearty breakfast aboard the stationary Amadeus Classic, we drove through the countryside in search of Nuremberg ­– the big city (second largest in Bavaria) where Hitler held his huge Nazi Party rallies (from 1933 until 1938) … and where the War Crimes Tribunal sat in 1946. We didn’t have time for the WW2 sites – but we did get to clamber around the massive, 900-year-old ramparts and the storybook Imperial Castle that looms over the old walled town.

Then, in the afternoon, we checked out the lovely old city of Wurzburg – guarded by the hilltop Fortress Marienberg, and famous for its Residenz, the vast Baroque palace built for the prince-bishops in the early 1700s. We climbed the great marble staircase … got all stiff-necked ogling the stunning ceiling frescoes by the Venetian master, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo … and traipsed through the gloriously decorated rooms (no photos allowed inside, bummer).

This morning we rode endless German autobahns to the town of Kelheim, then embarked on a pleasant small-boat trip through the lovely Danube Gorge to Weltenburg Abbey – founded by Irish or Scottish monks in about 620 AD. We lunched hugely on German dumplings and the famous dark beer that’s made here in the oldest monastery brewery in the world. Then we enjoyed a quick look-see inside the mind-bogglingly ornate chapel – which features a giant sculpture of this region’s patron saint, St George, slaying the dragon.

Finally, this afternoon, we weary-footed it across one of Europe’s oldest stone bridges (which has spanned the Danube since the 12th century, and was the starting point for the 2nd and 3rd Crusades). Then we did some more traipsing – this time down narrow lanes in magnificent Regensburg, one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, inspecting, en route, its impressive gothic cathedral and architectural highlights.

Tonight, regrettably, we’re in a Regensburg hotel. I say ‘regrettably’ – not because the hotel’s not nice, but because, thanks to ongoing fallout from the awful floods that have swept Central Europe, our river-cruise has turned into a coach-tour. But that’s nobody’s fault … we’re still seeing heaps … the weather has, ironically, been fantastic (it was actually stinkin’ hot today, and we were all hunting for shade) … and our Mad Midlife Kiwis are still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

TOMORROW: We’ve got a long four-hour drive, crossing the border into Austria and visiting the magnificent Benedictine abbey of Melk. Each kilometre will bring us closer to Austria’s gorgeous capital: musical, historical Vienna! So watch this space …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this page, and add your ‘COMMENTS’! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief.

This entry was posted in 2013 Danube & Rhine by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

10 thoughts on “MEDIEVAL BERGS & BURGS

  1. (Helen Wylie) Hi Mum, sounds like you have been kept busy even though you are not on the boat. Hoping you enjoy Austria, I really liked Salzberg when I was there. All fine here. Zach has his cross country tomorrow, once around the duck pond at Donovan Park. Huey, Monty and Grayson are all good. Take care, have fun!

  2. Hi Coons … Thought you looked a million dollars in the pix Robby .. Very young a spritely .. I wonder if the 4 hour trip tomorrow will put you to sleep … always does it for me.. ha ha. We are all good .. fab day today .. hot hot sun. Love ya heaps .. The Kerks

  3. Greetings everyone–.Gay & Pattie, Alison & Alan, John & Robyn– think that ‘s all we recognise from other trips. It’s so nice to see familiar places in sunshine– a very different cruise to 2010. Trust the rest of the trip does’t turn up more water problems–you might need more rubber duckies. Blessings David & Marilyn

  4. To Patty Osborne. Hi Patty and Gaye. Sounds as though you are having a lovely time even though now you are “bus touring” Probuse went very well. The Girls all say Hello. Very wet here Regards from Heather.

  5. Hi Sheryl,
    It sound as though you are doing a lot of walking it’s a good job you’re fit , hope you are taking lots of photos and enjoying yourself.
    Cheers Terry and Dave

  6. Hi travelers. Hello Rosalie and Derek. Family glad not to see Rosalies name in print. Yet. No arrests and not causing any delays. Family all well and your house is still standing. Slowly eating through pantry and freezer. Are gumboots a necessity. Warehouse sale on this week.
    Regards M,J,S

  7. For Gay Hardie – Hi Gay & Patti, sounds like you are still having a great time and seeing your sunny smiles is encouraging. The Cooney’s are doing a fab job giving us pics and very funny and interesting updates! Enjoy the romantic beauty of Vienna! Love, blessings Mel

  8. Hi Margaret,(Vincent),
    Glad to hear that you are one the move and hope you have coped with all that walking OK. The updates from John have been really great and most appreciated. It sounds as though you have seen some really interesting places in lieu of cruising.Weather in PN has been mild for June. I am off to the Opera on Sunday and will miss your company.Jenny

  9. to Cheryl Thompson, Craig and Pauline are reading always interested in what you guys are up too!!! sounds like you are having fun even thou its flooding! Looking forward to hearing all about it! are you wearing your name tag Cherly with a C

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