June 27, 2015 – Bamberg, Germany

This morning we have a talk by the Captain and hotel manager about life on board and technical aspects of the boat. The Captain who is Slovakian is a little difficult to understand since he doesn’t speak English too well. This is followed with a presentation about the Main-Danube Canal. I skip the canal talk so I can try to get my blog up to date. With most of the people listening to the lecture, I have better speeds on the internet. Unfortunately it turns out that the internet will not be working until Tuesday.

Around 1 PM we pull into Bamberg, a medieval town that was only lightly damaged during the war. Disembarking, we are met by our guide. We start at a statue called the gabel moo. It is actually a statue of Neptune but the people of old Bamberg, not knowing who Neptune is, renamed him “man with a pitchfork.” He figures prominently in our tour today since he is the starting and ending point.

Gabel moo
Gabel moo

Since streets did not have names in medieval times, often shops or homeowners put some sort of painted sign or sculpture on their buildings so people could find them. For instance, they might say to a friend, “meet me at the unicorn house.”

Unicorn house
Unicorn house

Interesting story about the old city which is built on the river and must be reached by bridge, it seems that the townspeople wanted more say in the government and wanted to construct a civic building for meeting. The prince-bishop said okay, but you can’t build it on any land I own. The prince-bishop owned all the land in the area. So the wily townspeople built their city hall by sinking pilings into the river and constructing the town hall in the middle of the river.

Old town hall
Old town hall
View of Bamberg's Little Venice from the bridge
View of Bamberg’s Little Venice from the bridge

The tour continues down cute streets bedecked with flowers. We stop outside a tavern which sells the special local beer, Rauchbier. The Rauchbier has been smoked! People say it tastes like liquid bacon. John and I do not partake.

Typical Bamberg street
Typical Bamberg street
Sign for the tavern selling Rauchbier
Sign for the tavern selling Rauchbier

Lastly on our tour is the Bamburg Cathedral, built in the late Romanesque fashion with some early Gothic pieces. The tour does not go inside and instead we visit the Rose Garden where the tour ends.

Bamberg Cathedral
Bamberg Cathedral
Rose from the garden
Rose from the garden

John and I visit the Cathedral after the tour is over. After two Cathedrals which burnt down between 1012 and 1185, the current cathedral was built and consecrated in 1237. Inside, the best known piece of art is the statue of the Bamberg Horseman. No one is quite sure who he is. There are also lots of statues of saints and a tomb to the sainted imperial couple, King Heinrich II and his consort Cunigunde. The tomb is carved by mastercarver Tilman Riemenschneider.

Bamberg Horseman
Bamberg Horseman
Statue of a cephalophore saint, maybe St. Denis? (a cephalophore is a being whose head has been chopped off but he walks around carrying it)
Statue of a cephalophore saint, maybe St. Denis?
(a cephalophore is a being whose head has been chopped off but he walks around carrying it)
Cunigunde walking over hot plow blades to prove she did not cheat on Heinrich II
Cunigunde walking over hot plow blades to prove she did not cheat on Heinrich II

After all this walking, John and I need a place to rest and have a snack. We choose a table in an outdoor cafe and enjoy a beer and pretzels. It is fun to watch the crowds ebb and flow. As we walk back to the Gabel Moo the sky darkens. Then there is pitchforked bolt of lightning followed quickly by thunder. Perhaps Gabel Moo is throwing lightning with his pitchfork to banish the hordes of tourists from the riverboats from his town. We stop standing under his tree and run into a doorway. It starts to rain really hard, really, really hard. Since we can’t leave until 6 PM our little group huddles in various doorways. At 6 our program manager appears and we tear for the buses. Everyone is pretty wet but in good spirits.

John, beer, and pretzels
John, beer, and pretzels

Our time in town has lasted about 5 hours and we are happy to reboard the ship to change into dry clothes and have dinner.

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