The wake-up call rang at 6:00 a.m..... and since there was only a phone in the front room of our suite, I couldn't even hit snooze - but there was a city to see! Our early breakfast was a nice spread with omelette bar, fruits, breads, meats, and a hot cereal station.
At 8:15 the bus was leaving to take all the passengers to historic Nuremberg for a driving/walking tour. It was an interesting process to leave the ship. On an ocean cruise ship, your room key is scanned as you get off and back on. On this river cruise, you go to the front desk, tell them your room number, and they hand you a boarding pass. When you return, you give the pass back and then they know you made it back on-board.
The 183 people on-board were split into 4 groups, about 45 passengers in each group. This was quite an opposite from all the private touring we did prior. Viking provides a Quietvox headphone system to listen to the guide, which helps a lot. On the negative side, you still have the big group/bathroom stop waiting problem. On the positive side, if you wander off to look around during this time, you're still able to hear the guide and will know when it's time to move on.
Our tour guide this morning was Ralph. Ralph was knowledgeable and funny, a great combination for a guide. As we rode to Nuremberg's city center, Ralph told us many stories of the Nazi influence and how the different generations view the past. For example, the older educators felt that Nazi history was to be forgotten, hidden away, swept under the rug.... they were embarrassed by it. The younger educators felt it important to teach this history in the schools.... to ensure that there was no repeat.
Our first stop was the former Nazi marching grounds. We saw the stands that Nazi sympathizers filled during rallies, and the podium that Hitler watched from. As Ralph described this period of history, I could only think of my own father's history and how I was actually standing in the same city he had been in, when he was a World War II POW.
As we continued our drive, we passed by the Court of Justice, where the Nuremberg Trials were held; and the attached prison where the Nazi's found guilty were hanged. Both the court and prison are still in use today.
After, we arrived in the medieval Aldstadt (old town), we walked through the castle wall and down the cobblestone path to the market square. This square is famous for it's Christmas market, but today was all about finding great sausage!
We arrived back at the ship just before noon, and immediately began our journey on the river. The first section is sailing through the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, which is over 100 miles long. This canal connects the Main River at Bamberg with the Danube River at Kelheim.
During this stretch, we traveled through 10 locks. Going through each lock was very cool! When the ship is in the lock, all you can see on each side is a concrete wall, just a few inches away. Then the ship rises, like in an elevator, and when it reaches the proper level, it sails to exit the lock.
Along the canal, the scenery was so beautiful! It's just an amazing, relaxing feeling to be sailing through the countryside. Life on-board is very quiet - no casinos, shops, or bingo; but there's always something to see outside!
Tonight was the Captain's Reception, where we were introduced to the ships officers, followed by a briefing on tomorrow's schedule for touring.
After four days of being in Europe, I finally feel like I've adjusted to the time change.
Tomorrow: Regensburg, Germany