After Rüdesheim our ship left the Rhine to join the River Main on its way upstream towards the Main-Danube canal. The final three days of our Emerald Waterways river cruise became a bit of a berg fest: two bergs and a burg for the aptly named Burgesses to discover.
When we sailed through Frankfurt Dougie and I were enjoying a movie night: the swimming pool is cleverly covered over in the evening, becoming a stylish cinema with comfy chairs and buckets of popcorn. I knew of the city’s nickname, Mainhattan, but had no idea how astonishing Frankfurt would be at night. We left Helen Mirren and The Hundred Foot Journey for a few moments while we took in the sparkling cityscape. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss this sight and made a note to put a daytime trip to Frankfurt on our ever-extending ‘places we must visit’ list.
The following day we docked at Miltenberg and while most people joined the complimentary guided tour of the town and, in particular, Haupstrasse, with its numerous beautiful half-timbered houses, we decided to go off piste and climb up to Miltenberg Castle. Fabulous views of the town could be seen from this vantage point though I have to admit that, in the extreme heat of the day, it was the ice-cold glass of local Franconian Faust beer in the castle grounds which was the defining moment.
|Miltenberg: view from within castle walls, Bridge Gate, view into castle gardens|
A leisurely saunter back through the town to spot some of the significant buildings including Gasthaus zum Riesen (Giant Inn) said to be one of Germany’s oldest taverns. There was a local festival in full swing in one part of the town and it was great to see other members of our ship throwing themselves into the party spirit, especially an elderly but very lively Australian lady who was invited on stage by the children’s entertainer to demonstrate her impersonation of a kangaroo. This went down a storm with the locals and the rest of the Emerald Star passengers.
|More views of Miltenberg|
Another day, another burg; this time Würzburg, the ‘pearl of the Romantic Road’. We stuck with the guided tour here as it took us inside the ornate palace of the Prince-Bishops’ Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was quite magnificent. The entrance staircase and the White Hall were impressive, with Antonio Bossi’s intricate stucco work catching my eye in particular. Our guide, Andrew, added many excellent snippets of information, to make it even more appealing. We spent some time on our own in the town before rejoining our ship and catching up with other passengers who had chosen to take a day tour of Rothenburg.
|Wurzburg Residence (l and r) with Marienberg Fortress (centre)|
Although the final stop on our week’s cruise was Nuremberg, it was the town of Bamberg where we spent our last full day of sightseeing. Bamberg was a joy, looking splendid with its window-boxes full of early summer blooms. Built on seven hills, the Old City is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site and I’m not surprised as it was, architecturally, so utterly beautiful. The Old City Hall, constructed on a bridge over the River Regnitz, was just calling out to be photographed, together with the buildings and gardens in the Cathedral Quarter, revealing the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. Everywhere we looked in Bamberg there was something to admire and yet it was an area called Little Venice, which I found to be very special. Former fishermen’s houses lining the bank of the river, they looked gorgeous when viewed from the opposite bank but even delightful when we discovered the lane behind the properties – a hidden gem worthy of the term.
|Little Venice in Bamberg|
Too soon our week’s cruise was over for us. We were very sad to be leaving, especially when the majority of passengers were staying on another week to enjoy the delights of Vienna and Budapest. But we were taking home some superb memories of vibrant cities like Amsterdam and Cologne, historical castles on the Rhine Gorge and the exquisite beauty of the towns and cities on the River Main. And the whole experience had been effortless, gently sailing between stops, enjoying excellent food, drink and very entertaining company.
River cruising – I think I’m hooked.