We started with a tour of Nazi Nuremberg: the Große Straße (the Great Road-a parade road composed of white and black granite blocks flanked by four tiers of granite steps for spectator seating), the Zeppelinfeld (arena and grandstand) and the Kongresshalle (the Nazi’s unfinished Colsseum).
marching in tandem on the Große Straße, their boots ringing loudly on the granite blocks; the small grandstand in the Zeppelinfeld used by Hitler to address crowds at sundown when the setting sun would illuminate his presence; the awe-inspiring “Lichtdom” (Cathedral of Light) at the Zeppelinfeld…..all acts meant to impress and dazzle…..interesting insights to a horrible regime. Our young guide also informed us that in Germany, it’s illegal to raise your arm and say “Heil Hitler” and that, as part of their education, all schoolchildren must visit a concentration camp or other Nazi relic.
In front of the market square is Schöner Brunnen (the Beautiful Fountain) with a brass ring in the grating surrounding the fountain that, according to legend, makes wishes come true if turned three times….our guide swore that’s how she passed her college finals. Craig made a wish…..I fervently hope his wish was for my poor ol’ feet to get back to normal.
Nearby was a life-sized pyramid carousel….no doubt made with wood from the nearby Black Forest.
A hot lunch was waiting for us on the boat….pumpkin soup, pork braised in beer, cabbage and potato dumplings. At lunch, we were lucky enough to meet two couples who became our meal companions for the duration of the trip…..Judy & Bob from Kalamazoo and Carlos & Carlene from Washington DC…..many wonderful conversations and warm memories were shared with these charming, delightful couples.
During lunch, our boat pulled away from our dock on the Main-Danube Canal and headed toward the first lock of the trip, the Eibach. After lunch, we adjourned to the lounge…..its panoramic windows were perfect for watching the locking process……but soon we, along with other passengers, were wondering why we had stopped moving toward the lock and were now moving to the canal’s bank. Our questsion was soon answered…..due to the icy conditions, a ship was “stuck” in the lock. While we waited, Elena, the ship’s tour director, gave us an overview of the Main-Danube Canal.
Work on the 106 mile canal linking the Main River to the Danube in began in 1962. It took 30 years and 16 locks to connect the Black Sea to the North Sea. This canal was begun and finished in our lifetimes but neither Craig nor I knew anything about it. Once again, we wondered if we were sleeping through class or if this engineering feat wasn’t deemed important enough to include in our curriculum.
We had to wait four hours before we saw our first lock in action. As the sun was setting, there was a noticeable movement in the canal’s water…..a rush of water out of the lock announced that the boat in the lock was finally free. After a large commercial barge passed by, the Amadeus Royal slipped into the Eibach lock…..we were finally underway.
After dinner, we waited in the lounge, watching the snow falling outside…..swiftly covering the windows. As we neared the Continental Divide, a group of brave souls waited on the outside deck hoping to capture the moment. As we drifted by a barely visible monument, we all agreed that it was an exercise in futility.
We adjourned to our cabin but couldn’t sleep…..the curtains were open and the moon was shining brightly, illuminating the snowy-white countryside…..we snuggled in our warm bed as we silently glided past fields and forests, towns and villages…..so tranquil and serene in their winter blanket of snow. These pastoral scenes were occasionally interupted the stark realism of the locks we were traversing through…..with their metal bars and cement walls, it felt like we were on a military base in a 1950’s sci-fi movie just waiting for a monster of some sort to break through the snow and ice in its attempt to destroy the world.
We didn’t get much sleep that night.