Sunday, January 9, 2011


When we first discussed the idea of taking a trip through Germany and Austria for the purpose of visiting as many Christmas markets as possible, I couldn't help but wonder if I might not become tired of non-stop shopping opportunities. As we meandered from town to town, even though the markets displayed many similarities, we came to understand each had its own personality and "feel".  Regensberg presented us with a quiet and laid back market scene.  Like many of the towns we visited, there were actually several markets scattered in a variety of platz or squares, so we never knew what we would find just down the street or around the corner.

Temperatures remained in the -6C to -2C range for the entire time we were on our cruise, and we spent the trip layered and bundled in our efforts to stay warm.  That time we spent at home looking for the right combination of base layers, sweaters, vests, and jackets paid off when the snow and sleet followed us through every town and marketplace.  At first we worried we might appear strange in our bulky, insulated attire.  As we learned how to put ourselves together in the most effective way, we decided it was more important to be comfortable than fashionable.

As dusk arrived and we started back across the bridge which had taken us into old town Regensberg, we discovered yet another market nestled against the river.  Sadly, we didn't have time to explore, an experience we had time and again during our trip.  An in-depth exploration would have to wait for our next visit to Germany, an event Mike and I were already starting to discuss. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


One of the buildings where post-war trials of Nazis were held.
One of the places we had looked forward to visiting while on our trip was the city of Nurnberg.  Having one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Germany, and being awash in historical tidbits, this city was capable of keeping both my Lovely Bride and I entertained. Our travel plans continued to change unpredictably, so our time there was less than we wanted.  Riding buses from our remote moorings allowed us to see much more of the snow-covered countryside while minimizing shopping and touring time in the cities.  

Nazi Documentation Center. 
Patterned after Roman Coliseum.
Arriving in Nurnberg, we were given a tour of some of the historic areas.  The Zeppelinfeld - where the massive annual Nazi rallies were held as Hitler rose to power in post-Great War Germany and now a venue for concerts and races.  The Nazi Documentation Center was begun to serve as a great indoor hall designed to look like the coliseum in Rome, but trebled in size.  It was never finished, and is now a museum documenting all the Nazis did before and during the war, in addition to housing the Nurnberger Symphony.  As we drew closer to the historic center of the original walled city, we passed by the large complex of courthouses and prisons where judgment was passed on many of those on the losing side.

Nurnberg Christkindl Markt
Die Frauenkirche und ChristKindl Markt
After these sobering reminders of the not too distant past, we fortunately found ourselves in a much more festive setting.  We were dropped off near the Nurnberg Christkindlmarkt, and quickly set to exploring the large downtown square.  The long rows of stalls were covered with snow, with more coming down in occasional flurries, so staying warm was a priority.  The combination of local Nurnberger bratwursts and hot gluhwein did a great job of warming chilly tourists inside and out.  I kept wondering what all this hearty fare was doing to my waistline, but wasn't concerned enough to consider abstaining.

Die Nurnberg Christkindl
One thing the Nurnberg Christkindlmarkt is known for is the selection every two years of a new Christkindl, or Christ Child.  This young lady opens the market each year and spends most of her time visiting market stalls and spreading good cheer to all.  She goes throughout the market, offering blessings, as well as photo ops.  She is a goodwill ambassador, even after her tenure is completed.

The Gluhwein Glow!!
Too soon, it was time to rendezvous with our guide for the return to the MS River Concerto.  After settling into our seats on the bus, we were told of the next change in our plans...because the snow was continuing to fall and the river level was still rising, we were going to move downriver to the city of Passau.  A rather tense two hour ride back to the ship through even heavier snow, followed by another walk along the snow and ice covered path, made us all glad we would be moving early the next morning.