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25 July 2012

Today was the last of our "optional excursions," trips for which we paid extra.  It's literally all downhill from here, 5 more days and then home.  In one way it doesn't seem possible the trip is so close to ending, in another, I'm getting anxious to leave the ship and fly home again.  When I start taking pictures of dogs instead of buildings, that tells you something.

This is a real German dog...a German Shorthair Pointer.  Beautiful boy.  We made friends.

The day started as we pulled into Wurzburg.

As usual, the reception area was filled with people waiting to turn in their key card in exchange for a boarding pass so they could leave the ship and hop on one of the 5 waiting buses.

Everyone went on the first part of the tour, a visit to the Wurzburg Residenz, built in the early 1800s as the home of the "prince-bishops," bishops elected by priests (not appointed by the pope) who ruled this area...if I had internet access, I'd go into greater detail, but alas no.  The building is huge (and apparently Orlando Bloom is shown on the balcony here in The Three Musketeers.)

It is also a HUGE disappointment for anybody with a camera, because photos are not allowed to be taken inside.  That's understandable because they have to support the upkeep of the building and are doing a landoffice business selling postcards and books. I bought lots and when I get home will scan them to add to my Flickr file. Suffice to say this place is over the top (how often have I said that about some place we were visiting).  I've decided I like the rococo (sp?) style better than baroque because the latter is heavier and while rococo is highly ornate, it has a lightness and sense of humor about it that I like. 

When we left the tour, I took a couple of pictures on the grounds, including this one of a guy with an early version of an iPad.

Then we left on our optional tour, an ~40 miles drive out into the country to the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (on the river Tauber), a quaint, picturesque town that looked like it should have Disney characters marching around and cartoon birds flying overhead.

We stopped first at Gastof Glocke, a restaurant where we were having lunch.  Not surprisingly, it was more "tubed meat," home made Bratwurst. along with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.

In truth, I was disappointed in the braturst, which seemed dry to me.  And the "local mustard" could have come from a jar of Heinz.  The potatoes were actually the best part.  But we all had a good time there anyway.

Then we began the walking tour.  This is feeling like a Lamplighters tour!  First we had the guide in Nuremberg who reminded me so much of Lamplighters co-founder Ann MacNab and today we had a tour guide (whose name I never did get) who looks very much like soprano Clair Kelm.

There was construction going on in parts of the town, and it seemed as if everyone was getting into the act.

We also passed by the Torture Museum and, though we didn't tour it, we did appreciate this medieval version of water boarding (which I called "water caging").  Transgressors would be locked up in this cage and dunked into the water until they confessed...sometimes they forgot to bring them back up again.

We walked to the market square where there was, the guide apologized, the most boring clock in all of Germany.

She was right.  It depicts the result of a would-be duel between two guys, which was solved instead by the drinking of some beer, so the doors open, the guy on the right lifts a glass of beer, drinks from it and the doors close again.

We had free time and did some wandering, buying post cards, visiting shops, listening to a street performer play the violin, and having an ice cream cone.

I resisted the temptation to check the price on this teddy bear we saw in a doorway.

The walk back to the bus seemed so much longer than the walk to the market place, mostly because it was without making stops to discuss an historic this or that. I was really lagging behind and was depressed to see that even Ron and Barbara were ahead of me.

Ron is about to turn 90 (but I suspect they didn't do the whole walking tour).  The guide assured me I was NOT the last to return to the bus, but I was pretty darn near close.

When we went up to the lounge for cocktail hour, the place was like a sauna, so it was nice to have the cold beer Walt bought in Bamberg yesterday.  This is a smoked beer and not entirely unpleasant.  It reminded me of standing around the campfire at "Eric's property" and drinking beer.

Dinner was, as usual, delicious

There was melon and prociutto, crab cake for a starter, then a black cod coated with a macadamia crust (which was to die for), and finally a rather unusual tiramisu, but delicious nonetheless.

After dinner we had a demonstration given by a glass blower from the town we are visiting tomorrow (the name of which escapes me and, as I am sitting in a darkened room, I can't find the paper that has it written on it!).  He was very entertaining and had some lovely things on display, as well as getting a few screams out of some in the audience with his fire displays!



After we hiked to the top of the town, this was the view we had.


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