Interestingly enough on the cruise we have not made friends with the Aussie contingent but rather 2 Canadian couples and others from Florida and California with whom we share breakfasts or sumptuous dinners.
After Wurzburg and Wertheim (largest city of Franconia whose origins date back to 1000 BC) our next scheduled stop was the city of Heidelberg. We docked at Miltemberg for a full day excursion to Heidelberg via a bus trip, to visit the castle and old town. The ship then continued on to Aschaffenburg which we rejoined from Heidelberg via the Autobahn. It costs 3,000 Euro for a drivers license in Germany and drivers are usually well behaved with limits of 80Kpm for Lorries, 100 kph for our Bus and cars wiz past unrestricted on the autobahns up to 240 kph.
Heidelberg is fondly remembered for Sigmund Romberg's 'The Student Prince' but Anne's humming of the tune ' When its Summer time in Heidelberg' was at odds with pouring rain and lush green scenery. Spring is very late coming to Germany this year after an uncharacteristically long severe winter according to the locals. We completed our tour of the castle perched high above the city (312 steps for those keen on walking) which included an interesting visit to a nearby pharmacy museum. The museum provided a comprehensive display of medieval applications based upon the premise of the 4 humours; body, blood, phlegm and black and yellow bile. Depending whether or not you were in balance and having regard to the stars and seasons dictated the treatment to add or detract in such a way to restore equilibrium.
After returning to our boat the weather improved as we left the narrow Main river to enter the busy Rhine and our next port of Rudesheim whose 10.000 inhabitants receive 3,000, 000 visitors each year. We enjoyed a cable car ride up to Niederwald recreational area for a view over the sloping vineyards onto the city located on the opposite bank and land which extends on for a further 200 Km annexed to Germany following the defeat of the French. The impressive Monument erected on the site celebrating German unification in 1871 stands proudly 114 feet tall.
Cruising the Rhine in the afternoon we passed by 56 castles and the dangerously shallow and narrow section known as Lore - Ley which prompted this poem by famous German poet Heinrich Heine. Heinrich Heine
I know not what it should imply, that I am so forlorn;
A tale from times so long gone by
From my thoughts will not be torn.
The air is cool and it darkens,
And the Rhine does calmly flow;
The peak of the mountain sparkles In the sinking sun's last glow.
The most beautiful maiden so alights,
But wondrously up there.
It blazes, her golden bow, She combs her golden hair.
She combs it with golden comb
And thereby sings a song;
A seeming wonder-tome
With a melody violent-strong.
The seaman in his tiny yacht
It grasps with wilding woe,
He looks not at the rock-reefs as he ought,
He looks only up from below.
I believe the swells do devour,
In the end, both skipper and skiff;
Smitten, in his final hour, By the Lore-Ley with her riff.
-- translated Robert Clarke, 2001