First, kudos to Viking, who made our transfer from the Magni in Nürnberg to the Baldur docked on the Danube in Vilshofen (between Regensburg and Passau) seamless and painless. River levels are beyond their control, but those things that were (luggage transfers and keeping us occupied) were dealt with beautifully.
We – and our luggage – were off the Magni by 8:30 a.m., with our luggage headed by truck to Vilshofen, and all of us headed to Nürnberg by bus.
Today’s tour was quite different from the one we took in 2013, when we had an American expat as our guide. Today’s guide was a Nürnberg native, and able to lend local perspective, especially when it came to the most problematic periods in the city’s history.
The initial portion of our ride into Nürnberg was through the industrial area; our guide commented that the heavy morning fog was probably a blessing.
Next we drove through the section of the city where its Nazi past was most evident, passing by the huge rally grounds and absolutely massive architecture favoured by the Nazis in the years leading up to WWII. At one point, there was discussion about demolishing these sites, but it was decided to keep them as both a reminder and an educational opportunity.
Some buildings have been repurposed as museums or offices. It seemed somehow fitting that the former SS barracks are now the German Ministry of Immigration and Refugees, going from intolerance to welcoming.
Driving further into the city, we passed by the Hall of Justice and Courtroom 600, where the Nuremberg trials took place. Our guide suggested that it was very appropriate that the trials brought the city’s Nazi involvement full circle, to personal consequences for the Nazi leadership.
We then completely switched eras and took a tour of Nürnberg’s mediaeval walled inner city. Although heavily damaged in WWII, the Imperial castle and fortress (Kaiserburg) have been extensively restored.
We walked down the steep cobblestone hill into the centre of modern-day Nürnberg, where Germany’s largest Christmas Market was in the process of being erected around the Frauenkirche, the city’s huge cathedral. En route, a tiny Lebkuchen (Nürnberg gingerbread) shop beckoned, and I bought some dark-chocolate-glazed soft gingerbread cookies. (No photo – they’ve been eaten.)
Nürnberg is also famous as the birthplace and home of artist Albrecht Dürer. The square on which his home stands is also home to a pub named after him; just around the corner is one of several statues honouring him.
After a lunch of finger-sized Nürnberger sausages, we transferred to motor coaches to reach Vilshofen. While this detour was inconvenient for our cruise, it held a bonus for me. Vilshofen was the location of the Pleinting 85 refugee camp in which my mom, grandmother, and great grandmother lived from late 1944 until 1948, 1951, and 1954, respectively. Tomorrow we’ll drive right through Pleinting on our way to Regensburg.