Today our ship takes the high road. We’ll even cruise a bridge over the Autobahn. I guess I’m not the only one who was ignorant about the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal (RMD) because onboard lecture about it was packed. The first false start on a connection between the North Sea and Atlantic to the Black sea was launched by my great (to some immense power) uncle Charlemagne in the 700s. The efforts that followed were only semi-successful until the RMD Canal opened in 1992. The big hang-up was crossing the continental divide, which the RMD Canal manages with 16 locks to float ships up the mountain and sink them again.
When the canal was built, nay-sayers swore that cruisers would never tolerate so many locking delays. Boy did they get that wrong. Stopping to lock through while we eat, sleep, and party is more interesting than annoying. We do lose internet when we are in the bottom of a lock, and sometimes we get jolted awake when our driver misjudges the sliver of clearance between ship and wall, but, oh well.
Without locks I suppose we’d have had more than three hours in Bamberg, and we could have used it. Bamberg’s seven hills are each crested with an elaborate church or castle. Even better is the beautiful Old Town Hall built on a bridge—possibly because a prince-bishop refused to allocate land for it. A grand arch under the building’s clock tower allows walkers to cross the bridge. Murals on each side add even more distinction. Notice, just below the eaves in the middle of the building, is a 3-D effect cherub sculpture cavorting with his buddies.
Another Bamberg claim to fame is smoked beer which our cruise director said tasted like an ashtray or a liquid hotdog, so I wasn’t sad to skip the tasting. I was sad that we still didn’t have time to walk to the Abbey. That lasted for all of 15 seconds before I took another look at the bridge and Bamberg’s wonderful old streets, and the sadness slid away like rain off a cobblestone.