We hear a lot about prince-bishops in this area because they used their civic and church
powers to amass fortunes and then build mementos to their greatness. The Wurzburg Residence is one of those monuments and way too opulent for me. Maybe there were some complaints at the time too because one of the palace planners confessed to being possessed by a Bauwurm–a building bug. Room after room of in-your-face excess had me queasy. I kept wondering how many children went hungry to pay for all that laborious gold leaf. The last room we toured showed pictures of the ruin of that building after World War II and the hero who ordered it rebuilt. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site, so I suppose I’m talking sacrilege, but I
think I’d have voted to sell the art and treasures to feed the starving people instead of rebuilding at a cost of twenty million euros.
The garden was more inviting though its scale and symmetry dwarf the flowers to muted specks and stiffen the life out of the plantings. Our exploration there was brief because we were scheduled for a wine tasting in the Residence cellar. Naturally it was huge, hung with chandeliers, and packed with beautifully carved casks. We sat at linen-draped tables where Ronald Reagan had once sampled the wares—just hours before his “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall!” speech.
It’s a tough call, but the medieval village we visited that afternoon, may be my favorite of
our stops in Germany. Built in hilly wooded country, Rothenburg is surrounded by a walkable stone wall with lookout towers that called to my inner child. Inside the winding cobblestone streets and clock tower quaintness are preserved to fairytale perfection. I could have spent several days there soaking up the atmosphere, but we hardly had time to turn around before it was time to get back to the ship. Several
bakeries displayed unusual ball-shaped treats called “schneeballs” that I would have loved to try if only wheat didn’t give me rashes. Someone told me later that the schneeballs were nothing special, which is too bad for the people who try them and are disappointed, but it made me feel better.