After we left Bamburg, we entered the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. After Nuremberg, we stopped near Kelheim. The ship would continue on the canal to the Danube at Regensburg, but we took buses into Kelheim where we boarded a ferry to take us through the narrow gorge of the upper Danube to Weltenburg.
Ferries have taken tourists along this route since 1925, and many of the rocks have been given fanciful names. In one spot there is an area where a meteor left a one hundred and fifty meter wide crater. But there was a drizzling rain which made it uncomfortable to stay outside very long, and it was difficult to follow the commentary from inside.
At the narrowest and deepest part of the gorge, it was only eighty meters wide. One could see some of the 65 iron rings put in the wall by boatmen to help them pull themselves along in the days before boats had engines.
We were all overwhelmed when we entered the abbey church built between 1716 and 1751. The Reformation had occurred and Protestants emphasized simplicity in their churches. Then in the 18th century, the Counterreformation reacted with baroque. We had been in baroque churches before, but none as elaborate as this one dedicated to St. George.
Every inch is elaborately decorated. But even more intriguing was the placement of the windows. They are all recessed from view. As a result, the lighting in the church is indirect, soft and different from any other church we have visited.
The complex also houses the oldest monastery brewery in the world. We were treated to pretzels and its famous dark brew just as visitors have had for nearly a thousand years. Beer, like so many things, is a matter of individual taste. Later when I had some light beer from the Kloster Weltenburg, I didn’t care for it. But I thought the dark was one of the best I have ever drunk.
We joined the ship in Regensburg. Regnen is the German word for rain. They could have renamed it “Regnensburg” the day we were there. Alie, riding in her chair to save her feet for later in the trip, was soon soaked. We saw what was purported to be the oldest bridge in Germany, built between 1135 and 1146. Crusaders used it on their way to the Holy Land. But soon we abandoned our walking tour for a short visit the Cathedral (dry inside) before returning to the ship. Later, we took a quick walk into the town again.
Like Schweinfurt, Regensburg was a manufacturing center home to a Messerschmitt factory and an oil refinery. It was also bombed but not as badly damaged. Cold and wet, I was not a happy camper. It seemed to me reconstruction and modernization had created a mishmash of modern and old with no consistency or plan. It was early, but all was quiet. It didn’t seem like a fun place for the young U.S. servicemen we passed on the street.
Perhaps someday we will give it another chance under the sun.