I mentioned before that the size of these river boats is very much dictated by the locks. There are 68 locks between Budapest and Amsterdam. Going from Budapest, the locks raise the boat. The lowest rise is 8.4 metres, but in the Main-Danube canal three of the locks EACH take the ship down 27.4m. That happens after we cross over the European watershed, where the rivers flow into the Atlantic instead of the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. The smallest locks on the canal are 12m wide and 144m long. The Amavenita is 11.4m wide and 135m long, which is a pretty cosy fit. The vessel has 3 decks, with a sundeck and the wheelhouse. All the fittings on the top deck – including the wheelhouse – can be lowered to allow the ship to slide under the low bridges.
The history of the Main-Danube canal is fascinating. Cherie brought a guest speaker on board to tell us all about it. (Guests come and go at locks – we had entertainment every evening, but I haven’t said much about it because it’s not my thing.) Anyway, history shows that the first person to think it might be a good idea to join the Main and the Danube was – Charlemagne back in the ninth century! It took another thousand years before the project was finally finished and although commercial traffic hasn’t been boosted all that much, riverboat cruising has. Which I think has rescued many of the charming little villages we visited. Here’s a series of pictures showing the Amavenita going through the Eibach lock – one of high ones.
The canal also crosses over roads
And here’s a look at one of the really low bridges. Captain Zoltan is in the lowered wheelhouse, with his head sticking out of a hole in the roof. Look under the central bridge support.
Nuremberg is famous these days as the starting point for the Nazis. The bus tour took us to a couple of the only surviving arenas. We were told it would have cost too much to demolish them, so they remain, mouldering like ancient temples in an urban jungle. Pity the allied bombers didn’t finish them off as they did to so much of the city. You can see these places aren’t maintained. The Germans are ashamed of them and don’t want them to become Meccas for the neo-Nazis.
Zeppelin fields where the Nazi party conducted some of their largest displays used to have columns in the Greek or Roman style but they were removed so there was no vestige of beauty left. Hitler used to appear on that platform in the middle. If you’d like to see what it looked like in the thirties, look here.
One fascinating story the guide told us was that after Rudolf Hess, the loony Nazi who flew to Scotland, finally died in Spandau prison in the 1990’s, his body was buried in his home village. But it became a rallying point for the neo-Nazis since everybody else’s body was burned and the ashes scattered. So they dug him up and threw his remains into the Atlantic.
We also drove past the courthouse where the Nuremberg trials were conducted, a building in the distance. Nazi Germany was my field of study at university. A lot of things came flooding back. I just hope we haven’t forgotten all the lessons of the past.
Nuremberg’s history goes back much, much further than the 1920’s. The last bus stop was a very brief visit to the castle. The gates close at 4pm and the staff quite literally shooed us out of there. “Ve are closink at 4. Raus! Raus!”
Most of Nuremberg was flattened during the war. As with so many of these old cities, the Germans decided to rebuild. Today Nuremberg has a medieval centre just like the pre-war one. You have to admire them for that. The market stalls in the town square were a fascinating kaleidoscope of food and the shops were busy everywhere.
Hey ho. Back to the boat. Next stop is Bamberg.