Christmas Day squib

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Rhine riverside at Mainz showing coats of arms of the town’s nobility

Given yesterday’s news about the low bridge we couldn’t pass, nobody was surprised to learn we were still in Frankfurt. Only instead of being moored near the city centre, the Scenic Jasper had moved to Frankfurt’s industrial harbour. There were good reasons. It would be easier to service the ship for fresh water, sewage, food, laundry – and getting coaches in and out. The view wasn’t wonderful, though. We had a close-up view of the quayside stone wall outside our cabin and the other side of the ship looked out over cranes and equipment to shift containers – today, of course, being Christmas Day, silent.

An empty city

Alex arranged buses for people wanting to go to the walled city of Rothenburg, and those visiting Wurzburg, both full day excursions involving long road journeys. For those wanting a shorter trip, he arranged a visit to the nearby towns of Mainz and Wiesbaden. We knew everything would be closed except restaurants and pubs but it was a (short) day out, visiting places we hadn’t been to before.

Mainz Theatre

Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the first printing press, was born in Mainz so it stands to reason there’s a statue. He eventually went to Strasbourg, where he invented his marvelous machine. There’s a statue to him there, too. His invention was positively revolutionary, making books accessible to thousands of people. It was almost like the equivalent of Twitter. Here in Mainz there’s a Gutenberg Museum (which was, of course, closed).

The remains of a church destroyed in WW2

Mainz is quite industrial and it was heavily bombed in the war. Most of it has been rebuilt but this shored-up church remains as a monument. The old city around the market square had been rebuilt. It would have been great if the markets had been on but yeah…

From Mainz we crossed the Rhine to the nearby city of Wiesbaden. It’s not right on the Rhine and harks back to Roman times because it has spas. It’s also not industrial so was spared bombardment. It’s a pretty place, clearly affluent.

The red bricks are a signature in these parts. The cathedral isn’t specially old
Claims to be the largest cuckoo clock in the world. Claims.
That’s a spa at the end of this alley.

Although nothing was open (except restaurants and bars) since it was Christmas Day, several places with obviously Muslim staff did a roaring trade with pretzels, glühwein, and coffee. There’s something a bit uncomfortable about wandering around a practically deserted city. Peter and I found a coffee shop and had a ‘milch kaffee’ (a milky flat white) and a piece of strudel. Merry Christmas!

Christmas themed jumper

Back at the boat, quite a few of the passengers got right into the Christmas spirit. They’d brought Christmas themed jumpers and in one case, matching red Christmas-decorated shorts and a jacket. They were quite happy to make their own fun. But Christmas dinner was, frankly, disappointing. I had envisioned the full English spread – turkey, ham, beef, gravy, roast vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and then Christmas pudding with brandy sauce followed by chocolates and cheese etc to fill in the corners. Instead, we had an ordinary meal. Nice enough, but nothing special. I’m afraid the Christmas cracker beside the plate didn’t quite do enough. I don’t remember what we were offered. I know the kitchens on the ships are limited – but they could have ordered in. A number of other people we spoke to agreed with us.

So now we waited, all of us hoping that the river would subside. Meanwhile, Alex had the job of entertaining us, arranging coaches during the Christmas period and dreaming up places for us to visit.

By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.

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