Snapshot Sunday: the Rhine and the Mosel

I promised you a rest from my eternal blogging from Germany. But this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is ‘Liquid’, and today, on our way home to England, we have journeyed a short way along the Rhine, watching barges and cruise ships ploughing their way from points between Basel in Switzerland, via the Lichtenstein, Austrian and French borders, through Germany and the Netherlands to the North Sea.

We looked for castles, craggy rock formations, vertiginous vineyards, and generally enjoyed the rich and varied life of this vast and lengthy waterway.

Tonight, our bedroom overlooks the hardly less interesting Mosel. I thought a couple of snapshots from each of these liquid thoroughfares was the least I could offer.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/liquid/

Give us this day our daily bread

Bread is important in Germany. Eating it has been almost the best part of our holiday.

Some is dense, dark, leather-brown, and perfect to accompany slices of ham, bierwurst or cheese. There’s chewy sourdough, perhaps flavoured with caraway or cumin. Even white bread is characterful and tasty.

We’ve fallen for our local bakery. It’s where we go every day for breakfast. Look what 1.80€ buys us. The bread is still warm from the oven, there’s plenty of butter, and the jam home-made. And they serve coffee too.

Every weekday, the bakery opens at 5.30 a.m. and closes at 6.00 p.m., and it’s busy at the weekend too. This morning they were queuing outside the door, buying bread and cakes for the Whitsuntide weekend.

Tomorrow is our last day. We’ll be back in England by Tuesday morning. Normal service again.

Little Switzerland in Germany

Our time in Germany was billed as a walking holiday with added culture. It’s turned out to be a cultural holiday with added walking. Which is perfectly fine. Just let me show you a couple of shots from our walk today, in an area known as Little Switzerland. Hilly, forested, with flower-strewn meadows, and birdsong, always birdsong, this is easy, relaxing walking country.

Bamberg-Garden-City

The north-east of the city of Bamberg is known as Gārtenstadt – Garden City – as it has been since the Middle Ages. Now, as then, market gardening rules supreme.

Since 1386, these gardeners have supplied the citizens of Bamberg and beyond with fresh produce: they were the biggest craft guild in town. Then they supplied root vegetables, onions and liquorice – and milk too from the cows who also pulled wagons and ploughs. These days the growers sell more flowers or herbs.

Look at this map. It clearly shows acres of land hidden behind the long narrow streets.

Here is a typical house. That wide entrance door is to allow wagons to drive through the house and into the garden. The barn is in the attic.

Here’s a market gardening business advertising its wares.

And here’s the Grüner Markt in the city centre. These days it’s no longer the exclusive market place for the Gärtnerstadt. But it is still a busy fruit and veg. market.

Isn’t that pretty special?

Postcards from Bamberg

We’ve fallen for Bamberg, a city so steeped in history that it’s a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Area. The River Regnitz flows in two branches through the town, dividing the city into three and forming much of its character. It’s busy, but not besieged by tourists. Here are four postcards from Bamberg.

The Old Town Hall. Denied any building land by the Bishop of Bamberg, the citizens created an island in the river to build their town hall at the end of the 1300s.

The Cathedral, consecrated in 1237 is the third on the site. The first two burnt down.

Tillman Riemenschneider, the sculptor and woodcarver who died in 1531 has works in many of the churches we’ve visited. Here’s a detail from Heinrich II’s tomb in the Cathedral.

These were once fishermen’s cottages. No fishermen now.

‘There is a green hill far away …’*

Franconia is full of green hills. It’s also full of charming small mediaeval towns girdled with tall mediaeval defensive walls.

With the need for defence long gone, this house in Dettelheim has been built on the remnants of a redundant mediaeval watch tower.

*An allusion to the popular English Victorian hymnThere is a green hill far away/Without a city wall

A day at the hospital, and a Prince-Bishop.

We went to the hospital today, to buy some wine. Yes, that’s right …. let me explain.

In 1573, an exceptional young man, Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn was elected Prince-Bishop of Würzburg. He was well-connected and well-educated. By 1582 he had founded the University of Würzburg, which flourished and became a model for other seats of learning.

He was a skilled administrator who reduced taxes, improved the economy, and the administration of justice (unless you were thought to be a witch or a jew: he fought hard for the purity of the church as he saw it).

But he had a lasting monument, aside from the University, and that was the Julius Hospital. Here is the legend.

When his niece married, he sent her a present: a casket, and three valuable fruits – lemons – symbolising the bitter, hard lives so many had, in contrast with her life of ease. Disgusted, she sent it back. He returned it. Three times in all. Then he gave up.

Silly young woman. Had she opened the casket, she would have found the deeds to lands and vineyards guaranteeing solid riches in perpetuity.

Julius used these riches rejected by his niece to found a hospital. This hospital was open to all citizens, rich and poor. It includes a poor house, an orphanage, an old people’s home. His clever investments have allowed the hospital to continue into modern times, though now it is a state-run institution.

But it has a restaurant, and it has a shop where the wine produced in its vineyards may still be bought. And that is where we went today, and tried a few samples before buying a few bottles. ‘Zum Wohl!’