Day 8/15 Viking SKADI to Viking BRAGI Grand European, Christmas Markets cruise. Nuremberg, Germany.
After dinner last evening I thought about how I could enjoy packing our entire cabin up to leave on yet another long bus ride. Viking does have a very limited selection of movies on the tv in our river cruise cabin and one movie that neither one of us had seen was called “Monument’s Men” starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett. We decided to watch it while I packed, to try and make the packing ordeal a bit more enjoyable. The movie was quite good actually and after 2 hours, we were fully packed, outfits ready to wear the next day and one roller board carry on suitcase ready to receive our toiletry kits in the morning. I made the packing simple so that when we got to the Viking Bragi I could quickly unpack and I would know where everything was.
We had to put our large suitcases outside our cabin by 8am in the morning and be out to any of the waiting buses with our roller boards and knapsacks by 8am. The rollerboards were stored under the bus and we boarded the bus in the pouring rain with our knapsacks for the long bus ride to Nuremberg, where the Viking Bragi was waiting for us.
The rain was coming down sideways and the wind was pushing our bus sideways along the Autobahn as we made our way up to Nuremberg. Thankfully the bus made a stop at a roadside McDonald’s that also had a gas station convenience store in the same complex, as 4 bus loads of people who had been on a bus for 2 hours were ready to eat, drink coffee and use the facilities.
After ordering some food from the kiosk in McDonalds, we sat and enjoyed our egg McMuffins before re-boarding the bus to Nuremberg, Germany.
Richard was not comfortable with the way the bus driver was driving our bus in the windy, rainy conditions and since Richard had driven our 40 foot Newmar Dutchstar ‘Newman’ in bad weather conditions many times, he proceeded to put up his tray table and made sure his seat belt was secured.
We finally arrived in Nuremberg where the Viking Bragi was docked after 4 hours of driving and stops, and we proceeded directly to The Restaurant for lunch. Our waiter was pretty rude and offered Richard a drink, ignoring me completely. We were sitting with our friends from Australia who noticed how rude the waiter was and we waited for our lunch quite awhile before we finally got it. Great! We change ships and now we’ve got rude Viking staff to contend with! Not what we normally expect from Viking’s staff who are normally wonderful.
Our cabins were open for us so after lunch so we grabbed our Room key cards and unpacked our carry on rollerboards and knapsacks. Our ‘Panoramic’ excursion into Nuremberg was leaving the Bragi at 2:00pm, and we heard our Program Director, Daniel, announce that Viking had also added a shuttle bus to Nuremberg for anyone who just wanted to go to the Christmas Markets and downtown Nuremberg. We looked at each other and said “After 3 hours on a bus today, do we really want to spend another few hours sitting and being whisked by the panoramic sights of Nuremberg?” We came to the obvious conclusion which was “NO, we did not!”
So we ditched our included tour and found ourselves with a few others who also decided to go to the Christmas Market in Nuremberg instead of on the included tour. Our bus had a guide on it who was to walk us through the city of Nuremberg, show us a few highlights of the city and then take us to the Christmas market. As we reached downtown Nuremberg after about a 15 minute bus ride, our very informative guide proceeded to walk us to the Christmas Market showing us some of the best places to see and purchase souvenirs of Nuremberg along the way. Our guide also showed us where the bus pick up was, which was different than where the shuttle bus had dropped us off.
The Nuremberg Christmas Market or “Christkindlesmarkt” is one of the oldest and most famous Christmas markets in the world. Nuremberg also has a Children’s Christmas Market and also has a ‘Sister City’ market with booths from various cities around the world. We had to be back to the shuttle bus at 5:45pm so we had to get moving if we wanted to take it all in!
Our guide had told us that there were many Protestant churches in Nuremberg but the most beautiful church we should visit if we were to visit only one church was St. Sebaldus (Sebald) Church (Sebaldus was the eighth-century hermit and missionary, later the patron saint of Nuremberg) with its very unique and beautiful stained glass windows. The Gothic cathedral has an interior which was reshaped in the Baroque style during the 17th century. The church was previously a Catholic Church but now is a Lutheran church. Construction of the building began in 1225 and was completed in 1273-1275.
The stained glass windows in St. Sebald’s chruch were done at the Veit Hirsvogel glass painting family workshop between 1501-1515 and were truly stunning! The church suffered serious damage during WW2 and was painstakingly restored.
After a short visit to St. Sebaldus and another candle lit for Richard’s dad, we headed out to the busy Nuremberg Christmas Markets for a visit.
The first order of business was to find an ornament from Nuremberg, which I quickly found, so after that was over the pressure was off and we could enjoy just wandering through the market to see what beautiful things they had for sale in the booths.
The next order of business was to get Richard a drink. We found a stall from Glasgow, Scotland where Richard had a Hot Blended Whiskey Toddie in a nice mug. He was very happy to enjoy this drink as we walked through the rest of the Christmas Market.
Next it was my turn for some Kinderpunch so we would have matching mugs from Nuremberg!
We wanted to buy some Lebkucken as Nuremberg is known as the home of this delightful treat! Our guide had told us to visit a store called Schmidt just outside of the Christmas Market as they had beautiful collector’s tins in which the Lebkucken was stored which made a nice souvenir. We bought a couple of small tins of Lebkucken and then I also got a cashew lebkucken which was unusual, but delicious. The official lebkucken is to be made with less than 10% wheat flour, so knowing that we were buying from an official lebkucken vendor in Nuremberg we could be guaranteed most of the delicious confection was made mostly from nuts and spices!
Our guide had pointed out the Children’s Market or ‘Kinderweihnacht’ so we went to visit it, to see what was different about that market, than all of the other Christmas Markets we had seen so far on our trip.
The Children’s Market, while a lot smaller, but it had a lot of fun moving characters which were on the top of each of the stalls. The Children’s Market also had kid friendly food, rides and things to do such as cookie decorating or writing letters to Santa. Being in the Children’s Market put a smile on our faces and it was very special to see how children were taken care of in such a fun place in Nuremberg. I will upload a video on Facebook as I do not have the bandwidth to upload the video to the blog.
We knew the stores would not be open tomorrow in Bamberg, Germany so we needed to get our cabin steward a little something for Christmas along with a cash tip we will leave for him tomorrow. We left our former cabin steward on the SKADI some chocolates, a cash tip and a note yesterday when we left as he took care of us quite well while we were on that ship. As we left the Christmas market we found the same department store chain (Karstadt) that we had been in the day before in Regensberg. I wandered around the store while Richard sat again in the shoe department on a bench waiting for me. It seems all Richard does is sit in shoe departments!
If my suspicions were correct I thought there might be another Food Hall in the basement of Karstadt and sure enough I was right! We headed down the escalator two flights to find the most amazing sight! A Wine Bar and very high end produce, chocolates, cheeses and wines! We ended up buying some cheese and crackers to eat in our cabin, while we drink the wine that we bought yesterday in Regensburg, and some Lindt chocolates for our new cabin steward on the Bragi.
We rushed back to where the bus was going to be waiting for us at 5:45pm and arrived to find an excursion bus that was not full loading up. Daniel, the Program Director told us we could board this bus, which got us back to the BRAGI earlier than planned.
After a quick 15 minute bus ride back to the BRAGI we found our large suitcases waiting for us to unpack. I quickly unpacked as I had a system when I was packing them, so it made it a very easy and orderly process. And now it was time to crack open that bottle of Chateau Neuf de Pape with some Boursin cheese and some tasty crackers!
We didn’t have a corkscrew so Richard being the bold guy that he is went to the bar in the Lounge and asked to borrow one. The bartender said he only had one corkscrew but if he brought the bottle to him, he would gladly open it for us! Perfect!
Our new Captain, Hotel Manager and existing Program Director Daniel arrived together to give us a toast and welcome with a glass of bubbles before the port talk today. Daniel advised us that the tours of Bamburg would go as planned tomorrow as we were sailing in the Main River overnight and docking in Bamburg. After Bamburg he had no idea what was happening so it would be a ‘wait and see’ if we can continue sailing to Amsterdam, or we will have to be bused to Wurzburg, Germany our next destination on Christmas Day. It continues to rain and this situation is not looking good at all for continuing this River Cruise to Amsterdam until the water levels go down on the Rhine.
At dinner last evening we had the same unfriendly waiter as we had at lunch. We waited an extraordinary amount of time for our meals and when we asked where our meals were we were told that because we had one special order (our friend Alice) we had to wait. We never had to wait on the SKADI so we call B.S. on that. Anyway, we have taken the decision that we will not sit in that area of the Restaurant for the remainder of this cruise.
We are glad we made the ‘game day’ decision not to go on the panoramic tour of Nuremberg, Germany. Nuremberg as I’m sure everyone is familiar with was one of the most heavily bombed cities in WW2 as it was an economic hub for Germany and Hitler held his famous “Nuremberg Rally’” in the City. With 90% of the old town of the city destroyed, and not wanting to relive that bloody history, I think our game day decision to do something more pleasant with our much shorter stay in Nuremberg than planned (because of the long bus ride this morning), we did the right thing and enjoyed one of the best Christmas markets we’ve seen on our travels in Europe!