** This post is part of an ongoing series detailing our experience cruising down the Danube River visiting Christmas markets in Hungary, Austria, and Germany, aboard AmaWaterways‘ MS AmaSonata in late November 2015 **
Man, writing these trip reports is hard work. I hope y’all appreciate it. 😉 Anyhow …
The next day of our cruise we docked in Regensburg. This was another of the cities on our itinerary that I was really looking forward to visiting, and due to an adjustment in the itinerary we had a full day here to explore versus just a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the weather was shite.* I had also stayed up really late the night before chatting with a couple of other passengers about the trips they’ve taken, so I wasn’t what you’d normally call bright eyed and bushy tailed. Leaving the ship there were three choices for walking tours – the fast paced one, the regular one, and the slow walkers. Alan tried to get a read on what the difference was between fast and regular but the only thing they said was it was just a matter of preference. We didn’t get a whole lot of guidance, but another passenger said they thought the fast walking group wouldn’t have time to stop and take photos, so we decided to stick with the regular-paced group. BIG MISTAKE.
We headed off in the pouring rain and right away I knew the particular tour guide we were paired with wasn’t a good match for us. We stopped every couple hundred feet or so while she talked, at length, about everything you could ever possibly want to know about what we were seeing. It felt the tour was done as a particularly in-depth Wikipedia page that wasn’t well edited being read by the parents from Peanuts, and I was so over it within 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the tour was scheduled for 1.5 hours. Aside from the tour guide, the other thing I didn’t enjoy about this particular walking tour was the fact that everyone was using their umbrellas and so half of the stuff she was pointing out you couldn’t see because people were smacking each other in the faces and heads with their umbrellas as they tried to move them out of the way to get a peek at what was being discussed. At one point I was standing there, disgusted, and it occurred to me that (1) we live in Ireland now, and (2) rain is universal. Undaunted, I closed my umbrella, put up the hood of my jacket, and took in everything that was around me. While that improved the experience exponentially, I’m afraid nothing could make up for the quality of the tour guide. Remember that whole bit about the fast, regular, and slow-paced groups? Well, at one point even the slow walkers had passed us by because our tour guide just droned on and on and on. She freaked out about crossing the street. She made everyone stand there and wait for all the lights to turn when there were absolutely no cars whatsoever on the road. And then at one point, while standing in front of a statue of some famous Ottoman, she started in on the refugees that are flooding in to Germany. After about a minute she figured out that she was saying something she absolutely should not be saying, and then she started rambling some more. At that point, I might have looked to a fellow passenger and said, “She is killing me.” We could have left the group, I know, but we didn’t have any information on Regensburg on us and so there was really no way we would ever have learned anything about the area, although in hindsight I guess I could have just read the Wikipedia page when we got back to the boat.
When our tour was up, we joined another couple for an amazing lunch at the Historic Sausage Kitchen of Regensburg, notable as the oldest continuously open public restaurant in the world. The building was erected in 1135 A.D. and in 1146 A.D. it became a kitchen named “Garkueche auf dem Kranchen.” When the current family took over in 1806, charcoal grilled sausages were introduced as the main dish. Today they serve 6,000 sausages a day, which come in portions of six, eight or ten, along with sauerkraut and mustard. They were the best sausages we had on the entire trip. It was here we also learned that in Germany you get charged for bread. It sits in a basket on your table and when you pay your bill they ask you how many you ate. I had zero because I wasn’t all that hungry, but the guy we were with had like four of them on top of his meal. That stuff adds up quick!
After lunch we wandered the Christmas Market in the center of town but the rain was really putting a damper on the whole thing. It was just coming down in buckets and so there wasn’t really a festive atmosphere there. I’d heard the market in Regensburg was one of the better ones, but I was disappointed by vendors who had stalls there. And yeah, I’m sure the weather had a bit to do with my lack of interest in staying longer, but I didn’t really understand the appeal. After only a couple of minutes we left and made our way to the Palace of Thurn and Taxi where a private Christmas market was being held that we had tickets for. The palace is stunning. Just a complete and utter work of art smack dab in the middle of a busy city. It was at this point, unfortunately, that I looked down and noticed my camera acting up so I put it away. Thankfully my iPhone takes decent enough pictures so I have some good ones of the market because this was perhaps the most beautiful of the markets we encountered during our trip. We didn’t end up buying anything but it was a nice way to spend an hour or two during the day.
That night was the Captain’s Gala Dinner on board, which when packing, perplexed me to no end. You see, this is only our second cruise and we’ve never done a formal night before. In the end, I packed two dresses and ended up wearing the same one I wore to Alan’s parents’ 50th anniversary party. I was … overdressed. After dinner I ran back to the room and put on some tartan slacks and a black blouse which was so much more comfortable for hanging out in the lounge during the night’s entertainment. Again, something else we didn’t know what to expect, but the singer was terrific. She has been in Evita and Les Mis in London’s West End and now has her own cabaret act she takes on the road. I loved how interactive she was with the audience and how relaxed she made the show.
And yes, this is the only picture we have of us all dressed up because we suck at asking people to take our picture. And … it’s only the second picture that exists of me in this particular dress because no one at his parents’ party took a picture of me other than Alan, and that’s a grainy black & white that’s out of focus.
That night I stayed up until 5 a.m. with a couple of other passengers. Wow. We basically closed down the bar, and I got to meet and talk to the night captain. Afterward, me and another woman went on deck as we made our way through a lock, and then I was done so I stumbled back to my room knowing that I was skipping breakfast the following morning.
*It’s actually fortunate because that night we learned that had it not rained as hard as it did, the river would have been too low to continue sailing down and the remainder of our trip would have had to be done via motor coach. So yay, rain!