• Day23

    The German word for kitsch is kitsch

    October 3, 2019 in Germany ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    After sailing through the night we arrived at the large town of Würzburg at around 9am. We'd been given a number of choices of activity for the morning, among them a trip to what our information sheet told us was the most famous and perhaps one of the most picturesque villages in all of Germany, Rothenberg ob der Tauber. That was the option we chose. It took us about an hour to get there, which was great as it gave us a good opportunity to see more of the German countryside, which was very scenic. Much of the land was planted out as vineyards, particularly on the steep hillsides, while the flatter areas were growing crops such as sugar beet and winter wheat. This time we had a German guide, an art historian, who spoke excellent English and who was very knowledgeable. As we all know though, Germans don't do humour very well and she shouldn't have tried. Our Scottish guide from the previous day had been way better.

    This day was a national holiday celebrating Germany's reunification, so about half the shops in the town were closed, not that that bothered us at all. Despite the closures and the cold dry weather in what should be the tourist off-season the place was quite busy. One wouldn't want to be there at the height of the season.

    The mediaeval town dates back to 1274, and it is beautifully preserved. The buildings are interesting to see, though Brian found it quite challenging to take good photos which didn't have tourists or parked cars in the way. We were given a couple of hours to browse through the town, and this was more than adequate. There were plenty of little cafes and bars to choose from, but as we get generously fed and watered on board our ship we had adopted the Nil by Mouth approach while out and about.

    What we couldn't get over was how unbelievably kitsch so much of the merchandise in the shop windows was. It gave a somewhat touristy tacky feel to the place even though it is a very nice town in all other respects.

    There is a chain of Christmas shops called Käthe Wolfahrt, which occupy prominent positions, at least in every German town we have visited so far. They do overpriced kitsch like nobody else, though they had several competitors in terms of sucking in tourists' euros.

    After spending every bit as much time as we'd wanted in Rothenberg we jumped on the buses and headed back.

    The real surprise came after lunch when Brian and a couple of fellow passengers decided to borrow bikes and go off to explore Würzburg. Mary declined to join us, having decided some time ago that she and a bicycle are not a good combination.

    Brian quickly realised that Würzburg was where we should have spent the whole day. It is a really appealing town with a lot of interesting architectural styles, beautifully restored buildings and wonderful parkland surrounding it all on three sides. It was the first time Brian had ridden a bike since our last overseas holiday two years ago, and he was quite wobbly. This being a public holiday the footpaths were filled with pedestrians none of whom realised how lucky they were not to have been mowed down by an out of control bicycle. Unfortunately we were pressed for time as the ship was due to set sail at 4pm, so it was a bit of a rushed trip . The town offers so many terrific sights and photo opportunities, and Brian would have liked to have lingered a whole lot longer. Nevertheless Mary was quite relieved to see him get back on board still in one piece.
    Read more