Saturday, September 01, 2007

Bamberg: Kunigunde digs it, so you should too

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We left Buchenwald and made our way toward Bamberg, a town in Franken (English: Franconia), a new region for us. On the way there, we took a shiny brand new Autobahn, smooth, full of ridiculously long tunnels and ridiculously high bridges, connecting Thuringen in the former East with Franken in the former West. The road was so new it didn't show up on the driver's navigation system - the bus indicator on it looked like we were driving out in the wild. It wasn't on Damon and I's 2007 atlas either. On this road, the amount of money that must have been spent updating the infrastructure after reunification really struck me. This area of the country is doing very well on financial indicators, though.

We ate sandwiches at a brand spanking new rest area, where a store and restaurant hadn't yet been built, then continued onward, arriving in Bamberg in late afternoon and just in time for a city tour.

Bamberg Aug 2007

Our tour guide was an adorable old Catholic guy named Hans. His focus was mostly the more religious aspects of Bamberg, including its amazing cathedral which holds the tomb of a pope (only one buried north of the Alps!) as well as saints Kunigunde and Heinrich, the town's patrons. After we left the cathedral he joked that he hoped he'd converted at least one of us so he could go to heaven. He took a liking to Damon and I for whatever reason: Damon because he always has questions about religious symbolism and is good at identifying saints and religious figures in artistic portrayals, me probably because he sensed I love old guys. And I laughed at all his jokes. Between sites he asked me if I was "also from England". I was confused because there was no one from England on our tour. I said, "No, I'm from the United States." This was interesting to him because he went to college in Worcester, near Boston. He turned to Damon and asked, "But you're from England, right?" I told him, "This is my husband!" Then he said, "Oh! Your English is so good, I thought you were from England!" Which is funny because Americans have poor English...and so do the Brits. No one there uses the Received Pronunciation either! Anyway, see the photos to find out more that this dude told us about Bamberg. And by the way? Bamberg is gorgeous.

The tour was followed by dinner at a restaurant in the town center, which was honestly pretty bad. We all did enjoy some of the local Rauchbier (smoked beer), though. Imagine beer that smells like ham. It's weird. Everyone tells you if you don't like it, you should just have a couple of more and it will grow on you. We ended up back at the hotel bar, where drinks were really expensive (we were at a 4-star hotel now - this is the place that wanted 3 EUR to wash one pair of socks) but conversation was entertaining.

The following morning we had a tour at a pharmaceutical factory in Bamberg called Dr. Pfleger. The company is owned by a foundation which donates a certain portion of profits to research and such. Perhaps they have some kind of relationship with Damon's fellowship foundation. The tour was really interesting - we got to see a pill-making machine, and pill-packaging machine, and hear a guy refer to suppositories as "torpedo-shaped". Haha, butt torpedo.

Afterward, we took the bus to the Fraenkische Schweiz (Swiss Franconia), a beautiful park area with valleys and some interesting rock formations. It was quite rural; I got Deliverance vibes from some of the people at the place where we stopped. The plan was to go canoeing, but after our previous experience and given the cold and rainy weather, Damon and I wanted to be counted out. Also, they never told us we'd be going canoeing, so we didn't pack anything appropriate. So, we and a few others instead hiked in the woods along the canoe route and met them at the end. It was a really beautiful walk, with lots of snails and slugs! Too many slugs, actually. I was really worried about stepping on them. Alas I didn't have the camera with me to capture their more orangey shade. Afterward we all enjoyed Kaffee und Kuchen at the end of the route then returned to Bamberg. We went for a walk and had dinner with the Polish, Japanese, and Hungarian at a place in the center which was cheaper and better than the previous night. Bamberg is really pretty and was less damaged by WWII than other towns. It's very, very worth a visit. Actually, I think I'd move there. It's at least as pretty as Heidelberg, but not quite as touristy.

That night, I enjoyed a BATH in the hotel room!!! That's right, there was a BATHTUB! Man, do I ever miss taking baths....I don't think bathtubs are as common in apartments here as they were in the US. If we ever move again, I've got to make sure there's a tub. I didn't ever want to leave the cozy hotel in Bamberg...but we had more to see and the next stop was Muenchen.


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