7:00 Woke up around 6:15, cracked open the drapes to find it raining, slightly, the raindrops dotting the water like a tufted quilt. Showered, opened the drapes fully just as we were passing under a wide bridge. Under the bridge was a homeless man, apparently just awakened himself (his bedding and belongings close to the wall. With him was a large dog. Poverty is everywhere.
2:32 A most interesting day. Started at 8:30 with a walking tour of Regensburg, a truly beautiful city. Learned a lot about it's history, of course, saw lots of interesting things, including the building in which Oscar Schindler of Schindler's List lived. Interesting changes in Germany since WWII. On the bricked sidewalks are what they call “stepping stones”....gold-colored bricks with a single name on each. These are placed in front of houses of Jews taken away during the war.
Regensburg escaped almost all damage during the war, and the buildings are all original. It was traditional for people to show their wealth by building towers as part of their homes/mansions. The taller the tower, the wealthier the family. There are 81 towers in Regensburg not counting the churches.
Just as we approached St. Peter's cathedral, my camera's battery died! I can't tell you how frustrated I was, not only because the cathedral is magnificent inside and out, but because I was unable to capture what happened in it.
I love serendipity...when something totally unexpected and delightful happens. We had just entered the cathedral when we heard an acapella choir singing. Upon moving deeper into the cathedral I saw a group of about 20 men, mostly young, casually dressed, standing in the center aisle, singing. Incredibly beautiful sound!! I had no idea who they were or what they were doing there, but it was glorious. They sang a couple of hymns, and then they sang—in German—“How Great Thou Art,” which was my mom's favorite hymn and brought me to tears to hear it in such a magnificent setting by such magnificent voices.
When we left the cathedral and went our separate ways before returning to the ship, I was walking down the street and heard more singing; six men, just standing beside a building, singing. I wondered if they were from the group in the church, but they had a basket on the sidewalk for coins, and they were selling CDs. The group is called Belo-Mir, ad they're from Belarus. What they were doing in Regensburg I had no idea. I wanted to ask, but none spoke English.
Two side by side examples of serendipity of the highest order.
I later found out from another passenger that the group in the cathedral were a chorus from Italy on an exchange program with a chorus from Regensburg. But, again, it was a wonderful and not-to-be forgotten experience.
Oh, and I'd been looking for a luggage shop to replace my suitcase, the zipper of which is irreparably torn. Found one, went in, found exactly what I wanted. Was told the price was 815 euros...close to $1,500. Thanked them, and left.
Then walked back to the point where we were to board buses back to the ship, which had dropped us off and then moved on to another docking. Three buses. Got on for the 20 minute trip to the ship, which took 1 ½ hours. The buss got lost, somehow, and could not find the docking site. Back and forth, up and down, turning around, total confusion. The ship is on a very tight schedule, and must schedule set times to pass through the numerous locks. All thrown awry. Finally found the ship, docked just short of a lock. The ship's captain was furious at the drivers and apparently refused to pay them; one driver retaliated by unzipping his fly and urinating on the ground. I'm not sure how it all ended.
But an interesting day thus far.
5:42 Poor Viking. When they dropped us off this morning we had the option of coming back to the ship at 11:30 or 4:30. I chose 11:30 and you see what happened to us. I have no idea what's happening with the 4:30 group...we were to pick them up God Knows Where, and we're not there. If they have the same mixed-up drivers, we may never see them again.
6:30 Last bus of passengers from Regensburg back aboard, and we're moving. Captain and crew far from happy.
9:07 Back from dinner...another 2-hour affair. Nice people. Now to post this and....
Dorien's will be posting frequent blogs while on his current European River Cruise, and posting photos of his adventures on Facebook and Google+. You're also invited to check out his website at www.doriengrey.com.