The ancient walled city of Nuremberg grew as a function of its location at the intersection of seven of the major trade routes that connected Frankonia with the rest of the world.  An "imperial" city of the Holy Roman Empire, it was also an independent municipality, and numbered 50,000 inhabitants during the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Our guide Werner is yet another asociate of Geschichte fur Alles ("History for All") and, like all of his colleagues who have guided us in Germany, is extremely well-versed and articulate about not only the history but also the arts and culture of this lovely city.  We started our day in some rain outside the courthouse where the War Crimes trials of the surviving Nazi leadership were conducted by England, France, Russia and the United States.

Our next objective was the castle fortifications that were erected between the city's founding in about 1050 and the middle 1300s.  This immense structure was integral to Nuremberg's distinction as the only walled city to successfully resist all attempts at its capture it until the Allied bombings of World War II.  Nuremberg was one of the cities targeted for bombing because of its size (over 100,000 citizens during the war) and the anticipated adverse impact its destruction would have on the morale of Germany.  The old city, which consisted of many wooden structures, was over 90% destroyed, but has been painstakingly recreated in the intervening years.

As we continued into the heart of the old city, we passed several streets where artisans, their families and their apprentices lived in incredibly close quarters in tiny houses with steeply sloped roofs.  Emerging from one of these streets, we came upon a small square containing a rather bizarre bronze sculpture of a monstrous, crazed rabbit bursting from a cage and crushing everything in its path.  The rabbit appears to be charging toward the house that Albrecht Durer lived in from 1509 until his death in 1526.  The sculptor was protesting against what he perceived to be the minimization of Durer's prodigious artistic output (over 4,000 pieces, including paintings, engravings and woodcuts) via the overuse of his revoltionary painting of a rabbit as a symbol of Nuremberg's most famous son.

Descending further into the old city, we arrived in the main square, where we stopped to admire the highly ornate principal well.  This masterpiece, along with many of the medieval stained glass windows from the churches and other irreplaceable cultural  treasures, was preserved by the populace of Nuremberg, who dismantled them and stored them in the kilometers of underground tunnels that also served as air raid shelters for up to 20,000 people.  The main square was formerly the location of Jewish quarter; not only were the Jews expelled from the town as scapegoats for some catastrophe or other, but the cathedral was built on top of the synagogue's foundations as the final insult.  This early version of "ethnic cleansing" occurred time and again all over Europe throughout the ages, culminating, of course, in the Nazi Holocaust.

Lunch was provided for our group in what used to be the Heilig Geist (Holy Ghost) Hospital, but is now a hotel and restaurant.  The table for two that Gary and I occupied had a lovely view of the river.   We were served the local specialty cosisting of 6 small sausages, delicious (regardless of what Gary says!) sauerkraut and German potato salad.

After lunch we had free time, most of which we spent in the cathedral and main square.  As the day was sunny and quite warm, we eventually took refuge under a table umbrella at a coffee shop to sip their excellent brew and observe the locals in their native habitat.  Several new friends from the tour joined us until it was time to gather at the beautiful well for the return bus ride to the ship.

As this evening's meal was to be our last dinner on board, a lot of us dressed a bit less casually than had been our norm during the preceding part of our sojourn.  There were two birthdays and two wedding anniversaries celebrated during this supper, which gave the wait staff an opportunity to sing to the individuals and couples being feted.  NONE of these young people should think about quitting their day job in favor of a musical career, but what they lacked in talent (and tuning) they made up for in gusto.

Tomorrow we leave the Skadi for the last time and travel by bus to Regensberg, a city dating back over 1,500 years, after which we will continue toward Munich and stay at a five-star golf resort and spa called Bad Griesbach.  So, until then, auf wiedersehen!


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