Thursday, October 16, 2014

Goldring Travel's 2014 Food & Wine River Cruise - AmaWaterways AmaCerto (Amsterdam to Budapest) – Part VI

As my cruise on the AmaWaterways AmaCerto continues down the Rhine River, after visiting Amsterdam, Cologne, Koblenz and Rudesheim, I have been able to get a better feel for the ship, the staff and European river cruising.  The staff is friendly and the heavy Eastern European accents have become much easier to understand, the smiles increase as the service becomes more personal and low key days with passing countryside (and some industrial areas) cause you to relax.  Unlike most European ocean cruises needed a vacation from your vacation is not going to happen.

A view of Miltenburg, Germany and the AmaCerto from the castle
It was then, making a left-hand turn, that we entered the Main River, and on to the charming and picturesque town of Miltenberg, Germany.  We had a lovely local guide on the active walking tour so we were able to have additional free time…which I took advantage of.  As Miltenberg was not bombed during World War II I was able to take in some actual charm and history.


After our tour I wandered the town looking for a place to have a beer and some local fare.  I walked into the recommended old hotel and a group of about 30 followed behind me. Next!  So I wandered into this place and that looking for one that had charm both inside and out.  Finally, a bit out of the tour area I came across Restaurant “Das Holzinger” which is part of an old hotel.  I sat in a little garden and attempted to order, but the menu was only in German and not much English was spoken.  I asked for a Pils (pilsner beer) just fine, but as for the food, when we got to something the woman could not explain in English I said “I’ll order that!”  She looked at me curiously and walked away.

A short time later a delicious beef head cheese and latkes (potato pancakes) appeared. 

It was a great choice and I, finally, felt like I was starting to travel.  But, alas, it was time to board the ship.

Midafternoon we stopped on the way to Wertheim in the small town of Freudenberg where I disembarked for an alleged “Food & Wine Tasting” at Deppisch Winery.  It was, for me, painful but as a touristic event all I can say is vast majority of people enjoyed it.  Another tour for bretzel making was, I am told, enjoyable though not terribly interactive.


After my tasting I returned to the ship in Werthheim and had just a bit of free time before the ship was to arrive.  However, just as the shops were about to close we were advised there would be about an hour late.  So with the shops closed and a light rain falling, there was only one thing to do:  Find a pub…actually two!  (I felt it was important to sample two different pubs and two different beers in my time there.)  While most took it in stride (AmaWaterways tells you in their welcoming talk that patience for such things is required because of all of the locks), I took it as an opportunity.
Wurzburg, Germany
Back on the ship just in time for dinner (like I needed to eat again!), we sailed to Wurzburg, Germany for our morning arrival.  The “big” thing to do in Wurzburg is visit the Residenz Palace, but I don’t love palace tours (or, for that matter, church tours) so I opted for the active walking tour. Our guide was a very knowledgeable art historian and during our one hour with her I received some great information on World War II, the destruction of Wurzburg, and also the Residenz Palace without having to go in.  AmaWaterways really has some great local guides!

 
Residenz Palace, Wurzburg, Germany
This gave me time to explore the local market set up in the town square.  I first notice a truck selling all sorts of locally cured meats and cheeses, so I bought some (sampling of course) for the upcoming 2014 Goldring Travel Food & Wine Tasting aboard the AmaCerto.  (The liverwurst was the best I have ever had.)

 Then, in the corner of my eye, I saw a bratwurst truck.  Long and fairly slender, but too long for the crusty roll, it was a great investment of two euros!  Delicious…both the bratwurst and the bread.

Interesting and Curious:  The bratwurst was 50% longer than the bun.
Solution:  Fold it over, but then half has two sausages and half has one
As I wandered eating my little bit of heaven I came across a fantastic bakery.  I stopped in and, fortunately, one woman spoke English.  She suggested a local “farmer” bread made of 70% rye and 30% wheat.  She asked if I wanted caraway seeds and when I said “Yes” she said “Really?  Americans usually don’t like them.”  I was tempted to say, “I’m Jewish”, but as so far on my cruise the only Jews left anywhere are recent Russian refugees I thought it would be better not to get into a discussion.  The bread, by the way, was fantastic and reminded me of the bread I had with my father but which I just can’t seem to find anymore.

Bread - Wurzburg, Germany
We arrived in Kitzingen, Germany, also spared from the bombings of World War II, about an hour early so I hopped of the ship, skipping the dinner I didn’t need, and wandered the small town.  I noticed a sign for the Old Synagogue and thought I would check it out.  Outside were old doors bearing interesting Stars of David, the lobby as ornate and beautiful, but then next room was plain white and had a lady standing with a cash box.  I asked her if this was the Old Synagogue to which she replied it “was” the old synagogue, but now is a community center. 

Front Door to the Old Synagogue
in Kitzengen, Germany
All that's left of the Old Synagogue.
The rest of it has been turned into a community center,
but not for the small Jewish community

I thought to myself, “Maybe, but not for the Jewish community.”  There are many reminders of the ugly recent past…and they are starting to wear me down a bit.

But for a bit of levity, after dinner AmaWaterways provides all of its guest to a fun wine tasting in an old wine cellar.  The local Franconian wines were similar (but a bit better) than the ones I had the day before, but the point of the evening was anything but to be serious.  It was truly enjoyed by all.


Next up is the Goldring Travel Brewery Tour and Beer Tasting, but not before some scenic cruising!