Avalon River Cruise Blog
Avalon Affinity - Romantic Rhine 7 Night River Cruise
Avalon River Cruise - Speyer, Germany - Tuesday morning, October 20, 2009
The next morning, we woke up in an area that looked like a tributary to the Rhine but it was actually a skinny section of the Rhine. We got up late and had a continental breakfast. After that, we headed out to Speyer for a walk around town. It was a twenty minute walk from the dock along the river and through a public park to town. What a delightful town! This was our first introduction to Germany and Speyer had that orderly, clean public area that characterized all of Germany. The main street was anchored on one end by a massive Gothic looking Cathedral and the other end with the clock tower. Progressive stores, upscale souvenir and trinket stores plus very, very upscale clothing merchants lined the cobblestone street.
We walked the street and mostly window shopped. We bought a whimsical wind chime which is called a veindshime and we got a fun lesson in German pronunciation from the store's owner, when we had a hard time. We stopped at Schatztruhe to get some dinosaur stickers for our neighbor's boy and picked up a neat little angel for my Mom's collection. There was a beautiful Catholic Church at the far end of the street named St. Josephs which was interesting given the reformation supposedly started at the other end of the street. It was a fairly ordinary church but did have one of the most remarkable wooden carvings of Christ washing the old womans feet.
Everybody was very friendly and it was the first feeling that John really got that he was part German. On the way back John was stopped in his tracks when he saw an older woman that looked exactly like his long deceased Grandmother. By the time that John went to point out the lady to Gina, she was gone about her morning business as most Europeans do each day with market. This was the closest point we were going to get to the town that John's Great Grandfather was originally from. It was only about 50 miles away from this point in the town of Otigheim, Germany. When we went to Sicily, we went thinking genealogy with pre-contact with Ginas family via an uncle who had already made the trip. Before this trip, John had not really connected with his German roots like an Italian thinks about culture, family and heritage. Without intending to search the past; the process of thinking in that context began in Speyer on that morning. It went on over the next few days as we recognized recipe's that John cooks without knowing they are German like dumplings and people thought John was German from the shape of his face.
The Cathedral in Speyer was very square Gothic and made out of a reddish sandstone. It was a massive structure at one end of the street. Supposedly, the reformation started at this point when Martin Luther posted his thesis on the door of the Church saying that religion need not be punitive as Catholicism had become in the middle ages. This was our first short stop and we are all becoming mindful of all aboard times as we have been advised the ship does not wait due to lock crossing appointments. We have boarding cards that we take and return so they can count heads easily before pulling out. All aboard time today is 11:30A as we have an early lunch scheduled, then busses arranged to tour Heidelberg this afternoon.
Lunch today is a local smoked pork with a great salad, cheeses a pasta shrimp Venezia and a fantastic lentil soup with smoked sausage at the side. A lot of the cooking was done like this in case you wanted the lentil soup vegetarian but we joked we are moving through Germany on the pork tour as it is a popular meat in this area. We are also seeing more and more fall foliage as we move up the river and we are parked by a beautiful stand of yellow maple trees while we eat lunch. The open seating is nice as you end up meeting most of the people on the ship by the time you get to your destination.