A morning cruise and an unexpected city visit
If you’ve been following along with this trip, you’ll be aware how frustratingly slow some stretches have been, with late dockings and limited time to explore cities. Today was a case in point – we were supposed to be cruising the River Main all night, but were still not expected to dock in the city of Würzburg until 1:00 pm. In the meantime we would be cruising through some pretty, but fairly rural areas of Germany’s Franconia region, in the southern state of Bavaria.
So that morning I did my obligatory wake up at 4:00 am and gazed outside into the darkness to see if I could work out where we were, but there weren’t any real distinguishing features I could see. We had hit a couple of locks in quick succession, which is what had woken me up in the first place, but as I pored over Google Maps it wasn’t really clear which ones they might have been – there are a lot of locks between Bamburg and Würzburg.
I thought at one stage that I’d seen a town sign for Sommerhausen, but given that would have put us less than an hour’s cruise from Würzburg, I figured it must have just been a directional marker somewhere else. It wasn’t until around breakfast time that we slid into another lock and I was able to get an identity from a signpost nearby, and to my amazement, the lock we were entering was at Randersacker, a village just on the outskirts of Würzburg itself.
But then, as we cleared the lock, for some inexplicable reason the ship tied up to the landing, and the crew got out and started washing the windows. It was very strange, as by that stage we could almost have walked into Würzburg, yet here we were tied up in the middle of the river, causing a nuisance to other ships coming in and out of the lock, and seemingly just killing time.
We weren’t sure if we were too early for a berth in the city, or we were just waiting for some sort of a sign from the heavens before we entered the town – there is no sort of communication like this, and Scenic have a ‘no announcements’ policy which might please those who like to sleep all day, but really p****s off those of us who want to know what the heck is going on.
Then, after sitting idle for the best part of two hours, we slowly slid off into the outskirts of town, and when I say slow, I mean it – at one stage we watched a jogger emerge from the distance behind us and whizz straight past us. Extremely frustrating, although it did help trigger in my mind the joke about the three-legged chicken – which was handy, as by that stage in the trip we’d started running low on jokes that could be told at the dinner table without getting us thrown off the boat. (I’ll drop it in the notes at the end of this post).
Then finally the no-announcement policy was broken, and our cruise director Siim’s voice came across the loudspeaker to let us know that due to a favourable run through the locks overnight, we would indeed be docking in Würzburg in a short time, and those who wanted to go ashore before the official tours started later in the afternoon were welcome to do so.
Ness and I had never been to Würzburg, and having set our minds to heading off on the tour to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in the afternoon, we’d pretty much resigned ourselves to not seeing it once again, so we were glad to get off the ship for a quick run into town. So despite the gloomy weather and the constant threat of drizzle, we joined a bunch of our fellow travelers and headed up into the old town for a bit of a look around.
I wish I could tell you some stories about the history of the city, but unfortunately without a local guide and with only a limited time before we had to be back at the boat, we kind of just wandered around aimlessly. We made our obligatory stop at an Apotheke, this time to pick up some cough medicine for friends back on the boat who’d succumbed to the lurgy, then just browsed through various tourist shops and the like.
I can tell you that Würzburg was another city to have suffered heavy bombing during WWII, with around 90% of the city having been levelled, and it really shows. That’s not meant to be a derogatory statement, it’s just that unlike somewhere like Nuremberg, where much of the old town was rebuilt in medieval style, here in Würzburg there are lots of old buildings, but they are interspersed with more modern constructions to a far more noticeable level.
We spent a bit of time in a shopping mall that could have been a shopping mall in any other city in any other part of the world – all of the big names were there and there was nothing quintessentially German about it. Pretty soon though it was time to head back and get ready for our tour. We’re not crossing Würzburg off the bucket list just yet – it would be good to get a guided tour at some stage if we ever return.
Before dropping down to the river I did take a short detour to check out the statues on the Alte Mainbrücke (old main bridge). A local guide would have been able to tell us who each one was, but in the absence of that, I’ll just have to stick with what my imagination told me, and mark this one down as an early rendition of Obi-Wan Kenobi using the force. But don’t quote me on that.
The three legged chicken:
A man has just picked up his brand new Ferrari, and proud as punch, he decides to take it for a drive out in the countryside. As he crests a hill, he sees a long, straight stretch of road in front of him, and he decides to have some fun.
But as he plants his foot on the accelerator, he notices in his rear vision mirror that a small dot has appeared just above the horizon behind him. He doesn’t think much of it though, and starts to put his foot down further. Then, as the dial passes the legal speed limit, he glances in the mirror again, and surprisingly, the dot has gotten bigger. Whatever it is, it’s gaining on him.
So he plants his foot again, and as the speedo tops 200 kph, he hears a sound, and suddenly, WOOOSH! – something speeds past and overtakes him. To his absolute amazement, he sees that it’s a three-legged chicken! He puts his foot right to the floor, but try as he might, he can’t keep up, and the three-legged chicken disappears off into the distance.
Then, just as it crests a hill in front, he sees the chicken turn right, and head off down a driveway into a farm. When he eventually reaches the driveway, the man turns his Ferrari into it, and follows it down to a farmhouse. To his further amazement, he looks out into the paddocks behind the house, and there’s hundreds of three-legged chickens, all zooming around at high speed.
He knocks on the farmhouse door and the farmer answers. “Please tell me I’m not going crazy” says the Ferrari driver, “but those look like three-legged chickens”.
“Sure are”, says the farmer. “You see, we all love a Sunday roast, and to my mind you can’t beat a good roast chicken. But the problem is, with me, my wife and my son here on the farm, and with all of us favouring the drumstick, someone was always missing out. So I started up a program of selective breeding, and after many years of trial and error, what you see out there is the result – the world’s first commercial production of three-legged chickens”.
The Ferrari driver is blown away by all this. “That’s absolutely amazing!” he says. “And how do they taste?”
“Dunno” says the farmer. “We can’t catch the bastards”.
Good joke 😂