Nuremberg, the Christkindlesmarkt, and the Main-Danube Canal

The beautifully historic city of Nuremberg, Germany. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

AmaWaterways’ AmaLyra spent the night tied up at her Hafenstrasse dock in historic Nuremberg, Germany and today guests had a chance to go ashore and experience this beautiful city firsthand.

One of the great things about river cruising are the included tours. Passengers aboard the AmaLyra had the option of choosing to see some of Nuremberg’s Nazi past, including the Zeppelin Field and the Documentation Centre; or a walking tour of the Medieval “old town” of Nuremberg, followed by a visit to the Christkindlesmarket. The walking tour was split into two groups: green for those who preferred to tour onboard the motorcoach, and yellow for those who preferred to get out and walk down from the Nuremberg Castle.

The spread at Breakfast: something for everyone. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Naturally, all of this took place after a delicious breakfast in The Restaurant. Guests can choose to partake in the buffet that includes almost any hot or cold selection imaginable (even my coveted cold salmon!), or they can place an order from the menu.  You can come down and dine when you want, with whomever you choose.

Plenty of options at breakfast aboard AmaLyra. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Service is prompt, friendly and engaging, and makes for a relaxing way to start your morning. If you’re used to the larger cruise ships that require you to rush the dining room in order to get seated or elbow your way through endless lines, you’ll be in for a real treat aboard the ships of AmaWaterways: relaxation is the word of the day.

The comfortable Lounge aboard AmaLyra makes a great spot to have coffee and watch the sun come up. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

AmaLyra at her Hafenstrasse dock in Nuremberg, Germany on December 12, 2011. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

I chose to see Medieval Nuremberg. Despite having a strong desire to see the Documentation Centre and see the site of the Nuremberg trials, I didn’t want that dark part of history to affect my day (old Nazi relics are a bit of a mood-dampener).  Instead, I chose to see Medieval Nuremberg, and I wasn’t disappointed. The Nuremberg Castle is endlessly fascinating, and offers spectacular views of the old town.  Nearly 90% of this was heavily bombed by the British in early 1945, but the town centre has been painstakingly reconstructed to echo its former glory.  A similar level of destruction occurred in Frankfurt am Main, but that city chose to modernize instead, giving it its distinctive skyline.

Nuremberg Castle. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

After an invigorating walk down from the castle, it was off to experience one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Germany: the Christkindlesmarkt.

Nuremberg's amazing Christkindlesmarkt. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Located in the beautiful Hauptmarkt square adjacent to, appropriately, The Beautiful Fountain, the Christkindlesmarkt opened on November 25 and will continue until 5:30pm Christmas Eve. Nearly 180 separate stalls cover 2,500 square meters of space, transforming the square into an authentic German Christmas experience, complete with homemade crafts, ornaments and toys accompanied by the alluring scents of hot mulled wine, and spiced Lebkuchen (gingerbread).

Enjoying a steaming hot cup of mulled wine, or Gluhwein. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

The skies may have decided to open up, but it didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for my first Christkindlesmarkt. Toting a delicious cup of hot mulled wine known as Gluhwein, I set out to discover just what makes these Christmas Markets so popular.  It didn’t take me long to find out: everywhere you look there are some of the most intricately detailed handicrafts I’ve ever seen. North Americans just don’t do Christmas celebrations like this.

Decorative ornaments and hand-crafted items are everywhere. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

There were school children out wandering the Hauptmarkt square, munching on white chocolate-covered apples and looking at the old-fashioned toys in some of the stands. The adults were trailing behind, laughing and joking over a glass of mulled wine.  Speaking of the Gluhwein, I went back for seconds – ostensibly to get another souvenir glass.  Each market has their own collectable cups, each listing the town name and year.

Hundreds of stalls line the Hauptmarkt square for your purchasing pleasure. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

The Gluhwein took the chill right out of the air; after about 10 minutes I’d removed my scarf and gloves, strutting around as if it were Hawaii.  That brings me to my next point about this delicious mulled wine drink: it’s potent stuff. You may not know it at first, but Gluhwein #2 can pack a fair punch!

Fresh Lebkuchen abounds! Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

So while people around me complained about the rain and the cold, I relished it.  Why? Because you simply don’t get this experience in the summer months.  The cold goes hand in hand with the warming properties of the Gluhwein, and the intoxicating aroma of fresh gingerbread, roasted nuts, and sizzling sausages.

Back onboard the AmaLyra: the view from my suite as we sail the Main-Danube Canal, bound for Regensburg. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

If it’s cold outside today, it’s nice and toasty warm here in my suite aboard the AmaLyra. A traditional sit-down lunch was served in the Restaurant, or guests like me could chose to partake in the Light Lunch in the Lounge, consisting of soup, sandwiches, and fresh fruit and vegetables.  A soup and sandwich was the perfect antidote to the cold of the morning as we started our transit down the Main-Danube Canal, bound for Regensburg.

All that separates us from the Danube are a few, er, rather large locks. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Today we’ve had to transit several locks, and in fact we’re entering another one as I write this.  Since we’re ascending the river, we enter the locks at the bottom and are raised up to the next “step”.  There are mere inches of room on either side of the ship, and the glistening wet concrete walls of the lock basin tower over the AmaLyra.

For a long time, nothing happens.

No room to spare: AmaLyra takes up every available inch of space in these locks, some of which are as high as 80 feet tall. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Then, ever so slowly, a disturbance appears over the water in front of the ship as enormous valves are opened, letting water flow into the lock, raising the ship in a process filled with the sounds of gushing water, straining motors and screaming metal-on-metal as the guide bumpers raise on their runners with the ship.  But that’s outside. Inside, it’s as quiet as can be, with Christmas music playing softly in the Lounge amid the sounds of people laughing and glasses clinking.

As we have the rest of the day along the canal here aboard the AmaLyra, here’s a look at what the afternoon and evening have in store for us:

  • 12:45pm: AmaLyra departs for Regensburg along the Main-Danube Canal!
  • 1:00pm: Lunch is served in the Restaurant and a light lunch is served in the Lounge.
  • 4-5:00pm: Tea, coffee and cake are served in the AmaLyra Lounge accompanied by Peter’s music.
  • During the Afternoon: we will go through the first locks on your cruise; three of them are the highest ones (81.9 feet each)
  • 5:30pm: Main-Danube Canal presentation in the AmaLyra Lounge
  • 7:00pm: Chaine Des Rotisseurs Dinner awaits you in the Restaurant.
  • After dinner: bring your Christmas traditions from home as we will be decorating our Christmas Trees in the Lounge.
  • 10:30pm: Late night snack is served in the AmaLyra Lounge and Peter at the Piano.

Flawlessly peaceful: an afternoon of smooth sailing down the Main-Danube Canal. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

“Flawless” would be an excellent way to describe the voyage so far. Like many great cruise lines, AmaWaterways pays close attention to the little details that can make or break a cruise, and they want to ensure every passenger has a stellar experience.  This morning, cards were left on the beds when they were made up, stating that if there was anything that the crew of the ship could do to make our stay more enjoyable, to let them know as soon as possible. It’s a nice little reminder to not let problems, if there are any, fester or persist until the end of the voyage when it becomes impossible to correct.

I did notice one nice little touch I want to leave you all with tonight, and it actually concerned toiletries.  I’m always forgetting my toothbrush when I travel, and if I don’t forget that, I forget my razor, shaving cream or both.  What can I say? It must be “a man thing.”  Fortunately, the people at AmaWaterways must have had the same problem, because they’ve included a toothbrush and toothpaste kit as part of the bathroom amenities, along with a separate shaving kit.

It’s nice when a cruise line exceeds your expectations; it’s even better when they help save you from yourself!

A golden Christmas decoration rings in evening in the Lounge aboard AmaWaterways' gorgeous AmaLyra. Photo © 2011 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Trip Report from aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra continues tomorrow, as we are set to explore Regensburg, Germany.  Looking to book your very own river cruise with AmaWaterways? Get all the details from our friends at Cruise Experts Travel!

 

 

4 Responses to AmaLyra Live Voyage Report – Day 2

  1. Kim says:

    once again a wonderful post! when do i get to go?

  2. Rebecca says:

    WOW – such amazing pictures – the whole experience sounds magical! We are booked on the Amalegro next Wednesday – and your blog is the PERFECT sneak-peek for what promises to be a unbelieveable vacation! I’ve emailed the link to our entire group! Enjoy yourself even more – and please keep the posts coming!

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  4. Scott Simon says:

    Thanks so much for some great info and pictures. We sale on the AmaLyra is 2 weeks, Dec 25. This will be our first river cruise and are so looking forward to it.

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