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Europe cruise part three: Germany

Friday, July 22, 2011
Over the past couple of Getaway episodes, we've joined Carolyne on a Scenic Tours 'Jewels of Europe' cruise. Aboard Scenic Pearl, we've gently floated along the Danube from Budapest to Austria, and now it's on to Germany.

*Click here to see last week's river cruise to Austria and the Czech Republic
*Click here to see part one of the river cruise in Hungary

Grandly standing on top of a hill you'll see the Walhalla Temple, a magnificent classical Doric marble resembling the Greek Parthenon. It was built between 1830 and 1842 for King Ludwig I. Inside there is an exhibition dedicated to important Germans such as Albert Einstein and Johann Sebastian Bach. Wear your most comfortable shoes if you climb up the stairway from the river. There are 358 steps!

Next breathtaker is the Bavarian city of Regensburg. Sitting at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, it's a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Once home to the current pope, Benedict XVI, Regensburg is the best preserved medieval city in Germany. More than 90 percent of the city was damaged during WWII and has been rebuilt using original stone.

It was a WWII Area Headquarters and had a Messerschmitt aircraft factory and an oil refinery. It was bombed in 1943 but miraculously received little damage, with the exception of the Romanesque church of Obermünster. The belfry survived but the church was never rebuilt.

Regensburg is home to the oldest cafe in Germany. Prinzess Cafe has been making chocolates since 1676 and was the country's first coffee house, opening in 1686. One sweet treat, Heaven's Whisper, is said to be made especially for His Holiness.

From sweet to savoury, the Historic Sausage Kitchen of Regensburg serves 6000 sausages every day. That's all they sell, in portions of six, eight or 10, along with plenty of sauerkraut and mustard. Oh, they do have jugs of local brew too.

The kitchen is in a 900-year-old building and provided food for Roman workers who built the stone bridge next door.

Eighteen hours on, Scenic Pearl reached Nuremberg. It had great significance during the Nazi Germany area and was the site of the huge Nuremberg rallies between 1927 and 1938. Hitler used the rallies as Nazi propaganda events. At the 1935 rally, Hitler ordered the Reichstag to convene and pass the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws revoking German citizenship for all Jews.

Between 1945 and 1946, German officials involved in the Holocaust and other war crimes were brought before an international tribunal in the Nuremberg Trials.

Quite the antithesis of the grim WWII period, Regensburg comes to twinkling life from the end of November to the end of December with the Christmas Market.

Castle-like towers of mansions built by medieval patricians magically shimmer and stalls and booths around the 500-year-old Neupfarr Church sell a glittering range of decorations. Nativity crib scenes, toys and unusual gifts. Much is handmade — marionettes on strings, paintings on silk, dolls and pottery are perfect stocking fillers. Little shops in narrow streets sell Christmas treats. Biscuits, gingerbread and everyone's favourite, lebkucken.

The old town is surrounded by a 16th century wall with a moat built as added protection. Today that moat is a play area with basketball courts and a running track.

A truly delightful place is Nuremburg's Toy Museum. It was founded in 1971, based on the toy collection of Lydia and Paul Bayer. It covers four floors of a medieval building and has toys reaching back to the Middle Ages. Wooden toys, tin toys, dolls and doll houses are all there.

When you see Lily, a German doll, she just might look familiar. The American owner of Mattel visited the museum, bought a Lily for her daughter and, guess what. Barbie was born!

Next week, Carolyne's journey continues through Germany and winds up in Amsterdam.

Location

Scenic Tours 'Jewels of Europe' Tour.

Cost

Scenic Tours 15 day 'Jewels of Europe' river cruises leave from Amsterdam or Budapest. They start at $6095 per person twin share and include return flights from major Australian capital cities. This price is based on March 7, 2012 departure. All meals, drinks with meals, sightseeing to suit your personal interests and headsets on tours. They run between March and November.

Prices correct at 23.07.2011.

For further information

Scenic Tours
14/56 Pitt Street
Sydney 2000
Ph: 1300 723 642
www.scenictours.com.au
info@scenictours.com

It is recommended travellers see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there may be specific vaccinations recommended for your destination. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information, visit www.smartraveller.gov.au and www.welltogo.com.au.

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