One of our most enjoyable activities on board the Maria Theresa involved very little on our part. We spent many enjoyable hours on the bow or stern decks which were open to the sun. There we could sip a glass of wine , a beer or a soft drink and munch on some excellent cheese while viewing the German countryside. Fortunately for the Ramblers, the excellent late August and early September weather made this possible almost every day of our cruise.
Saturday, August 29th was no exception. It marked the end of the first week of our two week cruise and again we had a choice of activities. Those who wanted could disembark at what Uniworld calls a technical stop.This means the MT stopped at a pre-arranged spot along the way so that the passengers who had elected to take a day trip could board their busses. The docking and un-docking process took about thirty minutes, and then the MT continued on its way to its regular stop at Schweinfurt. The day-trippers rode the bus to Rothenburg while the rest of the passengers enjoyed a relaxing day on board. In the late afternoon, the busses would then take them to our stop at Schweinfurt. Friends who went on the day trip had a very good time in Rothenburg (red castle) a very famous medieval town with many interesting buildings, museums and a castle. The Ramblers had decided not to take the Rothenburg tour, one of the few trips that had an extra charge, simply because they enjoyed sailing on the Maria Theresa.
Along the way we saw vacationers swimming and fishing in the Main River, and enjoyed the locking process. One thing the Ramblers didn’t expect was that we would get buzzed by an ultralight.
We heard a buzzing sound which got closer and closer and revealed itself as an ultralight plane. The pilot seemed determined to get as close to the MT as possible without crashing into the canal. We soon determined that he was not hostile but merely showing off, and the pilot added a little excitement to our lazy afternoon.
As we drew closer to Schweinfurt, the MT glided through some industrial areas.
Obviously, the German rivers are utilized by industry as are the rivers in the United States and other parts of the world. However, for the most part, the daytime scenery is attractive and consists mainly of fields, vineyards and villages rather than commercial or industrial vistas.
Schweinfurt literally means pig ford, not a very glamorous name for an ancient town that became a German industrial center in the 20th century. Because of this, it was bombed heavily during WWII and much of the city was destroyed although it was soon rebuilt. Many American servicemen were stationed in Schweinfurt after the war, and the United States maintained a base there until 2014. Thus it didn’t really seem like a very promising stop for the Maria Theresa passengers.
However, we found that Schweinfurt did have an excellent docking facility on the right side of the Main river which was walking distance from the city center. Those who hadn’t gone on the Rothenburg trip had the opportunity to stroll into town. Directly across from our dock, in the middle of the Main River was an island which seemed to contain a large campground, filled to capacity with folks enjoying the beautiful weather.
August 29 was the second day of the Schweinfurt stadtfest or city festival, one of the many held throughout Germany near the end of summer. The Ramblers decided to check it out, since it is always fun to tour a new place on your own. It was but a short walk from the quayside, which has a large concrete walkway, a pavilion and beer stalls to the city center. I learned later that the residents of Schweinfurt consider it their (beer) beach and it is a popular place for jogging, cycling, walking or just sunning during nice weather. I also learned that the stadtfest has now been held for a few years. Every year it has drawn an increasing number of people who participate in various contests and listen to a variety of bands both traditional and rock. The downside of this for the Ramblers was that by the time we got there, the stores were closed. All that was open were the restaurants, bars and beer tents. Since we had just spent the afternoon on the MT, snacking and drinking, these had little appeal.
Still it was fun to spend some time wandering among fair goers of all ages who were obviously enjoying themselves.
The most impressive historic site in Schweinfurt is the Gothic Rathhaus built in the middle of the 16th century, which towers over the marketplace.
We rambled around the streets that lined the market square, stopping to admire some of the quiet corners and interesting buildings. There was a church, as there usually is in Bavaria, not far from the square and we walked over to look at it. Unfortunately, all its doors were locked, as they are in many churches today, to prevent vandalism. The Ramblers walked around it to check but couldn’t get in. Neither was there a name visible on the exterior.
I didn’t think of asking as I was sure I could easily identify it when I got home. Wrong! There were many photos on the web of churches in Schweinfurt but none resembled the one in the photo I took. I wasn’t sure whether it was a Catholic or Protestant Church, as this area, though predominantly RC, has a substantial number of Lutherans as well as other Protestant denominations. I was about to give up when I tried just one more search and found it. Luckily for me, I had photographed its most famous feature, the “brides’ door” with statues of Adam and Eve.
This enabled me to identify my mystery church as the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Johannes at last, a very satisfying end. We tend to take for granted that information we are looking for is readily available on the net, but this is not always the case, even with all the finding aids available. Seems like the Schweinfurt Lutherans are not as avid photographers or Face Bookers as the Catholics.
After a pleasant walk around the city, we headed back to the MT for another excellent dinner. The folks who had taken the bus to Rothenburg had also returned, tired but happy, and glad they had gone. But did they have a chance to get buzzed by an ultralight? I think not.