july 15, 2015
Bamberg Beer and Water
It’s Monday morning in Wurzburg. Pleasant night in our old hotel. Nothing antique about the plumbing. German cleanliness and efficiency. We have short drive today so we are enjoying a leisurely, for us, Fruhstuck or breakfast. It would take a couple paragraphs to describe all the buffet offerings. This morning’s favorite is the strawberry yogurt topped with fresh local berries. In the evening the hotel breakfast room is a Mexican restaurant. There is something incongruous about this but we are flexible.
The short drive was a little longer than anticipated. Never chose the wrong freeway exit in Germany. You are stuck. Still arrived in Bamberg by 10:30 and Tom lead us right to the hotel in the Altstadt (old city). Even though we needed to retract the side mirrors, we made it and cocooned our car in stackable garage after the antenna was removed by the attendant. It just needs to be rescue we’d in after we leave the perch.
Bamberg was made a city around 1007 as frontier bishopric cut out of the Wurzburg diocese. The place has been in gentle completist ion with Wurzburg ever since. Both cities are on rivers that bisect them. Both cities had bishops who liked their comfort. But while wine is king in Wurzburg, beer is king in Bamber. There are something like 9 breweries in the old city center and fifty or so nearby. I needed to try a few but I will leave it to Dave Sheff to taste the rest when he arrives here in a couple weeks.
Bamberg is also unique in that it did not suffer during the Thirty Years War desLite Swedish occupation nor did it get nary a scratch in WWII. Maybe the Swedes liked the beer too much or couldn’t stop laughing at the angel foot sticking out of the city hall. The town historical center is pretty the way it has been for 800 or so years. As such, it is another UNESCO world heritage site. I anticipated that it would be old and kind of crumbly like Quidlinberg. Instead there were few out of kilter places and buildings in danger of toppling over. I was disappointed but I am sure that the people who live hear are happy with the status quo.
Tourists abound but we easily found the city hall perched on a rock in the middle of the river. It was pretty unique. We bounded up to the cathedral that looks pretty much like it was when finished in 1236. It has never been bombed or trashed. It is primarily a Romanesque structure with some Gothic modification but there are no flying buttresses as the small Romanesque windows do not require support.
The four spires are unusual and we did not see any stairs to climb. Of course, I didn’t look too hard. We did find the Bamberg Rider statue of art history fame. For a sculpture it was two years ahead of its time. We have no idea who the artist was who had the skills of the 15th Century in the 13th Century. We also manages to get close ups of the King Henry II and his wife with the unfortunate name of Queen Cunigunde. There was even a couple of spooky crypts under the altars its some artifacts that I couldn’t make out in the dark.
We skipped the Bishops Residence as we are pretty much palaced out at this point. I am sure it was spectacular but you can only take so much Baroque. Besides we wanted to just wander ancient streets. We went to a beer hall and had a small local beer specialty – Rauchbier – or smoked beer. It was unusual but I liked it. It especially helped when we split another local specialty, stuffed onions. Think of stuffed bell peppers and substitute an onion. We split an order and it was plenty for lunch. Chef Dave can get to work perfecting the recipe, especially since they serve the onion atop mashed potatoes.
There were cool dockside cranes near the old slaughterhouse with the bull above the doorway. The river was the medieval disposal point for the refuse. Remind me not to get a beer downstream from the abattoir. We found plenty of ice cream to eat and interesting doors to photograph. We even managed to walk some trails along the river without getting hit by a bike. Tonight we will go into one of the brewery’s for dinner. I may be able to add to this missive.