Before actually traveling to foreign lands, we might have some pre-conceived notions as to what we might find there. It seems a rare occurrence when reality matches what we anticipate. Guide books, along with travel experts, video or friends who have been there can help. Still, seeing an iconic landmark or an entire city for the first time with our own eyes commonly takes on a new meaning. But there are exceptions. Bamburg, Germany is one of those.
On our 15-day Viking River Cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam, we have passed everything from cornfields to vineyards, shipyards, castles and homes. Sailing now downstream on the way to sea level, we spend several days in Germany, a country that is pretty much what we expected. Amazing.
In Bamburg, a college town of less than 20,000 people (12,000 of which are students) beer and bratwurst are a central part of the experience for many. On just about every street in the city’s center we found bratwurst wagons along with multiple café’s, bakeries and bars mixed in among a variety of retail stores.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993, Bamburg looks today much like it did hundreds of years ago. This is not some attraction built to resemble buildings in the 17th century. Because it was one of the few towns in Germany not destroyed by the bombs of World War II, Bamburg is a vibrant city that attracts over a half-million visitors each year. A great many of them probably enjoy a bratwurst and a smoked beer.
Tip that will make you appear to know what you are getting yourself into when ‘sampling’ this liquid: Order ‘Rauchbier’ or ‘smoked beer’ but not ‘Rauchbier smoked beer’ which is like ordering two kicks in the head by a horse. I sampled four of these and lived to tell about it. Barely.
Stay tuned as we work our way along the river from Budapest to Amsterdam on a 15-day Grand European Tour hosted by Viking River Cruises. As always, my words are my own and no expectation has been set by the cruise line for what you see written here.