We pick up once again on our travelogue …
On Thursday, our boat made a leisurely sail to Miltenberg on the Main River in Germany.
Along the way, we passed through several locks on the Main. The locks serve three major purposes: 1) They regulate the level of the river and control the frequent flooding of the riverside towns that would otherwise occur, 2) they control the depth of the river and thus render it reliably navigable, and 3) small dams along the river at the locks provide some hydroelectric power. There are 33 locks that we must navigate from the mouth of the Main where it empties into the Rhine and where we finally cross the Rhine-Main-Danube canal and enter the Danube. Each lock allows the boat to rise (or fall if going downstream) from about 3-25 meters. If the boat is going upstream (as are we, since the rivers north of the Danube drain into the North Sea) the purpose of the lock is to rise. The boat first enters the downstream section of the lock. The back door is closed sealing the boat in a short section of river between the back door and the front door. Sluice gates are opened in the front allowing water from the upstream section of the river to enter the closed section, floating the boat from the lower to the upper elevation. Then, the front gate is opened and the boat sails through.
As we sailed along the Main river, four of us decided to have a short poker game. Mike Schnoll brought the cards and chips. We all bought in for the princely sum of 6 Euro and began.
At the end of the game, I was the big winner with a net profit of 4.40 Euro.
We pulled into Miltenberg and began our walking tour of this largely untouched medieval city/town. Our guide took us though the cobblestone streets that defined the town. Nearly all the buildings dated from between the 800 AD date and around the early 1700s. Houses and shops were of the half-timbered variety, which means that the wood frame that defines the structure is exposed with the gaps between the frame filled with stucco. Here are a couple of examples:
Town Square in Miltenberg. Notice the exposed wood frame with stucco in between the frame elements. The funnel shaped ditch on the left is the main drainage for the town for rain water (and sewage in the “old days”). Some of the buildings are tilted a bit due to soft soil and frequent floods, but most of the apparent tilt is due to camera perspective.
Here is an example of a building that is actually and significantly tilted. There are no level floors or plumb walls in this house. It is still in use.
One of our group members wasn’t feeling well (probable bronchitis) so we stopped in an apothecary (drug store) and purchased a supply of vitamin C, decongestants, antihistamines, and antibiotics.
After exploring the town, we stopped in a brew house and sampled the local brews. We had Faust DoubleBock, Pils, and Heffelweissen (wheat beer). Added a wonderful thin sliced pizza and all was well.
From Miltenberg, we then boarded the buses again and drove to the nearby town of Wertheim. By this time, it was already past closing time for the shops so we just ambled around town looking at the architecture and enjoying the ambiance.
The first building we came upon in Wertheim was the Leaning Tower of Wertheim.
The bottom half of the tower was built some 800 years ago but construction stopped halfway through because the tower was tilting too much. It lay half constructed for another 200 years. Then the city fathers decided to finish the job, but built the top in such a way to offset the tilt.
There were many other lovely old buildings to see in Wertheim, but my current internet access is so slow and spotty that I’m going to sign off now and try again later. Tomorrow is Wurzberg. More to come.