Under the metallic light in Regensburg on this March-like day in May, the Beautiful Blue Danube flows southeasterly with vigor. The water is definitely not blue; mostly it is greenish with brown reflections, and glints of pewter on the wavelets.
Regensburg is crawling with tour groups, way too many of them following the red lollipops brandished by Viking guides. Yesterday our lollipop read 19E, 19 for our boat, The Atla, and E for our tour group, had we gone with a group. Mostly we don’t join groups. We walk fast or slow as the spirit energizes or fatigue requires, and turn this way or that–or sit—as we like. Groups simply exhaust me and I would rather suffer the wails from my metatarsals and the whining bursitis in my hip when those are provoked by my own decisions.
The town begins to stir around 9:00 as trucks deliver stock, shop-keepers prepare for customers and cafe proprietors wipe down tables. Not especially early risers, these Regensburgers, but they put in a good day. Shops sell lederhosen and dirndls as well as trendy fashions; new children’s toys and ancient ornaments from Christmases past. There are merchants specializing in wein, especially the local white wines, and backereis that sell only bread as well as ones that offer pastries.
We woke this morning to find ourselves looking down a cobbled street into Regensburg. Workers in neon yellow vests walked past. Many are employed in building the Neue Museum der Bayerischen Geschicte ( architect WoernerUndPartner) which includes a promenade and road improvements along the river. The foundation stone was laid 22 May 2015. I think it’ll be a fine building, a wonderful addition to Regensburg, and a god-send for tourists and schoolkids who would like to learn Bavarian history in a single spacious location. A real improvement of the stretch of waterfront from the Eiserne Brücke, the Stone Bridge, almost to the Villa Park by the Ostentor, when it opens in 2018.
At the center of town, the Stone Bridge is shrouded with photoscreened draperies as it undergoes restoration. It’s been in use since the 12th century; until the 1930s it was the only bridge that crossed the Danube anywhere nearby. The Roman Porta Praetoria is similarly obscured. We walk through (mostly) traffic-free streets, making our way down to St. Emmeram’s and the Thurn und Taxis palace. The church is dark but lavish; we peek through a gate at the courtyard of the palace but decide that, as it is noon, lunch aboard the Atla sounds more appealing that an inspection of furniture and decorative arts.
In the afternoon we wander back. Cold and mist linger and mute the colors. We note the Goldener Turm, amble by the Dreieinigkeitskirche, Holy Trinity Church, and locate a bona-fide purveyor of spirits. A vodka-tonic on the boat is 6,50 €. One bottle of vodka makes many, many cocktails. We bought a few small bottles of tonic and later realize that a glass of tonic with a piece of lime is free at the bar in the boat’s Aquavit Lounge. We are thrifty travelers.
We know we are missing a lot, but how is one supposed to enjoy a place while traveling on revved engines?
Good coffee a generous square of strudel filled with apple for my Dear One and pastry cream and chunks of rhubarb fortified us for the short walk back.
Around 4:30 or 5:00, the folk here collect the kids, head home, finish the tasks that have taken them from their gemütliche homes. Maybe it’s different on a warm sunny day, or when this UNESCO site is flooded with visitors.
This Tuesday, however, seems like an ordinary day, a working day, and routine prevails. The cruise has its routine, too, and at 8:30 we will be pulled forward once again by the Danube’s current. Passau ahead.
A nice town, Regensburg.