gmhTODAY 24 gmhTODAY Feb March 2019 - Page 100

Our next stop was Miltenberg, Germany, where cobblestone streets guide you past medieval houses, a town square, and town gates that lead to Miltenberg Castle. River cities were economic centers, so castles were built with walls to protect them from invaders. Miltenburg Castle was constructed in the 1200s to protect the growing trading post that connected the Rhine-Main area with the overland route to the Danube River. Being on the river was key for the movement of goods—one important commodity being salt, which was used to p reserve foods. As we traveled along the Danube River, we saw vineyards on the steepest riverbanks. We learned that grapes are still harvested by hand, a tradition dat- ing back 2,000 years when the Romans introduced viticulture to the region. Of course, wine or beer was the drink of choice for centuries because water often contained bacteria due to the disposal of human, animal, and other waste near water wells. The imagination can go wild just thinking about the smells during the summer and the run-off during the winter. Fermentation helps kill bacteria, so alcoholic beverages were even served to children. Unfortunately, people did 100 not connect the affect of contaminants affecting their water source. One of our tour guides noted that we would probably not survive in those early times, as our bodies have lost many natural defenses against bacteria. During a tour of a palace, I asked the tour guide how royalty dealt with fleas and lice. The guide said that one remedy was a cheesecloth filled with sugar and kept under the cloth- ing to attract the pests away from the skin. Unfortunately, the reality is that everyone itched – wealth and status did not matter in that regard. Also, since water was considered the cause of diseases, bathing was not a popular ritual in some royal courts. So, let your imagination go wild on that one, too. Our next port of call was Wurzburg, Germany, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wurzburg suffered major damage during WWII bombings, but careful reconstruction led to the restoration of landmarks such as the Wurzburg Bishops’ Residenz, one of Germany’s largest and most ornate palaces. Every region we visited on the river cruise had a unique story or reputation. Bamberg is known as the home of smoked beer. The city is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, but not because of smoked beer. Bamberg touts GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN february/march 2019 a magnificent cathedral dating back to the 11th century. Fast becoming a history buff, I learned that in the year 1007, Emperor Heinrich II made Bamberg the center of the Holy Roman Empire and the capital of his reign. He wanted the city to become a second Rome, and like its Italian model, Bamberg was built on seven hills, each with a church on top. Unfortunately, the region developed a dark side with its 17th century witch trials. Five of Bamberg’s mayors—all men—were burned at the stake because of accusations of being accomplices to witches. We continued on to Nuremberg, Germany, which had been virtually destroyed by Allied bombers in January 1945. Through painstaking reconstruction using much of the original stone, castles and churches were restored to preserve its history. Our bus tour took us past structures where the Nazi rallies were held, and where the Nurenberg Trials later took place. One medieval city untouched by the bombings during WWII is Regensburg, Germany, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In parts of Regensburg, early Roman walls still stand, and we truly stepped through time, visiting St. Peter’s Cathedral with its Gothic-style gmhtoday.com