In the wee hours, the Viking Gullveig ship arrived in Breisach, Germany at Kilometer/KM 226.5. It appears that the ship spent most of the night in the Grand Canal d'Alsace/a canalized section of the Rhine River, and that we went through four locks.
Breisach sits atop a basalt rock with St Stephansmünster/St Stephen's Cathedral dominating the skyline.
St. Stephansmünster/St Stephen's Cathedral
overlooking the Viking motor coaches
|Breakfast spread in the Aquavit Lounge|
The drill for shore excursions is to bring your Audiovox receiver hanging on a lanyard around your neck with an earphone, pick up your boarding card from reception so that they know who has left the ship, pick up your bus/guide number, and receive a bottle of water as you disembark. The ship can accommodate 190 passengers, who are divided into at least four groups (27A, 27B, 27C, 27D). Each group finds the Viking motor coach with their number and/or the guide holding the "lollipop" sign with their number.
Today we boarded bus 27A with our driver, Rostia from the Czech Republic. Our motor coach was a Mercedes Benz!
The local guides wore traditional dress, the men in felt hats and the women with Bollenhüte/pompom hats. On the bus, the guides used the bus audio system, but on the ground, they used the Audiovox system. Each guide was on a separate channel on the audiovox receiver. Through your earpiece, you could hear everything the guide said, not missing a word as you lagged behind to take photos, stepped into a souvenir shop or restroom, or marched ahead.
As we drove out of Breisach towards the Black Forest, we passed the Badischer Winzerkeller eG (Baden Wine Cellar, Inc., Europe's largest wine cellar, and the third largest in world behind South Africa & California) and saw the hill called Kaiserstuhl/Emperor's Seat whose vineyards make this area famous for wine.
The fertile flat farmland around the Rhein, rich with volcanic soil, was filled with fruit orchards (apple, cherry, pear, plum, as well as almond) and fields with mounded rows covered with plastic for growing asparagus.
|Rapeseed field in bloom (used to make canola oil)|
In Wasenweiler, we were told that the towns in the region close the streets to traffic for a wine-tasting festival. People can go from one wine cellar to the next, trying the 45 or so wines of the region. Most of the wines are Spätburgunder/Pinot Noir, and there are also Riesling, Grauburgunder/Ruländer/Pinot Gris, and Weissburgunder/Pinot Blanc. Additionally Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Müller-Thurgau/Rivaner, Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, Silvaner, and Traminer.
The guide called the next area a reserve, where there were horse pastures. Apparently families of children with special needs can come on holiday and the children are provided hippotherapy/therapy on horseback.
Atop the St Stephanskirche/St Stephen's Church in Gottenheim, we could see a stork nest.
|St Stephanskirche/St Stephen's Church|
We reached the edges of the Schwarzwald/Black Forest and you could see some of the dark evergreens which at one time must have blanketed the area.
|First view of the Black Forest|
|Big farmhouse coming up!|
|Said to be built in 1517|
Our first stop was in the village of St Peter im Schwarzwald/St Peter in the Black Forest with its Kloster St Peter/St Peter's Abbey, a former Benedictine monastery built here in 1090 as a family monastery and burial place of the Zähringen family.
|Kloster St Peter/St Peter's Abbey|
|Abbey building with stone block pilaster? (KSS)|
|No, it's painted stucco! (KSS)|
|Klosterkirche/Abbey church interior,|
frescoes (1727) by Franz Joseph Speigler
|Sculptures attributed to Joseph Anton Feuchtmayer (KSS)|
|The faux marble is actually painted wood (KSS)|
|A unique presentation of the cross before Easter Sunday|
|Organ; all very rococo|
|Fountain with statue of Berthold II,|
the Zähringen duke who brought the abbey here
(note Easter decorations)
|A sewer cover with 'cobblestones' in the center (KSS)|
|Bäckerei Kreuz/Cross Bakery|
|More goodies: Linzer Augen/Linz "eyes" and heart-shaped Danish pastries|
It was said the children create all the Easter decorations.
Back in the motor coaches to drive higher into the Black Forest.
Due to winter weather conditions, the farming families were allowed to build chapels in their homes, marked by a cross and/or bell,
|Farmhouse with a chapel bell and cross|
|Chapel to the left|
We drove through Höllental/Hell Valley, following the Höllentalbahn/Hell Valley Railway (1882-1887) that kept disappearing into tunnels.
|Höllentalbahn/Hell Valley Railway|
After traveling a few loops ourselves, we ended up in a valley at the Hofgut Sternen/Drubba complex that included a Best Western Hotel.
|Tamiko with our local guide, Alba,|
with her Bollenhut/pompom hat (KSS)
At our only commercial stop during the entire cruise, we had the options of watching a cuckoo clock-making demonstration, a glass-blowing demonstration, and a Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte/Black Forest Cake-making demonstration, or to see the life-size cuckoo clock perform the hour, hike into the Black Forest, and have coffee and a slice of Black Forest Cake. We had previously been to a Drubba shop in Regensburg, Germany, and did not feel a need to again see a demonstration of how a cuckoo clock is made. We wanted to walk to the nearby chapel, but were told it was at least 15 minutes to get there, and another 15 to come back and we would miss everything else.
|The café and cuckoo clock shop building;|
the façade is actually a giant cuckoo clock
|Traditional Black Forest cuckoo clocks|
|Chalet-style cuckoo clocks. a Swiss innovation|
|Modern pendulum clocks|
|Beer steins of all sizes|
|A modern Christmas pyramid/carousel|
|Traditional Black Forest smokers|
|"Making" a Black Forest Cherry Cake (Viking)|
|Ravenna viaduct of the Höllental Railway|
Then just over a slight rise, we saw the St Oswald Kapelle/Chapel!
|St Oswald Kapelle/Chapel (1148)|
|Barely caught the cuckoo|
|Then the dancers rotated out one door|
and back in the other
|The dancers from inside the souvenir shop (KSS)|
|Bronze stag (Viking)|
|Pick your own flowers on the honor system|
Today we had our safety drill, putting on our life jackets and going to the mustering point (the dining room for us).