Our Bamberg day started out interesting due to a delay in one of the locks. That morning we woke up a little later and there was an announcement into the cabins about a slight change in the tour schedule for the day. Originally we were supposed to board busses to Bamberg from Hassfurt that morning, but due to an oil spill in one of the locks we weren’t able to make it to Hassfurt until the afternoon sometime. Viking then arranged for the busses to meet us out our location along the Main River. The walk to the bus was actually aided by local police and firemen who were helping with the oil spill cleanup. Also a local kindergarten had donated a bus for the afternoon to take those who had difficulty walking to the bus pickup location for Viking.
The oil spill was mainly contained in the lock but the Viking Baldur was part of the containment zone and could not transfer the lock until it was cleaned up. Thankfully our boat did make it through the lock later in the day. Any boats behind us were delayed as well but most likely longer since they were outside the zone. We were told the boat was delayed a good 5 ½ hours at the lock. It did sound like there may be some future delays at this lock due to oil. Supposedly yesterday a group of German divers would go into the lock to find the exact location of the leak since it actually wasn’t coming from a boat. The lock may be closed for some periods of time in the coming days.
Overall Viking provided a lot of communication for the day and kept us informed of what was going on. Both my Mom and I were very impressed by this, especially because of the bad reputation Viking receives on some of the cruise message boards.
Now on to the rest of the day! No matter what, we were stuck doing a tour to Bamberg because of the oil spill problems and due to the bussing. Once we got to the busses our tour guides arrived and we started to head towards Bamberg. We were on the regular tour but added on the new optional part of a beer tasting in Bamberg for €5.50. I will admit right off, Bamberg was my least favorite day of the cruise so far and the tour guide we had was somewhat poor. The guide was in my age group and a university student, but he just did not have the right personality for being a tour guide. The guy was very nice and tried, it just as a really boring tour day.
The bus drive took about 45 minutes to Bamberg and once we got there we started the walking tour. Our tour was really abbreviated because the guide was not able to switch the beer tasting time. I felt like we walked and saw really nothing. We did visit an area where a lot of vendors were selling fresh produce. Right now the strawberries smell amazing and you could smell them clear across the market. From here we headed to one of the local cathedrals, which ironically we couldn’t go inside because we were in a group. At this point the guide pulled out a book with photos to show us inside the cathedral.
Next the tour guide made a huge deal about taking us to the rose garden before our beer tasting. Now after walking a short distance we get to the rose garden and literally only one rose was in bloom. This was a bit disappointing and a slight waste of time that day.
After the rose garden we finally headed to the brewery. For €5.50 we received three different beers to try and a pretzel. This was actually a great deal and a good way to taste the famous smoked beer from Bamberg. The first beer we tried had more of a hops characteristic and was bitter. I have no clue the type of beer we had since we were never told. The second beer was a Weizen, which was a wheat beer. This was my Mom’s favorite beer since it did not have the hops characteristic to it. Last we had the smoked beer, which I loved but no one else on the tour liked. There was a lot of smoky characteristic to the beer, almost like a barbecue. Halfway through the tasting we were brought a freshly baked pretzel. This was the best part of the tour and my favorite part of the day.
After the tour we had about an hour and a half of free time. We grabbed a cone of ice cream from one of the local recommended shops. Two scoops came out to €2.40, though the scoops were definitely not the typical Americanized scoop of ice cream. I had a scoop of almond-rum and a scoop of rhubarb. Now the almond-rum was very good, but the rhubarb was delicious and had small pieces of rhubarb in it as well. If rhubarb is in season when you are in Germany, I recommend finding some of the local ice cream to try it. There also was an asparagus ice cream to try, but I passed on that for now. After this we walked around and met up with the Viking representatives. We then had to take a bus to Hassfurt since the Viking Baldur had just transferred the lock about an hour before and was not going to make it to Bamberg in time to pick everyone up.