We stopped at a lock and picked up some guy named Karl who then had a presentation for us. He is a sixth generation glass blower and works in the town of Wertheim, Germany which was our next stop. His son and daughter in law also work with him as does his wife. In the town of 22,500 people 3000 of them work in the glass industry. That is because many of them work for Pyrex like in Corning Ware.

Karl likes the fact that Pyrex glass is not fragile and uses it for his glassblowing work. He fires a huge furnace overnight and uses that for his artwork glassblowing, but he just used a torch on the ship to give his demonstration. He invited someone from the audience to work with him and the guy actually did the glassblowing and made a Christmas decoration. Of course, Karl was quite helpful and managed to help Joe from the audience create a beautiful piece of glass.

Karl also teaches in the US both in Washington and Oregon. He was a delightful speaker and entertaining presenter. He obviously loves his work and is a superb showman and marketing agent.

Easter Monday is a holiday in Europe and so all the stores in Wertheim were closed – except Karl’s two shops. He has one shop where he sells his artwork glass and the things in there were quite a bit more expensive than in his other shop which sells smaller pieces.

His demonstration aboard ship was fantastic and our walk through the town ended right at his shop, conveniently opened just until 1:00. Many of us were enthralled enough to buy from him.

Wertheim is a peninsula as it is the spit of land between two rivers – the Tauber and the Main. But because water is converging from two different sources, it floods often. The bank of the smaller river is quite steep and then there is a five foot stone wall and still the water managed to reach the second story of the houses on the street beyond the wall.

The clever Germans noted that it was impossible to cross the river because the bridge was underwater, too and so they made a bridge that can be raised when the river floods so people can manage to escape from one side to the other.

The streets of Wertheim were cobbled and the oldest buildings were around five hundred years old. The well in the center of the old town was a work of art created to remind the people of the good Latin adage, Carpe diem. Right on the other side of the well is the other half of the adage. Not only should we seize the day and make the most of life, but we must also remember that death follows us all. On the shop across from the well, now an ice cream store, there is a lintel above the door with two skeletons created by the artists who designed the well.

The castle high above Wertheim was destroyed during the Thirty Year War. From the ground, it looks to be in good shape, however when you are inside the castle walls, it is obviously not so good.

We were able to climb around for quite some time and amazingly enough the sun even came out. I didn’t pack for winter because I was touring in the spring, I did not bring along scarf, hat, or gloves. I just have had to do without a scarf even though I have millions at home. I have a hood on my coat and can put that up. For gloves, I’m stuck with putting socks on my hands but t least I can do sock puppet routines that way.

Anyway, with the sun out, it was warm enough to take off my socks. We were taken to the top of the hill via a choo-choo. The first time we were told about choo-choo transportation, we thought our tour guide didn’t have enough grasp of the English language. However, we later saw the choo-choo locomotion. It is a car that looks like a train engine that hauls one or two passenger cars where several of us can sit in not quite luxury and be carried up or down hills, mountains, or rough cobblestones.

We took the choo-choo to the top of the hill and entered the ruins of the Wertheim Castle. The front of the castle actually faces the town and was not the part that was attacked during the war. As we walked to the back of the castle, the destruction of portions of the buildings were obvious.

The back wall was up there and we climbed some steps to see it and look over it. But, when we got up there, there were more steps. So we climbed them. But when we got to the top of the stairs, there were more steps. So we climbed them. I don’t know how many times we did this, but we kept climbing and climbing. The steps were from hundreds of years ago and were uneven and in some places has loose pieces. They were tilted funny, they were uneven in depth and in height. Luckily, somebody had recently (at least in the last hundred years) had put up some hand railings so we could grab tightly and not kill ourselves.

We got to the top and looked out into the woods and down into the town and the Tauber River. It was beautiful. But now we were at the top and the choo-choo didn’t come up here. So we had to mince our way down the uneven funnily tilted loose steps. We managed to reach the courtyard and were safe.

But right there on the other side of the courtyard was the watch tower. At first I was sure we should just realize we weren’t spring chickens and just go and get a beer at the restaurant built at the castle. But we met another person from our group who said it was lovely up there. We were only going to climb to the first level.

Of course, once we started climbing, we kept climbing and there were levels and more levels to this thing, too. Fortunately, more of the interior of the building had been destroyed or fallen into disrepair. So in many places there were modern, even, wooden stairs. We were all the way up to the tower itself.

The stairway was a spiral and the steps were wooden and even. They were also quite small and one had to tippy toe their way up. I was willing to do this right up until it got so dark I couldn’t see where I was walking anymore. I could tell that falling down these steps was not going mean I broke a hip, but rather that I would kill myself bouncing off the stone walls and clanging into the steps.

Although I would have liked to make it to the top of the tower, I turned around where there was still some light and returned to the safety of uneven, tilted steps. The level we had reached still gave us a great view of the town below and the Main River.

We waited for the choo-choo to return and boarded. The trip back down wasn’t as harrowing as the one coming up because we already knew we had made it one way.

One of the sites we passed was the old Jewish Graveyard. There was a time when there was a fairly large Jewish population in the region. The graveyard was on the side of the hill between the main road along the Main River and the castle walls. There was a tour there in the early afternoon, but we did not take it. However, some of the people we traveled with on the choo-choo had. They said it was quite interesting. There were some older stones but the last date they could find was from 1933. Some of the stones were covered in moss and some were clean and they could be right next to each other. This was obvious as we passed. As we traveled up the hill, we passed the graveyard again, only this time from the top of the space. The graveyard was surrounded by a low stone wall.

We returned to the ship and could sit in the comfort of the lounge. Shortly after we sat down to yet another splendid meal, we set sail again. We sailed all night and arrived at our next port of call in the morning.

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