We have arrived today in the small town of Bamberg in Franconia, for a different view of Germany. Now we are in what was West Germany, in a Catholic area, never bombed during the war.
That preserved the oldest part of this picture-book city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. References from the 10th century prove this community has been here a while, and for a short time, it was the center of the Holy Roman Empire.
It must be packed with tourists during the summer, but now we are only sharing it with the locals, on a snowy day that made it seem a bit magical.
We were guided to an excellent restaurant by an elegant Bamberg gentleman who loves New York, and who happened to be going to the same restaurant for his monthly Rotary Club meeting. I had to giggle. Our food was quite elegant too. Don had roasted duck legs and I had pork filets with gingerbread sauce, mashed sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts with bacon. Don also tried the local specialty – smoked beer. It tasted like bratwurst, so I was glad I stuck to Pilsner.
Our new friend also recommended the best chocolate shop in Bamberg, which was just one of many. Yes, we did make a small purchase for later. We also had to have one of the nice hot pretzels featured in a nearby bakery. Yum. They do know their dough here.
The Old Town Hall is built in the middle of the river, and is so picturesque. We passed through and walked up the hill to Bamberg Cathedral, built in 1237, with the tombs of Emperor Henry II and Pope Clement II. It is under a lot of renovation, but still impresses.
The town is a delightful short stop on our trip. There is a different attitude here that even we can feel. Service people – waiters, shopkeepers – are much more friendly and there is a more familiar flavor of capitalism. Our new Bamberg friend frowned when talking about East Germany, and predicted that it will take them another generation to get communist culture out of their heads. (And to re-learn how to cook.)