Feature

This week’s travel dream: Germany’s storybook river

Though Germany’s Main River snakes through the heart of a storied land, it “seldom gets the spotlight.

Germany’s Main River could use a new press agent, said Susan Farlow in The Dallas Morning News. Though it snakes through the heart of a storied land, it “seldom gets the spotlight, thanks to being sandwiched between its more famous (and longer) cousins, the attention-getting Danube and Rhine rivers.” Before my husband and I took a river cruise that would put us on the Main for three days, I did know two things about it—that the name is pronounced “mine” and that the brothers Grimm were born on its banks in the 1700s. With no books to turn to, I’d have to learn the rest along the way.

Bamberg was our first port of call as our vessel neared the Main, and the city’s Old Town section threw us all into a living storybook. In fact, “if the Disney folks ever wanted to create a medieval theme park, I’d advise they just make a clone of Bamberg.” We were traveling from beer country to wine country as we traveled east to west, so experts had already clued us in to Bamberg specialties like Rauchbier, or smoked beer. By the next day, we were sipping wine in Würzburg, having descended into the cellars of the Prince-Bishop’s Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage site and “one of Europe’s most opulent palaces.”

Though I was seeking a medieval mood, our ship offered anything but. The 169-passenger Scenic Jewel specialized in high-tech amenities like electric-assist bicycles for land excursions and private balconies that converted to all-weather lounges “at the push of a button.” The crew brought aboard beer experts and a Bavarian brass band for our entertainment and edification, but on the night we passed the Grimms’ birthplace, I was on my own again. The town of Hanau was quiet as we glided by at about midnight. “All I could make out were some pretty streetlights and several tall steeples.” All in all, though, it didn’t look like a bad place to live out a fairy tale.

Scenic Cruises (scenictours.com) offers a 15-day “Jewels of Europe” tour that spends three days on the Main and starts at $5,295 a passenger.

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