We sailed overnight from Passau to Regensburg, arriving about 2:00 in the afternoon. Regensburg is a medieval city of about 100,000.
The old town retains much of its gothic architecture, as demonstrated by the Regensberg Cathedral, but also includes a great deal of an Italian hill town look with many seven story buildings demonstrating the wealth of merchants.
Of course a few were only five stories in height and one had nine stories. All but the lower three floors were for show only and added no usable space to the building.
We had a delightful guide names Francis, or Sir Francis, or St. Francis. He was born not too far from Regensburg, is probably 74 and 75 , and delighted us with stories of his childhood during WW II. When his little city was bombed school was out for seven months to the delight of the kids. In addition there were bombed out houses, forbidden to enter of course, which made great play areas for 7-10 year old boys. His father was in the military and came home only once a year. Since his mother was less of a disciplinarian than his father Francis felt, on the whole, privileged to be free of his father's discipline for much of the year. Nine months later he had a new sibling. Francis is a great story teller and we loved our time with him.
After the tour of the old city we walked another 10-15 minutes to the Christmas market at the Thurn and Taxis Castle. The castle, a former monastery, is larger than Buckingham Palace. It was given to the family that currently owns it in exchange for their franchise of postal operations in the south of Bavaria. It is still occupied (at least parts of it) by the family.
Now I understand the fuss about Christmas markets. This market was huge. It had many new goods and wares in the many booths: bows and arrows, animal skin rugs, modern grills fired by wood, and a large number of booths displaying the works of artists of all kinds. It is open four weeks and draws, according to St. Francis, "hundreds of thousands of visitors (at 6.80 Euros a head)". From the crowd there at 4pm on a Monday evening I can believe St. Francis!
On our way back to the ship we passed through another Christmas market devoted to artists. It was a very small market but Connie spotted a "must have" for me: a metal filigree nude sculpture. Unfortunately it continues to be a must have not yet acquired. I will save my next 750 Euros and think about it.
After returning to the ship we had a Captain's cocktail party followed by a caroling session performed by the staff. And then Santa arrived! At night we left shoes outside our door. I will report tomorrow what happened with our shoes.