The bus journey from the docked ship is nearing two hours, but Bamberg challenges Bruges for the “cool and charming” award, so most aboard accept the inconvenience. Our guide is an attractive, young, female historian with an accent that only adds clarity to her superb mastery of English. Today five of us traveled together, leaving Robin, who was feeling the sort of gastrointestinal challenge that makes the thought of long lines at a women’s restroom unattractive, on the good ship Water Closet. I have to make that remark as she, upon learning that I am chronicling our journey herein, cleverly quipped that their family is “blog fodder.” But as we are quite pleased to have their company, I intend to deny her further justification.

Town Hall on Island

Our group agrees that the town hall is the most charming of the many marvelous sites. It is built in the middle of the river with a bridge to either side connected through an arched opening in the middle of the building. The residing bishop owned enough property to forbid any reasonable location within the town, so the people found this clever solution—no one owned the river at that time, a bishopric (word association employed here) oversight. The exterior walls are painted with scenes of…I forget, but it is really nice.

In Bamberg we learned that an early accident revealed that if one has a fire in the hops storage room before brewing, it imparts a flavor to the beer. I agree. They call this neither “light” or “dark,” but “hell,” which confirms that the word means the same in both German and English. What remains unexplained is why after learning the effect of the process, it was ever repeated. Perhaps it is only our good fortune that never in recorded German history have stored hops been trampled by urinating sheep.

After dinner on board the ship, I introduced the group to a five-player game of “Oh Hell,” Christi had chosen to sit it out. I disclose just enough hints of strategy to give the illusion of fairness without risking a loss. Mike smells a rat (or well-watered ewe), but Glenn is pleased to be included in something more than observing adults gulping countless liters of beer. This strategy will prove feckless against Glenn in a couple of days when playing a different game.

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