Angels And Nazi’s Make For Interesting Travel

After an included overnight stay in Munich, we were off to Nuremberg, our first stop traveling with Abercrombie & Kent (A&K). Known world-wide for their luxury safari tours and personalized service, I was curious how that expertise would translate into the world of river cruising.   It did not take long to find out.

Rough Start Day Saved By Guardian Angel
Art Bunker Tour - 17Up early and ready to go, our small group of 13 travelers gathered in the hotel lobby for a 2-hour motor coach ride to Nuremberg. Only one problem: No bus. Confirmed multiple times by A&K, the tour company backed out of the deal at the last moment, leaving us stranded. Not a problem for our regional guide and what A&K calls our ‘Guardian Angel’ Hungarian Gabor (Gabe) Kovacs. Who simply ordered up three luxury Mercedes limo vans to get us there, not blinking at the €1000+ price tag. This was after an airline lost one of our group members luggage, another was concerned about their food allergies to almost everything and all were met and oriented personally by Gabe. It’s what A&K calls their Guardian Angel program, that handles even the smallest of details for their clients.

As noted in this space many times before, the best test of customer service is when something goes wrong. We have seen and reported other travelers getting off on the wrong foot, which can be difficult to recover from. Indeed, we had a personal event of that nature occur before our sailing of Royal Clipper when American Airlines lost our luggage. Unexpected surprises like that throw travel off and can ruin a highly-anticipated vacation, if we let them. Gabe made sure that did not happen, dealt with the situation and moved along; brilliantly.  So off to Nuremberg we went, driving through a lovely German countryside and into the heart of the city where our local guide Hildy was on hand to greet us.

Monument Men In Real Life
Art Bunker Tour - 19I had visited Nuremberg before with Viking River Cruises on a guided walking tour through the city which ended in the area of the art bunker. Actually, I had walked right past it and never knew it was there. Since then though, we had viewed the film Monument Men, a generally accurate story (confirmed Hildy) of art treasures hidden underground to survive the air raids of World War II unharmed.

Warned in advance literature from A&K to bring a jacket or sweater as the bunker was chilly, even in the summer, proved accurate as well but added to the ambiance of the place. Walking through the cavernous spaces, it was easy enough to visualize the place when packed full of priceless art treasures. Still, an audio program with newsreel footage and actual recordings of bombers flying overhead and the sound of bombs being dropped and exploding, drove the feel home.

Art Bunker Tour - 14The intricate system of the art bunker was created 24 meters underground, with the ability to provide the best possible conditions for the art and guards who lived there to protect it. Heating, ventilation, locked vaults for the most priceless of works were added to what were beer cellars, directly below the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg which was pretty much leveled during air raids.

While this was a tour included with our Abercrombie & Kent Great Rivers Of Europe package, individuals can also visit paying an admission fee of €4.50 for adults,  €3.50 for children or have a private guided tour for 80 Euro.

Art Bunker Tour - 21Our stop in Nuremberg continued with lunch included at a local restaurant, steps away from the Art Bunker and my first Schnitzel of the trip; a traditional menu item in this part of the world, served with German potato salad and beer.   Then it was on to a very appropriate place to start digging deep into history of the area and get a good feel for some major events that had shaped this part of the world and affected the rest of the planet.

Documentation Centre and Nazi Party Rally Grounds
On the way to Amadeus Brilliant, we stopped by the remains of buildings on the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds for a permanent exhibition ‘Fantasy and Terror’ that looked at the causes, the context and consequences of the National Socialist party reign of terror that led to World War II.

Focusing on topics linked to Nuremberg, the walk-through environmental exhibit has 19 different areas, to which visitors tag audio recordings on hand-held devices that bring a similarly eerie sensation, much like we experienced at the Art Bunker, earlier in the day.

Ending on the massive Rally Grounds, it was easy to visualize the 11 square meter area filled with Nazi’s and 50,000 spectators. Included on the walking tour is in-depth information on the Nuremberg Racial Laws of 1935, the famous Nuremberg Trials and follow-up trials as well as the issue of dealing with the National Socialist party after the war.

Remembering stories from my childhood from older relatives affected by the whole business of World War II in a very real way, the visit out those memories in perspective and explained a lot of what was happening in the world at that historic time.

On Board, At Last
From there it was on to the river to board Luftner Cruises Amadeus Brilliant, a relatively new ship launched in 2012 and the subject of my next post. It seems hard to believe that just two days ago I was in Orlando. Overnight flights with issues (story forthcoming) then an intense day and overnight in Munich pushed all of us to adventure-travel speed; something Abercrombie & Kent does quite effectively, as we are beginning to see first hand.

And so begins the adventure and a definition of what makes traveling with A&K different.

Here are more scenes from that Art Bunker tour

Chris is on location this week, sponsored by Abercrombie & Kent touring Europe by river.  On assignment with Porthole Cruise magazine, Chris is covering a variety of topics along the way, testing Boingo Wireless connectivity and a variety of travel products that have been provided for him.  As always, Chris provides the details to let readers decide what resonates (or not) with them in an unbiased, factual manner.  Click on the Live Events In Progress tab here for all the details