Our ship departed Torgau in the middle of the night, but we woke up to much clearer skies with this sunrise to help get us going:
We spent the morning sailing through a scenic stretch of the Elbe where bridges were few and far between. Along the way we passed the dock for a pedestrian ferry that then crossed just behind us:
There were vineyards carved out of the hills lining parts of the river. This one even had some statues of maidens carrying baskets of grapes.
There was a lot of wildlife along the way that our ship regularly sent flying.
During lunch we sailed into Meißen, with a splendid view of the cathedral and castle from our ship. We would visit the cathedral plaza later on in the day, which required a much bigger climb than one would think from looking at it from this angle.
Our big outing this day was to visit the Meißen porcelain factory and show room. Meißen porcelain is both highly prized and highly priced, explaining why it’s also known as “white gold.” Much of their dinnerware is often just plain white, but their products go far beyond white plates, bowls, and vases to some exotic, colorful, and often whimsical creations.
Our tour included a series of demonstrations, starting with a worker throwing and forming a small vase:
Other demonstrations showed how more complex creations were built up from smaller components, and others showed the steady hands of the painters:
The showroom was a bit overwhelming, to be honest, especially once past the sea of plain white porcelain dishes and into the section of the factory store featuring fancier and incredibly expensive pieces.
After escaping from the showroom with our credit cards unscathed, we headed to the town’s market square where the Christmas market was being held. The Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) rises high above the square with a carillon/glockenspiel made of Meißen porcelain bells that dates from 1929. The middle bell in the second row from the bottom bears the crossed sword mark of the town and porcelain brand, which originally represented Augustus Rex. We didn’t go into this church, but learned that the congregants are working on adding a set of porcelain pipes to their church organ which will be the first of its kind.
Before it got dark we went along as part of a smaller group to climb up to see the cathedral up close, which took us high above the level of the steeple at the Church of Our Lady back by the market.
With the sun setting, we headed back down toward the market and the warm glow of the seasonal lighting began to illuminate the streets:
However, Meißen’s Christmas market lighting was not quite as subtle:
Back on board for dinner we were served Viking’s special “German Night” dinner where much of the crew dressed in traditional German garb and afterwards the lounge featured local musicians playing folklore music, including on an accordion, of course!
Next up: Dresden and a big tour of the surrounding Elbe valley.