Sunday, August 28, 2011

Germany 1993 - Part I of II

Monday, November 1

Cloudy, cool morning. We picked up our car rental at Harrisburg International and went home for our luggage. We left about 11:30 for JFK. It was a smooth trip and we returned our car and were in the airport by 5 p.m. Our flight left at 9:15 – later than expected. It was a mob scene at the boarding gates – 3 full TWA flights to Frankfurt leaving same time, same gate. They were asking for people to give up their seats – five planes full leaving for Paris at another gate. It was a little scary to be so loaded. The pilot announced they had their maximum load for the flight – including a payload of mail. He made up the time with a tail wind and we arrived on time at 9:30 a.m. with six-hour time difference, we flew for six hours.

November 2

Arrive Frankfurt – cloudy, cold, 32 degrees, but it feels colder. I am really tired – didn’t sleep. It was a smooth flight. We picked up our car rental and spent twenty minutes trying to figure how we’d get to Miltenberg and Heidelberg. The maps always look like Greek until you get used to the names and the language. The first three people we came in contact with speak no English. Thank goodness for John’s horrible German – it got us to the right road and we had a delightful ride to Miltenberg – wonderful little town, picturesque and quaint. Narrow cobblestone streets and timbered houses. Lunch was a super soup and duck bread and our first German pils. It was great but we’re all jet lag and our time clock is all askew. The ride to Heidelberg took us through the Odenwalds– an oh & ah trip through the mountains of golden and burnt orange foliage. The sun came out just in time to spotlight all this beauty. They have some evergreen or needle type trees that turn a golden yellow and their ferns turn rusty also and it was natures’ show. We were lucky to catch it, as it must be about finished for this year. Our hotel, the Richspost is right in town – very German, old and sort of tired, but clean and the linens are wonderful with feather beds. We’ll be here two nights to recover from our jet lag.

November 3

Cool and sunny – beautiful day. We overslept – wow – 'til 10 a.m. They held our breakfast; I believe we are the only people in the hotel. Breakfast was cold cuts, cheeses, and lovely rolls. The coffee is good. We walked to Philosophers Weg – a beautiful pedestrian walk up, up, up the side of the mountain overlooking the Neckar River – some stairs but a strenuous climb to the top and along a distance of about two or three miles. It is beautiful with places and benches along the way in gardens and lookouts to meditate and rest. People actually live on these steep slopes and garden on terraces areas. We crossed the Charles Theodore Bridge, one of the most beautiful in the world, and dates back to the middle ages. It was partially dynamited in 1945 near the end of WWII. We climbed to the Heidelberg Castle, 300 feet above town, the most famous castle ruin in Germany. The church of the Holy Ghost is red sandstone with a beautiful altar. It is being renovated, as is Peter’s Kirche, which is closed. However, we made our true wishes at the Church of the Holy Ghost. We had dinner at the Red Ox Tavern, which is such a famous old tavern and a hangout for students from the University. We were the only patrons – food expensive for simple German fare of sauerkraut and sausage. The beer is excellent – love that local Heidelberg Pils!!! Walked the length of the Hauptstrasse to our hotel. It is cold (nippy cold). We must have walked a dozen or more miles today. The people are beautifully dressed. Even casual clothes are neat and stylish – fur lined shoes or biking-type shoes with cords and jackets with fur trim.

November 4

Left Heidelberg after breakfast and a trip to American Express. You have to dodge the bicycles in this town – almost as many bicycles as cars. We drove to Baden-Baden on the Autobahn for lunch. It is really quite civilized – the trucks really stay in the right lane except to pass and cars travel in middle and left almost exclusively and faster than the trucks can move anyway. We were traveling at 130 k (80 mph) and they passed us on the left as if we were standing still. It works!!! Baden-Baden is obviously affluent. The stores have fabulous clothes – different and beautifully tailored – beautiful fabrics. The handbags and shoes, beautiful and expensive and many stores selling each. Had lunch at a creperie – delicious! On to Strasbourg – we have our difficult moments finding our way, but managed to find a hotel which is clean and reasonable just South of the city. We’ll stay 2 nights. John is making the transition back to French – Ugh-Oi-Moi oh Moi!!! Dinner was an expensive bust. I ordered jambon and John ordered smoked salmon. An entire platter of each arrived cold – no veggies or accompanying food. We ordered a salad – a plate of lettuce with delicious dressing. We made it up with a fabulous dessert – dinner ended up costing more than one room. Crazy!! Hope we’ll get the hang of this soon.

November 5

Wake early to another cloudy, cold day. We both feel back to normal and were in the City of Strasbourg early. Breakfast in a little pastry shop was very expensive. We visited the Cathedral and two nearby museums – one had a collection of early Italian art that was quite spectacular – some Rubens and Van Dykes among many others. We had lunch in a cafĂ© – delicious croque manviews - $20 for lunch. After some shopping, I should say looking, we drove to Obernai – about twenty miles south of Strasbourg. It is a fabulous, old, antique town – the most picturesque we’ve seen. The early timbered houses lean into the narrow cobblestoned streets with window boxes heavy with by geraniums. The shops are lovely and Grass Chocolatier was hard to resist. My legs ache from all the walking but this town is a charmer and we wish we had stayed here. All the hotels are very special. We visited a supermarket – a rare sight here to pick up some odds and ends. It didn’t compare to ours in produce especially. The French outdo us in the pharmacy or body shops – soaps, creams, shower gels – unbelievable choices and perfumes.

Petit France was an interesting part of Strasbourg to visit, but Obernai was a better way to see old France.

November 6

Another cold, raw, cloudy day. I know why fur and wool-lined shoes are so popular. This damp cold gets your feet first. We drove the Rue de Vin Route from Obernai to Colmar. It is not an ideal bicycle route – but would be fun for strong cyclists. Each little village has numerous wineries and you can stop for degustation on every turn in the road. The towns are quaint and the vines cover every inch of the hillsides. It is a wonderful drive with almost no traffic. Wes topped for wine and bought three bottles to take home for Dick Reich from Splitz and Hills. I wish we could carry more as they have Kirsch and many other specialties, it would be fun to try.

We stopped for lunch at Riquewihr, an antique wine village full of caves for degustation. We stopped at a creperie and find they can fill us up, but it is still expensive for lunch. Gas is very expensive $3.60 a gallon. We arrived in Staufen in time to see the town – another really picturesque area in wine country. There is a winery across from our hotel – Hotel Sonne. It is Saturday so only one Restaurant is open. They close for weekends as well as all stores close each day 12 'til 2. They lose more business! John had a wild chicken for dinner called Rebhuhn, only served two days each year. They served bacon fat with bread for an hour oeuvre. They are accustomed to farmers’ appetites.

November 7

Today started out to be very bleak – it was raining and foggy. We left the Sonne Hotel after our best sleep yet and the customary breakfast of hardboiled eggs, cold cuts and cheese. The Freiburg Cathedral had a 10 o’clock Mass and it is truly magnificent. The stained glass windows are unique in their detailed depictions of the life of Christ. The apse was extremely high and there is a wood sculpture of the last supper in life sizes – unbelievable in its detail showing the apostles’ faces full of emotion.

We drove south to Lake Konstanz on Rt. 31 the entire way. It is too bad our weather is so bad as we went over the mountains and the views would have been lovely. We stopped at a restaurant for our lunch, but decided to have dinner as their menu looked so interesting, and a sweet waitress spoke English so well, we had a good idea of what we were ordering. John had Sauerbraten and I had more Bratwurst – love that German sausage. This place was up in the mountains and looked like a place Heidi might frequent. On to Lake Konstanz stopping for the night in Hegge – terrific wee town along the lake. Super Guesthouse, giant chalet overlooking the lake. We have a balcony off our room at the peak and ivy geraniums overflow the window boxes. It is lovely. The people are terrific and John’s German helps, but most don’t speak English. This is a great spot. We will look into the biking. It looks as if there may be a bike trail.

Meersburg was great stop – darling town!

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