Friday, September 30, 2011


Written back in the USA

We walked about six blocks last night to the Italian Restaurant. When we passed the gas station where we’d filled our car up prior to arriving at the hotel, the boys told us about the accident they’d come upon just after it had happened at that intersection. A bicycle rider was hit by a car…there was still blood in the street where the cyclist had fallen. In the USA it would have been cleaned up by now! We were really surprised.

Dinner was a salad for Shari, pizza for I, Jim had pasta and Dave ate a pocket pizza and of course Beer! Walked home the long way past an Italian ice cream store for our final double dip! Arrived home and no rain…we’d taken umbrellas as it’s looked like rain all day!

Difficult to stay awake but with CNN we managed to stay up until 9:30 PM. Heard they’ve had some bad fires in Yuba City near Sacramento…lost several homes.

Woke up by 6 AM and finished packing the bags and getting everything ready for the trip home. We’d packed the car and eaten breakfast before 8 AM. Off to the airport. Returned the car with no problems and found that we’d driven 4,310 kilometers which is about 2,680 miles during our trip. The car had less than 400 miles on it at the beginning of our trip. We said our good-byes at the car rental office and started the process of getting out of Germany. It took over an hour to go through all the checks and re-checks that they do. Had to turn on the video camera and the computer.

In the final line we met a man who had been in Chernobyl for forty five days. He was in charge of a twenty one member team for the World Health Organization and they had been setting up a monitoring systems for checking radiation levels. He hold patents on the Dallas, Texas and Paris, France airport tram systems. He’s now on his way to Mexico to attempt to solve their problems with their new telephone system. He owns his own company of about twenty five employees in Atlanta, Georgia. Overweight and very ordinary looking.

Our flight left about twenty five minutes late, about 10: 40 AM. We went through customs in Dallas, Texas. Our flight was over ten hours long to Texas. Rough, especially since we switched seats so that we could sit together and ended up in the second to the last row. Only pizza left for dinner as the steak and chicken was taken. Had two movies…one was Liar, Liar the other one was The Saint.

Arrived in Dallas and found that instead of a three hour lay over we were going to be four hours since they had a bad rain storm that morning and everything was delayed. Jim managed to get us on an earlier flight (and also vouchers for $20.00 for food while we waited). So after only a few hours at Dallas we were on our way to LAX. Made calls from Dallas and found that Kelly will be picking us up at the airport. Due to arrive at 7:14 PM; California time….that’s about 4 AM the next day on German time; about eighteen hours after we left Germany. Long, long day!

Our luggage didn’t make the same flight as we did; but true to their word it was delivered to our door by 5 AM on Thursday morning! Glad we took the earlier flight!


Tuesday, September 30th, 1997 Frankfurt, Germany

Breakfast at 8 AM. Excellent breakfast, but not very much lunch meat that Shari & I liked…lots of special things like meatcakes that tasted him meatloaf, herring, etc. So lunch sandwiches were a little different. Dave also picked up two pears for an added treat for them. Jim & I passed as we’d just finished sharing a banana in the room before breakfast that we had purchased in Rothenburg.

Checked out and Jim sold Dave 100 DM for $57.00. He was out of German money and Jim had too much left over. He even paid for the room with cash. Sankt Josef’s Hotel was really very reasonable…only 145.00 DM for the night which is about $82.00.

Packed the car and arrived at the Residenz by 9 AM. We were one of the very first to arrive; but tours are only conducted in German except for twice on Sunday. No headphones were available (they were in 1996) so Dave purchased a book and we were off to inspect on our own during the tour.

The tour guide spent a long time in each room and at times we had to wait for her to unlock doors between areas. This is one of the most spectacular public buildings in Germany. It was planned and built over a relatively short span of time and therefore has not incorporated too many different styles. The best is the grand staircase which is probably ten feet wide. It goes up for about two stories and then splits into two side staircases each the same as the center one.

Above is the largest painting in the world on the ceiling. In talking to the tour guide we found out that at the beginning of the war they removed everything they could including walls and stored them elsewhere in anticipation of bombing raids during the war. They also took extensive photographs of everything. Couldn’t believe that they were allowing us to walk on the beautiful inlaid wood floors. We met a young couple from San Francisco who were spending nine weeks biking through Europe. They were doing some camping and some hotels. They made use of the train for traveling from one area to another. We loved the Residenz so much that we decided to purchase a video tape and split it 50/50.

Then we were off to the Marianberg Fortress the pilgrimage church, Kappele which means little chapel. Missing the street we decided to continue to Heidingsfeld, a suburb area; and the Porsche Dealership for Jim located on Winterhauser Str. 20.. Gave him ten minutes to find it before we’d turn around. He had researched it carefully and actually found it very rapidly.

Jim & Dave went inside to see the cars. Jim got a Porsche baseball cap and lots of books in German on very expensive things he could order. He found out how to order parts for his Porsche Boxster from Germany. Back in the car we headed for the Fortress. It winds up the hill into a very old area. After parking beneath the bulwark walls we walked through two tunnels before entering the Fortress grounds. It is actually a castle within a keep which started somewhere around the year 600. Ate our lunch outside the museum while we were there.

Down the hill and across the valley to the hill that holds the Kappele. Drove up a very steep road to the parking lot. A short walk down the hill brought us to the Kappele which also has outside life-size stations of the cross down the hillside.

Back on the road we hit the autobahn for Frankfurt and our final night. It’s been trying to rain all day. Very overcast…bad for taking photos which was unfortunate as we had some great views from the fortress and the Kappele.

Arrived back in Frankfurt. Picked up gasoline and checked into the Mozart Hotel which we had our first night. Dave & Jim went walking to find a restaurant for dinner and Shari listened while I read her this story. The boys arrived just as we finished.

They found out that German’s prefer Italian food and so we’re going to a local Italian Restaurant tonight for dinner at 6:15 PM.

Will close this for now and put an ending on after we return to California.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Monday, September 29th, 1997 Wurzburg, Germany

Breakfast at 8 AM in one of our prettier breakfast rooms overlooking the Tauber Valley. The only thing that could have improved it was some sunshine. The trees are being to turn colors as the evening are cooler and therefore the mornings generally have some morning fog. Delightful breakfast, no cut up fresh fruit but otherwise a full breakfast. We made our sandwiches with the added treat of prosciutto (a salty preserved ham).

Leaving Rothenburg we found the Romantic Road and headed to Creglingen about twelve miles North. The Romantic Road or Romantische Strasse is a very picturesque zig zag road that runs from Wurzburg to Fussen (near Oberammergau) through medieval villages and 2,000 year old towns.

Just outside of Creglingen we found the Herrgottskirche which is a small 14th Century Pilgrimage Church built because of the finding of a “host” in the field. Now it is famous for the Virgin Mary Altar wood carving by Tilman. Across the street is a Thimble Museum or “Fingerhut Museum”. We met the owner of the museum, Hemet Greif , who told us the story of the iron sign on the building in halting, but very understandable English. He’d learned his English in two weeks to prepare for a trip to Seattle for an International Thimble Convention in the 1980’s. Shari’s mother is a collector and she purchased a thimble for her from this shop which is known internationally.

Back on the Romantic Road we forged ahead to Bad Mergentheim. There we looked for a Palace called Deutschordenschloss. When we finally found it; it was closed on Monday. But, we were able to see the inside of the church and the palace grounds. Found very old trees which had pipes in them to both drain water and support them. It appears to be a very lived in palace….more practical than elegant. We then walked further into the center of the old city looking for WC. Wonderful old buildings. It was noon and the bells were ringing during our video taping. Purchased our cokes and dessert for lunch before returning to our car. Drove around until we found a place to sit on a bench next to the car and also overlooking a river where we enjoyed our breakfast sandwiches.

After lunch we headed towards the autobahn…had to go south again to find it but then made up the miles going north into Wurzburg. Arrived between 1 and 2 PM. Didn’t have a city map so headed towards the Residenz. Figured we’d see that and also get information on a city map. Parked and then found out from a couple from Minnesota that it was “closed on Monday”! But, they had a city map and showed us the way to get to our hotel. It was very close! They told us that the garden’s were open….they’d been closed during the winter in 1996. So we spent an hour walking through the gardens. One of the highlights was the thirty foot trees which had been trimmed to a point…like a top! Near the base it was totally trimmed away and there was a statue under the tree with the based of the statute consisting of the tree again trimmed into a box shape. Dave was especially delighted as he loves to trim his bushes at home. Tons of flowers everywhere you looked. The roses were not in full bloom at this time which was a disappointment. You could definitely tell that they’re getting ready for the winter snow.

Back in the car we headed to the St. Josef Hotel on Semmelstrasse. Parked the car and checked in after we put our bags in our rooms. The day had become warm and we walked without coats or sweaters. First to the marketplace and the Dom; St. Killian’s Cathedral where we listened to a brass band on the street. Then further down the street we had a string quartet playing classical music. Soon we were at the walking bridge across the Main river. You could see the Marienberg Fortress long before we reached the bridge. A mammoth structure located across the river from the old part of the city.

On the way over we stopped to watch the locks bring a large barge from one section of the river to the lower section. Then we finished crossing the bridge and walked to the next bridge which has the lions on each end. Back across the bridge and through the town finally arriving at our hotel about 5:30 PM. We’d walked about 2 ½ hours! Everyone was tired. We checked on the restaurant in the hotel and decided to have our dinner there at 6 PM. One of the interesting things that we’ve notice throughout the trip is that the Germans use very large cranes for building…even with shorter buildings. Shari is best at spotting them in all the large cities and sometimes even in the small towns.

Dinner was delightful with pork and french fries for Dave & Shari; Omelet for Jim and pizza for I. Of course with beer! Shari ordered an orange drink and got what looked and tasted like Gatorade she said. After dinner we walked next door and purchased double scoops of Italian Ice Cream for dessert which we walked just a little ways to settle the stomachs and see the Fortress with the lights on it at night. In our rooms early and no English programs on TV. Whatever will we do! Our rooms are inexpensive, but clean and comfortable. No frills such as CNN! Tomorrow we’ll be spending most of the day in Wurzburg before going to Frankfurt for the last night of our trip!


Sunday, September 28th, 1997 Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Breakfast at 8:00 AM was served rather than buffet style. Missed the eggs, fruit and cereal that we normally have but we had lots of meats and cheeses for our lunch sandwiches.

Packed and out the door by 9:00 AM we were headed for Heilbronn to find a Catholic Church as Heidelberg didn’t have a Mass until 10 AM which would have been well after 11 before we could have hit the road. Arrived at St. Killian’s and found that it was Evangelical and not Catholic. But we did see the astronomical clock on the town hall and a very unusual musical fountain. Water came out of various instruments at different times and the head of a person appeared to be singing all the time. There were bagpipes, flutes, tubes, etc. Lots of fun to watch. Back on the autobahn we were on the road to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and hopefully a noon Mass. But, we missed the turnoff and arrived too late…especially since the last mass had begun at 10:30 AM.

Entering through the main gate we drove down the pedestrian way through the center of the town to the Burg Hotel at the end of the main street, on the wall overlooking the Tauber River and valley. We’d seen this hotel in 1996 and we delighted when we were able to obtain reservations to stay in this particular hotel. Upon arriving they were unable to locate our reservations, but since we had a copy of the reservations signed by Otto (who we found out was the father in law of the owner) they quickly made arrangements for us to have rooms for the night.

Both rooms are suite with a sitting area next to the bedroom and both have fantastic views of the river and valley far below the walls of the city. We left immediately on a tour of the city. Our first stop was at the Castle gardens, the only thing left of the original castle where we leisurely enjoyed our lunch and the beautiful flowers in the garden. Then we proceeded to walk the wall around the city for a total of about two miles. Lots of fun and great views.

Most of the wall walk was destroyed at the end of World War II and has been restored by donations from people from all over the world. We read all the names that are inscribed on the wall plaques as we walk the wall. At one point we stopped and climbed a tower for an overall view of the city. They also had photos of the destruction at the end of the war. On our return to the hotel we took a breather and put our bags in the rooms before we took off again to shop. Kathe Wohlfahrt has three stores in Rothenburg…one of which was unbelievable. It went on and on and on. Totally dedicated to Christmas. A form of pipe cleaners had been used to make stars on the ceilings along with greenery and lights. There was a fifteen foot glockenspiel made out of wood powered by candlelight (electric bulbs). It was truly a magic world created to promote Christmas decorations.

After that we window shopped a little, listened to the electric guitar play on the street and then found a bottle of white wine near the shop where we’d already purchased our desserts for later…dough scraps in a ball, deep fried and then powered. Also found post cards with the large beer steins that we’d used at the Oktoberfest in Munich. Went back to the hotel and sat on a balcony drinking wine and watching the sun go down. There was a hot air balloon slowly drifting over the hills as we watched the sun sink in the sky. Soon it was time to go for dinner so we actually missed the sunset, but enjoyed the view. We ate dinner at Reichskuechenmeister, one of the nicest restaurants in town located an easy walk from our hotel just behind the Cathedral of St. Jacobs. Shari feels much better today as her cold has apparently ended rapidly.

Shari had spaghetti and the rest of use had three sausages and potato salad (substituted for sauerkraut) with beer. After dinner we walked up the street to see the little café where Jim & I had dinner with Barbara in 1996. It was already closed for the evening. Home to TV, the computer and our desserts.

Another wonderful day. At dinner we talked about our next trip sometime in the next two to three years. Maybe Switzerland, Prague and cruising on the Greek Isles. We all agreed that we travel well together. Also that we definitely liked having our rooms pre-arranged. Joked around about leading a travel group during our walk today….Jan-West Travel…we’d be a day ahead of the group! Hard to believe that we’ve only got two more days to enjoy Germany. Jim said he likes Germany better than France for traveling because it is so clean and the people are so nice to us. Off to bed by 10 PM.