Gengenbach, Neustadt, Meckenbeuren, and
I was surprised one day when out of the blue, Tykewife said "We could take a trip to Germany". I replied
"This year?". "Yes". I went to the computer and started playing around with our frequent flyer
miles to see if we could get over there for "free". There were several flights available but the ones
using the lower amounts of miles were not convenient. However, we did have enough miles to use the higher mileage
flights and I found flights that would work. It cost us 180,000 miles (total). Our trip in Dec. 2011 had only cost
us 160,000 for us and the two kids! We would be going American to Miami where we would transfer to Air Berlin for
the legs to Berlin and back to Frankfurt. On return, just like in 2011, it would be Frankfurt to Dallas to Denver,
all on American . Taxes were $297.40
Tykewife seemed to indicate that she wanted to go places we hadn't visited before. Since returning from our 2011
trip, I had been putting together ideas for another trip. Most of that was assuming that we would be cycling for
much of it. That wouldn't work this time because Tykewife would need a new knee before that was possible. I had
only been to the Black Forest area for a couple of days in 1970 so I thought we would make that area the focus
of the trip.
I mentioned to Tykewife that we could made a day trip into France, so she could use her French language skills
(She was a French minor in college). Then she said that it would be nice to go to Paris for a few days and also
another few in the Loire Valley. Ooops! Too much for this trip I convinced her, but it looks like the French trip
will have to be our next overseas jaunt!
I suggested that we might want to drive a car on the trip. That was promptly vetoed which was o.k. since we both
like taking the trains, and with the KONUS Card, the Black Forest portion of the trip would have free transportation.
I knew I wanted to stay the last days in Bacharach on the Rhine, so we could get an early morning train to the
airport. While we had finished our last trip there, the river boats weren't working at that time and Tykewife had
never taken the Rhine River trip. I emailed the tourist office and asked them to make a reservation for me at the
same place we had stayed before - Irmgard Orth's. We would be there for 4 nights. The tourist office responded
the next day with a confirmation. Excellent!
Every other place would be new to both of us.
I found a place in Gengenbach that looked nice. I filled out a form on the town website (www.stadt-gengenbach.de).
After a week, no response. I filled it our again, saying that this was the second inquiry. The fewo had no email.
A few days later I received a letter saying the fewo was available. I needed to send a 50 Euro deposit. They provided
the bank account number for an international wire transfer. I went to the bank and of course, the person there
had never done one before. He got the home office on the phone and they figured out what to do. The EUR 50 was
sent. The fee for this was $45.00 !!. My rate on the Euro as 1.3224 - including the fee, the rate was $2.22 - yikes!
I decided that our second stop in the Black Forest would be Titisee-Neustadt. Whoa, some of the places were pretty
expensive, and some of the less expensive places and those mentioned on Bavaria Ben's website were out of town.
I wanted to be in town, fairly near the train station. I found one and filled out the online form. No answer for
a week. I tried again and got a prompt resonse. The owner had been in the hospital having shoulder surgery! I would
need to pay in early Sept., again by wire transfer.
I had originally though about staying in Ravensburg for 5 days, but I was unable to find a place that was available
for those days. I looked around and found a place in nearby Meckenbeuren, located only a short walk from the train
station. An internet inquiry was answered the next day and our last place was booked.
Now it was just to wait for about 6 months.
Two other tasks were to be completed. When I booked the flights, I was able to select the seats for the American
flights, but not for the Air Berlin segments. I had to call AA to get the confirmation code for my Air Berlin flights.
I couldn't make the seat selections online - it looked like I would have to wait until I checked in!
When we took a trip to Germany in Dec. 2011, we bought our train tickets from Frankfurt to Stuttgart on the day
of our arrival. It proved pretty expensive. I decided to get tickets in advance (92 days in advance). So on June
26, I used the internet to purchase tickets from Frankfurt to Gengenbach. This was quite a savings - 29 euro for
the both of us as compared to 102 standard fare. That price was even cheaper than the Quer-Durchs-Land ticket,
and it would be on faster trains!. It was an extra 8 euro to have a reserved seat. Since our last time with no
seat reservation we had to change seats 2-3 times, I thought the 8 euro was worth it. The only downside is the
tickets are for one specific set of trains. We allowed 3 hours from our scheduled arrival time to the train departure
time. It is somewhat of a gamble since our last trip was delayed a day and 4 of my last 7 transatlantic flights
have been late! We'll see if the gamble paid off.
A couple of weeks later I purchased tickets from Meckenbeuren to Bachrach for 49 + 8 (reservation) = 57 euro. No
worry about missing these trains since we would already be in Meckenbeuren! The first of the train trips was at
$1.31 per Euro, the second at $1.29. Total foreign transaction fee charged was $3.65. (total 48.41 + 73.50 + 3.65
= 125.56 or 1.336 per Euro)
On August 10, I received an email from American Airlines. The flight had been changed. Luckily just the segment
to Miami and just leaving 20 minutes later.
When the family went to Germany in 2011, we had not only our bank account but also the two boys accounts to draw
on if there was a problem. Since we were going alone, we needed to have a second account to use an ATM on. So we
deposited the cash I received from selling my 27 year old Bronco into a different bank.
A month prior to the trip, I sent in payment for our 3 days in Titisee-Neustadt. I used the second bank since its
fee for the wire transfer was $10 less than the other bank, The amount for the 3 nights is 137.60 euro. With conversion
and fee, the total was $226.61 (1.65). Clearly avoiding wire transfers (especially for small amounts) is to be
desired if possible.
Tuesday, Sept. 24
We got up at 3:00 AM. Tykewife tried to stay up all night but fell asleep about 1:00 AM. At 3:45 the SuperShuttle
van came to pick us up and drive us to Loveland where we got their bus to the Denver Airport. At 7:50 we boarded
the plane for an uneventful flight to Miami. At Miami we had a long, long walk from the gate to Terminal F. Termimal
F is not even shown on most of the maps in the airport, but we kept following the infrequent signs. There were
only 2 sections of moving sidewalks - one of which was not working. I will never change planes in Miami again!
The plane to Berlin was late and we would miss the connection to Frankfurt. The Air Berlin staff was on top of
this and had us rescheduled before we even checked in in Miami. The airline assigned us seats which were ok. The
flight to Berlin was fine.
Wednesday, Sept. 25
Neither of us slept on the flight, watching 2 movies and a TV program. My headset was not the best and so I wasn't
able to watch one movie that Tykewife was able to. In Berlin we had to take a bus from where we landed to the terminal.
It was quicker since we could de-plane from 3 exits. Passport control was easy then a not-too-long walk to the
next gate. The gate area was blocked off and there were few places to sit while we waited the couple of hours for
the next flight. I used the ATM and we had a snack.
Eventually we were let into the boarding area, going through a very short security check. One of our bags was over
the 8 kg weight limit so it had to be checked through - no charge. Two flights were boarding from the area at the
same time and we almost got into the wrong line! Fortunately, the ticket checking machine caught our error. We
took a bus out to the plane. It had FLYNIKI.COM on the plane - What kind of airline was this? I then spotted a
small 'Air Berlin" sticker on it, so I guessed it was the right plane. A short, fine flight to Frankfurt where
I collected the bag and went through without seeing anyone in the "Nothing to Declare" customs area.
Bus to the Fernbahnhof.
Since the train for my pre-bought tickets was long gone, I had to buy tickets for the train to Gengenbach - 106
Euros. Since we were arriving late, I called the landlady to tell her we would be arriving late. The ICE train
was crowded and we had to stand between the cars until the first stop in Mannheim. At Offenburg we changed from
the ICE to the local train system with its light rail type cars [Ortenau S-Bahn (OSB)].
We walked to the apartment, following the map I had printed from Google maps. The fewo doesn't have a sign and
we walked right by it. We stopped at a pharmacy to ask directions (and to get some liniment for Tykewife's knee).
Dr. Wink checked us in, gave us our KONUS card, and we went to our apartment - up 46 steps on the third floor (as
Americans count). Exhausted, we quickly fell asleep.
Dr. Annette Wink
Tel - 7803/2682
Dr. Wink speaks very little English. In addition to German, she speaks French (which was good since Tykewife also
Our apartment consisted of a bedroom with two beds put together (so essentially a king bed), kitchen, bathroom,
second toilet, large living room. Two other bedrooms are part of the apartment but were closed off for us. 36 E
per day plus tax (2.20 per person per day).
The building was built in 1699 and was the city council's chambers. It is right on the main square. Two sets of
bells can be heard throughout the day. We slept with the windows open and they did not bother us, but I can see
that it might bother some. Dr. Wink is very friendly.
Thursday, Sept. 26
We slept until about 9:00 AM when I went across the street to a bakery to get bread and coffee for breakfast. Later
we walked down the street through the tower (Kinzigtorturm) and across the Kinzig River. We walked by the rafting
museum and along the levee by the river. Back in town we found a grocery store and stocked up on basics for the
next 4 days. The tourist office was near the fewo and I picked up a free town map. It had a insert showing a walking
tour (stadtrundgang). There are small bronze markers in the sidewalk to make it easy to follow. I also asked if
there was an internet cafe in town. It turned out to be just outside the other town tower.
We went to the internet cafe and emailed everyone to tell them we had arrived safely. Tykewife could not use her
Yahoo email account, a problem she never did get fixed during the trip. My Comcast account worked well. Internet
was about 3 Euro per hour.
For dinner I ate at a Kebap place, having an excellent (and very large) gyro. Tykewife ate across the street at
a Thai buffet. We stopped at a pastry shop and had a carrot cake on the way back to the fewo.
Friday, Sept. 27
Up at 7:00 I took a nice shower. The shower had a temperature dial on it, making the setting of the water temperature
easy and accurate. I had a very good muesli for breakfast while Tykewife scrambled eggs for herself. Down to the
train station where we took the 10:12 light rail train to Hausach where we got the #7150 bus for a quick trip to
the Vogtsbauernhof. I'm glad we took the bus as it is a little longer than Tykewife would have been up for. We
entered the outdoor museum and got the audio guide. The audio guide did not work very well for us. There must be
something about my fingers that touch screens don't pick up because I can never get good results. What little we
did hear was more than we wanted to hear. I would prefer a written guide with a paragraph or two about each building.
We spent a couple of hours there. I enjoyed watching a workman repairing a thatched roof and Tykewife enjoyed sampling
the cherry schnapps! She also enjoyed seeing the sheep, horses, goats and geese.
We then walked the short distance to the Rodelbahn. We put our bag and my hat in a locker (2 E, refunded) and each
took a ride (2.50 each). I used the camera to take a video on the way down. Once was enough for Tykewife, but I
had two more rides. There was virtually no waiting and I would have liked to take even more rides, but we needed
to get going to catch the bus. We walked back to the Vogtsbauernhof and had only a few minute wait for the bus
back to the train.
Back in Gengenbach, Tykewife bought a scarf for her sister and we stopped at the butcher shop and bakery for dinner
items. Tykewife's sciatic nerve was really bothering her and my feet were aching. I later discovered that I hadn't
put in a better insert in my shoes like I normally do.
Saturday, Sept. 28
It was the day to take Tykewife to France! We took the short train ride to Offenburg where there is a bigger, manned
train station. I tried to ask for the 'Europass 24H' ticket but the agent couldn't understand. She then asked if
I wanted to go to Strasburg, round trip and I said yes. She then issued me the Europass 24H ticket! It is 8 E for
one, but only 12 E for 2! Germany is pretty good about a good discount for multiple users of transportation tickets.
The OSB train took us the short trip across the Rhine.
At the train station, we got a map at the tourist information office and asked how far it was to the old town.
The answer was a 15 minute walk. That might have been right to get to the edge of the old town, but it was about
another 10-15 to the cathedral. The signage to the old town was not good but we made it. I wish we would have taken
one of the busses or trams. We went to the Cathedral but it was closed (we were there just after noon). I think
they close it for a while and then charge a special price for the clock tower tour. We went to the 'Batorama' dock
to find out about the boat trip around the old city. The next several trips were in covered boats and we wanted
to go in one of the uncovered boats, so we got our ticket for a later tour and then went back to the cathedral.
The cathedral was nice but not as elaborate as many. The stained glass was nice and Tykewife, as always, lit a
candle for her grandmother who was a 'good Catholic'. Back to the boat area, Tykewife used a WC that looked like
a converted cargo container. There was a long line but it was well maintained and Tykewife said it was perhaps
the cleanest public toilet she had ever used. The 70 minute boat tour was nice, seeing not only some of the oldest
parts of the city - Petite France - but also the new buildings built for the European Union.
Tykewife enjoyed using her French a little bit. Later in front of the cathedral, we saw some policemen rousting
a street performer. He was painted gold and pretended to be a statue. He had some sort of portable stage with him.
Perhaps it was the prop that was the problem as there were other performers in the city that did not get police
attention. Saturday in a big city meant lots of tourists. The city seemed very crowded.
We took the light rail tram back to the train station (included in the Europass 24 H ticket) and then the train
back to Gengenbach. Tykewife fixed herself asparagus soup while I had half a chicken from the butcher and a nice
salad. Gengenbach has a Night Watchman tour twice a week. It is all in German so we weren't going to take the tour
but I had planned on getting a picture of the watchman. However since it was raining that night, I forgot that.
Sunday, Sept. 29
Up early while Tykewife slept, I walked around town, going by the internet cafe to see if it was open on Sundays.
It was so I went later to plan the train trip for tomorrow and to email the landlord when we would be arriving.
We went to the Niggelturm to see the Narrenmuseum. The museum is only opened a few hours a week. It cost 2.50 E
each and was well worth it. The museum is about Fastnacht (the pre-Lenten carnival) during which people don grotesque
masks. Since the museum is in a 'turm' or tower, each floor is rather small and there are several floors to visit
and several stairs to climb. Even Tykewife's knees didn't mind the climb as the museum was so interesting. It would
be a fun time to visit Gengenbach.
After lunch we took a walk around a portion of the town wall and through a nice park before visiting the Floesserei
Museum (2.50 E each). This museum, another of the museums with limited opening hours, is devoted to the rafting
of timber down the Kinzig river. It is a small museum with not too much in it. Using the river to transport the
timber ended in the 1890's. Since my relatives were engaged in similar activity in Maine until much later than
that, I found it of limited interest. While I would certainly visit the Narrenmuseum again, I would not the Floesserei
There was a concert in the marketplace in the afternoon. We opened our apartment windows and listed for the next
two hours. Excellent with music ranging from traditional German to American rock. For dinner we went to the Klosterstuble
which is located at the base of the Kinzigtorturm. I had the pork schnitzel - 2 large ones and a big side of French
fries, while Tykewife had 2 bratwurst and potato salad. I had a large coke and Tykewife two beers - total 20 E.
My schnitzel was a little burned on the edges, but it didn't really matter since there was so much that I couldn't
eat it all.
We really liked Gengenbach. Looking out from our apartment window, it was a scene that screamed 'THIS IS GERMANY'
- half timbered buildings, medieval towers, nice fountain. Gengenbach would also be interesting during the Advent
season as the Rathaus becomes the biggest advent calendar in the world.
Monday, Sept. 30
After breakfast we straightened the apartment - Tykewife always leaves them tidy. There was not a guestbook but
Dr. Wink was very pleased that we liked the apartment. Except for the 46 steps, it would be hard to beat.
On the way to the train station, we went in the post office to mail some post cards - a relic from the past that
we haven't given up yet! The train ride to Neustadt was nice. We were in the upper level at the end of the car
where there was just one seat on each side and plenty of room for luggage. That was good because the overhead racks
were pretty small. Lots of tunnels on the route. I didn't get the feeling that we were curving around a whole lot,
even though it is apparent from looking at the route that there are plenty of curves. A conductor checked our tickets
- the first time except for the ICE train. He was very helpful, asking where we were going and telling us where
we would have to change and what track the train would depart from. Apparently he was very humorous as there was
lots of laughter as he talked to the other passengers.
We got off at Donaueschingen with 30 minutes to wait. I tried to get some candy from a vending machine, but no
luck so I went out of the train station to a nearby newsstand where I was able to get something to eat. Soon we
were on the train and arrived at Neustadt, Frau Heitz greeted us as we exited the underpass stairs. She drove us
the 200 yards or so to the house. It was a nice new car and I think she needs more practice in shifting! After
checking us in and giving us the KONUS cards, she offered to drive me to a supermarket where I picked up supplies.
Ferienwohnung Waltraud Heitz
Tel - 7651/9729082
Email - Waltraud.Heitz.Fewo@t-online.de
Nice, large, modern, first floor apartment. 52 E per day plus tax of 5.40 per day. Bedroom, kitchen, bathroom,
living room. Large flat screen TV, WiFi, all the amenities. Additional sleeping spaces for larger families. Quiet
location. Frau Heitz speaks a little English. Extremely friendly.
While Tykewife slept, I walked around town, stopping in a small toy store (we used to own a toy store) and then
getting a kebap at a store near the train station. Having the wifi was nice as we could email and web surf from
the couch. The TV set received CNN and BBC.
Tuesday, Oct. 1
After breakfast we went to the bahnhof for a quick ride to Titisee. Right near the station was a shop with lots
of wood carvings. Very nice but pricey. My Scoutmaster could have made a fortune over here. I needed to sew a button
on a pair of my pants so we looked for a sewing kit. At the third souvenir stand, we found one.
It was cloudy and cool so we decided against renting a boat and took the large boat trip around the lake (5 E each).
It was a short cruise but gave us a good view of the lake which is only 1 km long. We looked in more of the souvenir
shops and Tykewife bought a small bell for a teaching friend. We stopped in a cafe and had some Black Forest cake.
It was good. If it was up to me, I could eat it at every meal! The sun started to shine so we decided to play a
game of miniature golf which was at the cafe. It also had a model railway setup they charged for but while Tykeson1
would have wanted to see it, we skipped it. The mini golf course was rather unimaginative (especially for we who
had played at one of the best courses ever - Green Gables in Phoenix, sadly closed about the time we got married),
but it was surprisingly challenging.
On the way back to the station we stopped in a combined butcher shop/bakery for the makings of a picnic lunch which
we enjoyed on a nearby bench. Back at Neustadt, I walked the town walk while Tykewife slept. The signage was not
as good as the Gengenbach walk so I missed some of the sights, but it was interesting and it got me into the town
proper, which was uphill from the station.
Later Frau Heitz came by to settle the bill. I owed another 44 Euro for a shorttime rental/final cleaning and a
miscalculation of the tax. Still, it was less per day than I had paid for a Super 8 room in Cheyenne last month!
She asked us to write in her guest book and to pose for a picture for it before we left. She showed us many pictures
from past guest books, many showing pets so when Tykewife made a fuss over the cats, Frau Heitz brought her two
cats to show her. Looking in 12 years of guest books, it appears that we are the first Americans to stay there.
There was one person from California but he was there with two German relatives. There were two other entries in
English - Israel and Iceland.
We cooked brats for dinner and then used the internet. We hadn't heard from Tykeson1 for a couple of days, so we
wrote him to write ASAP and emailed a neighbor to tell him that also. Funny how dependent we get on the almost
instant communication. When I was his age, I and my 5 year younger brother were cycling around Europe for 6 weeks
without our parents having any idea where we were, only where we had been a week before from our trail of post
Wednesday, Oct. 2
I checked the internet when I got up and Tykesons 1 and 2 had emailed. At 9:00 AM we walked to the station for
the 9:31 train to Freiburg im Breisgau. It was a short walk from the bahnhof to the cathedral. There was a farmer's
market around the cathedral, lots of flowers, fresh food, and cooked food. We went inside the church and admired
the stained glass. Good thing it was a fairly sunny day as I had previously read somewhere that the church was
somewhat dark. Not as many side chapels as many such churches. Outside I took several pictures of gargoyles.
We had a nice weisswurst at one of the stands. Next to it was a stand featuring tofu - not doing much business!
A 2 man band was playing - guitar and bass. Doing a very good job. If all street musicians were this good, I wouldn't
mind them. We later saw them in another location, drawing a good crowd in both locations. We walked around more
of the old town, buying a few postcards and taking pictures of the light rail for Tykeson1.
Back in Neustadt, I walked back into the town to buy some cokes and I found some bottles of Mountain Dew (my favorite).
I stopped to pick up another slice of Black Forest cake. Back at the fewo, it was nice and sunny so I ate my cake
and drank my dew on the terrace. Very nice. The Heitz's took our picture and we took one of them. The frau asked
what time she needed to take us to the station. We said she didn't need to take us as it was such a short walk,
but she insisted!
Thursday, Oct. 3 - German Unity Day
At 10:00 AM Frau Heitz drove us to the bahnhof. She gave us a big package of dark chocolate/cherry candy bars as
a going away gift. Very friendly. We were traveling outside of the Black Forest so our Konus card would do us little
good today. I bought the Baden-Württemberg ticket (26 E). It was not checked on any of the trains. I thought
today might be crowded on the train since it was a holiday, but that was not the case. It looked like the first
leg would be almost empty, but then a train arrived and almost everyone got on the one we were taking. Rather than
the most direct route, I planned to go via the upper Danube valley.
We rode from Neustadt to Sigmaringen, with the most scenic part between Tuttlingen, Beuron, and Sigmaringen. While
we were trying to see the sights in the area before Beuron, the lady sitting across from us told us (in her pretty
good English) that the part after Beuron was also interesting. She got off and a young monk sat down. There is
a monastery in Beuron. When Tykewife and I were speculating about the type of rock that formed the cliffs, he spoke
up in English that the rocks were Jurassic. The valley is very scenic and I have planned a future canoe or bicycle
trip through the area.
We had a brief look at the Sigmaringen castle as we entered the town. I had toured it years ago. While we waited
for the next train, we looked for a WC. There was a sign saying that there was one 200 M down the road. Well, we
couldn't find it! Fortunately our next train came before disaster! In Aulendorf, our next change station, the train
was 15 minutes late, but no big deal as we were soon in Meckenbeuren.
We oriented ourself to the map from Google and walked perhaps 200 yards where Frau Boos was waiting for us. The
room was on the second floor. Somewhat of a shock to go from a big apartment to a room not much bigger than the
bed and a bathroom. Still it was adequate. Breakfast was not included in the rent but we had use of the kitchen
where we used the refrigerator but did not cook there. Frau Boos brought the bill but I didn't have enough cash
and she was satisfied to be paid the next day.
Haus am Geissbock
Famile Franz und Ulrike Boos
Bahnhof Str 6
Tel - 7542/21936
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Frau Boos speaks very little English. 50 E per day. Nice location not far from train station. On a road that is
busy at times. Crosswalk in front of house. At night there is not much traffic. If windows are closed, very little
I walked around the town and used the ATM at a local bank. For dinner we ate at the nearby El Greco Greek restaurant.
I had an OK schnitzel while Tykewife had dolmades and spanakopita. They also gave us some ouzo. Tykewife took one
small sip and was almost sick. Since I don't drink. it didn't matter to me! The food was fine. I don't think it
was that meal, but Tykewife had a bad bout of stomach flu that night.
Friday, Oct. 4
Since Tykewife was feeling under the weather, I went out on my own for the day after getting some food supplies
at the supermarket near the bahnhof. I got the all day, all zone transportation pass for 13.80 E. for the BODO
system (Bodensee-Oberschwaben Bahn). I took the train to Freiedrichshafen, stopping first at the 'stadt' station
and then a very short way on at the 'hafen' station. Walking down the steps from the station, you are right at
the Zeppelin Museum. Admission was 8 E and audio guide was 3 E. I had to leave my driver's license as security.
The audio guide was an old fashioned one (rather than like at the Vogtsbauernhof) and I was able to operate it.
It did give me more information that I needed so I used it sparingly. Some exhibits had English descriptions. It
was an interesting museum. My mother-in-law claimed that she saw the Hindenberg explode. I especially liked the
display of Zeppelin medals and souvenirs.
While I waited for the next train, I wandered around the city and bought a nice bratwurst at a stand. I took the
train to Ravensburg where I walked to the Altstadt. It has several towers and a partial wall. Much bigger than
Gengenbach and seems more modern. Lots of stores selling stuff I don't need. My camera batteries gave out and I
found some batteries at a 'everything costs a Euro' store, but before I put them in, I came across a camera store
and bought two packages of good Lithium batteries. Good thing since I needed them before the trip was over.
When we had a toy store, we sold Ravensburger puzzles and games. (Their 'Amazing Labyrinth' is one of the best
games ever created). I went into the Ravensburger Museum store but didn't go into the museum, saving it for later
if Tykewife came to Ravensburg. I found a very nice toy store with a great selection of Playmobil toys, another
brand that we sold. The company has really expanded its line and I doubt we would have been able to carry every
item they made (as we did when we had the store). I bought 4 small boxes, mostly various knights for the Playmobil
castle I still have. The tourist office in town is smart, having a box outside the office with town maps that can
be accessed even when the office is closed.
Back in Meckenbeuren I went to the internet cafe that was just down the street from the zimmer. It really is a
cafe so we needed to order a drink while we used the internet. It had 2 terminals, coin operated. After checking
the emails, we went across the street to eat. I had another kebap and Tykewife had a cheese pizza to try to calm
her digestive system. She said it was an excellent pizza.
Saturday, Oct. 5
After breakfast we bought the BODO all zone, group ticket - only 15 E. On the train to Friedrichshafen Stadt where
we picked up bus 7395. Nice bus with not that many stops. We took it to Unteruhldingen. At the bus stop was a sign
directing us to the Pfahlbauten - an open air museum of the stone age and bronze age lake dwellings. There was
a light rain but easily handled without an umbrella. Admission 8 E each. We got the English guide (4 E) to read
later and there was a free English handout which was adequate. The admission lady told us to go with the German
tour that was starting as there were two buildings that could only be visited with a tour. We were able to understand
quite a bit in the first (bronze age) house, but the second house lecture was not well understood and went on and
on, so we left the tour and did the rest on our own. It was disappointing that photos are not allowed. What possible
damage would taking photos do? An interesting museum, but not one that you would visit a second time.
When we got off the bus, there was a sign to a reptile house. Tykewife wanted to go, so we walked a couple of hundred
yards to it. Admission was 6 E each. It was a small exhibit but we enjoyed it. We especially liked the Green Iguana
since we and Tykeson2 had raised one for the past 7 years. The one in the exhibit was quite a bit bigger than ours
(thank goodness our Fred didn't get that big!). We had recently transferred ownership to a nice family with lots
of kids who would love him.
Back to the bus stop and bus 7395 which we took 2 more stops to the church Birnau. From the bus stop it was a short
walk through an apple orchard to the church. Not much from the outside, but WOW, what an inside. Great view overlooking
the Bodensee. Grrrr - no pictures allowed - two places in one day! We had thought about going to Meersburg castle
(also on bus 7395's route), but Tykewife was feeling tired. So it was back by bus to Friedrichshafen where we wandered
around the downtown looking for a place to eat. Tykewife ate at a nice Asian restaurant with excellent food while
I had another Kebap. Do you notice a pattern in my eating preferences? Back in Meckenbeuren we visited the internet
cafe again and then back to the room.
Sunday, Oct. 6
Today is German-American Day in the US. In Germany it is the last day of the prime tourism season. I guess just
like our summer season ends after Labor Day, the German season ends on the Sunday after Unity Day.
Tykewife wasn't feeling up to par, so she stayed at the zimmer while I went on my own. The train to Friedrichshafen
was 10 minutes late so I missed my bus. Since it was Sunday, the bus ran every hour rather than every half hour.
I eventually got on bus 7395 and went to Meersburg. Nice old town, excellent castle. I got a 10% discount (off
the 8.50 E admission) to the castle by showing my BODO ticket (this discount was suggested by the ticket seller!).
I also got the discount on the 1 E English guide (excellent - just the right amount of description). Lots of animal
trophies, armor, and weapons. Nice location on the hill overlooking the Bodensee.
I walked around the town - lots of half timbered buildings - and down to the lake. Quite a number of steps down
to the lake (and back up again!). For a Sunday, there were lots of businesses open.
On the way back I went all the way to Ravensburg to check out the bus schedules if I decided to visit the church
in Weingarten and then back to Meckenbeuren and the internet cafe and then another kebap.
Monday, Oct. 7
I got up and went to the supermarket at 8:00 AM to get bread, etc. for breakfast and stopped at the bahnhof to
get the Euroregio Bodensee East zone ticket - 17.50 E each. This ticket was necessary because we would be traveling
outside the BODO area and Baden-Wuerttenberg area. I figure it would have cost twice as much if we had bought separate
tickets for each leg of our day's journeys. At 10:10 we took the train to Lindau. The train goes all the way to
the harbor. We walked around the island. Some nice old buildings but not as compact as Gengenbach. We tried to
go into one church but it was locked so we went in the one next to it. Wow, another great interior. Lots of marble
- what a pulpit! The rathaus exterior was also very nice.
Back in Friedrichshafen where we grabbed a bite to eat then took the ferry to Romanshorn, Switzerland. It was cold
and there was no place to sit out of the wind except the eating area so I had a hot chocolate while Tykewife had
a cappuccino. We paid in Euro although they priced it in Swiss Francs and then converted to Euros - at a good rate
for them, I'm sure.
We arrived in Romanshorn and saw no passport control or customs. We walked around the harbor to a church on the
hill (closed) and then back to town. It was like we were in the Twilight Zone - all the streets were deserted,
the stores were closed. There was one interesting fountain/sculpture. It was a coiled pipe with a handle. I turned
it and water was forced up the coil and out the top. At the nearby train station we got some snacks, again paying
in Euro at a disadvantageous exchange rate. We took the next ferry back (a few very big trucks on the ferry) and
trained back to Meckenbeuren. This was Tykewife's first trip into Switzerland - not a very impressive introduction.
The internet cafe is closed on Monday and Tuesday so we weren't able to check email. We just finished up the leftover
food we had instead of going out for dinner. Frau Boos came by to ask us if she could take a picture of us for
the guestbook, and we wrote our entry in the book. From the ones we read, it appeared that we are the first Americans
to stay there.
Tuesday, Oct. 8
After I got breakfast food at the supermarket, I used the nearby ATM and discovered that I could specify the amount
and denominations I wanted, rather than the pre-specified amounts and denominations which tended to give an awful
lot of 50 E notes. I specified more 10 E and 20 E notes. The train to Ulm had plenty of seats and then we changed
to the IC train where fortunately we had reservations. Most people didn't and many had to stand. The train was
running late and we missed the connection at Bingen. While we were waiting for the next one, we talked to a couple
from Texas. They were using some sort of train pass that cost them about $900 each for 10 days of first class travel
- Yikes! There was no problem from the conductor with our ticket even though it was for the previous train. Of
course it wasn't our fault that we missed that one. We walked to our zimmer.
Haus Irmgard Orth
Tel - 6743/1553
Bacharach Tourist Office
We had stayed with Frau Orth in Dec. 2011. We had the same room with the king sized bed and private bath. On the
third floor, but Tykewife was ok with the stairs. 20 E apiece with a nice breakfast. Frau asked what we wanted
for breakfast and I told her no egg for me, hot chocolate for me, egg and coffee for Tykewife. We also had wurst,
cheese and bread. Excellent honey. The house is not too far from the train tracks, but trains seem to whoosh through
the town rather than blowing their whistle and noisily clickety-clacking along. Frau Orth speaks very little English
but we did a good job communicating with our limited German.
Frau Orth greeted us cheerfully and showed us to the room. Tykewife thought that maybe the room had been redecorated.
I walked around town and then Tykewife and I went to eat at Ben's recommended eatery - Cafe Rusticana. The cafe
is poorly identified with the 'Rusticana' sign in small letters a sign that is not very noticeable. I had the 1/4
chicken (excellent and served very hot) while Tykewife had goulash soup and the cold plate. Both of us thought
the food was excellent. Tykewife had apple strudel for desert - the best she has ever had - and I had chocolate
ice cream. Tykewife also had an excellent white wine.
Wednesday, October 9
The breakfast was excellent. I got the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket (RP) at the train station. First I tried by credit
card, but if I had selected a PIN when I got the card recently, I had forgotten it. So I tried cash and only exact
change was accepted. Luckily I had the 26 E. We trained to St. Goar and walked around. Not nearly as picturesque
as Bacharach. I asked at the tourist office where to catch the little train to the castle. It was at the other
end of the street, so we walked down. Tykewife needed to use the WC. Fortunately there is one near the little train
stop. Although there was a sign saying there was no toilet paper in the WC, in fact there was. There was no soap
The little train was 4 E round trip - a good value as the castle is 300 feet above the town. We bought tickets
(4 E each) and got the English guide sheet. I really liked the location and the ruins. I had a flashlight for the
tunnels but did not explore them as much as last time. Oh well, I'm not as active as I was at 23!
Back down in town, we took the train to Koblenz. Funny how well we both remembered the layout of the station. I
had a nice bratwurst/baguette at one of the eateries (only 2.20 E) while Tykewife had a salmon sandwich. We walked
across the street to where they have internet. For some reason, they needed to check our passports. They asked
if we wanted anything to drink and Tykewife said white wine. No, they said, they can't serve alcohol. Certainly
we were in no casino in the US! We had cokes. We checked our email and when we went to pay for the cokes, they
said they were on the house!
Back at the bookstore in the Hbf, I found some cans of Mountain Dew so I bought a couple as well as a USA Today.
Mountain Dew has a fruitier taste in Germany than in the USA. Back in Bacharach, I walked along the Rhine before
going to the little grocery for supplies for a picnic dinner.
Thursday, Oct. 10
Neither of us slept well last night for some reason. After breakfast we trained to Koblenz, then decided to go
to Cochem. The sky was clearing and becoming a little sunny. In Cochem we got off and walked around the town for
a couple of hours. There is a nice castle on the hill and lots of ships on the river. Some of the ships were multiday
ships with cabins. We went in a church with nice, modern stained glass. Certainly a difference from the ones we
saw on the Bodensee. Back in Koblenz we again visited the internet cafe and had another free coke and also a little
piece of candy! I checked to see that our plane was still scheduled for a 10:30 departure. I had thought until
this week that it was at 10:10, so I was glad to have the extra 20 minutes.
I checked on Bahn.de and for the train ticket to the airport and there was no longer a savings fare as there was
yesterday. So not getting my ticket yesterday cost me an additional 14 E (43 vs 29). I walked across the street
to the Hbf. and bought the ticket at the DB ticket office. At the bookstore, I found out they also had Dr. Pepper.
I got a bottle - more of a cherry flavor than in the US.
We ate dinner again at the Cafe Rusticana. Tykewife had the same while I had the Schnitzel. A nice portion of schnitzel
- not too much as the other places. Very good. Tykewife again had the excellent strudel. The owner said it was
her own recipe and she made it herself.
We told the owner (Astrid Krzywicki) that we had tried to eat there in Dec. 2011, but the restaurant was closed
for remodeling. She then explained that after her husband died, she didn't want to stay open, essentially by herself,
for so few customers in the winter. So now she closes in November, sleeps for two weeks, and then does whatever
sprucing up that the place needs. Then in January and February she goes to somewhere warm, usually in the southern
hemisphere. She went first to Thailand and learned to SCUBA dive. The next two years she went to Australia and
Ecuador (and Galapagos Islands) where of course she did more SCUBA. This winter she is going to South Africa. A
day previously, she had met a couple from South Africa and it looks like she may visit them when she is there and
go diving with the wife - in a cage surrounded by great white sharks! Quite a lady!
Friday, Oct. 11
We took the 9:30 train to Bingen. It waited for a few minutes at the hbf before it went to the Bingen (Stadt) station.
A short walk to the pier where we bought the tickets for the KD boat. We got a discount by showing the RP ticket.
While waiting, Tykewife tried a glass of Hildegard wine - named for a local female saint. It was just ok.
The weather was cold and drizzly so we got seats inside and had some Black Forest cake and apple strudel - neither
as good as previous ones. There were a lot of Japanese tourists on board. The trip was ok, obviously would have
been better if the weather was sunny and warmer. The Japanese got off at St. Goar, making the boat almost seem
deserted. We went to Boppard, the final stop of the day. We walked with no difficulty to the train station, getting
good directions the two times we asked along the way. Train to Koblenz where we again used the internet - no free
cokes or candy today! I got another 100 Euro from the ATM, just to make sure I didn't run out before we left. I
think I could have made it without it, but I didn't want to come up short.
For dinner we ate at the small kebap/pizza place across the street from the Rusticana. I had another Kebap and
Tykewife a pepperoni Pizza which she declared 'excellent'. We got packed and cleaned up the room, then got to sleep.
Saturday, Oct. 12
Of course we never sleep well before we have an early day of travel. Up at 5:30 AM at the train station 15 minutes
before the 6:31 train. It was a few minutes late to Mainz but we had enough time to catch the train to the airport.
Bus to the terminal and then checked in with American Airlines. The plane was delayed two hours, but that wasn't
too bad as it would cut our wait time in Dallas to a reasonable time. Passport checked various times, stupid security
questions answered, a couple of last minute gifts and then we were waiting to board. We had to take the bus to
the plane, so the orderly boarding of first class, etc was disrupted. No big deal, except for some reason we had
'priority access' boarding this time and it gave us no advantage. We had checked both bags so we only had our camera
and netbook bags to take on board,
The flight to Dallas was long. My headset was worthless so I read a book and watched the progress of the plane
across the ocean. Landing in Dallas, passport control was easy as was customs. We rechecked our bags and then had
to go through security again. American's instructions were unclear as they seemed to indicate that we wouldn't
have another security check. The checker was the slowest I have ever experienced. He took forever to check the
boarding passes. A German couple in front of us were clearly puzzled as to why it was taking so long.
Finally on the plane to Denver where the slightly delayed plane made us just miss our Super Shuttle connections,
causing us to wait two hours for the next. Uneventful bus and van ride to home, arriving about 25 hours after we
had awakened that day.
Observations and lessons learned.
Well, at the end of my Christmas 2011 trip report, I mentioned that I would not plan anything on the first day
except get to a hotel. I sort of broke that rule by planning to take a train to the first city. And what happened?
For the SIXTH time my flight did not land on time. Tykeson2 who works for Sheraton had asked me if I wanted to
stay at any of their hotels. I had already booked the accommodations, so I said no. As I sat in the Frankfurt Airport
train station, looking up at the Sheraton, I concluded that I should have taken his offer. If I go again to Frankfurt
and he still works for Sheraton, I will just go to the airport hotel the first day.
With Tykewife's bad knee (and mine having recent problems) we made a special effort to use the elevators that are
available at many of the train stations, even smaller ones. This probably saved us at least 60 trips up or down
stairs, a big help to the knees.
Why don't Germans use window screens?
I would like to avoid places that require a deposit sent by bank transfer. The fees for this are ridiculous. However,
the two places where we were required to do this were such nice places that I am ok with them for this trip.
Germany has a plethora of transit groups. Lander tickets are good, but sometimes using a more localized system
group will be more economical, such as the BODO system we used. It covered what we needed for 3 days. The Euroregio
Bodensee ticket has 3 different zones that you can use to travel the Bodensee area of Germany, Switzerland, and
Austria. Using just the east zone was good enough for our needs.
The BodenseeErlebniskarte is a discount card that covers the admission to several attractions. I considered purchasing
one, but eventually decided against it and that was the best decision as we wouldn't have gotten full value out
of it. If you are very busy visiting attractions, it might pay for itself.
If I was to go at this time of year again, I would not travel on Oct. 3. I had hoped to do a volksmarch on the
trip and there were several on Oct. 3, but we were unable to do one then because of our travel plans.
Several of my trains were running late. It only really affected me on one day, but I was surprised that it happened
Trip cost - 2328 Euro plus $378 plus whatever the ATM and conversion fees were. The Euro was about $1.35 during