by Chuck and Beverly
September 14th - October 14th
Part 1 – Preparing for the trip
After much excitement preparing for our trip, we anxiously awaited for the big day to come when we would be crossing the waters and getting our yearly fix of the beautiful country and its friendly people. A few days before departure we did our usual pre-flight check-off list.
1. Two roundtrip tickets on Continental from Norfolk Va. to Frankfurt, Germany with a change of planes in Newark, N.J. Purchased from Bob Bestor of Gemütlichkeit for $1270.
2. Reservations for a VW Golf, 4 door, a/c manual, diesel for 4 weeks, made by Andy Bestor of Gemütlichkeit using AutoEurope and the rental agent would be Eurocar, located in downtown Kelsterbach, a few miles from the airport, saving us some of the airport fees. We would be able to return it to the airport without any extra fees. Cost, $240.00 down and $640.00 due at time of pick-up.
3. Travel insurance policy with Travel Guard; good coverage at reasonable rates.
4. Since Chuck prefers to have reservations prior to departure (and I can tell you it makes life easier for Beverly than trying to deal with Chuck trying to find a place ad lib), we make our reservations by phone or internet and confirm by fax, mail, or e-mail.
5. Routeplanner - printed from internet. There are several. This time we used RAC and Michelin. Chuck staples each reservation with the driving directions for each stay and keeps them organized in a folder that has pockets and in these pockets he keeps the brochures and suggestions of must see and do’s. Works for us, and helps us keep a better account of our travels.
6. Maps - Michelin map, and Beverly insists on taking her old, wornout AAA map. Atlas - German-Euro Atlas paperback purchased in Germany. Light weight.
7. Travel books - Frommers, Michelin green book, a couple of German/ English translator books. Both of us have our own personal favorite.
8. Luggage - After packing and repacking we were left with 2 carry-ons and 2 check-in bags. One is filled with gifts for our host and hostess with plans to fill them with purchases to bring back home from Germany. Our gifts are usually handmade in Virginia along with a picture book of Virginia. We have learned over the years to take only clothes that are necessary, making sure it is light weight and washes and dries well in a bathroom. We take a warm light weight water-proof jacket, comfortable water-proof shoes, and an umbrella.
9. One of the most important items would be our digital camera. In fact we each take one to make sure we do not miss any of those Kodak moments. What did we do before digital? We take extra memory sticks, a converter, adapter, and a battery charger and batteries.
10. Money - Chuck likes to have Euro in his pocket before leaving so we get a few hundred at Bank of America. We take a Visa card each, and a debit card and use the ATM’s found everywhere. We prefer to use one that is in a bank that is open so if we have any trouble they will assist us.
11. For those wondering why we chose September
to travel we have found that it is the best time for us. Although we have been there during many other months,
we have found the weather to be the best. The days are still long and the attractions are still open for touring,
and less tourists. Not to mention that Ben's Bauernhof Stammtisch meets during this time for a reunion in Germany
and this activity is a must. For those not familiar with our Stammtisch, it is a group of people from all over
the USA and some in Germany, who love to travel in Germany and share their experiences with others. Even though
we are from all parts with different personalities, we share one common love, travel in Germany. And through the
years have made some lasting friends. This years' reunion would be on the Mosel.
Now to try and keep calm until the big day comes!!!!!!
September 14th finally came and our oldest son took us to the airport. Little did we know that the next 24 hours would be quite an adventure. We arrived at 1pm so we could check in easily and grab a snack before departing at 3:15pm for Newark. Oh boy! Only 8 people in line before us. This did not seem bad until we learned that all 8 were going back to the Philippines to visit their family and each had 2 check-ins and huge cardboard boxes to go through security. One can only imagine what it was like waiting for the security to open all of those boxes and bags and have them repacked. Patience is virtue.
As we went through the x-ray machine it picked up a kit that contained a small nailfile that looked like a knife and it soon became the property of the airport. As we approached the gate there was a delay sign. We were told there was a delay due to rain in Newark. A man standing in the crowd had just spoke with his wife in Newark and said the delay was due to the airport being closed due to President Bush and his group using the airport to go to and from the United Nations meeting in New York, and air traffic had backed up. An announcement was made that our plane had finally arrived but there were no crew members available. We had 7:30pm connections in Newark and time was getting to be an issue. At last we were able to board and if we made good time we would make our connections. As we taxied to the runway the pilot stopped and said there would be another delay. And then the moment came when he announced that the flight had been cancelled and we would need to see the desk for another flight. Beverly was getting upset. Chuck, Beverly and 58 other passengers found themselves standing in line pleading for new flights.
We were offered a 9:15pm flight out of
Norfolk or we could stay and take a morning flight. There was one big issue. Hurricane Ophelia was approaching
and threatening to close the airport in Norfolk. We opted to fly out that night. We were also told that there was
only one flight a day to Germany and the next two were booked. Beverly’s spirits were at rock bottom and appeared
in shock. Chuck was a bit angry and promised to never take Continental again, expecially via Newark. At 9:15pm
we boarded a puddle jumper for a very pleasant uneventful trip to Newark.
When we landed the pilot told us to go to the customer service desk to make new flights. One can only imagine how happy the desk clerks were, at the end of their shift, to see 60 unhappy passengers charging at them begging for flights out. All of us were flying international, some were to meet a cruise ship in Rome. The pressure was on and there was not much compassion from the desk clerks. As each one stepped up to the desk they were told, “sorry, no flights out tonight you have to come back tomorrow. By the time it was our turn to plead for help, Beverly had tears in her eyes. We managed to get a very nice lady who worked hard and found us 2 tickets out on the next days flight at 7:30pm. There were no hotel rooms for 50 miles. We were each handed a Barbie doll sized pillow and blanket and told to find our place on the floor. By 12 midnight we had settled down in a vacant corner and attempted to sleep. I can assure you, after sleeping on an airport floor, one can sleep anywhere.
We spent the day exploring the airport, eating hot dogs at Nathans, drinking coke and alcohol-free beer from the brew store and conversing with the other stranded passengers as we frequently met each other coming and going.
We called the 24/7 number for the car rental and immediately were given new times for pick-up. Just can not beat the service from Gemütlichkeit. That evening we proceeded to the gate only to find another delay due to 25 planes ahead of us. Never, never again will we go through Newark. At 7:40pm we boarded our 767 for Frankfurt forgetting our past 24 hours in anticipation of what was in store. Our flight was great including good food and great service. We slept most of the night so we could be energized when we landed.
Beverly sat next to a very nice “mature”
German lady who was going back to visit family. Somewhere in our conversation she informed us she was not married
to an American soldier. Her mother had warned her not to associate with them because they all looked alike and
you had to watch out. That was a clue for Chuck not to disclose that he had been an American serviceman.
It was 0930 and the wheels were on German soil. Our adrenalin started to flow. Since we had used this airport many times we felt right at home and it did not take us long to show our passports to the staunch looking man behind the glass window dressed in his very distinguished uniform who never cracked a smile as he asked in a monotone voice, “let me see your passport. Why are you coming to Germany?” and stamps our passport. Beverly always says she wished she could say something to make him smile. She managed to get a few extra words from him this time and a slight change in facial expression.
We quickly gathered our luggage and were
out the door to find a taxi. In a few minutes we were in downtown Kelsterbach at the Eurocar office. The cost of
the taxi was 14 Euro. The service was excellent and we were out of there in no time, the proud owners for 4 weeks
of a silver colored 4-door VW Golf, a/c manual with diesel.
We headed out on the Autobahn in the direction of the Mosel with a few rain showers hitting the windshield. We do not let rain bother us. We are on holiday. As soon as we left the Autobahn onto the backroads the sun came out. We turned the radio on and played some good German traveling music. Even though we have traveled these roads before we never get tired of the beautiful views. We drove among the hills with the multiple shades of green fields and trees, and the yellow flowers of the rape plant, accented with patches of red from the roofs of the many villages scattered about and integrated to look like a patch work quilt. Each village had a tall church steeple reaching for the sky, and if we listened carefully we would occasionally hear church bells pealing in the distance as if to welcome us back to Deutschland.
We made our first of many wrong turns as we drove to our first destination, Schleich on the Mosel. We stopped at a nice Gasthaus in Reinenfel to get directions and take the opportunity to partake of our first taste of German cruisine. Our first of many Schnitzels. On to Schleich for our first three nights. This is a very quaint village on the Mosel surrounded by vineyards and sitting right on the edge of the river. Not too far from Trier and Luxembourg. This stay would be very special since we would be sharing it with two wonderful friends, Carolyn and Jim. Our very spacious apartment was the Moseltraum II on the second floor (in Germany it would be known as the first floor).
54340 Schleich (Mosel)
Tel - 6507/3322 ~ Fax - 6507/993068
Email - email@example.com
Apartments available w/1 or 2 sleep rooms
Our apartment had 2 bedrooms, kitchen, 2 baths, and a living room and was very well furnished. The balcony overlooked the Mosel River with a beautiful view. Herr Koerner had met us and gave us a key. Carolyn and Jim had left us a note that they would be back soon and we could have dinner together. We did what we were best at, hurriedly unpacked and headed out the door to explore the area.
As we drove up and down the Mosel we stopped to admire the vineyards with those green and purple round jewels, soon to be put in bottles and placed on someones table. Before returning to the apartment we stopped in an adjacent village and bought some groceries and Beverly had her first of many chocolate fixes. She is not just a chocoholic, but a German chocoholic.
Back at the apartment we met Carolyn and Jim and drove to a near by town, Mehring, for dinner at the Zum Moseltal Gasthaus where we had a very good dinner. We had our first steak dinner. We will not elaborate on the cost of food at each meal but will take this opportunity to say you can always find something in your price range. It is cheaper to dine in a Gasthaus that is frequented by the locals and more pricy in restaurants that cater to the tourists. A lunch of soup and wurst may be only 12 Euro for both of us, with a dinner being 16 to 20 Euro by the time you add the beer, and cola and of course you must have dessert. Enough about cost, we are on holiday and only live once.
Back at the apartment we stepped out on the balcony and admired a beautiful full moon hanging over the Mosel. As we admired this beautiful scene on our first night in Germany, we paused to thank God for blessing us with the chance to visit Germany again.
We awoke to a very soft, sweet voice saying breakfast was ready. Carolyn and Jim had fixed a German breakfast with all of the trimmings including the Brötchen that had been delivered to our door. The rule goes like this, if you put the empty basket out at night it will be filled with fresh Brötchen in the morning for only 25 cents apiece.
After breakfast we stood on the balcony and watched as the fog lifted off the river and then we went our separate ways promising to meet that night for dinner. We did not want to miss an opportunity to spend time with our friends who are a lot of fun.
It was a nice warm and sunny day in the 60's to 70's. We stopped at a gas station to buy a local map of the Eifel area. We have found that buying these maps of the local area is very helpful and detailed. Before we left the station Beverly had to have a warm Kuchen with graham cracker crust, layer of cake, with custard and fruit on top. Yummy!!!!!
We headed out to the Eifel area with our first stop being a very interesting town featured in “The German Life” magazine named Mayen. It is an old historical walled city known for its many towers. We did our usual and followed the signs to the Altstadt, parked and headed for the marketplace. This little town was a pleasant surprise. In the marketplace you will usually find the tourist information office and a Rathaus to get info on the points of interest, etc. In the marketplace they were having their market day with many vegetables and flowers for sale. One man had a live chicken on display as he tried to sell fresh eggs. I wonder what PETA would say about that? We admired the fascinating architecture of the buildings as we strolled the old town and visited some of the old landmarks, not missing a chance to see inside the old church with its beautiful stained glass windows, ornate altars, and handcrafted woodworks, some dating back to the 12th century. Of interest were the historical markers of the people buried within the church walls. Some were quite elaborate. Let me take a few seconds to tell you that Chuck and Beverly take every opportunity to visit the churches and castles of Germany. We are not in agreement with those who say, “Seen one seen them all.” We have always managed to find something different and interesting in each one we visit.
Germany has a lot of statues and memorials paying tribute to their religious beliefs and some are worth a snapshot or two. Surrounding this town is a huge wall where one can take the stairs into it and walk around completely enclosed in this wall with lookout windows.
Our next stop would be the town of Kronenburg in the Eifel area. This would be a repeat visit for us. I think Chuck just enjoys seeing his name on the signs. He likes to think there is some family connection. It is a small village with old homes apparently not touched by the wars and no restoration has taken place. The homes were of gray cement type material with black roofs. We drove up the mountain to the Kronenburg castle. The original one was built in the 12th century for Sir Phillip Kronenburg who obtained knighthood somewhere back then. It is now a ruin but still worth tramping around the grounds and some of the remains. A new castle was added in the 15th century joining the old one and is used as a café and hotel today. It is used by the Germans as a retreat. While standing on the mountain one can look out over the town and the Lake Kronenburg in the valley. In the 15th century St. Johannes Church of Kronenburg was built and still stands today.
Even though the weather was sunny and
warm it was cool and windy on the mountain. A perfect day to enjoy some of the best goulash soup ever in the café.
Not much English spoken here. It is always fun to watch the expressions as the town people see Chuck's name on
his passport/credit card and see it is the same as the castle name. I think Chuck is still waiting for his inheritance.
A true story goes like this: On our second visit there we stayed overnight. In the morning we were sitting in the
lounge and a black cat jumped in Chuck's lap. Later this same cat jumped in his lap again. He insists that it is
Sir Phillip Kronenburg coming back to say hello.
Back down the mountain and heading for Schleich via the backroads. The Eifel area reminds us somewhat of the Black Forest with the rolling hills and mountains covered with various shades of green trees, cows grazing in the fields, and sparse villages scattered about. In the middle of this beauty is the signs of modernization, the updated windmill.
We met Carolyn and Jim and headed for dinner. This time we ate at another Gasthaus in Mehring called Kochlattel. There we devoured one of the best Schnitzels ever. It was topped with white Spargel and hollendaise sauce. We returned to the apartment and prepared for a big excursion the next day.
Another beautiful morning on the Mosel. After another great breakfast we stood on the balcony and watched as the sun burned the fog off of the river and the temperature was warming to the pleasant 60’s. This time the four of us were on a mission to Luxembourg and to visit the cemeteries and museums.
Jim earned a medal that day for driving in unfamiliar territory with Chuck as his co-pilot and Carolyn and Beverly as backseat drivers. I really felt sorry for Jim with all of us trying to translate our friend, Nate's directions. He was a saint and drove right to the American National Cemetery. One could feel the reverence as we walked through the wrought iron gates with gilded laurel wreaths representing the ancient award of valor and down a short wide path and immediately viewed thousands of white crosses in perfect alignment in a huge open field with a forest of spruce, beech, oak and many other types of trees surrounding it. There were 5,076 American military buried in this sacred 50.5 acre cemetery. There were 118 soldiers of Jewish faith marked with the star of David and a rock placed on each cross. Amongst the graves were statues with fountains and flower gardens. General Patton's grave was at the front with the same type of cross of his men but just a little bigger. There were monuments dedicated to the men who had fallen during WW2. The most impressive was the chapel. The stained glass windows portrayed the insignias of the five major US commands that operated the area. Above the entrance is a 23-foot sculpture of the Angel of Peace carved in beautiful granite.
We then went to the German cemetery where
5,599 soldiers were buried. Even though the same reverence was felt, there was a marked difference in the overall
atmosphere. We walked down a very long narrow path through the woods with the tree limbs covering the walk giving
a dark gloomy appearance. There was a large common grave which held 4,829 soldiers and marked with a two meter
high stone cross at the end of the cemetery. There were several trees in the cemetery giving out a lot of shade
with the dark gray German crosses making the cemetery have even more of a gloomy appearance. The same emotional
feeling came over us as we visited both cemeteries and offered a silent prayer for all of the soldiers who gave
their lives for their country.
We then visited the war museum in Dirkirch. We highly recommend this as a must see. Before visiting the museum we decided to eat some lunch. That was a wrong move. We parked near the old church and asked some locals where we could eat. Take in mind this was Sunday and many places were closed. One man pointed to a grill across the street and we pursued. It was the cook's day off and the service was much to be desired. Beverly thought she could not go wrong with an order of spaghetti and salad. The salad was stale and I am not sure what was in the spaghetti sauce. Certainly not worth naming or repeating.
The museum cost only a few Euro and was filled with very realistic displays of WW2 solder's uniforms, equipment, etc. The artist had taken actual photos and made real life scenes. Beverly liked the medical rescue scenes. Chuck liked the display of uniforms and guns.
After leaving we treated ourselves to some French pastry and took a driving tour of the city of Luxembourg. It is a busy city with lots of traffic.
We returned to Germany and you would think we had enough of sightseeing for the day but when Carolyn told us of the Roman ruins somewhere in Mehring we went on a mission to find them. It was not long before we spotted the Romischer Villa Rustica and parked to explore.
Hunger pangs sat in and we saw a Gasthaus adjacent to the ruins. Gasthaus Zur Romervilla. Excellent food and service. Highly recommended. When we entered the Gasthaus we were told there were no vacant tables but within minutes the owner took us to his private room and sat us at his private table. The only other person there was Oma in her rocker. Now how hospitable can one get. Things like this build such great memories.
We returned to the apartment and packed for our departure tomorrow with excitement abounding that we would be meeting our Stammtisch friends for the big reunion.
At the breakfast table Jim told us the story of Bob the Duck. Seems as if he and Carolyn were feeding the ducks along the river when Jim became personal friends with one of them when he called out Bob and the duck came to him. You do not think it was because he had a handful of bread do you? As we traveled throughout Germany we saw a lot of ducks and wondered if one was Bob.
We sat one last time on the balcony before paying our bill of 240 Euro for 4 people for 4 nights and bid our farewells to Herr Koerner who blessed us with a great bottle of wine from the Mosel. This apartment is definitely a repeat and I highly recommend it.
Again we went our separate ways only to meet again in Brodenbach for the reunion. Chuck and I drove to another town on the Mosel, Bernkastel-Kues. It was another warm and sunny day and I think half of Germany was visiting there. Parking was a premium but free. This is definitely a tourist town but well worth a visit. We headed for the marketplace and Beverly was in her glory. First she admired all of the beautiful half-timbered buildings and then she started to shop for all of those must-haves and cannot-do-withouts.
There are definitely plenty of shops. We grabbed a most delicious bowl of potato soup in a restaurant on the waterfront of the Mosel and watched the cruise ships as they loaded and unloaded passengers.
Bernkastel-Kues is really two towns divided by the Mosel and connected by a very nice bridge. After visiting the Bernkastel side we crossed the bridge to see the Kues side. We stopped in the middle of the bridge to watch the ducks as they swam. Could one of them be Bob the duck?
Beverly enjoyed visiting the St. Nickolaus
Hospital. Nickolaus was a bishop, scholar and cardinal born in 1401 at Kues and built a home in 1851 for 33 old
men to live in and today it still serves the same purpose in its original form. It is the biggest preserved Gothic
construction on the Mosel. There are several paintings of the 1700's throughout the building and the chapel is
full of history and Gothic architecture.
On to Brodenbach, a small town along the Mosel just northeast of Burg Eltz. Excitement was building as we started to think about seeing our Stammtisch friends again. We pulled up to the parking lot of the Hotel Peifer where we had reservations for the next four nights, so we thought. The hotel sits back off the road all by itself. As we approached the desk the manager/owner apologized for a mishap. Supposedly his daughter had over-booked a group of Germans and us Americans would be staying our first night down the road. Beverly had made reservations back in January and was upset. But she soon got over it when she saw the hotel where we would be staying.
The hotel Ostermann was a nice place. While we were waiting for a room a familiar friendly voice told the desk clerk to take good care of us. It was the one and only Lump. He is a great guy. It was the first of the group but not for long. We had room #11 on the ground floor with a babbling brook outside the window. With the window open it made the most tranquil sound.
We hurriedly unpacked in record time and went down to the lounge to look for more Stammtisch members. How did we know that they would be there??? There were a few at the start, but more kept coming in until there were several gathered around eating, drinking and having a great time. It was nice to meet a new face, DrCBK (Charlie) who had some interesting stories to tell.
Another warm and sunny day. After paying our 70 Euro for the night, we returned to the Hotel Peifer and ckecked in with no problem. The owner was so overly accommodating that he tried to give us two rooms. After explaining that it would be OK if we slept together he took back one of the keys. We had a big room on the 2nd floor with a big balcony facing the Mosel. The view was very nice. We took the elevator to the room, and unpacked. Beverly discovered a towel folded up and lying on our bedside table. Beverly guessed that it was for the floor but Chuck tried to convince her it was for something else. Later Val would set him straight. Our mission today would be to revisit some of our favorite spots on the Rhine and do some souvenir shopping.
One of our Stammtisch members is always
bragging about his backroad experiences so we try and follow his example. Our route planner gave us directions
for the backroads to the Rhine River via B327 over the mountains. Beverly compared the drive to one of the new
rollercoasters at Busch Gardens. In Germany the curves are well marked with signs that have V’s placed horizontally.
If there are only 2 of these Vs it will not be a bad curve, but as the severity of the curve increases so do the
number of Vs on the signs. At one point we had to almost stop the car to make the curve. After ascending and descending
the mountain we ended up at St. Goar. There are lots of things to see and do here but we were returning just to
shop. There is a big stein shop that will ship your purchases. And a little shop on the side street that has German
pottery. The owner was so friendly, Beverly brought several pieces and he gave her a free gift and a lady bug to
put in her pocket for good luck on the return trip. Since it was a warm and sunny day we joined the crowd and had
some coffee and kuchen outside and people-watched.
Our next town would be Bacharach, but we could not pass up the opportunity to stop and take some pictures at the Loreley. This spot has special meaning to us because in 2003 we were aboard the 500 passenger KD river cruise boat that crashed into the rocks at the Loreley. The story of the Loreley is very interesting and takes on new meaning for us. Seems as if a young maiden had two brothers fighting over her, and she took her life as a result. Now she sits on the cliff and lures young sailors to their death. Our ship, named the Loreley, wrecked at Loreley.
When we reached Bacharach we headed straight for Frances Geuss's woodburning shop at Oberstrasse 60. Larry, one of our special Stammtisch friends, introduced us to her shop and we have visited her on each return trip. We always come home with some new well made items. She just happened to be closed for her 12-2pm break that is frequent among some merchants, and it gave us an excuse to pay a return visit and eat outside at one of our favorite little cafes down the street where we had some of our favorite Nürnberger Wurst.
It was 2pm and Frances was open. She greeted us with her great hospitality and we soon departed with a bag of goodies. After more shopping we headed back to the Mosel, over the same adventuresome mountain. That night we joined some more of the group for fine eating, drinking and sharing of stories. Rolf the famous German biker let Beverly know the correct way to say certain words in German, when she attempted to use her limited amount of German.
It was another warm and sunny day as we stood on the balcony enjoying the quietness of the morning and the stillness of the Mosel River. Today would be a special day for us because we would be accompanied by Bess, one of the Stammtisch members and a most enjoyable and knowledgeable person, as we revisited the town of Cochem on the Mosel. Beverly enjoyed having Bess along because she also enjoys strolling along the streets and shopping. After a few purchases we found a table outside and had some lunch. Bess had a fancy ice cream dish almost too pretty to eat. As we strolled the streets we met one of those pantomime men who appeared to be a statue until someone dropped coins in his pot and he began to move. These guys are very talented. We stopped at a store in Alken on the way back to purchase some candy.
Back at the hotel we grabbed a power nap and then joined some of the group for Happy Hour. Just remember, any hour is happy hour with this group. We started out on the terrace and by night we were seated in the big dinning room for our big reunion gathering. There were more than 40 of us gathered with Ben and Bill officiating. One can only imagine the hard work Ben has put into keeping this large diversified group together for so long and sharing his vast amount of knowledge that has helped so many with their travels to Germany. We are all so appreciative of his great works. Bill has been very active in sharing his vast knowledge of travel as well. If you go to BensBauernhof.com and BillsBackroads.com you will see some of their works.
A lesson to learn in Germany is when you
buy something that you like get enough right then, because you might not find it anywhere else. Beverly bought
some vanilla/caramel sugar-free suckers for Chuck in the gas station that were to die for and they were never found
Excitement was building as we took A3 out of Koblenz to A81 and then hit the backroads to our next two night stay. We knew we were in for a treat since we had not been there before and no one had heard of Obersteinenberg. According to the map it was near Stuttgart. Our route planner took us through some beautiful country roads with farms and hills and villages sparsely scattered about. As we increased our altitude the road got narrower and less traveled with no road signs and less sign of life. It looked as if we were on a private path leading to a farm with only the cow deposits on the road. Chuck's German/Irish temper began to show and he ask Beverly “why in the world did you pick this place?” He began to praise Val, one of the Stammtisch, for her choice of places to stay (mostly in hotels}. His statement was “at least she stays at places easy to find.”
Finally we approached what appeared to be an old deserted barn, but there was some sign of life with a car parked out front. Chuck entered the building and found out it was a Gasthaus. One of the guests came out and told us to follow him in his car because it was too hard to explain. As we followed him the road got narrower and more winding, with no shoulders. The tree limbs hung over the road and made it seem as if it were night. The atmosphere was eerie, no signs of life or street markers. It was like a maze and we would never remember how to get back out. Further up the mountain the man stopped at an old barn and said that was as much as he knew. Another farmer came out and got in his smart car and told us to follow him. You can only imagine how ruffled Chucks feathers are at this point. Off we went futher up the mountain until we saw a sign Stadt Obersteinenberg. He led us up the mountain until we reached the Hotel Berghof. It stood alone on top of the mountain with approximately nine other houses down the road making up the town of Obersteinenberg. There was not even a restaurant or a church but if you listened you could hear church bells down in the valley.
Tel - 7183/6526
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ten holiday flats for 2-5 persons, TV, phone, washing machine
Internet connection, indoor swimming pool, sauna, solarium
Bikes available, playground, lake for fishing nearby
Frau Munz came out to greet us speaking only German but wearing a million dollar smile. She took us to our apartment on the second floor that was of average size with a balcony that had a beautiful view across the mountains and down into the valley. We were getting hungry and we asked where a restaurant would be. Frau directed us back down the mountain the way we came. Chuck said he would starve before traveling that road again. So we ate our leftovers of cheese, meat, brotchen and fruit and readied for bed. Chuck discovered that we had no hot water. He was not going to stay if he had to take a cold shower. And he could not close the curtains. I tried to console him by telling him I could heat some water and that we were too high up to worry about closing the curtains. I am not sure if I was convincing.
The next morning I started looking for a switch for hot water. In the kitchen I found a tank on the wall and carefully pushed a button and we immediately had plenty of hot water. I then discovered that the blinds for the window were built in with a string on the wall. This hotel had been built by Herr Munz himself and also had an indoor swimming pool. The sun was burning the fog off of the mountain and we could see the villages in the valley from our balcony. We had planned to just stay put and relax today until Beverly found out how close we were to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Chuck seemed relieved when he found another way off of the mountain, and we headed toward Rothenburg. It seems that the trip to Germany is not complete without going there. Beverly promises no more Christmas ornaments. Yeh!!!
The road was narrow and winding but seemed
less treacherous. There were no road signs and Beverly thought of dropping bread crumbs hoping to find our way
back, but instead she made a mental note of each turn we made and each house we passed. At the foot of the mountain
we found a nice bakery and for 5.40 Euro we bought coffee, tea, six rolls, apple strudel and a large piece of banana
roll that was to die for.
As we explored the area we found out that this town is definitely not a tourist town and we seemed to be the only Americans and the only ones speaking English. That suits us just fine. We followed the signs to the next town of Schorndorf where we picked up A29 to Aalen and picked up A7 to Rothenburg. There were plenty of free parking just outside the old wall and Chuck seemed to know just where to go to find one of Käthe Wohlfahrt's many stores. The people on the tour buses had not found this side street and we were the only ones in the store. The Frau running the store was extremely pleasant and we were soon the proud owners of several Christmas ornaments, a battery operated cuckoo clock, and some smokers that would be shipped back home. Since this was our 9th trip there we did minimal sightseeing before stopping at a little café on the side street for soup and wurst. As we were leaving the old town Beverly spotted a sale on tablecloths and bought several (3 Euro apiece).
We left Rothenburg via the backroads with
some of the most beautiful and peaceful scenery ever. One could see for miles as we traveled over the hills and
the winding roads and the only sign of life would be the farmers on their tractors and the cows grazing in the
We briefly revisited Schwäbisch Hall and then stopped at a Penny market for groceries. This is a great store to shop at for good bargains. Beverly bought some of the best rice pudding ever and Chuck was able to find some sugar-free pudding.
We made it back up the mountain with only a few wrong turns just in time to meet Herr Munz on the terrace. He invited us to join him for wine and snacks. Since the Munz's did not speak any English, we were greatful for Ernie, a German guest who spoke good English. And was our translator for the night. He also tried to teach Beverly German. What a hoot!!!
We stood on the mountain and watched the sunset as if it were falling into the valley. This was truly a Kodak moment. We suddenly heard a yodeling sound and saw Herr Munz answering someone in the distance. As the sun was setting Herr and Frau Munz sang a beautiful song to us in German. If you can only imagine how emotional this was to hear their beautiful voices singing to us on top of the mountain. As they sang they had a beautiful smile on their faces. We will never forget this moment. Before we went to bed and the sun was almost gone, they sang us a farewell song. Herr Munz writes music and gave us one of his song books.
As we packed to leave, Lilly the donkey, came up to say good-bye. And the family cat did a security check inside our car. We said our good-byes and wished we could have stayed longer.
We took the B29 out of Schorndorf, then A7 to A8 towards Bavaria. A trip to Germany is not complete without visiting the beautiful Alps. It was another beautiful day. We passed Chiemsee lake wth the calm glistening water appearing as if it were a mirror and the sailboats were just gliding along. It was lunch time and there just happened to be an empty picnic table. There were several Germans picnicking along side of us, and they laughed when they saw us taking pictures of each other picnicking.
After a few detours we found our home for the next four nights, Hotel Sonnenhof. It is located on a very quiet residential street adjacent to a nature park in Bayerisch Gmain. We were greeted by Frau Eva Marie who runs the hotel for the owner who lives in California. Eva went the extra mile to make sure we had a nice stay. Our room was a large one on the 2nd floor with a large bath and balcony, which had a breathtaking view of the mountains.
83457 Bayerisch Gmain
Tel - 8651/959840 ~ Fax - 8651/9598424
Mobil - 16090222860
Email - email@example.com
Today we visited Bad Reichenhall for the first time. What a pleasant surprise. We followed the signs to the Altstadt, parked, and headed for the marketplace. We admired the architecture of the old buildings and visited a beautiful old church.
Beverly spotted a sign that announced a Kurbis market (fall festival in USA) today. All one has to mention is festival and Beverly is on her way. We followed some people down a side street until we reached a huge festival with several booths containing crafts, food, flowers, and more. Beverly was in her glory. We examined all of the booths and made a few purchases. There were several wood carvers there. A man was carving tiny edelweiss flowers from wood and Beverly just had to have some. Chuck purchased a German pocket knife with a hand-carved handle, which became a thorn in our side later. The aroma of the food forced us to sit at a table outside and order some refreshments. We had a very nice conversation with a friendly German man that joined us. There was a German music group playing in the marketplace that was outstanding. Most of the crowd were wearing their Bavarian attire with Lederhosen. There were several half-timbered homes in the town and some homes with beautiful paintings on the outside walls. There was a cable car that took people up the mountain. Also of interest was the salt works that has produced that “white gold” for centuries. This salt is what brought riches and fame to this town centuries ago and a memorial is present for all to see with an old pump that is still pumping up that briny stuff from the rock. Beverly discovered a flo (flea) market and bought a childrens book written in German. Chuck commented (I do not know what you want that for, you cannot read it), and Beverly replied, (for a conversation piece). Go figure. There was a booth selling Schmidt wine and we purchased one that claimed to be a diabetika wine. (Chuck is a diabetic)
Today was another warm and sunny day and just right for a repeat visit to Ramsau. We always enjoy visiting the church there and Chuck enjoys visiting the cemetery with all of the beautiful markers and interesting epitaphs. Many of the markers were of those killed in the wars.
How many pictures can one have of the Ramsau church? Each time we visit we take pictures and today was no exception.
We had lunch outside at the Gasthaus Renwinkel café just down the street from the church and found the food to be excellent. It makes our mouths water just thinking about the Leberkäse, fried eggs, salad, Kartoffel and Käsekuchen.
When we returned to the hotel we felt a walk was needed so we played like Germans and begin to walk down into the valley amongst a field of cows to an old church along with some Germans out for their daily stroll. We soon learned that we were not in as good of shape as they were and had to park it on a bench for a rest.
Back at the hotel we sat on the terrace and Chuck sampled his diabetic wine and ate pretzel bread waiting for Carolyn and Jim who would be joining us at the hotel for three nights. Carolyn arrived with some of those famous Schneeballen balls from Rothenburg with all the fancy flavors and rolled up so nicely in a big ball and covered in powdered sugar. We all had to try them. Beverly said she could think of a lot of things better to try, thanked Carolyn for the nice gesture but thinks they look better in the bakery window.
Dinner that night was at a local restaurant, Gasthaus Bauerngirgl in Bayerisch Gmain. It is run by the Berger family and is very good. Löwenbräu was the Bier of the day. When we returned to our room Eva Marie had put our clothes on the balcony to dry.
Off to Salzburg for a return visit. This is a great place to explore. Chuck was at the wheel and Carolyn and Jim navigated us straight to the Altstadt without any wrong turns and into the parking garage which was inside a big mountain (14 Euro for all day). As we stepped out of the mountain we were in the middle of the town. The one thing that catches your eye is the interesting variety of painted wrought iron signs hanging from each store front, each with its own character.
We took a horse and buggy ride thru the
town for 8.50 Euro each. It was an English speaking guide but his accent was so strong we could not understand
a lot of what he said even in English, but we enjoyed the ride.
Lunch was a special occasion. We ate at St. Peters Stiftskeller, the oldest restaurant in Europe built in 804. It was inside of a mountain and had great atmosphere and delicious international and Austrian food.
We had to be content with seeing Mozart's home from the outside because it was being renovated. We crossed the bridge over to the beautiful gardens with its many flowers and statues. One never gets tired of strolling Salzburg. Before leaving we sat out under the trees at a Biergarten and had refreshments. Beverly shared one of her giant-sized soft pretzels.
On the way back to the car Beverly found
a candy store and bought some of those famous balls with Mozart's picture on it. She also purchased some Mozart
balls wrapped in silver paper that is unique to Salzburg. If only she had known how good they were and that they
were only available there she would have bought several.
On the way back to the hotel we took a detour to Maria Gern, which is way up on a mountain that could only be reached by driving some narrow winding roads, to visit the pension where Erika and Gunter (Stammtisch friends) were staying. They were out, so back down the mountain to Bayerisch Gmain. Dinner was again at the Gasthaus Bauerngirgl. Carolyn and Jim are so much fun and tonight would be no exception. We had German menus only and we each decided to order something different even though we did not know what it was. When Jim got his plate it was one of amusement and his facial expression was worth a million dollars. Even the Germans sitting next to us laughed. It was cold head cheese. But he was polite and ate it all even if it took him a little longer than usual.
Before returning to the hotel the guys
promised the gals something special and bought them ice cream for being such good sports or was it in hopes of
the guys getting a special treatment that night. Men have ulterior motives. You figure!!! Beverly had her favorite,
vanilla ice cream with warm berries on top. Ice cream parlor.
We headed out to the town of Berchtesgaden to purchase some items Beverly just had to have. She had bought some hand painted wood carved birds on our last trip and needed some more. It was raining off and on but not enough to dampen our spirits. Just as Chuck made a statement that we would never get all of Beverly’s “must haves” in the empty suitcase we saw a leather store going out of business and bought a very nice leather fold-up carry-on.
Lunch was at a repeat restaurant, “Gasthaus Neuhaus” where Beverly ordered her tasty Hawaiian toast. The laugh came when Chuck ordered what he thought to be a dinner with two currywurst but when it came he got two plates with two wurst on each plate. Next time we will pay better attention to the way the menu is written.
Our next adventure would be one of our favorites. We never go to Germany without spending time in one of their Therme Bads and today we would make a repeat visit to the Watzmann Therme Bad in Berchtesgaden. The price was 12 Euro for both of us for two hours. We did not pay for the sauna this year since last year the requirement to go into the sauna was complete nudity and that was a little too much for Beverly. Chuck seemed to think nothing of it, but Beverly refused to strip. Bathing suits are required in the Bad but the dressing rooms can be free style.
This particular Bad has several different rooms and each feature some type of salt treatment. The inside swimming Bad leads outside and one can enjoy the jets massaging whatever part you desire while counting the clouds and viewing the Watzmann mountain right in front of you. After playing around in the warm salty waters one feels like a new person. We are always sorry we did not pay for four hours.
That night we joined Carolyn and Jim for a most delightful dinner at the Brauerei Gasthof Hotel Burgerbrau in Bad Reichenhall (a very good place to eat).
We stood on the balcony and enjoyed our
last view of some of the most popular mountains in Bavaria. It was simply breathtaking. Breakfast at the hotel
was always enjoyable. It had a quiet and relaxing atmosphere with good food. We met a German staying at the hotel
until he could find a home in Austria to move to, because he was concerned about the changes taking place in the
German government and its democracy. He was afraid history would repeat itself. We did not comment but just let
him ventilate. We always refrain from talking politics in Germany except with our friends. We never heard anyone
speak of our government because they were too focused on their election, Merkel vs. Schroeder.
We paid our 208 Euro for four nights and bid our farewells to Eva. We stopped at a panorama park, equivalent to our small malls, just down from the hotel and bought several items. They have good prices and lots of German chocolate.
Our next stop would be Obersalzberg. We would be staying one night on a return visit to Hotel Zum Türken just to see Frau Sharfenberg, who is a most interesting lady, and to revisit some of the historical offers in the area. I could elaborate on this hotel and the history that abounds but instead will refer you to the 2006 Frommers book on Germany that will give you an excellent description of it.
Frau Scharfenberg met us at the door with her beautiful smile and very good English. Our room this year was on the 3rd floor with a balcony that had a great view of the mountains.
Off we went to revisit the documentation
center. It is loaded with pictures, documents and a bunker of the Hitler era. As we climbed the steps we saw two
familiar faces waving at us. It was Carolyn and Jim who would also be staying at the Zum Türken that night.
They were heading up to the Eagle's Nest (Hitlers retreat). Beverly does not do heights so we stayed behind.
It was another warm and sunny day with haze in the valley. The leaves were turning some beautiful shades of yellow, oranges and red. We paid a repeat visit to a great restaurant in Obersalzberg for lunch called Cafe Hochlinger. It sits right on the edge of the mountain and one can enjoy the beautiful view of the other mountains and the valley while eating outside. We highly recommend this place not only for the good food and service but also for the great view. That night we had dinner at the Holtz café on Obersalzberg mountain with Carolyn and Jim. It is a good place to eat. Carolyn was amazed that they brought her ice water.
That night we relaxed in the big hotel lounge with some refreshments. The bar was on the honor system. Jim makes a great bartender but we did not leave him any tips.