Lenox 2000 - The Saga Begins....
I drive to Miami in a rental car and catch my 4:20 flight on LTU to Dusseldorf, which boarded on time, but left 20 minutes late due to late arriving baggage. The Airbus 300 was immaculate, and the flight was very nice. Although the important announcements were translated into English, this German airline obviously orients itself to Deutschland, and the majority of passengers were German. Food was OK, better than I'm accustomed to on US carriers.
The airplane lands in Dusseldorf and taxis from one end of the airport to the other, where we exit onto a bus that takes us to a gate that is at the end of the airport where we first landed. I've been in Germany 10 minutes and have travelled 8 miles on the ground. Passing though customs is a breeze and within 10 minutes, I'm exiting the baggage area ready to enjoy Germany. I am met at the terminal by Cornelius Friedsam, a Berliner who I have only met online. We have agreed to spend 3 days together touring Germany. We stow my bags into Cornelius' Citroen, in which he has already loaded 2 bicycles, and we take off on the autobahn for points south, driving past Cologne, Wiesbaden, Mainz, and finally reaching Bad Muenster, which is 3 km south of Bad Kreuznach. Cornelius heads up a hill and we get out of the car at Rotenfels, a rock cliff that overlooks the villages of Bad Muenster and Ebernberg. The vistas are beautiful and I am enjoying the cool weather, 70s, instead of the 90s I am accustomed to in Florida.
After a short walk, we drive to Hotel Ebernburger Hof in Bad Muenster, where we both lunched on schnitzel mit pommes. We each check into our rooms, which were small, but adequate.
We have dinner that evening in a Weinstube and I order a Federweiss, a drink of barely fermented grapes which is quite sweet, and some spundkaese, a homemade soft cheese that is common in the region. We sit at a table with 3 locals, none of whom seem to speak english. As Cornelius carries on a conversation in German, my eyes begin to close periodically, as I hadn't had more than 10 minutes sleep since I left Orlando. At 7:15PM, after 1 hour and 15 minutes, I excuse myself as I do not want to fall asleep in the chair. I ask Cornelius to stay and tell him that I'd meet him for breakfast tomorrow.
Breakfast begins for us at 9:05, and Cornelius
and I are the last guests to enter the dining area. Breakfast is not great, but not bad. Orange juice from concentrate,
which is what I end up finding everywhere. Since I have moved to Florida 20 years ago, I have become accustomed
to fresh-squeezed, and while it costs more, the difference in taste is quite evident. The rest of breakfast is
typical...meats, cheese, yogurt, boiled eggs, jam, and breads. The brotchen (hard rolls) were disappointing because
they had been out for several hours and were not very crunchy.
Cornelius and I decide to bike to a place that he knows which overlooks the Nahe Valley and after we inflate the tires in Bad Kreuznach, we head off for Oberhausen, passing through Feilingbert.
I begin this bicycle trip with one .710 liter
bottle of water and by the time we reach our destination, it is gone. The ride is 95% uphill, and i have not done
much biking, and certainly not sustained an uphill effort such as this. We finally get to the top of the hill....no,
wait....it continues further uphill. Just when you think you're at the top, you have to go further!
Just below the true summit was a wood bench. We stop to rest and I take the opportunity to lose my breakfast. The temperature is probably in the upper 70s and while it starts out being hazy, it ends up being clear and warm. At the summit we enter a short stretch of woods where the roadway levels off. When we emerge 5 minutes later, we have a short downhill dash to a restaurant on the other side, where Cornelius has some wine and wienerschnitzel. The view from the top is of the Nahe Valley, and is beautiful.
I am still not feeling well, and since they only had water "mit gas," I asked for leitungvasser, (plain tap water) and I am content with that.
After lunch and our rest, we head back and stop an an old mine. We were only 2 people, and the woman there did not want to turn on all the lights for just two admissions, so we wait for others to show. After an hour, we end up paying for four and have a private tour. This mine was evidently several hundred years old, and was a source for mercury and sulfur.
We finish the tour and walk our bikes up the gravel road which a couple of hours earlier I had ridden down at breakneck speed. It was later that Cornelius reminded me that a fall on this road would ruin a good vacation. At the top now, we climb back on the bikes for a downhill return on paved road to Bad Muenster. The uphill trip took about 2 hours. We finish the downhill return in about 10 minutes. I tell Cornelius, "THIS is why I wanted to bike downstream along a river.
It is now 5PM and we are forturnate that this is the weekend for the medieval fair. Vendors from all over set up booths and dress in medieval garb.
There were musicians, singers, the entire court showed up, including a jester. People gathered round to watch the performances.
We take a brief break for dinner after having run into the locals from last night.
They recommend a restaurant which is reputed to have the best roast chicken anywhere. Well, maybe this was the best in Bad Muenster, but I think I've had better. So far, I'm not that impressed with the culinary delights. We walk back to the fair and stroll for a few hours finally ending up at the same weinhalle from last night. This time I ask Cornelius to select a wine for me. It was OK, but what do I know from wine? Time now for bed and a good night's sleep. By the way, the sheets on my bed are coarse, like sleeping on terrycloth towels.....
The Saga Continues...