Nate's Trip Report - 2000
Seattle to Heidelberg
First a little info about me and my family. I am 31 and my wife is 32, we have a son age 6 and a daughter age 3. I met my wife during the final 2 months of my duty in Germany while stationed in Miseau just West of Ramstein and Kaiserslautern (K-town). We usually go back once a year to travel as well as visit family and friends. This however was the first time we took both children. My wife has gone back to school to finish her degree in international business and so when I booked the tickets in September it was based on her schedule showing her classes ending on the 14th of December. Being greedy I booked my daughters and my ticket for the 12th and my wife and son on the 14th on British Air. The price was just under $2000 for the 4 of us and was non-stop to London, then on to Frankfurt. I figured with the bad weather in the East this was the safest route. Now I had checked all of our passports months before the trip and saw that our sons would expire in February. This should not be a problem I figured since we would be back on January the 1st. The day came for my daughter and I to leave and we checked our son's passport once more. It turns out his passport expired February of 2000. Panick sets in! Then we realize he has duel citizenship so all we need is his German passport. Problem is we never use it and we moved 12 months ago. So we tore the office apart and finally find the passport. This would work fine getting him there, but coming back would be a whole new ballgame.
Our flight leaves at 6pm from Seattle so I decide to go open the office. After 1 hour my support staff informs me I will be of no use that day and that I should go home and get ready for the trip. For me half the fun of the trip is the planning and anticipation. My 3 yr old daughter and I get off fine and the flight to London is great. It's our first time flying in the evening and I think its better than the day. I called ahead to order the "special meals" for my daughter and they really were great. They came in a large plastic pencil box type container and really had more food than my meals did. They also had toys for her and a packet with sticker and coloring books. The movie on the flight was Toy Story 2, after that she slept most of the way.
We arrived in London a few minutes early. This was my first time at London airport and I do not have much good to say about it. The halls are the longest I have ever seen and the signs are not marked well. They have 4 large terminals and you need to take a bus to each one. The only nice part of the airport was the shopping areas, and they were fantastic to be fair. We were scheduled for a 3 hr layover and with ½ hr to go they announced a 1 hr delay in boarding due to no crew. Already tired after such a long flight this was not good news. Finally we board and start to taxi out to the runway only to be told that due to high winds in Frankfurt we would have another delay. No problem we figured, what's 10-15 minutes? THREE HOURS LATER we finally get permission to take off. At this point I'm worried about the car rental places being open. We get our luggage no problem and soon we are at the National car rental desk. I had reserved a mid-size wagon (combi) and when I got to the counter I asked for a diesel as the fuel is much cheaper. They didn't have a mid-size but could give me an Audi A-6 turbo diesel for just a few more dollars. Finally, things were looking up.
After a quick stop in the little store in the airport to purchase kinder chocolate for the daughter we are off to Kirchheimbolanden, or Kibo as I will call it from here on out. Less than an hour later we arrive, having taken hwy 3 west, 67 south, 60 west and then south on 63. The weather was rainy and we were tired but man did it feel good to be back in Germany. We always stay with some friends in Kibo who have a house with a spare room. They are roughly the same age and have a 3yr old son and a 9 month old daughter. Since the last trip they had done a little remodeling, including putting in a heated tile floor in the bathroom along with a heated towel rack. In our room they had two queen beds along with a wall cabinet for our clothes. We both slept through the night until 7am.
I got up before our hosts and headed straight for one of the local bakeries. I love the smell when you walk in. I ordered 6 brötchen, 3 pretzels and 3 laugen brotchen. Laugen brötchen is my favorite, its basically just a pretzel brötchen but tastes great with meat and cheese and a little mustard. Most Germans think I'm sick for eating mustard so early but I love it. We spent this day visiting with our hosts and visiting a few relatives and getting used to the time difference. My daughter Nissa and their 3 yr old son Mikha decided to stake out their territory and fight over it the rest of the trip.
The next day after another breakfast of brötchen Nissa and I head to Heidelberg
before going to the airport to pick up my wife and son. The weather is cool and rainy but sometimes I think that just adds to the mystique of Europe. Since we are short on time we drive straight up the narrow road to the castle. I always wish the people back home could see this little road. Its a one way cobblestone road that I just find pretty for some reason. As is tradition I take my daughter to the large fountain statue of the man laying in the corner of the garden and take a picture of her. When I was 10 my parents took us on a whirlwind trip of Europe in a camper and this is one picture I have is of me sittin on the leaf covering this statue's groin. At the time I was embarrassed but now I think its funny and it's my kids that are embarrassed each time I take their picture. From here we pay the 4DM entry fee and walk into the near empty castle. We head straight through the other side for a few pictures of the Neckar river and the city below then we walk down into the lower area with the "worlds largest wine keg". I have a hot spiced wine and my daughter has a cola. I then take her up the steps of the keg and show her where I had written my name back in 1989 on the back window. They encourage you to write here so please do not scold me for being an ugly American and vandalizing an ancient building. In fact when I wrote this they handed you the pen and encouraged you to sign the wall or roof. It's still there after 11 yrs. We then walk out the front gate and take a right to view the other parts of the castle. From here you really get some neat pictures of the city with the buildings having their faded green tops and the bridge below with the mist really making for a pretty view. From here we leave for the airport to pick up my wife and son. They have an uneventful flight and are happy to be in Germany as well. In 2 days we head for the Black Forest and the town of Haslach.
The Black Forest