by PStuyvsant (Larry)
This one will be a biggie because it is
to be the second reunion of the cast from "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" :0) (also known as Ben's
Bauernhof Stammtisch). During the Xmas holidays Ben and I had gotten together to map out our strategy, and decide
who would be responsible for what phase of the planning. What resulted was a gameplan that would have made the
Pentagon warplanners green with envy. We will each seek out our own airfare (Lufthansa of course), I will take
care of the car rental, always a challenge these days, and because we will be staying in at least six different
places along the way we agree to divide up the selections.
When the dust finally settles we end up with airfares under $700 (always a good thing), a car through thru Gemütlichkeit for $457 for 15 days (you take what you can get), and confirmations at five farms and a Weingut. Let the journey begin.
17 September 2003
Having completed the checklist and packing last night, today I have to put in a complimentary appearance at the work farm before I can begin my two week parole. By 10:00 I am done and heading out the door. The plan is for Ben to leave his trusty steed in my driveway and have his Frau do the chauffeur duty to the airport.
At 12:30 sharp the convoy arrives and
we start the process of manhandling the baggage into one vehicle and hoping that somehow there will be enough room
for us as well.
By 1:30 we are checked in at Lufthansa, confirmed for seats 23A&C, and are soon sipping on a cold one at the bar.
Right on time our ride pulls in from Frankfurt
and the reloading process begins shortly
thereafter. At 3:30 sharp we are pulling away from the gate and ten minutes later are making a wide turn over Texas
Stadium and downtown Dallas as we head North. The route map on the monitor screens shows we will be heading over
Canada, Nova Scotia, the tip of Greenland, and finally entering Europe over Ireland, England, and on into Frankfurt.
Thankfully, unlike last time, there are no screaming kids in the next row, the flight is a smooth one, although like most of the airlines Lufthansa has really skimped on the meals these days, and after a short night we awake to a bright sunny morning as we arrive in Frankfurt at precisely 8 am, about a half hour ahead of schedule.
Day 1 - 18 September 2003
An early arrival is always a good start to any trip and this one is no exception. We sail through passport control, hit a bank for exchange (1.1 USD to the Euro), and are soon waiting for our bags to come off the carousel.
Our car rental is with Auto Europe, who contracts with Europcar, and within minutes we are standing at the rental counter as a young blonde processes our paperwork. The contract with the Bestor's was for a compact of the Opel Corsa or VW Golf class. Figuring nothing ventured - nothing gained, I asked the young lady if there was any way we might get an upgrade for the same price. "Sure thing Sir" she beams. "How about a Peugot Station Wagon?" I could have adopted her right there on the spot. :0)
We are soon fully loaded in our brand new silver "370SW" Peugot wagon
and heading down the winding ramp out
to the main drag in front of the airport. I am chief pilot and Ben is navigator as we pick up what was supposed
to be the A5
South towards Heidelberg. The navigator assumed I knew the way out of the airport and was busy finding radio stations
on the jukebox.
As soon as we spot a sign saying Kassel we figure we have just committed an "ooops" (hey...there is a lot of construction around the airport these days o.k. - cut us some slack). Undaunted, we figure we will just take the first exit and swing back around and get back on track. Spotting what looks like a small road (and ignoring obvious do not enter signs) we quickly zoom off the autobahn and find ourselves on what looks like a bike path (hmmmmm...??).
Yours truly is determined to right a wrong and so I just keeping following the road with left turns as the autobahn is directly beneath us. We cross a small bridge and come upon three parked cars which lead us to believe we must be on the right trail. Sure enough, another left and the autobahn is about 50 meters away. Whew... what a relief. Unfortunately, those parked cars turned out to be unmarked Polizei as we quickly found out.
Uh-Oh. What are those flashing blue lights behind us I'm wondering? Doesn't he know there isn't enough room to pass on this narrow road. By now it dawns on us we may have committed a faux pas. We pull over and quickly exit the car as a uniformed trooper gets out and beckons us over to his car. Naturally, we begin the arm waving/tourist German trying to explain we are going North instead of South. In perfect English he retorts "Don't you guys know how to read signs? You are on a pedestrian only path." Bottom line is he takes pity and lets us off lightly. We are soon back on the right road and have a good laugh (once the cops are out of sight).
Having only lost about 20 minutes off
the schedule we head on down the road for a stop at our favorite coffee shop at Grafenhausen rest stop. From here
it is just a short drive towards Heidelberg where we exit the autobahn and pick up the B460 for a drive cross country
to the Mossautal valley in the Odenwald. Our first stop is a somewhat large farm in the tiny hamlet of OberMossau,
not far from Michelstadt. I had found the place on the net several months ago and reserved an apartment (Fewo -
Ferienwohnung) for two nights.
64756 Mossautal/Ober Mossau
Tel - 06061/2041 ~ Fax - 06061/71186
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Around noonish we arrive at the Bauernhof
only to find no one home. No problem as we had not stated just what time we would arrive. They probably went into
town so we decide to cruise the local area and get the lay of the land. To our surprise we discover we are staying
about 200 meters from the local brewery "Schmucker's" . Now here is a town without even a gas station but they've
got their own brewery. Go figure...
After killing an hour we head back to the farm and this time are greeted by our hostess Frau Weitzel. She shows us to a very nice large apartment on the top floor. We each have our own bedroom, a nice living area with satellite TV, and best of all a large balcony overlooking the surrounding countryside.
It begins to repeat itself in one minute intervals and
shortly thereafter, like a row of dominoes, the rest of the herd joins in. It seems these gals have no sense of
time, nor the fact that there are two dead to the world tourists a few feet away trying to recharge the old bodies
for the day ahead. Oh well..the damage is done. No way I can go back to sleep with all this seranading going on
so I get up and tip toe into the living room and turn on the tube. WHOA!!! What the heck is this. It seems I have
stumbled across a "special" channel consisting of nothing but music videos of ladies convorting "a
la natural". Forget sleep, I'll have another Bier please. At least one blessed event has come out of this
early morning wake up call. I head out onto the balcony to a crystal clear sky loaded with stars, a crisp night
air which is a much needed relief from the scorching heat of just two days ago, and the sound of cowbells in the
meadow across the road.
Finally, dawn starts to break and Ben comes out of hibernation as we start preparations for the day's activities. First item on the agenda is breakfast, which Frau Weitzel said would be at 7:30 in the Aufenthaltsraum downstairs. By 7:00 we are out and about for our morning stroll and usual picture taking. It looks like it will be a picture perfect day. A bright sunny morning and the cool temps have gotten us pumped. Our stroll about the farm shows it is indeed a large one. The Frau had mentioned that they have 170 head of cattle, but only a couple of dozen are in the barn next to the house (my own personal alarm clock), and the others are in the main barn just up the hill.
As we eat we discuss what the plan for the day should
be. We agree it is a perfect day for a drive along the Neckar so why not head for Bad Wimpfen? We were last there
in '93 and a repeat visit seems in order. And so, with Ben in the pilot's seat and me as navigator/chief photographer,
off we go. At Eberbach we pick up the B37 for the short drive along the Neckar. Around 9:00 we are pulling
into the parkplatz by the main Bahnhof/TI office (this little train station is about 150 years old). A short stroll
up the hill brings us into the Altstadt.
Visit complete, we make our way back to the parkplatz to decide what is next on the agenda. Checking the map, I see we are very close to a place I have always wanted to visit, but have only seen as I whizzed past it on the autobahn in years past. The town of Sinsheim is just off the A6, and houses a large outdoor aircraft/military equipment museum. There is also a large indoor complex mainly of old cars and stuff like that.
Off we go down the A6, and in less than an hour we are pulling into the parking lot of the museum. It is indeed huge and their website doesn't do it justice. Aircraft of every type are mounted on large poles as if in actual flight. There are also winding steps that go up and inside the planes but we opted instead to just stroll the grounds taking it all in.
We definitely have to hit Heidelberg and so after the
pause that refreshes we are off on the backroads. Within an hour we are pulling into the Altstadt and into the
P13 parking lot just below the castle. We head over to the funicular and are soon on our way up.
I never get tired of the view from here on a day like
today. Ben shows up having finished his call and we spend some time just strolling among the ruins before heading
back down the hill.
Once the mission is accomplished we head back up by the
church and take up residence at one of the outdoor tables nearby and proceed to start the next Bier break of the
We are deliciously stuffed and the damage
is only about 10 Euro each.
It has been a great day here in the Odenwald, but tomorrow we push on to begin the main event of this trip. We have planned for four days in the Schwarzwald and our plate is crammed with things we want to do. Back to the farm for final packing and preparations to move out smartly after breakfast. A bottle of red wine (to ward off the night chill) caps off a perfect day for me as we relax in the living room and go over the battle plan for the next two weeks.
Hopefully tonight will be one of peace and quiet, but if not I know of a certain channel that provides some "interesting" entertainment. :0)