Colette - RamblerH
(Click on the very small pictures for larger versions)
After many discussions with various Stammtisch members, I decided to go ahead and try a solo trip to Germany. The morning of the trip, I was a total basket case! I even called Bill H. about an hour before leaving for the airport, whining to him how I couldn’t do this! By the time I boarded the plane for Dallas, I realized this trip would only be what I made of it, and how fortunate I was to have the ability to see, do, and experience what I wanted when I wanted!
Deplaning in Dallas, I noticed an American Airlines buggy waiting by the gate. The woman driving it stopped three gentlemen and all I overheard was "Frankfurt?" and "to Admiral's Club." Since I was flying business class (thanks to David and free airmiles!) I was headed towards the Admiral's Club myself, so I walked over and asked if I could ride along. The employee explained she was taking the gentlemen to the First Class Admiral's Club, not Business Class. Gee, I didn't know there were two kinds! The gentlemen hollered out "hop on, she's our guest!" Wow - that American Airlines First Class Admiral's Club is quite posh! I thanked the guys for letting me "crash" the First Class lounge and for starting my trip out in style.
Our flight left on time and I felt fortunate to have flown on American's 777, which can cruise up to 39,000 feet high for a smoother ride, and has a wing span of almost 200 ft.
Upon arrival in Frankfurt, I immediately went through customs since I didn't check any luggage, and was in search for the rental car area. Since I've always flown into Frankfurt, I can practically get to this area with my eyes closed. However, this was my first experience in renting through Alamo. I had used the broker Nova RentaCar, and was extremely pleased with the price they quoted for an automatic. It was quite obvious after circling about the rental car section a few times and finally asking one of the Hertz employees, that there wasn't an "Alamo" booth. Seems that National owns Alamo. Okay, fine. I walk up to the National booth, hand the clerk my paperwork and she tells me that she is strictly National, that I must go to Terminal 2 where there are two rental car booths together, one National and one Alamo.
So much for my heading out of the airport in record time! It took me forever to find the Alamo booth. It is on the 2nd floor of Terminal 2, and I had to ask four different airport Info employees where Alamo was located. I was greatly pleased with Alamo/National, they were extremely courteous and efficient, and I had the most perfect car - a PT Cruiser! Sunroof and all!
Only downside was that it had a locked gas cap, and I struggled before leaving the rental lot trying to figure out how to get the blasted thing off. Finally a nice German-speaking fellow who was returning a car jumped out and demonstrated how. I still wasn't quite convinced I could do it, but decided it was time to start my journey.
I had smooth sailing for the most part. My first stop would be Cafe Rebstock in Oppenau, upper Black Forest. I headed for Wiesbaden then Basel. Stopped at a Rasthof and left my car keys in the bathroom stall!! Yikes! I ran back in only to find the stall occupied. Fear was creeping up my spine, but after a few minutes the door opened and a nice lady stood dangling the keys in front of her. She smiled when she saw the look of relief on my face! Phew! My first blonde moment of the trip!
Exiting Appenweier, I was real close to my destination. It's an easy drive to Oppenau, and feeling a bit jet-lagged, I was glad I didn't choose to drive much further. Jean-Luc Ohlmann and his wife own the Hotel-Cafe Rebstock.
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My room was on the 3rd floor, no lift, but I needed the exercise anyway. The room was beautiful, and although my windows faced this huge roof, I had the greatest view on either side of it. I loved opening the windows and breathing in that refreshingly cool air! I walked about town, found the TI office and then drove towards Bad Peterstal just to enjoy the beautiful scenery on a gorgeous day. Stopped at a tiny chapel up on a hill in Isbach, then walked through the countryside.
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Afterwards I found a Penny Markt and bought a few refreshments and snacks for my room. I had a great dinner at the Rebstock, which consisted of a pate appetizer with bread, a small salad, and then Schweineschnitzel with Pommes Frites. The food was wonderful at the Cafe Rebstock, and thanks to my friend Pat Wilson for telling me about this place.
I watched a bit of German TV and got really hooked on this female detective show, which is filmed entirely in Germany. Sure wish we got that show here -- I miss seeing it! Crashed at about 9:45pm only to wake up at midnight, but I was able to get a good night's sleep and arose at about 6:30am.
There is a brick and lumber company located across the alley from the hotel and the little hydraulic lift was scrambling about at 7am! Good thing I'm not a late sleeper! The Ohlmann's provided a good breakfast, but alas, no egg. Everything was tasty though.
I decided to take a trip to Strasbourg, since on my last trip I only dabbled a little here and there. I still haven't opened a map since I landed. I remembered where the parkplatz was for the tram into the old town center, and had no problems with obtaining a ticket and parking place. Took the tram and the place was already bustling at 10am! Since there were threats the day before about plots to blow up the cathedral, there were police everywhere and only small crowds were allowed in for short periods of time and then asked to leave. My new digital movie camera works great, so I have wonderful shots of the inside of all the places I toured. My digital still camera, however, takes a flash, so no inside still pictures. Haven’t figured out how to take stills on the movie camera yet.
Stopped at the TI's office and then did the usual "woman's" thing of shopping and found lots of neat things to bring back for gifts. Walking about the square and looking for a place to have lunch, I watched a mime performing which was fun. I found a nice little outside cafe and had a tart flambé. I then took the little touristy train, which travels throughout Strasbourg’s town center, and we had headsets to listen to a guided tour of the town. The train stops by a bridge and we all exit and climb up on top to see the most wonderful panoramic view of the city. It was quite charming. One thing mentioned during the tour was the Bishop's Palace, also called Rohan Palace. It is located across from the cathedral. I walked across nosing around and sure enough; there is another tourist office inside and about three different museums. I paid to see the "decorative arts museum" which consisted of touring the living quarters of the Rohan cardinals. The various rooms contained many beautiful pieces of antique furnishings.
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It was early afternoon so I decided to stroll through the Petite France Quarter and do a little more shopping. About 3pm I thought I should head back to Oppenau and hopped on the tram. Only thing is, it was the wrong tram! As it skirted down the streets, nothing looked familiar. I just remained on the tram until the end of the line. About 20 minutes later we came to a stop. I walked all the way up to the conductor's car, knocked on the window and asked if he spoke English. No such luck but he did speak a little German. Try to envision this -- a French conductor and an English-speaking tourist trying to converse in German. The nice fellow said not to worry, drove me back to the town center and pointed to the tram I needed to take. I gleefully hopped on that tram, waving away at the other conductor. Unfortunately, this tram too was the wrong tram! Heavens! This tram was headed across town towards an apartment section. Lots of Turkish people were on the tram, and I was a tad nervous about the length of this ride. About 35 minutes later, it came to the end of the line. Once again, I walked all the way up to the first car and rapped on the conductor's window. Upon return to the town center, I waved to the other nice tram driver (gee, I enjoyed chatting with those young fellows, even though I spent the afternoon lost!) and this time I decided to walk back to my car! Halfway there, the skies opened up and it poured. Of course I didn't have an umbrella nor a coat, but I didn't care, I was sticking to my own two feet getting me to my car, and no other mode of transportation!
The weather turned bitterly cold and rainy, so once I returned to Oppenau I decided to eat a sandwich in my room with some paprika chips and, of course, a beer. Afterwards, I drove down to the phone booth to make a call home. I turned and noticed a parking meter man flipping open his book while examining my car. I flew out of the booth asking what was wrong, and he inquired where the little blue Parkscheibe sign was.
Oh my! I forgot!! I quickly jumped in the car and got it out of the glove compartment and placed it on the dash - nice save.
Another adequate breakfast, and it's time for another walk around the town and down to the post office to mail some postcards. The line was long, and it got sort of funny, because the people started grumbling about the wait. The postmaster kept running off into the back room, only to return and punch a few buttons and then tell the customer at the window "one minute" and returned to the back room again! The woman in front of me was really complaining to the rest of us in line, rolling her eyes. Every time he left the room we would all turn around and look at each other, shake our heads and sigh. I thought to myself "gee, I wish Ben was here to observe this!!"
Today I made plans to meet with Chuck (Charbown) for lunch at the Zum Sternen, so I left very early since I hate ever being late for an appointment. Traffic on 33 was fine until just before Haslach. There was a horrible accident, and the road was closed. I didn't know how else to get to 500! I sat and sat in the backed up traffic until the firemen approached the vehicles one by one to tell us how to detour around. Thank God that was easy enough, but now it was much later than I anticipated.
That wouldn't have been so bad, but then I had a couple more blonde moments and made two wrong turns. I even zipped right past the zum Sternen, but then again, I always miss the entrance to the driveway, and I had to be consistent! When I arrived, it was 12:50pm, and I rounded the corner just as Chuck was about to give up on me and order something for lunch! I'm so glad I got to meet Chuck, what a wonderful fellow he is and a great source of information regarding travel. We exchanged a few stories about previous travels and about the kids and our families, and time flew by way too fast.
I ate the best Kalbsteak ever at the Zum Sternen. That Rudi, what a cook! And Chuck decided that we should get Spätzle instead of Pommes Frites, and boy was I glad he recommended that. That was the tastiest meal I had!
After a few hours, I headed back towards Oppenau. Back on the road again, I realized I needed some gas and stopped to refuel. I could not get the blasted locked cap off the gas tank! I was really working up a sweat for about a good 10 mins. when a nice young man came to my rescue. About now I’m starting to think I better get back and practice the procedure for removing that cap, or one day I may not be so lucky!
Of course I had to stop in Oberkirch to do a tad bit of shopping and walking around. I enjoy Oberkirch with its little creek running down the middle of town. Then it was back to the Cafe Rebstock where I ordered Spargel for dinner. I truly thought I died and went to Heaven!! Oh my God!! Who invented this heavenly concoction of delicately cooked white asparagus served with a delicious creamy Hollandaise sauce? I felt like that cartoon character, the dog that would jump up into the air, catch his biscuit and then float down to the ground in divine contentment.
Back at my room, I practice my ritual of watching German TV while enjoying a tasty German beer, a Kulmbacher. Suddenly, there’s a knock on my door - the Frau decided to send up a tray with a small bottle of Pinot Sekt and a vase full of lovely Daffodils. What a delightful surprise that was! The Ohlmann’s are superb hosts.
I hate having to say wiedersehen, but it was time for me to continue on my journey. Since I arose early I packed and loaded up the car before breakfast. After paying my hosts we chatted for a bit. Frau Ohlmann reminded me that Oppenau has a beautiful natural waterfall, not electric like the one in Triberg, and the Klosterruine Allenheiligen ruins are worth seeing also. The Ohlmanns gave me a small bottle of schnapps labeled “Oppenau” and it was time to say our goodbyes.
I stopped at the Hexenlochmühle and a friendly German couple offered to take my picture.
Very pretty drive to this area. It was a must to stop at the various picnic areas along the way and enjoy the view. It took about 3½ hrs. to get to the Schluchsee from Oppenau. I chose to stay at the Gasthof Schwörer because they advertised on their website to be “biker friendly” and I wanted to check it out. Turns out most of the places you stay in Schwarzwald are “biker friendly” and man, were there the bikes out and about on a daily basis! It’s a freaky feeling to be driving around the sharp curves, look in your rearview mirror and see nothing, only to glance two seconds later and have a Ninja biker riding your bumper!
Gasthof Schwörer has a restaurant, outside terrace and a Metzgerei. My room was newly furnished, and the only downside was they were in the process of redoing the upstairs. However, that didn’t bother me since the work went on during the day when I wasn’t in my room.
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My view of the lake was out of what looked like basement windows even though I was on the 2nd floor. Funny how things that probably would have bothered me if I were traveling with other people didn’t bother me at all on my solo trip. I was quite content with my new room. The lock was horrible, tho! One of those lean into the door, turn once, pull up on the handle and click twice type of locks. Am I lock challenged or what??? I struggle so!
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I strolled around the lake, but it was bitter cold with an icy breeze in the air. Schluchsee is a small resort town, and not much was going on. Quite dead. I’m sure during the summer it’s busy full of tourists. I dined at the Schwörer and had a delicious dish of fresh Leberwurst, Kraut and Kartoffel. Good thing David wasn’t along, he would have been making faces at that meal! It was good. The dining room has a lovely view and I reviewed brochures while eating my meal and enjoying the view.
My room had a small fridge so I found a place to purchase some Cola Lites and a couple bottles of beer, cheese, meat, bread and zweibel rings. I was stocked for my stay. You would think I’d gain 200 lbs. the way I eat while I’m over there, but I think the constant walking around, climbing stairs and hills keeps the pounds off.
Super breakfast! With a perfect Ei! My hostess didn’t speak English, and talked very fast so I understood about 1/8th of what she said most of the time, but she was a sweet lady and extremely helpful. When I opened the door to the Frühstück room, I saw Herr Fricker, the owner, eating his breakfast and was totally aghast to see him sitting there with a beer, half of which he had already downed! It was only 8am!!!! Oh well, I guess it’s noon somewhere, right? Immediately I looked the other way, hoping he didn’t see my shocked expression.
Stopped at the TI office and inquired about taking the train into Freiburg. They said if I had a Schwarzwald guest card, I could purchase an all day ticket from them for half price. Yeah! I pulled out my card and was very excited about the discount! They explained about the train, and it was such an easy mode of transportation. I could have gotten off at Titisee, Hinterzarten, any of the stops along the way and then caught the next train to Freiburg, but I wanted to make sure I got to my desired destination without any problems. While riding back to the Schluchsee I realized how easy it would have been for me to do that, but it was raining very hard on the trip back. I was tickled when the conductor stopped and announced the town of “Aha.” The children on the train were giggling and laughing, shouting out “a-HAA! a-HAA!”
Freiburg is so easy to tour if you take the train. When you leave the Bahnhof, you walk thru this tunnel and come up a few streets away from the town center. I toured the Münster cathedral, very gothic, walked about the outside markets and visited the Kaufhaus (“merchant’s house”). The multi-colored tiled roof is beautiful. I also visited the Martinskirche, which is more brightly decorated and not as gothic, and then the Martinstor. There were street musicians everywhere. A very bustling city and lots of fun to explore. The flower garden at the Colombinpark didn’t have many flowers, and a gentleman saw me taking pictures and started conversing with me. He explained that because of the kids that use the park, the flowers are trampled on and they can’t keep it looking clean because the kids throw their cigarette butts everywhere. We chatted about flowers and the park, and then he asked if I spoke French. Nope! That was the end of our ability to chat with each other in German, so we said our goodbyes.
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Once again the skies opened up and I was totally drenched this time! I had an umbrella, but it broke. Figures!! I purchased another phone card at a Kiosk, and made my way to the Bahnhof for the ride back. And what a beautiful ride it is, too, the scenery is unbelievable. There were about five teenagers in my car and I had fun talking to them and passing around pictures of my daughters. The one boy kept smelling his jacket, making a face and then saying “schteeeeeeenk!!” He would dabble on some cologne he kept in his pocket, and the other boys and I would laugh at his antics. I told him “stink” is an American word, didn’t realize it was a German word also! Pronounced a tad different! Since the weather was bad, I decided to take it easy and unwind in my room. I reviewed my movie, wrote out postcards and called home.
Again I had dinner at the Gasthof, and this time I ordered a Spargel dish with Schnitzel. I could exist on that spargel! My waitress, Danjelia, tried to teach me a new German expression every night. I should have written them down, tho, because I can’t remember any of them!
Up and about early, I prepared for a busy day of sightseeing. It is my last day in Schluchsee, so I have to see as much as I can in the area. I planned on touring the Rheinfalls. Breakfast was great again, and thank God Herr Fricker wasn’t downing a beer this time. It just makes my stomach jump thinking about it!
It was a beautiful day, sun shining, temps about 60’s.
I headed south on 500 intending to go to Switzerland, but got sidetracked when I saw a sign that said “St. Blasien.” I had to check it out. Another beautiful drive and I really like this town! Certain towns just really take my heart, for whatever reason.
Der Dom is exquisite, all white and gray marble throughout the church. There was an art exhibit of the 10 commandments, and I spent a lot of time viewing each and every picture. Time slipped away from me, and I couldn’t believe how long I stayed! Well, there goes the Rheinfalls.
Next stop was the Feldberg. Since it was such a beautiful day, I figured the view would be outstanding, and it was. I was determined to climb to the top. The cable cars weren’t running, so walking the tiny paths was the only way to get there.
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As I started from the parking lot, a gentleman stopped me and asked in German if I was just at St. Blasien. I told him yes, he turned to his group and said “see, I told you she was there!” I said “yes, I’m following you!” We all laughed at my silliness. I started rolling my movie camera and I have him on tape. He wanted to know how much the picture would cost, so I had to try and explain that it was a movie camera, and I download onto the computer and then onto a tape. I don’t think he fully understood me, but he smiled and we waved goodbye to each other.
What a climb that was for an out-of-shape softie! Phew! I was a huffing and puffing halfway up. I laughed to myself that no one would believe I was making this climb in my shoes that I wear with nice slacks to work. However, they are comfy flats but didn’t grasp the pebbles and stones very well. I took my time and stopped to enjoy the majestic alps in the background. There were patches of snow all around me. Going downhill was just about as tricky, considering I didn’t have the right footgear, but I made it.
The day was slipping away from me, and I had to see one more thing! I decided to go to Titisee. Along the way I stopped at a motorcycle club’s place, but it was closed. Took a few pictures and then headed towards Titisee.
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Titisee was much more touristy than Schluchsee, and was very crowded. I enjoyed mingling with the crowd, shopping, walking through the town. There were two large tour boats so I purchased a ticket and hopped on one. The tour of the lake is given in German and English. It was a great ride, watching fishermen, waiving to the campers at the campground. I looked up and saw the Feldberg. Unbelievable! Was I way up there just a little while ago?
It was such a lovely day. I stopped at
an outside café and ordered a Bier vom Fass, a Gunter. Delicious!
Back at the Gasthof I figured my other two meals were so good, I might as well eat there again. This time I ordered “rump roast” but it turned out to be a Rumpsteak! Like a sirloin. Very tasty. I reviewed my movie from the day’s events and then packed.
Another perfect breakfast with an Ei; loaded up the car and left around 10am. I stopped at the zum Sternen -- yes, I passed up the driveway once again -- and visited with Rudi. I gave Rudi a Harley Davidson T-shirt, and he gave me in exchange two small schnapps cups that say “Fürstenberg” on them.
I figured since it was May 1, and it being May Day, there would be all kinds of celebrations in the various little villages, and that I better head towards the airport early to avoid traffic jams. However, I never saw one festival going on! And all the stores were closed. Only the touristy stores in Triberg and Hornberg were open. I had to get a couple more gifts, so I purchased them there.
After getting on the autobahn it started raining real hard, but people continued to zoom along at high speed. I remembered where the last gas station is before getting into the airport area, so I stopped and filled up the car.
After turning in my car I checked into
the Sheraton. They have totally refurbished the lobby and restaurants, and I
had to ask someone at the front desk if it was still the Sheraton! My how things can change in one year.
I did the girly thing of taking a bubble bath and then reviewing all my cherished trinkets from my trip. Had dinner in the sport’s bar and then checked with the Admiral’s Club to make sure my reservations were all in order for my morning flight home.
The Sheraton is extremely pricey, but as always, I like the convenience. However, now that I feel bold and sassy, hey, next trip I just may try staying somewhere less expensive and driving in before my flight leaves!
My trip was short but it holds so many fond memories - as Joan told me before I left, “you’re first time solo you’ll be scared to death but once you do it, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t tried it before!” She was absolutely correct!