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Trip Report Germany: From the Mosel to Munich - A Detailed Trip Report

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Background: To celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband, B.J., and I spent 17 days travelling through the southern region of Germany. To prepare for our 408 hour journey, we estimate that we spent thousands of hours on Fodor’s, culling invaluable information from many wonderful folks. To all of you who helped us, we say thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Although most Fodor Folks prefer to rent a car in Germany, we chose to use public transportation for our travels, for several reasons – we live in a rural area and must drive everywhere already, plus we like talking with people we meet on the train, and, we wanted to drink beer and wine from the Mosel to Munich, and Germany’s DUI laws are very strict.

So, here’s my trip report, which you will see is quite lengthy. But please bear with me; I do have 408 hours of journey to cover, sans sleeping. Anyway, what else would you expect from someone who just spent a gazillion hours planning our adventure? I’ve always viewed travelling as having three parts – the planning, the actual travel, and the memories, which I’m now trying to stretch out and hold onto.

Our itinerary

Fly New York JFK to Frankfurt Airport
2 nights Cochem – Hotel Alte Thorshenke
2 nights St. Goar – Hotel am Markt
1 night Ittlingen – Ober’s Landgasthof
2 nights Rothenburg – Gastehaus Edith
2 nights Bamberg – Hotel Weierich
3 nights Munich – Pension Westfalia
1 night Mittenwald – Hotel Alpenrose
1 night Hohenschwangau – Pension Albrecht
1 night Munich – Pension Westfalia
Fly Munich Airport to New York JFK


Day One (9 Oct, Tuesday) - TRAVEL DAY

“Yes, we need to turn around and get our coats!,” Thank heavens we were only 5 minutes on the road to the airport before we discovered we had forgotten them. After all, it was over 80 degrees outside on this beautiful October day, and the last thing we were thinking of was our winter coats. We did feel kind of silly carrying them through the airport at JFK, but I kept reassuring my husband, B.J., that we might need them by the end of our trip (he was ultimately glad he listened to me).

Our dear friend, Roger, was kind enough to drive us from northeast Pennsylvania to JFK airport in New York, a three hour journey. We actually made very good time, avoiding any traffic jams on I-80, the Whitestone Bridge or the Van Wyck.

Our flight on Lufthansa ($464.37 ea) was scheduled to depart at 16:35, but was delayed 1 hour 45 minutes, most of it inching our way towards the runway and vying for position to take off. Note to self: Do NOT fly out of JFK again, if it can be avoided. The flight was full, and we shared the third seat in the row with a German woman who was going to miss her connection due to the delay, but it appeared that the flight attendants were on top of it, making other arrangements for her. We had chicken, mushrooms and rice for dinner, and a breakfast bar, cheese wedge and juice for breakfast. We tried to sleep, and did nod off occasionally, but it would have to be adrenaline which keeps us moving through our first day.

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    Day Two (10 Oct, Wednesday, Rail Pass) - MAINZ, COCHEM

    Landed at Frankfurt Airport at 7:10, only an hour and 15 minutes behind schedule. We tapped the money machine for a couple hundred Euros, to get us started. We don’t use a Money Access Card at home, and had to apply for one for this trip. This was the first time we had tried a MAC while travelling in Europe, so we were relieved how easy the transaction went, however the machine doesn’t issue a receipt.

    We headed to the railway office to activate our Eurail Pass (4-day German Twin Pass $378.00), only to discover that they weren’t going to honor it. In an effort to avoid some of the bulk in the passport pouch, we removed the three pages of ticket from the heavier-stock paper folder that it came in. The clerk and her supervisor were agitated with us, but eventually stapled our ticket into a German Rail Pass folder, activated our pass, and we were on our way to Mainz by 8:38.

    After stashing our luggage at the Hauptbahnhof in Mainz (which we now know how to pronounce correctly), we walked to the center of town and toured through the very Romanesque Mainzer Dom. It was early in the morning, and only a few people in the church, which made it ever more haunting and beautiful. We lit a candle for our friend, Karen, said a little prayer, and were on our way.

    We arrived at the Gutenberg Museum (Euro 5,00 ea) just as they opened for the day, and immediately went downstairs where they have many different types of printing presses on display, including a reproduction of the original Gutenberg Press, which they use for demonstrations. We watched as the docent set the type and pressed a page from the Bible, which he rolled up and gave to me as a souvenir. Now my goal is to try not to let my page from the Gutenberg Bible get crushed before we get home – only sixteen more days to travel with it… should be no problem!

    There are several floors upstairs in the Museum, which is filled with all things printed and about printing, including two Gutenberg Bibles. Perhaps the most bizarre item we saw was a lithograph hanging on the wall, depicting all the Christian forms of torture. Yikes! We spoke in depth with another museum docent, who was originally from Turkey but now lives in Germany. He was really delighted to hear that Mainz was our first stop on our Germany tour, so he spent a good deal of time just talking with us, about the museum, Mainz, and Germany in general.

    We wound our way through the streets and up the hill to St. Stephen’s Kirche, to see Chagall’s stained glass windows. By this time in the morning, the sun was beginning to peek out from behind the gray clouds that had shrouded the city. We were lucky enough that there was a little break in the clouds when we opened the door to the church and entered, as we were showered in a hue of blue. It was quite stunning. Unfortunately there was a fairly large tour group in the church, which was distracting. After sitting in the pew for awhile and soaking it all in, we made our way back to the Hauptbahnhof, where we grabbed our luggage and were off on the 12:20 to Koblenz, where we transferred to Cochem.

    Before I left on our journey I had copied Rick Steves’ itinerary for travelling on the train along the Rhine. It lists and describes all the castles and sights from the Niederwald Monument at Km 528 to Koblenz at Km 590. The views were beautiful – old castles and terraced vineyards with a hint of autumn in the colors.

    As we were preparing to disembark the train in Koblenz to transfer, we had a Three Stooges moment with a young girl (10-12) who was travelling by herself. Her bag tipped over, and we all went to pick it up, almost colliding heads. As soon as it was uprighted, it tipped over again. After a moment of hesitation, my husband bent over to retrieve it, only to have his bag tip over, then her bag again! We all stood there in the doorway of the train having a great laugh as our luggage was splayed out in front of us.

    We arrived in Cochem around 14:00 and walked from the Hauptbahnhof to the Alte Thorschenke (Euro 82,00/night), which is built right into one of the old city gates. Jet lag had definitely set in by now as we literally walked around in a circle looking for the hotel. The very friendly desk clerk offered us our choice of two rooms. The first room we looked at had a beautifully wood carved and painted sleigh bed that I just wanted to crawl into. But we chose Room #7, which had a wooden canopy bed, with a carved bird inlaid on the underside of the canopy. The view out the window was not the best, but the ambiance of the room was wonderful.

    After a nap and a shower we walked through the winding streets of Cochem to Zom Stueffje at Oberbachstrasse 14, where we had dinner. I had Wiener Schnitzel and a glass of Mosel wine, B.J. had trout and a Bitburger lager. Total cost Euro 28,60.

    After dinner we strolled around the medieval streets until we ended up back at our hotel by 20:00. After raiding the mini bar in the room, a bottle of Veltins Pils for B.J. and a bottle of Landenbergerlein Pikkolo for me, we both collapsed into our wooden canopy bed with the funky German pillows.

    www.mainz.de
    http://www.gutenberg-museum.de/?language=e
    http://www.cochem-tourist.de/
    http://castle-thorschenke.de/index.php?lang=en
    http://www.zom-stueffje.de/

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    Day 3 (11 Oct, Thursday, Point-to-Point) - MOSELKERN, BURG ELTZ, COCHEM

    We awoke after a restless night’s sleep (what is it with those big, floppy German pillows?), and went downstairs to a most wonderful breakfast buffet of meats, cheeses, breads, spreads, juices, eggs, yogurt, fresh cut fruit, cereals, etc… We ate heartily, bulking up in preparation for today’s adventure.

    There was a chill in the air (yeah, winter coats), and a heavy fog that lay in the valley as we strolled along the Mosel to the Bahnhof. We could barely see the castle that looms over Cochem through the fog. We used the ticket machine at the station to purchase 2 return train fares to Moselkern (Euro 7,20 ea), as well as our Rheinland-Pfalz Laender Pass (Euro 25,00) for tomorrow. By 10:25 we were on our way to Burg Eltz. Within 20 minutes we had arrived at the train station in Moselkern. Armed with Bavaria Ben’s walking instructions, we made our way through the town until we came to the trailhead by the Hotel Ringelsteiner Muhle. There were several other folks of all ages that we encountered while hiking the trail, which was very easy to navigate.

    The trail gently rose above the River Eltz, until after about an hour of hiking, there before you, peaking out behind the trees of the forest, stands the most magnificent medieval castle. I suddenly felt the ghosts of chivalrous knights and marauding thugs all around me. Perhaps the hardest part of the hike was the steps we had to climb up from the valley floor to the castle above.

    We didn’t feel like waiting for an English tour, so we joined the next German tour, along with a couple from Illinois (Euro 8,30 ea). When the guide realized that we only spoke English, she took the time to explain a little to us and was happy to answer our questions, as best she could in what English she knew. I think she enjoyed having the opportunity to practice her English with us. Plus, at the beginning of the tour they gave us a printed description of the rooms written in English, so it was possible to follow along. The castle and the furnishings, and the daydreams they invoke, were well worth the hike through the forest to see. In fact, approaching the castle on foot, through the woods, really added to the ambiance of the visit. We also took the time to tour through the Treasury at Burg Eltz, which contains some beautiful and interesting precious objects.

    By now, the sun had burnt off all the fog and was blazing bright in the sky. The temperature had risen into the 70’s. We would hike back down the trail carrying our coats with us, and were very happy when we saw the Hotel Ringelsteiner Muhle again. We took a seat at their outdoor café, where I ordered a glass of Mosel wine and B.J. a Paulaner HeffeWiessen on tap. As we enjoyed our libations, we pondered over the wonderful weather, and how nice it was to be on holiday, and how lucky we were to be able to take a trip like this for our 30th wedding anniversary. Well, we pondered 5 minutes too long.

    By the time we paid our bill and traversed the streets back through Moselkern, we arrived at the station just in time to see our train was pulling away. Oh well, there’s another one coming in an hour. To kill time we found a cemetery near the station, which was enclosed by a stone wall with several really old dated plaques embedded into the structure. However, inside the wall we could not find any old graves! In fact the oldest grave we saw was from the 1980’s. And all the cemetery plots were beautifully landscaped and manicured. There were two young children and at least a half dozen older folks busily tending to the upkeep. But where were all the old graves??? That question will be answered for us later.

    Finally, the 16:04 came and whisked us back to Cochem. On the train we sat across from another young girl (tweenager) who was travelling by herself, wearing a New York Yankees baseball hat.

    Since we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, we decided that an early dinner was a priority. Last night we had spotted a restaurant above the hill from Zom Stueffje, so we headed across town to check it out, only to turn away at the door from the overwhelmingly offensive smell from smoking. So we wandered aimlessly for the next 20-30 minutes, checking menus and asking each other, should we?, or shouldn’t we? We finally decided on Hotel/Restaurant Vonderbeck at Moselpromenade 19.

    We took a seat outside, with a wonderful view of the Mosel, but quickly moved inside as the sun set and the temperature dropped. (Of course, our winter coats were in the hotel room where they weren’t doing us any good right now.) I ordered the chicken with mushrooms and rice and a glass of wine, B.J. ordered the pork steak with cauliflower and cheese and a draught of weizen-bier. Total bill – Euro 27,30.

    We dashed back to the hotel after dinner, where we spent some time getting warm and resting our sore feet. Since it was too early to go to bed (although we were tired and still getting over jet lag), we changed our socks and shoes, bundled up in our winter jackets and went for an evening stroll through the winding streets of Cochem. The castle illuminated high on the hill added to the medieval charm of the town. We ended up at one of those wine tasting bars, where we sampled a few varieties, and settled on a bottle that we took back to the room.

    By 21:30 I was in bed, sipping wine, working on my journal, and watching Knight Rider in German on T.V. I love travelling!

    Bavaria Ben - http://www.bensbauernhof.com
    Burg Eltz - http://www.burg-eltz.de/e_index.html

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    artstuff,

    Thanks so much for this wonderful report so far! You are covering some of the areas I want to visit when I finally get to go again.

    Especially interested to know all about train trans, as my trip will probably be solo. I would prefer to rent a car, but think it will be too expensive. Did the train pass you bought not include some of the local trains?

    How about the smoking issue? I cannot tolerate smoke and wonder how easy it will be to find non-smoking lodging and dining.

    Looking forward to the rest! Love the links!

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    great trip report. I like the comparison of hours spent on the trip to hours spent planning. I planned to go
    to Germany this summer but will wait at least a year, perhaps two - I can only imagine the hours I will have spent planning by then. But it is half the fun!

    What is a Money Access Card?

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    Day Four (12 Oct, Friday, Laender Pass) - TRIER, ST. GOAR

    Had another restless nights sleep, mostly due to the pillows and the very warm feather duvet. When we started looking on the internet at pictures of hotel rooms, we kept noticing that many photos had, what we referred to as, “karate-chop pillows” on the bed – the pillows were propped up with a V-shape chopped into them. For some odd reason these pillows excited us. We couldn’t wait to stay in a hotel with karate-chop pillows, which the Alte Thorshenke had, although not as pretty as in the pictures. Now we were cursing these pillows! They’re large, very large, and understuffed with feathers. You can fold them in half to try to get some depth, but as soon as your head hits the pillow, the feathers displace to each side and it flattens out. If you try to fold it in quarters, it’s more like sleeping on a ball. Anyway, enough of the pillow rant…

    We had another delicious breakfast and did a final walk about town before we checked out and walked to the Bahnhof to catch the 10:24 to Trier. We arrived at 11:30 and had to stash our luggage into 3 smaller lockers since all the large ones were occupied. Our first stop is the Porta Nigra, which is a short walk from the train station. We purchased the Combination Roman tickets (Euro 5,60 ea) which covers the Porta Nigra, the Kaiserthermen and the Amphitheater.

    The Porta Nigra (c.3rd cent) was massive and dark. I liked the fact that you could wander through it without a guide shuffling you along, however I was dismayed by the amount of graffiti that many rude and ignorant people left on this ancient structure.

    As we walked along Simeonstrasse, we found the House of the Three Magi (c.1230), with its odd entrance door on the second floor, accessible only by ladder or wooden staircase that could be pulled up out of the way. We ducked down the Judengasse, then back to Simeonstrasse until we reached the Hauptmarkt, which was alive with the hustle and bustle of people and commerce, just as it has been for thousands of years!

    After wandering around the town square, taking pictures of everything in sight, the Petrusbrunnen, Market Cross, Lowen Pharmacy, The Steipe, the Red House, etc.., we ducked into St. Gangolf Kirche (c.10th-12th cent), where we lit a candle for Karen. This was the first of four churches we visited in Trier, including the Trier Cathedral, or Dom St. Peter (11th-14th cent), and the Liebfrauenkirche (c.1235-60), which we found most impressive.

    However, our favorite was the Basilica, also known as the Aula Palatina (c.310). Built as a throne room for Constantine, this Roman structure was just amazing, for it’s formidable size (90’ wide x 220’ long x 108’ high), it’s state-of-the-art heating system (for it’s time), and the history of this building. Oh, those Romans were so clever.

    My husband’s favorite Roman site in Trier was the Kaisertherman, or Imperial Baths (c.4th cent). He’s a plumber/HVAC technician by trade, so he was fascinated with the Roman technology. I must admit, it was kind of cool to roam around these vast ruins, allowing the imagination to run wild. I’m glad we travel with a mini-mag flashlight – it came in handy peering into dark holes and passages.

    We ended our tour of Trier by hoofing it over to the Amphitheater, which is a good 10 minute hike from the Baths. While the Amphitheater was quite large, we were unimpressed with what was left of the ruins.

    We returned to the Hauptmarkt, where we bought a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of beer for lunch while we waited for the train. We were on our way to St. Goar by 16:12, transferring again in Koblenz.

    However, we were delayed leaving Koblenz for St. Goar, waiting for an ICE train that was running late due to the rail strike. Yeah, bahn.de decided to go on strike three days before we left on our all-rail tour of Germany. Thanks a lot, guys! Since there wasn’t anything we could do about it, we decided to accept the strike, and what adversities it might cause us, and make the best of it. As it turned out, the strike actually afforded us with some very memorable moments during our travels through Germany..

    We finally arrived in St. Goar at 18:30 and easily found the Hotel am Markt (Euro 62,00/night), which is located down the hill from the train station, next to the church, across the street from the Rhine. We checked into room #30, which had a limited view of the Rhine, but a wonderful view of the church.

    We took a quick stroll through town, which was pretty much shut down by the time we arrived. We eventually ended back at our hotel, where we had dinner. I had schweineschnitzel with pomme frittes and a glass of wine from the Loreley Kellerei, B.J. had hanchenschnitzel with a Karlsberg Pils. Total bill – Euro 26,50.

    After dinner we strolled along the waterfront to the ferry, and watched as the ferry did its run back and forth across the Rhine, carrying passengers and vehicles. We spoke briefly with a woman who had the cutest wirehaired dachshund with a dopple-brindled coat (we’re missing our little guy, IGY Pup, who’s also a wirehaired dachshund). It was a nice way to end another wonderful day in Germany, with another beautiful day of weather to boot.

    Trier - http://redaktion.trier.de/praefectus/trier?tourist_en
    St. Goar - www.st-goar.de
    Hotel am Markt - http://www.hotel-am-markt-sankt-goar.de/html/english_home.html

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    >mostly due to the pillows and the very warm feather duvet
    Hey, that's offensive ;-)

    There's nothing better than a soft, fluffy V-shaped pillow, shake it and sink into it before you go to sleep. stepped comforters are a MUST, too.

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    Thank you so much, Artstuff, for this beautiful report! We visited the same region two years ago, in May, and enjoyed each moment.

    Now your detailed description bring me back those nice memories.

    Awaiting the rest of the report!

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    Love this report, artstuff. Can't wait for the rest of it.

    I didn't really mind the german pillows, but I guess I'm the kind of person who can fall asleep anywhere.

    BTW, the prices you posted reminded me again how affordable Germany is, and really quite a bit cheaper than other western european countries.

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    Love your report...

    German pillows - after cursing them many times, we learned to roll them up to get some firmness. Sometimes, we'd get an extra one from the gasthaus staff. And, in the worst case, tuck our small travel pillow underneath.

    We learned to sleep with the window open if the duvets were too warm. We also came to love them so much we sleep under one at home!

    Looking forward to the rest of your report.

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    Thanks, everyone, for your encouraging responses. I'm glad to hear that my report is helping to invoke memories of Germany for some, and hopefully, will assist others in their planning and making new memories.

    Dayle - Being former cigarette smokers, we're very sensative to the smell of smoke also. However, we didn't have any problem at all with the lodging we chose, in fact, all but one or two of the hotels didn't even allow smoking in their rooms.

    As far as dining, other than the restaurant in Cochem, and a brewery in Bamberg that we tried twice to get into, we really didn't have a problem with the smoke in the restaurants. We saw a lot of people smoking at the Hofbrauhaus in Munich, but the building was so large we didn't really notice the smell (except from a lady who shared our table for an hour one evening, cough, cough).

    bigtyke - A Money Access Card is a debit card. I guess MAC is just a term that the banks in our area use to describe a debit card.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Day Five (13 Oct, Saturday, Point-to-Point) - ST. GOARHAUSEN, RHEINFELS CASTLE, OBERWESEL, BACHARACH, ST. GOAR

    We had a decent night’s sleep - the pillows were a little bit easier to sleep with, so I was much happier when I awoke. After our standard German breakfast of meats, cheeses, rolls, breads, spreads, eggs, yogurt, cereal, juices & tea/coffee we were off to catch the ferry to St. Goarhausen, but arrived at the dock two minutes too late. We killed time until the next ferry by wandering through Stephans Wine & Christmas Shoppe, across the street from the ferry launch, which we noticed offered a Rick Steves’ discount.

    We took the ferry to St. Goarhausen (Euro 2,60 ea, return), which will have to suffice as our Rhine River cruise. Although nothing was open in the town, we enjoyed wandering the streets, trying to accomplish our goal, which was to find a carved tree depicting the history of St. Goarhausen and the Rhine Valley. We eventually found it, in a little park across the street from the Rhine (take a left off the ferry). We rode the ferry back to St. Goar, stopped in at Stephens Wine Shoppe and bought a bottle of Riesling wine for later, then back to the hotel to stash our wares.

    By 11:30 we were riding the Burg Express (Euro 3,00 ea, return) to Rheinfels Castle (c.1245) (Euro 4,00 ea.), which sits above St. Goar. While planning our trip, I wasn’t real excited about visiting Rheinfels, in fact, it wasn’t even on our itinerary. The pictures that I saw looked kind of boring – how interesting could the ruins of a castle be? But finally being in St. Goar, along the Rhine, and seeing the Castle perched on its position above the river, I became intrigued, so off we were to explore. And did we ever… we spent the next two hours visiting the museum and poking our noses into all the nooks and crannies of this wonderful castle ruin. Again, we were glad we travel with a flashlight.

    The visit to the water closet in the castle was most interesting for its unique plumbing, and near embarrassing for an older couple who didn’t know the difference between dame and herren. They each started walking into the wrong rooms, when I knew I had to stop them, particularly the woman who was walking into the room where my husband was peeing. I shouted out “Nein”, and then proceeded to point to the breasts on the woman figurine which was mounted on the door to the woman’s room, while muttering “boobies, boobies.” Okay, I didn’t know what else to say, but they got the picture. Before I knew it all three of us were standing there laughing and repeating “boobies” while pointing at the breasts. I guess some words can be universal.

    We were way overdue for lunch so we took the Burg Express back down the hill to St. Goar, to try a Doner Kabop. I had read a thread on Fodor’s about Doner Kabops while doing research for this trip, so we decided to give the Arkadas Grill a try. It was very much like a Gyro which we can get at fairs and festivals in Pennsylvania (US), only without the mess. Served with pomme frittes and a salad, a glass of wine and a glass of beer, the total came to Euro 17,00.

    No trip to St. Goar would be complete without a picture of the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. We were lucky enough to arrive at the clock on the hour, so we got to see the Cuckoo bird in action. We snapped off our obligatory shots of the clock, then headed for the train station, to catch the 15:20. We bought return tickets to Bacharach (Euro 5,80 ea), but would get off the train first at Oberwesel.

    Within five minutes we were in Oberwesel, where we spent two hours exploring the town and walking the city fortification wall, checking out some of the 16 towers that still remain of the original 21. We visited the very gothic, and very red on the outside, Liebfrauenkirche (c.1308), and admired the beautiful gold alter screen (c.1331). We stopped on the market square and paid homage to the enormous wine glass perched as a monument to the region’s wine making industry. Overall, we found Oberwesel to be incredibly quaint, and less touristy than St. Goar - more of a real working town – only draped in medieval charm.

    We jumped back on the train at 17:26, arriving in Bacharach four minutes later. As soon as we walked from the train station and down the main street towards the center, we fell in love with this beautiful little town. What we saw before us was the quintessential German wine town, complete with half-timbered houses with brightly colored flowers streaming from the window boxes, grape vines incorporated into the landscaping, and outdoor cafes with people sitting around drinking the local favorites.

    We walked down Oberstrasse, the main roadway running through the Markt Square, past the Rathaus. Looking down some of the side streets we could see several of the five remaining (of 16 original) towers, which have now been converted to hotels and residences. We admired the half-timbered construction of the Altes Haus (c.1368), and were amazed that the building which houses the Weinstube Fritz Bastian was still standing, despite the incredible lean.

    The town was very busy when we first arrived - there was a local wine festival taking place, complete with fireworks over the Rhine later in the evening (too late for us), and a Rhine River Boat Cruise was in dock, although they must have left shortly after we arrived because the town suddenly became much quieter. We found a seat at the Café am Markt and ordered a wine for me, and yes, a glass of beer for B.J.

    After two hours of exploring Bacharach, we got to the train station in plenty of time to catch the 19:26 back to St. Goar. At the scheduled time, a train arrived and we got on, along with another couple. I heard them talking with the conductor in German (which we don’t understand) and they seemed hesitant about being on the train. So I asked the conductor if the train stopped at St. Goar. But by the time I realize his “Nein” was not a good thing, the train had already departed from the platform.

    Well, I latched right onto the other couple who got on the train with us, hoping they could explain what the heck was going on. Thank heavens, the woman spoke very decent English, so we followed them to a train compartment, where we learned we had been bitten by the rail strike! And it’s a Saturday… this wasn’t supposed to happen on the weekend. Everyone kept assuring us that the workers only schedule strikes during the work week, to inconvenience the commuters!

    The woman explained to us that because of the rail strike they had eliminated the south to north runs for the day. The north to south ran on schedule, so we had no problem getting to Bacharach. It turned out to be sheer luck for us that the train that we were on stopped in Bacharach . It was an EC that was running from Villach to Dortmund, and happened to stop in Bacharach at the station to kill time. As it turned out, we would be able to take the train north to Koblenz, then transfer to another train back south to St. Goar. Oh well, I guess it could have been worse. We could have been sitting at the Bacharach station for quite some time before we figured out we were… umm, screwed.

    As it turns out, this lovely couple who assisted us, who live outside of Cologne, and have been married for 38 years, spent the day walking from Oberwesel to Bacharach, about 20 km, drinking wine from different wineries along the way, retracing a route they had done many years earlier, when their children were young. (All right, now I’m really falling in love with Germany and I want to live here, too.)

    We arrived in Koblenz around 20:00, and the lovely couple made sure we could catch a connection to St. Goar before they departed company. We had 51 minutes to hang out until the next train south to St. Goar, so what to do? I know, let’s go have a beer and wine at the Hauptbahnhof Café and do some people watching.

    We saw some strange people pass through the terminal, and lots of cute doggies, but perhaps the most entertaining person of all was a very tall, very happy, and probably very drunk guy serenading all the travelers with “Roll Out the Barrel”. Cost for the beer & wine – Euro 5,00. Cost for the additional train tickets back to our hotel – Euro 6,00 ea. Cost for spending a Saturday evening in the Koblenz train station – priceless.

    We finally caught our train, and arrived back in St. Goar around 21:30, exhausted after another perfect day in Germany, even with the train strike.

    Rheinfels Castle - http://www.st-goar.de/17-1-rheinfels-castle.html
    Oberwesel – www.oberwesel.de
    Bacharach - http://bacharach.de/english/code/xtras/frameset.html

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    Artstuff:

    I give you great credit for a neat, easy to follow, excellent information, fun sidelight report!

    I miss my trips to Germany, but like to relive them with great Fodor Trip reports like yours!.

    Kudos for using Rick Steves notes and Bavarian Ben website! I have used both in my past journeys! I even have posted on Bavarian Ben a "Travel story" (Short Trip to Rothenburg)

    I await your final notes so I can "copy and paste" for future reference.

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    Artstuff, nice report, my great grandfather was the Mayor of St. Goar, we used to own a house there, but I never met him. Only heard stories from my Grandmother who grew us there and in Mainz.

    Last time we visited, we caught the wine festival in Oberwesel, it was a lot of fun....

    Enjoying your report!

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    Artstuff,
    Excellent trip report. We'll be in several of the same spots during our upcoming trip in early May. Thanks for taking the time and care to craft a wonderfully readable and informative report.
    H

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    Day Six (14 Oct, Sunday, Rail Pass) - EPPINGEN, OBEROEWISHEIM, ITTLINGEN

    Today was the most anticipated day of our whole trip. Today was the day that started this whole German odyssey. Today was the day that I would finally get to walk in the footsteps of my ancestors - some of my fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth great-grandparents, who were born around 1609 in the little towns of Eppingen and Oberöwisheim.

    We were up by 6:15 so we could grab some breakfast and check out of the hotel in time to catch the 8:20 to Bingen, where we transferred to a train to Heidelberg, then transferred again to Eppingen (located between Heilbronn and Karlsruhe).

    We were both giddy with excitement, and it seemed that the train ride took forever, well, at least 3 hours long. On the Heidelberg to Eppingen run we passed the most interesting looking museum – the Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim, which has everything planes, trains and automobiles, complete with two Concordes in the parking lot! Okay, one is a French Concorde, the other is the Russian counterpart, a Tupolev.

    At 11:22 we were finally rolling into the Eppingen train station. I had made arrangements through the town of Eppingen.de to have the daughter of one of the town’s employees pick us up at the station in her car and tour us through the region, particularly the two towns of interest and perhaps Maulbronn Abbey. As it turned out, the daughter was studying for University exams, so mom, Barbara, ended up being our tour guide, and what an excellent guide she was!

    After stashing our luggage in Barbara’s car, we started our tour of Eppingen by walking through their lovely town park, past the Fachwerkpfad. Along a very well manicured path were various stations, where examples of different types of half-timbered construction are displayed along with descriptions (in German). Luckily Barbara spoke English very well, and did a wonderful job translating for us. This was a fascinating display which we really enjoyed visiting and prepared us for the many half-timbered houses to come.

    The path through the park eventually led into the Alstadt, which was a series of twisted streets and half-timbered houses, most still in their original form, since Eppingen, which celebrated its 1000th anniversary in 1985, was spared during WWII. It was truly a fairy-tale town for me. At one moment I imagined one of the Grimm Brothers characters coming around the corner, and the next moment I imagined my seventh great grandmother walking down the street, returning from the market. I giggled inside like a little school girl.

    The Alte Universitat, which dates back to 1495 and was used as a branch of the University of Heidelberg during the plague years, now houses the Stadt und Fachwerkmuseum, but unfortunately it was closed on Sunday. I was quite content just wandering the streets with the spirits of my ancestors flitting by.

    When making arrangements for this visit, I had expressed an interest in touring through the towns cemeteries, hoping to stumble across one of my many ancestral surnames on a tombstone. So we jumped in Barbara’s car, and off to the protestant cemetery we went, only to discover, once again, incredibly well groomed, immaculate graves, no more than 20 years old. Barbara then explained to us the German burial system.

    It seems that after 20 years they recycle the grave site. Within that period of time the contents of the grave have enough time to decompose, and then they recycle the plot. You can retrieve your loved one’s tombstone, to place in your garden or where ever, or the cemetery caretakers will just move it out of the way to make room for the new occupant. Barbara, whose father died when she was young, said it was a strange adjustment for her, 20 years later, to suddenly not have a place to go to memorialize her father.

    And all those lovely landscaped grave plots, which we noticed an army of people in the cemetery tending to, here and in Moselkern… they’re a form of guilty competition among the town folks, a ritual done to honor the dead.

    Back in the car, we headed out of town, to a little restaurant that Barbara wanted to take us to for lunch. She explained that the restaurant started many years ago by a farming family who were trying to make some extra money by not only growing and selling their wares, but cooking them also. Dinners were served family style. The concept started out small, but over the years has grown and grown. So much so, that on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, everyone else in the valley must have had the same idea. The food looked and smelled really delicious… but we’ll never know. There was no room at any of the tables, so we were forced to move on.

    Our next stop was the tiny town of Oberöwisheim, where the majority of the Schropp branch of my family resided from 1609-1751, before my fifth great-grandparents immigrated to Philadelphia. The town is located several kilometers from Eppingen, through countryside that very much reminded us of Pennsylvania, where we reside. We went first to the protestant church, which was high on the hill, and allowed us a great view overlooking the town. We drove down to the center of town, and all of a sudden I felt like I had come home.

    Many years ago I found a very old picture on the internet of Oberöwisheim, taken during the early 1900’s, complete with half-timbered houses and an open drainage trough running through the middle of town. I was pinching myself, because now I was finally standing in that picture.

    By now we were all very hungry. We found a little restaurant on the corner in Oberöwisheim, where we stopped in for lunch/dinner. B.J. had rumpsteak with spaetzle, salad and a beer, I had Jaegerschnitzel with spaetzle, salad and a glass of wine, and Barbara had a turkey schnitzel with salad and water (she was driving). Total cost was Euro 50,00, which included a very large tip.

    We had a wonderful time just sitting and talking with Barbara, who was more than happy to answer our hundreds of questions we posed to her about Germany, the people, and their customs. She asked the waiter/cook if we could see the local telephone directory, so I could look up my list of ancestral surnames, but alas, I couldn’t find any relatives still living in the area.

    After dinner we drove to Maulbronn, but the Abbey was already closed for the day, so we just walked around the complex, which was much larger than I had anticipated. A few of the small businesses were still open, so I bought a little cast iron pig for my pig collection from one of the artisans shoppes.

    Our final road-tour stop was at Ravensburg, a small castle which has since been converted to a private home and restaurant, set on top of a hill, overlooking the valley of my ancestors. We had a beautiful view as the sun began to set on another picture-perfect day in Germany. We truly have been blessed so far.

    Barbara drove us to Ittlingen, and helped us check into Room #4 at Ober’s Landgasthof (Euro 75,00/night), which was conveniently located, for us, across from the train station. We paid Barbara the agreed upon Euro 70,00 for her services (25,00 for the use of car, 45,00 for tour guide services), and gave her some gifts that we had brought with us – two handmade pins, and a T-Shirt and baseball cap from our town University (we thought we were bringing gifts for her daughter).

    Our time spent with Barbara turned out to be much more than we had imagined. She was very kind and patient with us, and I think thrilled to be able to utilize her very well spoken English. While we weren’t able to locate any of my relatives that day, I do think my husband and I both found a new friend in Germany.

    By 19:00 we were in our room, which was very large, nicely furnished and had decent pillows, wearing our pajamas and toasting to our wonderful day, with a glass of Riesling wine we had bought in St. Goar. We didn’t care that it was so early in the evening; we were exhausted, both physically and emotionally and soon found our selves nodding off to sleep.

    Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim - http://www.technik-museum.de/uk/
    Eppingen - www.eppingen.de
    Maulbronn - http://www.maulbronn.de/relaunch/e_800/html/kloster.php
    Ober’s Landgasthof - http://www.obers-landgasthof.de/

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    How nice to pop in here and find your next installment waiting for me to read. Now I am going to have to get my map out and find all these wonderful places.
    We are planning for April/May next year and are tossing up to train or car so this is really helping us see that it can be done easily enough on trains. Artstuff, when did your trip take place?
    You have an great writing style, easy to read and plenty of info, well done.

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    Day Seven (15 Oct, Monday, Rail Pass) - BAD WIMPFEN, HEILBRONN, ROTHENBURG


    Today was an intense travel day, with numerous trains and connections to make, so we hoped the rail strike would be kind to us. We made our way down for breakfast by 7:30, so we could catch the 8:15 into the city – actually back to Eppingen, where we transferred onto a train to Heilbronn. By 9:00 we were stashing our luggage at the Hauptbahnhof, then immediately caught another train to Bad Wimpfen. (Oh crap! We forgot to turn our key and fob in when we checked out of the hotel in Ittlingen, so we ended up mailing it back to them when we returned to the states.)

    By 9:20 we were wandering through the sleepy little town of Bad Wimpfen, as it was slowly waking up and beginning to show signs of life. This is yet another picture-perfect postcard kind of German town, with windy streets, half-timbered houses, flowers flowing from window boxes, and a couple of medieval towers thrown in.

    Our main purpose of travelling to Bad Wimpfen was to visit the Schweine-Museum (Euro 2,60 ea). As a collector of pigs, this museum turned out to be a shrine for me, with literally thousands and thousands of pigs on display. I was humbled and overwhelmed at the same time.

    After spending an enjoyable 2 hours exploring the museum and Bad Wimpfen, we made our way back to the train station to catch the 11:37 back to Heilbronn. However, we learned from two gentlemen waiting on the platform that the train would be delayed about 5 minutes, because of the rail strike.

    We ended up having a nice conversation with the one gentleman, Hans, who spoke some English. We learned that his extended family had moved to Milwaukee (US) many years ago, but he and several of his sisters had remained in Germany. In fact, he was on his way to one of his sister’s house in Heilbronn, for lunch. The 5 minute delay turned into more of a 15 minute delay, but the train eventually arrived and we were on our way.

    We made it only two stops down the track, when the train decided it was joining the strike. After sitting dead on the tracks for several minutes, a German announcer came over the intercom, and suddenly everyone was disembarking the train. Having not a clue of what was happening, we immediately looked for Hans, who was already making his way back to where we were sitting. He motioned for us to follow him to another train on a different track which was leaving for Heilbronn in a few minutes. So we ran with Hans through the train station and caught the train just before it left. Thank God for Hans.

    Within a few minutes we were back in Heilbronn. Hans gave us instructions for walking to the Marktplatz, we thanked him for taking such good care of us, and then we said our good-byes. We found an outdoor café on the Marktplatz, under the astronomical clock on the Rathaus, where we enjoyed a quick lunch of a salad with mushrooms and a warm sauce, and a glass of beer. We made it back to the Hauptbahnhof, where we grabbed our luggage, and caught the 13:47 to Wurzburg.

    We changed trains in Wurzburg, for Steinach, but the train had “technical problems”, so we were delayed for over ½ hour, which means we missed our connection in Steinach for Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and ended up sitting on the Steinach train platform for 45-50 minutes, waiting for the next train to take us to our final destination for the day.

    We finally pulled into Rothenburg around 17:50, and took a taxi (Euro 5,00) to the Gasthaus Edith, located above the Spaetzle-Schwob at Milchmarkt 6, where Edith was waiting to escort us to our room, #201, the Egyptian Room!

    We have decided that Edith is the best kept secret in Rothenburg, and perhaps, she is the hardest working woman in Rothenburg. We booked the Romantik Days package for two nights, at a cost of Euro 89,00 per person. For Euro 178,00 total we received two nights accommodations in a very nicely furnished room, 2 nights of half-board each, plus coupons for the Night Watchman’s Tour, The Kriminalmuseum, the Reichstadtmuseum, and the Rathaus Tower. The price could not be beat. It worked out to be Euro 67,00/night for the room, Euro 11,00/person/night to eat, free tickets to the attractions.

    Plus, we have never done a half-board before, so we decided to try it with Edith. Let me tell you folks, we were not disappointed… not at all. Edith took very good care of us during our stay. We would highly recommend Gasthaus Edith to anyone who is thinking of visiting Rothenburg.

    Dinner was to be served at 18:30, so we had just enough time to freshen up before we went downstairs to the dining room where there were three other couples taking advantage of the Romantik Days package. First course was a delicious stuffed noodle soup (stuffed with mincemeat, spinach and herbs), followed by a salad of mixed greens with a very tasty dressing. The main course was a pork schnitzel smothered with mushrooms and sauce served over spaetzle. Dessert was raspberry ice cream with fresh fruit coated with a liquor sauce… most delicious. The presentation of dessert was like a work of art. We had 2 glasses each of beer and wine with dinner, which cost an extra Euro 8,60.

    After dinner, it was time to start exploring this wonderful medieval town, so we did a zig and a zag down the windy streets from our hotel, and the next thing we know we’re standing on the Marktplatz, and it’s 20:00, just in time to witness the re-enactment of the Mayor drinking his large tankard of wine on the wall of the Ratsherrntrinkstube, and the Night Watchman is beginning his tour, and we have tickets!!! What luck.

    We really enjoyed the Night Watchman’s Walk, and recommend it to all who visit Rothenburg. It was an excellent way to orientate ourselves to the history and culture of the area – it was an historical and light hearted presentation at the same time. We found particularly fascinating the history of how Rothenburg was spared from complete destruction during WWII.

    After the tour we wandered around a bit until we ended up at our hotel, where we decided to call it the end of another great day… despite the inconveniences of the rail strike.

    Bad Wimpfen - http://www.badwimpfen.de/showpage.php?lang=2
    Heilbronn - http://www.heilbronn.de/
    Schweine Museum - http://www.schweinemuseum.de/#translate
    Rothenburg - http://www.rothenburg.de/index.php?get=121
    Gasthaus Edith - http://www.spaetzle-schwob.de/index_eng.html
    Night Watchman’s Tour - http://www.nightwatchman.de/index.php?&sprache=ENG

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    Hi artstuff,

    Like everyone here, I am thoroughly enjoying your wonderful report! Your descriptions are so detailed and vivid, it seems I am reliving some of my favorite times in Germany.

    Thank you SO much for taking the time to do this! I'm loving it!

    s

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    =D>

    Love your report, artstuff. You certainly covered lots of ground. I can imagine how frustrated you were with the train strike, but (at least so far) you coped with it very well.

    And I noticed you had very long traveling days!

    Looking forward to the rest of your TR.

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    bookmarking for planning... I am enjoying your very easy-to-read post, especially your train and dining experiences. Will be traveling with 2 teens so glad it seems to be so easy. Family hopes to visit Mosel Valley this summer.
    (I was born in NE, PA (USA), parents live in Sunbury, have lots of family in Montrose... Germany reminds me a lot of NE Pennsylvania)

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    Only enough time this morning for some quick comments -

    owlwoman - How cool that your great grandfather was mayor of St. Goar! Which made me start thinking… here in the US the mayor of the town is authorized to marry people. I wonder if the custom is the same in Germany? Maybe your g-grandfather helped some couples tie-the-knot.

    Caitroselin – We enjoyed our stay at Pension Westfalia, and found Peter, our host, to be most gracious and helpful. It’s located in a nice little neighborhood, and easily accessible to the Marienplatz by the U-Bahn.

    Maudie – I found the Rick Steves’ Rhine River Castle Tour in his Germany, Austria & Switzerland travel guide (1998 edition). Maybe your local library has the book.

    Zeus – Okay, you win the gold star. I live in the only town in Pennsylvania. Just curious – how did you guess correctly?

    Explorefamily – We really enjoyed travelling by train through Germany, and didn’t find it to be a problem, even with the delays from the train strike. We just made the best of every inconvenience. We figured a day stuck on a train platform waiting in Germany was still better than a day spent at work at home in the States.

    BTW, maybe the next time you’re planning on visiting NE PA we should plan a GTG (get together) with Zeus (that’s enough acronyms for one sentence).

    Everyone else – Thank you for your positive comments. I will post the next installment as soon as I can.

    Robyn :)>-

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    explorefamily - Sorry for the delay in responding to your post. Between work, tickets to the theatre, and preparing my taxes, I just haven't had the time to jump back on Fodor's.

    Yes, June would be a great time to catch up with you at Knoebel's. Which weekend are you thinking of?

    Robyn :)>-


    NOW... back to the trip report.

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    Day Eight (16 Oct, Tuesday) - ROTHENBURG

    After an okay night’s sleep (I’m using a pillow from the sofa, placed under my bed pillow) we make our way down to the dining room where Edith provided a delicious breakfast buffet of meats, cheeses, cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, fresh baked breads (still warm from the oven), spreads, juices, and coffee/tea for us and the other three couples staying at her gasthaus.

    All the couples migrated to the same tables we occupied last night, with two of the couples sharing a table across from us. Last evening, during dinner, one of the guys in the group made it his point to photograph each course that Edith served, with his wife gently tipping the plate upwards so he could get the best depiction of the carefully prepared cuisine. So we had to laugh this morning while we watched him coax his wife to pose her bowl of cereal for a photograph.

    Since we started planning for this German journey, B.J. has dreamed about walking the fortification wall around the perimeter of the town, so that would be our goal for the morning. As we exit our hotel on Milchmarkt, we look to our left and see the Markusturm, then look to our right, past the Kapellenplatz, where we can view the Weißerturm. Our hotel is located along the course of the first town fortification, built during the 12th century. How cool!! We took the little alleyway in front of our hotel, which quickly led us right into the Marktplatz.

    With hardly another soul in sight, we enjoyed soaking in the morning sun, while studying the many different forms of half-timbered architecture. We kept trying to recall all the different styles of timbering we had learned about on our tour through the little park in Eppingen, as we meandered through the wonderful medieval streets of Rothenburg. We ended up on the Plonlein, where we were able to take our obligatory tourist shot of the most photographed square in Rothenburg, sans tons of tourists.

    We eventually stumbled upon an entrance to the fortification wall. It was still early enough in the morning that we only passed a handful of people as we walked from one end, and circled around the town, until we ran out of walkway around the Klingentor. We enjoyed the views both inside and outside the wall, and relished in the fantasies of medieval days. There are many plaques imbedded into the stone wall which represent Euro 1000,00/meter donated towards continued restoration of the wall and towers. It was fun to read who and where the donations came from. We spotted the Gerlachschmiede (Old Forge building) which is perhaps one of the most charming houses in Rothenburg. We spent an hour or two exploring the wall, and then went back to our hotel room to change our socks and shoes.

    After a quick respite, we meandered over to the Kriminalmuseum (Romantik Pkg tickets), where we spent the next two hours looking at some very sadistic torture devices and learning all about medieval laws and customs. Perhaps the most important lesson we learned was that being a Baker was a very dangerous profession. You could get sentenced to the dunking tank for baking too light a loaf of bread, which I can understand, but,… you can also get it for baking too heavy a loaf of bread! If you didn’t get the loaf just the right size/weight, it meant torture for you. Yikes!! Overall, though, it was a great museum. We really enjoyed the different varieties of shame masks; many of them just human degradation with a sense of humor.

    Our next stop was the Rathaus, a combination of Gothic and Renaissance style. We walked up the Rathausturm, which was an easy climb, to a little room where an older man sat at his ticket table (Romantik Pkg tickets). At this point you can opt to climb the little ladder straight up to the roof & balcony, which I quickly refused to do. B.J. was much braver than I, and climbed up for a great view of the town and surrounding area, however, he did say it was “scarier than all hell,” and he was “putting a lot of faith in German engineering.”

    Hungry by now, we found a seat at the outdoor café Hotel Gasthof Zur Sonne, where we each ordered a bowl of French Onion Soup, a glass of wine for me, and a Pils for B.J. – Euro 12,90.

    After lunch we toured through the Reichstadtmuseum (Romantik Pkg tickets), where we saw Mayor Nunsch’s famous wine tankard, dating from 1616, and Marie Antionette’s hunting rifle, among many other historical objects. We also visited St. Jakobs Church, particularly to view the Tilman Riemenschneider altar. Afterwards we spent the rest of the day just getting lost on the back streets of Rothenburg.

    Returning to the hotel, we rested for an hour before we went down for dinner at 18:30. Tonight’s soup was a beef broth with slivers of pancake (crepe), which was quite tasty. Another delicious salad followed, and then the main course - SauerBraten with dumplings. Edith told us that she had been pickling the beef roast in a red wine sauce for the last week, and boy, did it ever taste wonderful – so rich and tender. Dessert was batter fried apple rings served with whipped cream and cherries. Yum! Our food photographer was busy snapping pictures of each course. While we might have snickered at him at the time, we are now wishing we had also taken some photos, to remember these wonderful meals that Edith prepared for us.

    After dinner we decided to go to Hell (Holle), which is a wine bar that the Night Watchman pointed out on his walking tour. Well… everyone who was on last nights tour must have had the same idea, as there wasn’t even standing room left in Hell. This actually was okay, because it was far too smoky in the bar to have enjoyed a drink.

    We spent the rest of the evening just wandering around Rothenburg, trying to absorb as much of the medieval history, before we retired to our very comfortable bed, with the challenging German pillows.

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    Day Nine (17 Oct, Wednesday, Laender Pass) - WURZBURG, BAMBERG

    Edith served up another delicious buffet breakfast, complete with warm-from-the-oven soft pretzels. We were truly sorry to have to leave Edith today. We just wanted to stay in Rothenburg and have her keep feeding us. Our first half-board experience happened to turn out quite well, and we will probably try it again during future travels. We really liked the fact that we didn’t have to select a restaurant, and then choose something from the menu, and then wait to eat, while the cook prepared dinner. We just showed up at 18:30, and Edith started serving us food.

    I need to give credit to my husband for choosing Gasthaus Edith for our accommodations in Rothenburg. I wanted to stay elsewhere, based on recommendations I had read on Fodor’s and TripAdvisor. However, B.J. stumbled across Edith’s website, and really insisted that we give it a try, despite the fact that I couldn’t find any recommendations about her Gasthaus. He kept assuring me to have faith - that Edith would take care of us. She certainly did not disappoint either one of us.

    We had a taxi take us back to the train station (Euro 6,00), where we purchased a Bayern Laender Pass from the machine for the day’s travel (Euro 27,00), and boarded the 9:06 to Steinach, where we transferred to the 9:31 to Wurzburg. If you are using a Laender Pass, it is important that you write your name on the pass in order to validate it.

    Arriving around 10:15, we stashed our luggage and proceeded to walk over to the Residenz (c.1719), where we purchased a 14-day Bavarian Castle Twin Pass for Euro 36,00, which was an excellent value, considering how often we would use it in the next eight days.

    The Treppenhaus (staircase) with its magnificently painted dome, complete with plaster figures popping right out of the painting, was awe inspiring, and my favorite part of the palace. The whole complex was incredibly huge, and quite the contrast from all the medieval architecture we had been exploring during the last eight days. Walking through all the different colored rooms was like being immersed in a box of Crayola Crayons, popping from red, to blue, to yellow, to green, to purple… but wait, there’s the Mirror Room, which is just over the top gold gilt.

    By now we were beginning to feel numb from all the opulence, so we decided to depart the Residenz, but not before a quick visit to the Hofkirche (Court Chapel) and a walk around the gardens. Although it was late in the season (travelling in October 2007), there were still some flowers blooming and several fountains still flowing with water.

    It was time for lunch, so we hiked over to the Marktplatz, where we found the Shonborn Café at Am Markt 30. B.J. was delighted to be able to order a cheese and herb omelette with a Hefe Helle, I ordered a salad with mushrooms and a glass of Pinot Grigio – Euro 15,50.

    Afterwards, we strolled through the town to the river, where we crossed the Alte Mainbrucke (c.1473) and then proceeded to hike up the hill to the Marienburg Fortress (c.13th cent). We used our Bavarian Castle Pass to gain entrance to the museum, where the clerk pointed out it is necessary to put your name on the pass.

    Perhaps the most impressive display in the museum was a model depicting Wurzburg after the 1945 bombing raids, where over 80 percent of the town was destroyed in only 20 minutes. The destruction then, and the reconstruction now, was mind blowing. We spent quite some time strolling around the fortress grounds, taking in some of the spectacular views of the town below.

    We eventually made our way down the hill, back across the Alte Mainbrucke, and across town to the Bahnhof, where we gathered our luggage, and sat on the train platform while we waited for the 17:09 to take us to Bamberg.

    I sat next to a man named Joseph, who was on his way home from work as an electrician. He said something to me in German, and when I apologized to him for not knowing the language, he made it his goal to teach me various words in not only German, but also Czheckoslovakian! We communicated for the next half hour using hand signals, drawing pictures and pointing at objects. At times I felt like we were on an episode of Sesame Street! Through our primitive communications we were able to learn that Joseph Steiner is the same age as B.J. and has two kids, one who is a doctor in Frankfurt.

    Before we knew it the train had arrived and we were off to Bamberg, arriving at 18:28. We hailed a taxi (Euro 12,00) to take us to the hotel, which was across two rivers in the Alstadt. The main artery to the old section of the city was blocked by a police barricade, so the taxi driver had to turn around and take a different, much longer route.

    When we arrived at the Hotel Weierich, located at Lugbank 5 (Euro 79,00/night), there was no one around, and the keys were lying on the reception desk with a note, so we checked ourselves into Room #24. It was a very nice room, with a view out the window of the little square by the hotel. We requested this room because of a recommendation from someone on Fodor’s, but I apologize for not remembering who. We were not disappointed.

    One of the main reasons for coming to Bamberg was to check out some of the many breweries that are in the city – there’s like 10 downtown and another 150 on the outskirts of town! My husband has become a bit of a beer snob lately, so he had been very excited about this part of our journey. Our hotel was located down the road and around the corner from the Schlenkerla at Dominikanerstrasse 6, so this would have to be our first stop. However, it was way too crowded and smoky for us to enjoy, so we went down the block to the Ambrausianum, which had a much nicer atmosphere.

    I had been drinking wine up until now, but had vowed that I would give beer a try since we’d be spending the rest of our trip in Bavaria. I prefer a white or wheat beer when I’m at home, so I ordered up a half litre of Heffeweizen and B.J. tried the triple sampler, which included a glass of Weissen, Dunkle and Helles. He concluded that he really enjoyed the Helles, so he ordered up a 0.5 litre draught and then another one. We also ordered dinner – I had a salad with breaded fried turkey strips and fruit, B.J. ordered little sausages with spaetzle. Total bill for dinner and libations came to Euro 24,40.

    Feeling quite sated and happy, we ended the evening by walking around the Alstadt, then crossed the bridge and stopped to admire the very gothic Altes Rathaus, with the splendid rococo paintings plastered on the side And just the wonder of it all - sitting right there in the middle of the river!

    Wurzburg - http://www.wuerzburg.de/en/index.html
    Bavarian Castle Pass - http://www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/index.htm
    Hotel Weierich - http://www.hotel-weierich.de/home.php?lg=e
    Ambrausianum Brauerei - http://www.ambraeusianum.de/index1.html

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    Artstuff,

    Enjoying your trip report. I can't seem to find any information on the Castle Pass. The link you proved doesn't seem to say anything about one, unless I'm missing something. Could you tell me about it, cost, how many castles and the like.

    Thanks

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    Sorry for the delay in posting the next installment. You know... sometimes life gets in the way of living.

    missypie - We have no problem recommending any of the hotels we stayed at. Many of them we chose because we found them recommended here at Fodor's.

    Perhaps we were most pleased with Gastehaus Edith in Rothenburg, because of the package deal which included the half-board. I think, also, since we couldn't find any recommendations for her hotel, we were a bit unsure about what to expect, but found ourselves pleasantly surprised and happy with her accomodations. Sometimes you just need to go out on a limb.

    In addition to a delicious and abundant buffet breakfast, we were treated most graciously by the staff and proprietors of all of the hotels, some of them going out of their way to help make our stay extra special.

    At the Hotel Weierich in Bamberg they served us champagne with breakfast, in honor of our 30th wedding anniversary. Peter, at the Pension Westfalia in Munich, was happy to hold our luggage for two nights while we toured southern Bavaria with only a small bag. We were thrilled when the proprietor at the Pension Albrecht in Hohenschwangau offered to make us scrambled eggs for breakfast.

    The cheapest hotel we stayed at was the Hotel am Markt in St. Goar, which also had the cheapest room decorations. The armoire looked and opened like it had come from Ikea, and hadn't been assembled properly. But other than that, the room and bedding was clean, but sparse.

    The room at the Alte Thorschenke in Cochem, with it's wooden canopy bed and other antiques, was really cool (will I ever get husband to sleep under a canopy again?). Our room at the Hotel Alpenrose in Mittenwald was decorated in typical Bavarian style (painted wood, beams). And Edith put us in the Egyptian room, which I thought a strange theme for Rothenburg, but none the less, it was nicely decorated with a sofa, and soft, fluffy towels that matched the decor (I think you can see the room on her website).

    I hope I have a chance to get the next few days of our journey posted before the weekend is over. Please bear with me...

    Robyn :)>-

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    Day Ten (18 Oct, Thursday) - BAMBERG

    Up until now we have had exceptionally nice weather for our journey, 70-80 degree (F) days with sunshine, a little cool in the evenings and mornings. But yesterday the clouds started to roll in, and this morning it was cold and dreary, and beginning to sprinkle outside.

    Our hotel was conveniently located in the Alstadt section of Bamberg, so after bulking up on our traditional German buffet breakfast, we went around the corner and took the pedestrian bridge over the Regnitz River that leads to the Geyersworth Palace, and the Tourist Information Center. The footbridge provides the best place to view the Altes Rathaus (c.1460), and the half-timbered Rottmeisterhäuschen (c.1668), which juts out from the Rathaus, and seems to dangle over the river. It’s quite an impressive sight, and I’m sure would look even more amazing with the sun illuminating the wonderful paintings on the side of the Rathaus. But alas, it was a gloomy-gray, rainy day.

    After picking up a map and purchasing our Bamberg guide from the TI, we retraced our steps across the river to the Domplatz, where we decided to first tour through the Bamberg Neue Residenz (c.1605-1703), which was included on our Bavarian Castle Pass.

    However, when we tried to use the pass, the German clerk refused to honor it, but we couldn’t figure out why! Luckily, an English-speaking clerk showed up and explained that the date written on the back had expired! What?!?!?! It was supposed to be a pass for 14 days, and we just bought it yesterday!! It seems that when we purchased the ticket the day before at the Wurzburg Residenz, the clerk there wrote the wrong month on the ticket, using a 9 for September, instead of a 10 for October. The English-speaking clerk realized there was obviously an error, so they allowed us in to tour the palace. They did suggest that we find the receipt from purchasing the pass and carry it with us when using it in the future.

    We joined a small German speaking tour, and found the Bamberg Neue Residenz most impressive, but not nearly as preserved or decorated as the Wurzburg Residenz. Like most of Bamberg, the Residenz did not suffer severe damage during WWII, so likewise, there wasn’t a lot of money being pumped into it, post-war, for restoration.

    It was raining pretty heavy when we left the Residenz, so we quickly scooted across the street and entered the Imperial Cathedral of St. Peter and St. George (c.13th cent), through the Door of Grace (check out the “Cathedral Toad” outside). The Cathedral was quite crowded, unlike the Residenz, but we quickly found a little alter where we could light a candle for Karen, our dear friend who suffers from MS.

    We tried to ingest what we were looking at, but I must confess, we don’t remember much of the Cathedral at all. We’re not even sure if we saw the Bamberg Rider. We both kept thinking about the screwed up Bavarian Castle Pass. We couldn’t get it off our mind. Since we still needed to use the pass for 6 more days, we had to deal with the wrong date issue, so we could relax, and get on with our holiday.

    Back at our hotel room we searched for a receipt, but could not find one. We found a receipt for Euro 5,00 for a book that we bought at the same time, but the Euro 36,00 transaction for the pass was not listed anywhere. Sh*t! Now we’re really feeling screwed. We did, however, have our receipts from both the Wurzburg Residenz and the Marienburg Fortress, which showed yesterday’s date and zero amount charged for entrance.

    So armed with our paperwork, we walked through the drizzling rain, back up to the Bamberg Residenz, to see if they could issue a new pass, or do something to correct the error. The German speaking clerk was the only one around, and he wanted no part of us. He more or less shooed us away. At this point, we were really getting frustrated, and feeling like we’ve been ripped off. We decided to go back to the Bamberg Tourist Information Center and see if they can suggest anything.

    Well, a dozen roses for Frau Schmidt. She picked up the phone and called the Wurzburg Residenz and spoke with a Herr Eisenberg about our situation. He confirmed that our pass number had been sold yesterday, and that indeed, the clerk wrote the incorrect dates on the back. Frau Schmidt corrected the dates, and wrote a note in German on the pass, with Mr. Eisenberg’s name and number, and told us if anyone gave us any trouble using the pass, just to call Mr. Eisenberg. We were delighted as we left the TI. So now, we could finally get on with our holiday…

    Our main mission in Bamberg was to check out some of their many breweries. Our other mission was to do a load or two of laundry. By now, it had stopped raining, so we quickly walked backed to our hotel, grabbed our laundry, then headed across town, over two rivers, to Untere Konigsstrass 28, and dropped our laundry at the Bamberger Waschsalon. We thought it was a do-it-yourself Laundromat, but the attendant seemed to want to do it for us, so we let her. It ended up costing us Euro 15,80 to have two loads washed and dried.

    We chose this waschsalon because it was located down the street from several breweries that we wanted to visit, so our first stop was the Brauerei Spezial at Obere Konigstrasse 10, which has been around since 1536, and in the same family since 1898. B.J. ordered a Rauchbier and I ordered a Radler (mixture of Pils or Helles with lemon-lime soda), and we both ordered sausages, sauerkraut and bread for lunch. B.J. enjoyed his Rauchbier and found the smoky flavor to be much more prominent as he got to the bottom of the glass. And I really enjoyed my Radler, but then again, my soda of choice when I’m at home is a 7-up, so the beer and lemon-lime mixture was a good combination for me. We spent Euro 11,20 on lunch and drinks, and then we were on our way to the next brewery…

    We didn’t have far to go, just down the street, at #38, the Bamberger Weissbierhaus. They had a sign outside, but when we opened the door, we found ourselves walking into the kitchen!?! Not sure if we had the right place, we went back out side, but could not find another open door that would take us into a bar/restaurant. Oh well, on to the next one. You can’t see them all, anyway.

    We crossed Obere Konigstrasse and walked back down the street to #19/21, the Brauerei Fassla, where we had a heffe-weissen. I’ve had weiss beer out of a bottle back home, but there is something about a weissen on tap, in the proper glass, that really tastes delicious! Sitting there, watching the locals, we were feeling quite happy – we were on holiday, we were drinking good beer, it had stopped raining, the pass problem was out of the way, AND, we would have clean under ware and socks for the rest of our trip.

    Afterwards, we wandered around the area between the two rivers, checking out the vendors on the Maximiliansplatz, walking down the Gruner Markt, and cutting through the University area to Little Venice. Okay, we made the mistake and approached Little Venice, looking at the backside of the houses. Not quite as impressive as looking at them from the front, across the Markusbrucke.

    We eventually circled around and picked up our laundry. On the way back to the hotel, we passed by Schrelenka Braueri, so we decided to give it another try. Perhaps it wouldn’t be as crowded this afternoon… but it was, and still way too smoky. So we ended up, once again, down the street at Ambrausianum where I ordered a glass of white wine and B.J. ordered a glass of Helles on tap, which turned out to be his most favorite beer on the whole trip. His hat’s off to the brewmaster.

    Back to the hotel to put our laundry away, then off to another brewery. This one was the Klosterbrau, located at Obere Muhlbrucke 3, which has been around since 1533, and in the same family since 1852! I ordered a Hefeweissen and B.J. ordered a Vollbier, which is a brown beer, and much darker than he is use to drinking. Between the smoky atmosphere, and the beer which he didn’t enjoy, B.J. started getting a bit woozy, and went outside for some fresh air, leaving me in the bar by myself to finish my beer. Which I did, and by the time I got outside, he was feeling much better.

    Our hotel, the Weierich, has a restaurant downstairs, and we had noticed they were offering a special tonight – Rumpsteak with Pomme Frittes and salat for Euro 6.95 each. We had a delicious dinner with a couple of beers, for Euro 21,70 total. We particularly enjoyed talking with our waitress, when she had the time to spend with us. If I remember correctly, she was originally from the Ukraine (?) and married to a US serviceman stationed in Germany, and she was very excited about one day coming to the US. She was very intelligent and enthusiastic, and helped make our evening a very pleasant one. Afterwards we crawled up the stairs, where we collapsed in our very comfortable room.

    Bamberg – www.bamberg.info
    Hotel Weierich - http://www.hotel-weierich.de
    Brauerei Spezial - http://www.brauerei-spezial.de/
    Brauerei Fassla - http://www.faessla.de/englisch.phtml
    Ambrausianum Brauerei - http://www.ambraeusianum.de/index1.html
    Klosterbrau - http://www.klosterbraeu.de/Bamberg/index_micro.htm
    Bamberg Beer Guide - http://www.franconiabeerguide.com/CityDetail.asp?City=Bamberg
    Laundromat - http://www.bamberger-waschsalon.de/

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    Day Eleven (19 Oct, Friday, Rail Pass) - NUREMBERG, MUNICH

    Today’s a travel day so we were up early to finish packing and grab breakfast. The woman from the hotel who we made our reservations with remembered that we were travelling for our 30th wedding anniversary, so she served us each a glass of champagne with breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised by this much appreciated added touch that certainly went beyond ordinary hospitality. Having never had champagne with breakfast, we giggled as we toasted to another 30 years together, at least (God willing).

    The hotel called a taxi for us, and before we knew it we were whisking off to the train station, with the hotel key stashed in B.J.’s pocket. How embarrassing. The hotel staff was so generous to us just a few minutes ago, and now here we go, leaving with their key. Oh well, another one to mail back to the hotel when we get home.

    We were on the train by 9:00, and arriving in Nürnberg at 9:30, where we stashed our luggage in the train station lockers. We followed the crowd through the tunnel passageway, which empties onto the Konigstrasse. It was cold outside and the skies were an ominous gray. We were glad for our winter coats, hats, and gloves.

    We started our tour by walking past the medieval Mauthalle (c.1498), or toll hall, then past the Nassauer Haus, which is a medieval tower started in the 13th century as a two-story building. The rest of the floors, the oriel window and the four towers on the top were added during the 15th century.

    Further down the road, at the St. Lorenzkirche (c.1260 & 1952), we found the small sculpture, located on the outside left corner of the church, depicting the devil catching a screaming, little child. We walked around the Tugendbrunnen (Well of Virtues), trying to identify the seven virtues: Faith (cross), Love (children), Hope (anchor), Magnanimity (lion), Moderation (jug and vessel), Patience (lamb), and Justice (blindfolded eyes, scales and sword).

    We crossed the Pegnitz River, stopping to view the Heilig-Geist Spital (c.1339) which spans the waters, and then we passed by the Frauenkirche (c.1352-1361), which led us into the Hauptmarkt. We both stood quietly for a moment, reflecting out on this beautiful little Market Square, right in the middle of this lovely old city, and we felt a chill come over us. During the reign of the Third Reich, this square was called Adolf Hitler Platz, as it was here that Hitler reviewed his army troops during the Nürnberg Party Rallies. I flashed to my memories of the many pictures I’ve seen of Hitler’s army goose-stepping past him, and it was ‘here’ – so much hate, in such a lovely square. But that was the past…

    One of the things that makes the Hauptmarkt so lovely is the 60-foot high, multi-tiered Schoner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain, c.14th cent), which depicts 40 different saints, prophets, etc, including Moses, Alexander the Great & Julius Caesar (although we couldn’t tell who was who). The vivid colors on the ornamental iron work were just exquisite.

    Legend has it that if you turn the golden ring, which is hidden in the metal latticework surrounding the fountain, it will bring you good luck. So off we went to find the ring and give it a twirl. We walked around the fountain several times and began to feel a little defeated when we couldn’t find that darn ring. Just as we were ready to give up, we spied a woman turning it, so we patiently waited for our turn, and then gave it a spin.

    We proceeded to walk past the Altes Rathaus (c.1332) and the Gansemannchenbrunnen (Gooseman’s Fountain, c.1550), then ended up at St. Sebalduskirche (c.13th-14th cent), which was heavily damaged during WWII, but has since been completely restored. We ducked inside for a look around, and to warm ourselves up, and light a candle for Karen. We also found a very interesting exhibit about the impact that WWII had on the church and Nürnberg as a whole.

    As we were making our way through the displays, an older German gentleman noticed our interest, and proceeded to take us on a tour of his history and highlights of the church. He knew only a few English words, which he would slowly intersperse with German words. I found I could actually grasp what he was trying to teach us (which quite impressed my husband). But, as his excitement grew with his explanations, he would start speaking very fast German, and I would have to raise my hands and shrug my shoulders to get him to start talking slow again. After 15-20 minutes of conversing in GermEnglish with this dear old man, we bid auf Wiedersehen, and we were on our way once again.

    We exited St. Sebalduskirche, and noticed a young woman dressed in black, with her long hair pulled up on top of her head, sort of like Connie Conehead from the Saturday Night Live skit. As we made our way around the platz, looking for the entrance to the Felsengange (which we found, but was closed, bummer), we started seeing more “coneheads” roaming around, about a dozen of them, all university age, dressed in black, with the same odd hair-do, and a woman following them around, videotaping the group. We noticed the coneheads talking with other people who were walking through the platz, and after a brief encounter each one of the people continued on their way, with a smile on their face. My curiosity was piqued, so when a conehead approached me, I was anxious to know what was going on.

    She slowly and quietly started walking next to me, leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You have nice hair”, then just as quietly and slowly, she walked away from me. Two different women approached B.J. in the same way, one telling him he had a nice smile; the other one told him he had nice eyes. Since the group of Coneheads seemed to be walking in the same direction that we were heading, towards the Kaiserburg, we had several minutes of interaction with them. A few of them stopped long enough to pose with B.J. for some photographs. I asked one of them if this was perhaps a performance art project, or sociology project for university, and she just walked away with a smile. I guess we’ll never really know what we participated in. But if you happen to see a video on You Tube with coneheads from Nürnberg, please let me know (we don’t have a fast enough connection or I’d check myself).

    With all the weird activity surrounding us, we completely missed the sign pointing towards the entrance to the Kaiserburg. We ended up turning left when we should have made a right, and walked all around the castle wall trying to figure out how to get in. We came to the conclusion that we would not have made very good medieval marauders – we can’t even find the entrance to the castle when it’s marked with a sign. Our wrong turn did take us past the Albrecht Durer Haus (he lived here from 1509-1528), a wonderful half-timbered home turned into a museum, but we just didn’t have the time to go in.

    We eventually found the path that leads up to the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), where we used our Bavarian Castle Pass to gain entrance (no problem using it, thanks to Frau Schmidt and Herr Eisenburg). We toured through the Kaiserburg Museum, which had an interesting collection of castle artifacts, armor, weapons, and horsemanship items.

    We spoke with a teenage son and his parents, who had just flown in from Minnesota, arriving in Germany a few hours earlier. The son was using his Langenscheidt Compact Dictionary to translate the all-German signs on the museum displays. I had to laugh because we have the same dictionary, which we schlepped with us during the entire adventure, and didn’t use once! This was the family’s first stop, and they were very excited about their upcoming adventures.

    We spent the rest of the morning touring the museum, climbing the Sinwell Tower for a great view of Nürnberg, and just walking around the castle grounds. The Kaiserburg did offer a guided tour of the complex, but it was only in German, so we decided to pass.

    After all, it was well after noon by now, and we were hungry, so we double-backed past the Albrecht Durer Haus, to the Braustubl ‘a Schwarzer Bauer in the Alstadthof complex (Bergstrasse 19), where we had lunch. We ordered a two-person Vesperplatte, which was not what we thought it would be, but we ate it anyway. The brewery, which is supposed to be the smallest one in the country, is on the premises. B.J. enjoyed their Hell on tap and I had a Wiessen. We also shared a glass of their special brewed beer schnapps. Total bill came to Euro 17,60.

    Feeling warm and sated, we decided to start making our way back to the Bahnhof, by way of the Weinstadel and Henkersteg, the former wine depot and the Hangman’s Bridge. The Weinstadel was built in the mid 15th century to house lepers, and eventually became a wine depot in 1571. Right next door is the executioner’s home. The wooden footbridge was built in 1457, and the triple-arched Henkersteg was built in 1595!

    It’s starting to rain, and of course, our umbrellas were safely stored in the luggage locker at the Bahnhof, so we used the store awnings as cover to dodge the raindrops. By the time we made our way to the Weisser Turm (c.13th cent) and the Ehekarusell (Marriage Carousel Fountain, 1984) it was pouring. We tried to look at some of the weird depictions on the sculpture – monsters, scary women, crazed men, and couples engaging in mayhem – but my glasses were covered with rain and we were both beginning to get really soaked.

    We zigged and zagged our way through the streets, using the awnings as umbrellas, until we arrived at the Handwerkerhof, which is by the Bahnhof. We did a quick walk around, popping into some of the merchants’ buildings, then walked through the tunnel, retrieved our bags from the luggage locker and caught the 15:02 to Munich. We could have spent more time in Nürnberg, but we were happy to be out of the rain.

    The train ride from Nürnberg to Munich is along one of the newest high-speed rail lines in Germany, which is equipped for line speeds up to 300 km/h. At one point my husband glanced up at the digital display on the ICE train, which is displayed in English and German, and he saw we were doing 178 miles/hour!

    By the time we arrived in Munich an hour later it had stopped raining, but it was beginning to get much colder. We took a taxi (Euro 10,00) to our hotel, the Pension Westfalia, located at Mozartstrasse 23 (Euro 84,00/night), and took the elevator to the third floor, where Peter greeted us and helped us check into Room #63, a very large room with a double bed, table and chairs, two sofas and a large mural of houseplants above the headboard.

    We took a few minutes to get settled in, and then we went out for a walk-about of our little neighborhood around the Goethe Platz, where you can easily pick up the U-bahn, and also where several roads intersect, most lined with little shops. We scoped out some restaurant possibilities for dinner, and shopped for some provisions (munchies, beer and wine) at the local Tengelmann grocery store, then headed back to our hotel room to inhale a bag of potato chips and relax with a glass of wine / beer while watching German T.V.

    Later in the evening we ended up eating dinner at a little Italian restaurant, the Sicilia Antica, at Waltherstrasse 30, where we both had a salad and pizza. B.J. enjoyed a local brewed Hell, then a Wiessbier, and I had a Russe, which is a Wiessbier mixed with lemon/lime soda, like a 7-Up or Sprite. I had a Radler earlier in the trip, which is a Pils or Helles with 7-Up, but I found the Russe had a much more delightfully fresh taste – the kind of drink that would quench your thirst on a hot summer day. We spent Euro 25,50 on dinner, then headed back to the hotel for the evening, getting caught in a little shower of sleet.

    Nürnberg - http://www.nuernberg.de/internet/portal_e/index.html
    Altstadthof Brewery - http://www.altstadthof.de/index.php?id=11&L=1
    Pension Westfalia - http://www.pension-westfalia.de/index2.html

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    Hi Robyn

    Really enjoying your TR. Your detailed descriptions of Bamberg and Nurnberg brought me back to my trip which I went about a year ago. Sorry the weather was cold and rainy. I had really nice weather when I was there last April. I guess I should take my husband to Bamberg sometime - he loves beer whereas I don't drink alcohol at all. He'll enjoy the brewery tours your described.

    And I'm happy to see that the Bavarian Castle pass debacle was resolved.

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    Day Twelve (20 Oct, Sat, Innenraum Partner Pass) - NYMPHENBURG, MUNICH

    It felt good to sleep in this morning – no big rush to get to our sightseeing today in Munich. Besides, it was cold and dreary outside, and it felt so warm and comfy under our fluffy duvets, in our nice little cozy room. Last evening we had bought a colorful bouquet of flowers for our room at one of the local markets, testing out one of our new collapsible vases my friend, Phyllis, gave me as a birthday gift. It worked great! You run the flat plastic vase under hot water, until you can form it into the vase shape, then you run it under cold water, and it retains its shape.

    Peter, the proprietor of the Pension Westfalia served us a very nice Bavarian breakfast, which included a large bowl of strawberry yogurt (love my yogurt in the morning) and a pre-packaged herb cream spread that tasted so delicious it caused me to eat more bread/rolls than usual. Having bulked up on breakfast, we were ready to start our exploration of Munich, so we took the quick walk to the Goerthe Platz, bought our Innenraum Partner pass for Euro 9,00 from the vending machine, and caught the U-Bahn to the Marienplatz.

    Within minutes we were emerging onto the Marienplatz, with its ornately decorated Neues Rathaus (c.1867-1908), and hundreds of people, mostly tourists like us, snapping pictures and wandering about. We took photos of the Altes Rathaus (c.1474 & 1944) and the Virgin Mary monument, for whom the platz was named, then we checked our watches and realized we had some time to kill until 11:00, when the Glockenspiele (c1904) springs to life.

    We walked down the street to the Frauenkirche (c.1474-94 & 1947-57), where we toured through the church and lit a candle for Karen. We took the time to stop and stand in the Teufelstritt (Devil’s Footprint). Legend has it that the Devil challenged the architect to build a nave without windows. When the architect led the devil to this spot from which the well-lit windows can not be seen, the devil stomped his foot in anger, leaving the Teufelstritt.

    We were back on the Marienplatz by 11:00, along with hundreds and hundreds of other people, and found that three to four minutes of the Glockenspiele show was enough for us, so we walked down to the Viktualien Markt, which was a feast for the eyes, nose and palate. Unfortunately, we were still full from our hardy breakfast, and weren’t thinking of the next meal yet.

    While doing research for our trip, we became fascinated with the bizarre life of King Ludwig, with his many castles, so a visit to Schloss Nymphenburg was a must. I thought I saw on my tram map that Tram #17 stopped at the Marienplatz, so we wandered all around looking for the tram sign, but couldn’t find it anywhere. We ended up walking down to the Karlsplatz, where we were able to board Tram #17 to Nymphenburg.

    By the time we arrived 15 minutes later, it had begun to snow/sleet/rain, so we were glad we had our umbrellas with us this time. The castle complex is huge, and the hike down the driveway is quite long. They had drained some of the water ponds, for winter maintenance, I guess, so all the water fowl were huddling in a mud puddle. The entrance to the castle was covered with scaffolding, which was a bummer, but still a good thing, because that means there is restoration going on.

    We stashed our day pack into one of the lockers and used our Bavarian Castle Pass to gain entrance to the Schloss, the Marstallmuseum, the Porcelain Museum, and the Amalienburg. We enjoyed walking through the many beautifully decorated rooms, amazed at the impeccable craftsmanship that went into the construction of this in-your-face opulence, at its finest. Everything was wonderful to look at, but at the same time, we thought about the disparity between rich and poor - will future generations be touring through Bill Gates’ house, ogling at his over-the-top devices? Of the hundreds of rooms that we seemed to wander through, our favorite was the Dog & Hunting Room in the Amalienburg, with the built-in dog houses encircling the room. Also, not to be missed, are the outrageously decorated carriages and sleighs, and Ludwig’s merry-go-round in the Marstallmuseum.

    There was a light coating of snow/sleet covering the ground by the time we headed back to Munich. We figured we would take Tram #17 to the Marienplatz, to see where the tram stop was actually located, and grab some lunch/dinner at the Andechser am Dom. Well, we got off the tram at our stop, and walked all around, and nothing looked familiar. When we found ourselves walking along the Ring road, we knew we had definitely screwed up somewhere. Upon closer inspection of our tram map, we discovered the stop we got off was actually the Mariannenplatz.

    No problem… we spot an entrance to the U or S-Bahn, and before we know it, we are once again emerging onto the Marienplatz, only this time there are thousands of people on the square, all walking in a thousand different directions. It was mass chaos. We bobbed our way through the crowd to Andechser am Dom, a little pub which is located behind the Frauenkirche, and recommended by someone on Fodors, only to find it too smoky and crowded to enter. We decide to go back to our quiet little neighborhood and eat at one of the restaurants we had scoped out the night before.

    Well, who would have thought that everything would be closed on a Saturday night?!? We walked up and down all the little streets adjoining the Goethe Platz, past all the restaurants and little stores, and grocery mart, and everything was closed! Now where to go for dinner?

    Back at our hotel room we checked our notes on Munich, which mentioned there was a good selection of restaurants around the Max Weber Platz, so off we went on a series of U-trains, only to strike out again. We couldn’t find much of anything open, sans Burger King, etc… By now we’re feeling very hungry, and very defeated. Usually we have to walk at least eight blocks around our hotel to find dinner, but this has to be an all-time high, or low, for us – we have now taken eight trains to find dinner!!!

    Somehow we ended back at the Karlsplatz, where we walked down the Neuhauserstrasse, and stumbled into the Augustiner Grossgaststatte at #27, a nice bierhall/restaurant. We found seats at a table with a young couple and an older gentleman, and ordered up several Wiessbiers for both of us, and dinner – half a roasted chicken with herb stuffing and a salad for each – Euro 28,20 total.

    Our table mates were eventually replaced by a young couple from outside Stuttgart, who came to Munich for the weekend. He spoke English very well, and has traveled to the United States several times on business, working for a company that refurbishes printing machines. We enjoyed spending the rest of the evening talking, and drinking our delicious Wiessbiers, served on tap in a wiessenglas, with a foamy head. Yum!


    Munich - http://www.muenchen.de/home/60093/Homepage.html
    Augustiner Grossgaststatte - www.augustiner-restaurant.com


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    Hi yk -

    I'm not familiar with all of Germany's holidays, but it was Saturday, October 20th when we found all the restaurants closed around the Goethe Platz. Maybe it's just conducive of the neighborhood.

    By the way, you were one of the many people here at Fodor's who helped us in planning our trip to Germany, so I am thrilled that you are able to share in our memories also.

    We had such a wonderful time on our journey, and I'm happy to share my experiences with everyone (hope others are still reading), but I must take a break now, and give my eyes a rest.

    Only five more days to go....

    Robyn :)>-

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    Yes, Robyn, I am still reading. Loved your description of Bamberg, we were tossing up whether to spend a night there or not but now its definately
    going into our itinerary.

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    Day Thirteen (21 Oct, Sunday, Munchen XXL Partner Pass) – DACHAU, MUNICH

    We awoke to a coating of snow/sleet on everything. Brrr… Everyone appeared surprised that it had snowed so early in the season. After breakfast we briskly walked to the U-Bahn station where we bought a München XXL Partner Pass for Euro 11, 80, and then set off to find the Munich Residenz, getting off at the Odeonsplatz. Somehow we ended up at a Numismatics Museum in error, which actually turned out to be a pretty interesting little museum anyway, with many coins dating back before the time of Christ.

    By the time we found the correct entrance to the Munich Residenz (c.14th cent), it was raining pretty heavy, so we were happy to get inside. We used our Bavarian Castle Pass to gain entrance; we picked up an audio guide, and then spent several hours touring through the complex, checking out the Treasury first, which was just spectacular. The main attraction was the jewel-imbedded statue of St. George slaying the Dragon, which was just magnificent.

    The actual Residenz was HUGE, room after room after room of gilded opulence, in all the colors of the rainbow. The Antiquarium was most impressive, particularly for its size and statuary. And we really liked the Grotto Hall, with the funky fountain configuration plastered with seashells, corals and stones. As an artist, I was thrilled to see that so many artisans were employed in the past, to decorate the rooms, and create the many masterpieces commissioned for the rich and privileged.

    When we finally left the Residenz, it was later in the day than we had anticipated, but it had stopped raining, so we were able to pause for a quick look at the Feldherrnhalle before taking the U-Bahn to the Marienplatz.

    There we grabbed some sandwiches to go, then boarded the S-2 train to Dachau, before transferring onto Bus 724 to the Concentration Camp – KZ-Gedenkstätte Dachau. It had been raining off and on all day, and by the time we stepped off of the bus, it was pouring. We stopped at the information center, where we rented some audio guides. Armed with our umbrellas, audio guides, and map, we splashed our way through the puddles, and walked through “the gate”, the Jourhaus, where the somberness of the place really hit us, particularly enhanced by the gray skies and the cold rain.

    We walked through the bunker house first, which served as the camp prison, and where torture and executions were conducted. The building consisted of a long hallway, with doors to tiny, little cells flanking both sides. As you walked down the hall you could pause at several of the rooms and read about the history of some of Dachau’s victims. It was a hauntingly moving experience – the aura of terror and death really permeated our senses.

    The former maintenance building now houses an excellent museum, which documents the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, through the liberation of the camp, and the aftermath of WWII. Some of the exhibits are painful to look at, but at the same time, it is necessary, so that we never forget.

    We spent way too much time in the museum, and found ourselves with only ½ hour left until they closed the memorial site for the day. They had already closed the crematorium, which was perhaps for the best. I’m sure I would have lost it completely if we had toured through the death chambers. Some things are best left unseen.


    It had stopped raining, again, for the time being, so we did a quick tour through the two reconstructed barracks, of the original 34, that you can walk through. The barracks were built to house 200 prisoners per building, but by the end of the war they became overcrowded, with up to 2000 prisoners crammed into each unit. The remaining 32 barracks were torn down, but their foundations still remain, filled with stones, so you can envision the size of the camp (although small for 68,000 people!) The whole complex, which is vastly huge, just seems so out of place, nestled in the neighborhood of this tiny German town.

    It was now almost 17:30, so B.J. rushed back to the information center before it closed to return the audio guides, and retrieve our driver’s licenses which we had to leave as collateral, while I took a few extra minutes to pause at the memorial sculpture. We have a family friend who was the only member of his family to survive Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, so this visit to Dachau had special meaning for me.

    I met up with B.J. at the bus stop and we boarded Bus 724, which was waiting to take us back to the Bahnhof. We sat in the idling bus for 10 minutes, trying to get warm, and waiting to leave, when all of a sudden the bus stalls. The driver tried several times to restart it, to no avail. He finally ordered all of us off the bus, and said another one would arrive in 3-5 minutes. After standing outside for about 20 minutes, the crowd insisted we be allowed back on the broken bus, where it was warmer and dry. It took another 25 minutes before the replacement bus finally showed up and took us back to the train station. At least we were able to spend the time talking with two bio-tech engineers from San Francisco, who were in Germany on business, to buy equipment to set up a plant in Oregon. It was a very interesting conversation.

    Back at the Marienplatz, and hungry and thirsty, we decided to try the Andechser Am Dom again. It was less smoky and less crowded, and we were able to share a very large table with four other people at the other end. We ordered some Heffewiessens (we’re getting spoiled having it on tap) and dinner – salad with sesame breaded fried chicken strips for me, and B.J. had sausages (3 plain, 3 spicy, 2 white) with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut – Euro 32,90 total. A nice couple from Maine, Marcia and Max (we think), ended up sharing the two extra seats at our end of the table, so we had a lovely evening chatting with them about travelling in Europe.

    It was too early to call it a night, so we walked over to the infamous Hofbrauhaus. What a crazy, large, and loud place! We sat near the oomp-pah band, sharing a table with a couple, and their 21 year old son, from Portsmouth, England. The five of us had an enjoyable time sharing a lot of cultural information about both of our countries, and drinking beer – we each had two 0.50 liters of Heffewiessen, and ended up buying one of those cheesy key rings with my photo on it from the guy with the camera. The band was playing, the crowd was singing, some Oriental tourist was conducting the band, and some really old lady dressed in the traditional female garb, carrying a red thong, was trying to sit at people’s tables. What a crazy way to end the day.


    Dachau Memorial Site - http://www.kz-gedenkstaette-dachau.de/
    Hofbrauhaus - http://www.hofbraeuhaus.de/en/index_en.html
    Munich Transportation - http://www.mvv-muenchen.de/en/index.html
    Munich S & U-Bahn Map - http://efa.mvv-muenchen.de/mvv/netzplan_Umgebung.htm

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    Thanks, Maudie, for hanging in there with me.

    I'm sure you would not be sorry if you spent some time in Bamberg. Despite the rain, we found it to be a beautiful city, particularly in the Alstadt. We would definately recommend the Hotel Weierich.

    If we didn't have the complication with the Bavarian Castle Pass, we probably would have made the trek up to St. Michael's Monastery. There's a brewery museum that we wanted to visit.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Robyn - Glad I was able to help. You helped me a lot in the last couple of years when I was planning trips to Amsterdam & Belgium. If you have more words of wisdom for Belgium, feel free to check my recent post (title Belgian Coast, Bruges, Damme) because husband and I probably will be heading to Belgium in Sept. He's a big beer drinker!

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    Hi Robyn,
    The Hotel Weierich was on my hit list so its great to get your recommendation.
    You certainly filled your days well and I love that you took time out to sample the beer and wine!!!! Sounds like our sort of holiday.

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    I've emailed Edith's and the family suite is available for our dates. I guess I should snatch it up! If you get half board, do you get any choices of what you eat? One of my daughters is a very picky eater.

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    This is a true classic that will be consulted again and again. Thanks so much for all the great info and the time you took to assemble and write all of this for us. On question on format--how do you make your headings and key words within the report bold?
    I did that in Word but when I transferred it to the site here, the bolding all got lost.

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    Julie, here's the link for directions how to format your posts with HTML tags: bold, italics, underline, colors, and special characters
    http://fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34846591

    artstuff, I am really enjoying your report! We were on a 2 week trip in Germany when you started posting, so I'm just now finding it.

    We stayed at the Weierich hotel in Bamberg and also found it nice. My daughter especially appreciated the computer with free internet access that was in the upstairs hallway. The weather was really cold when we were there, but I enjoyed my brief time walking the towns streets and poking into all the churches. We had a very short stop in Rothenburg o d T and will return there another time.

    I love the way you arranged for a tour of your ancestral towns. On this most recent trip we visited a bunch of our villages (some no more than wide spots in the road) and I just had to imagine what these places were like.

    I'm going to save your report for a future trip to Germany - you did a lot of things I'd love to do. I hope you give a little summary ranking the towns and sights!

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    missypie - Our first and only half-board experience was with Edith, and she served a pre-set menu. We actually enjoyed not having to make any decisions about eating. We just showed up at 6:30 and she started serving us.

    But I'm sure you could ask Edith ahead of time what she was planning on serving, so you don't have any surprises. Or perhaps you could e-mail her with a dietary request (i.e. vegetarian, no red meat, etc..). She was a very gracious host who I'm sure would try to accomodate her guests.

    When are you planning on travelling to Germany?

    Julie I type my report up in Word, then I cut and paste it into "post my reply"...then I do the bold editing, using the HTML formatting that noe847 refers to.

    noe847 How cool that you were able to visit some of your family home towns also. It was such a rush for me to walk the same streets that my ancestors once trod upon, some 400 years ago. We really lucked out finding Barbara, our tour guide. She really helped to make our day extra special.

    We completely missed the computer/internet connection at the Hotel Weireich. Our room was two flights up, in the front. Did we walk right past it?

    yk As soon as I finish posting my Germany trip report I will again allow myself the pleasure of perusing other European threads, so I'll look for your Belgium thread then (since you have until September, and it better not take me that long to finish this report). In the mean time, In Brugge I can recommend de Garre as an excellent place for a glass of beer. It's located down a little alley off of the Markt. I'll have to dig out my notes and see if I have an address. Also check out the following link which is a very good European Beer Guide.

    http://www.xs4all.nl/~patto1ro/index.htm

    everyone else Thanks for stopping by and checking out my trip report. I love the fact that my memories are sparking memories in other travelers. Dream on...

    Robyn :)>-

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    For some reason the link for the European Beer Guide didn't completely highlight in blue for "clicking & linking".

    You will need to cut and paste the whole address (the blue and the black part) in order to open up the website.

    Robyn :)>-

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    artstuff, I cannot remember our room number (which is kind of ridiculous, as we were there just 9 days ago!) but I think we were just one flight up - maybe room 13 or 15? The building is kind of square doughnut, and our room was on the far side from the stairs, if that makes any sense. The computer was pretty much next door to us, in a wide part of the hall (not far from the fire escape). There were also some shelves with games and puzzles and some random items that seemed to be a lost and found (skates, weights, shoes, etc.) We never saw anyone else use the computer, so I think it was kind of a hidden asset. It's in a spot that nobody would pass on the way to their rooms. We knew that there was supposed to be a computer and just walked around until we found it.

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    We also had our first half-board experience in Austria and naturally because it was our first and nothing to compare it with, we raved about it.(It was very good though not great). As Robyn said, it is a set menu. We can eat anything but my son, though not a picky eater, was hesitant on trying a whole trout with its head served on his plate.

    Since then however, we've kind of learned how to filter out which gasthof or pension or hotel that offers half-board, we wanted to try.Sometimes the menu offered in the restaurant of the same place is much better than the half-board and the price does not differ much from the half-board (maybe ~€5-7 more).

    Just my experience.

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    Day Fourteen (22 Oct, Monday, Bayern Länder Pass) – LINDERHOF, ETTAL, MITTENWALD

    We spent the last three days of our German journey exploring the southern Bavaria region. Peter was kind enough to allow us to store three pieces of our luggage at his pension while we traveled with just a small carry-on and my day pack. So after breakfast we had to spend some time deciding what we wanted to take with us, and what we felt we could leave behind. I made sure I had my moleskin, folding scissors and bandages packed in a little cosmetic bag, as they have become part of my morning ritual of preparing my feet for another day of walking. My husband insisted that we also carry the corkscrew, in case of emergency.

    Armed with our minimal provisions, we walked to the Goethe Platz, where we took the U-line to the Marienplatz, and then transferred to the S-line to the Bahnhof. We bought our Bayern Pass (Euro 27,00) for the day, and boarded the 9:32 to Murnau, with 5 minutes to spare. Whew!

    There was a frosty coating of ice on the trees and cars as we left Munich, but as we made our way south on the train, everything began to turn white. At first it was just a light coating on the trees, and patches of snow here and there on the fields. But by the time we arrived in Murnau, an hour later, there were several inches of snow on the ground! Most of the snow must have been from our rain yesterday, as we were only having passing snow showers this morning.

    We were concerned because the train arrived 10 minutes late in Murnau (I don’t know why, but we’ll blame it on the rail strike), but no need to worry, the connection to Oberammergau was sitting on the platform, waiting for us and a handful of other passengers.

    The 40-minute train ride into Oberammergau was beautiful, with the rolling hills turning into larger mountains, and everything basked in white. As the train snaked its way through the valleys, we both thought how much the landscape reminded us of back home, in the mountains of Pennsylvania. Only we don’t have the excellent rail system (we did, at one time, but they tore it all out).

    We were the only ones to board Bus #9622 to Linderhof, which was waiting for us at the train station when we arrived, late. It was like having our own personal shuttle, as the driver whipped us through the quaint little streets of Oberammergau, with its beautifully painted houses, then on to Ettal, where he had to backtrack to finally end up at Linderhof (1870-1878). It was now just after noon.

    We used our Bavarian Castle Pass to book us onto the 12:20 English tour, and then walked the pathway up to the palace. It was like walking into a fairytale land. The majestic evergreens towered above us, despite their boughs drooping from the weight of the heavy snow, which covered everything, and sparkled like diamonds from the sun’s reflection. I felt giddy when I finally saw the castle, sitting there, glistening, as white as the snow enveloping it. For a moment, I truly felt like Queen Frostine from my Candy Land board game days.

    Our tour guide quickly shuffled us through several magnificently decorated rooms, including Ludwig’s bed chamber with it’s 108-candle crystal candelabra, his dining room with the “self setting table” which can be lowered to the kitchen below, the music room with the life size painted porcelain peacock, and the elaborate Hall of Mirrors, with the endless reflections of gold gilt on white with splashes of blue. The tour lasted about 25 minutes.

    Between visiting late in the season, and the six inches of snow covering the trails and gardens, everything else in the park was closed. While we were walking around the perimeter of the castle, admiring the snowy landscape, we struck up a conversation with a gentleman from Southern California, who had spent the last four weeks driving through Europe, but was heading home on Thursday.

    We informed him that the evening before, when we were watching the all-German news, there was a report of wildfires in California. We couldn’t give him many details, except descriptions of the news videos, and the few words we could make out from the report – Los Angeles, Barbra Streisand, Brad Pitt. He seemed to think if the fire was near these two celebrities’ homes, it wouldn’t affect him – he lived further south from there. Of course, we would later learn that much of southern California was on fire. I often think of that guy, and what was waiting for him when he finally arrived home.

    We boarded the 13:54 bus to Ettal, where we had lunch in the Klosterhof at the Hotel-Restaurant Ludwig der Bayer, which is located directly across from the Monastery. We had a relaxing meal of Schwein Schnitzel with a salad, washed down by some delicious Helles-Weizen. To warm up, we enjoyed an herb-flavored Ettaler Kloster Liqueur. Euro 27,10 total.

    After lunch we walked across the street to the Ettal Monastery (c.1330). The whiteness of the buildings on the abbey grounds, topped by the green domes and spires, looked beautiful nestled among the snow and evergreens. Everything was white and green. Until we walked into the Basilica… which seemed to be glowing gold from the inside out. We lit a candle for Karen, and then found a seat in a pew to just sit and admire the artisanship. After our necks began to feel strained from looking upward, we decided to leave, but not before checking out the Ettal Madonna on the high altar.

    We walked back across the street, where we checked the route schedule posted at the bus stop. We had a few minutes to spare before the 16:24 Bus #9606 would arrive to take us to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. So we bopped into a nearby wine & cheese store, where we bought a couple of 5-pack sampler bottles of Ettaler. Back at the bus stop, we waited, and waited, and waited, but there was no bus in sight. Our next option was the 16:56, so we waited some more, past the scheduled departure time, until some local kids walked by, read the schedule for us and said we would have to wait for the 17:21, the 16:56 wasn’t running today, it’s not a school day. Good!! Enough time to walk the 50 feet to the restaurant to warm up, have a beer, and use their WC. Well, don’t you know by the time we made it to the front door, the 16:56 arrived. I tried to flag him down, but he continued on his way. Oh well, I guess we were meant to have that beer.

    Finally aboard the 17:21, we enjoyed the 25 minute ride through the mountains, again reflecting how similar the landscape was to Pennsylvania, until we arrived in the G-P valley, at the bahnhof. By now the sun was setting, the fog had rolled in, and it was beginning to get very cold outside. We made our way to the platform, thinking we would have to wait 15 minutes for the train, but it turned into 35 - delayed because of the rail strike.

    After a 20 minute train ride, we arrived in Mittenwald just after 19:00, cold and tired. It was snowing as we made the quick walk to the Hotel Alpenrose (Euro 73,00/night), where we checked into room #6, a typical Bavarian decorated room, with dark wooden ceiling beams, ornately painted wooden headboards, and dead animal antlers hanging on the wall.

    Since we didn’t feel like venturing outside again this evening, we went downstairs to the hotel restaurant, which also was decked out with all things Bavarian, including a little oom-pah band. Okay, it was two guys, one with an accordion, the other one with a guitar. But they were quite good and certainly added to the ambiance of the evening. We both enjoyed a savory meal of weinerschnitzel over noodles, smothered with mushrooms, cheese and fried onions – and of course… beer. Euro 32,00 total.

    After spending too much time outside in the cold today, just waiting, we were more than happy to finally put on our pajamas and climb into our wonderfully warm bed.


    Ettal Monastery - http://www.kloster-ettal.de/index-uk.html
    Hotel Alpenrose - http://www.hotel-alpenrose-mittenwald.de/index_english.html

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    I am so looking forward to hearing of your time in Mittenwald and if you were happy with the Alpenrose.

    I felt cold just reading your last couple of paragraphs, bed that night must have been heaven.

    Maudie

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    Hi Robyn - I was watching a TV show called "The Thirsty Traveler" last night. Not sure if you're familiar w/the show but the host travels all over the world to learn about different alcoholic drinks. Last night's show was about beer in Germany, and he dedicated about 10 minutes at the Schlenkerla brewery in Bamberg. He had a behind the scenes tour of the brewery to learn the secret of the smoky beer; then he went to the kitchen and cooked the Bamberg Onion. Anyway, quite entertaining and I thought of you!

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    Due to your recommendation, we looked at the Alpenrose; we ended up reserving its sister hotel, the Bichlerhof instead. I am worried about heat in July and I thought it would be better to have rooms with a terrace or balcony (more venitilation) than possible small windows. Looking forward to it!

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    Hi Robyn-
    Still waiting for the rest of the TR!

    BTW, I'm very impressed that you were able to do this trip by public transportation. A lot of people on this board would say one has to rent a car in order to visit smaller towns, but you obviously proved them wrong. Granted, you didn't have as much flexibility but it certainly is doable.

    What I'm wondering is about the bus schedules. I understand one can easily find out about train schedules on Die Bahn's website, but did you check out all the bus schedules online ahead of time? Can you tell me how to find the bus schedules?

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    > I understand one can easily find out about train schedules on Die Bahn's website,

    Not quite correct. You can easily find out about the public transport schedules of any kind on bahn.de - the tricky part is to find the right bus stop to enter

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    I don't know that I've ever read a post that said "one HAS to rent a car in order to visit smaller towns." But, as pointed out, a car can be more convenient and a time saver depending on where and when you are travelling. So it's a matter of time/money/convenience and personal likes and dislikes.

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    First of all... I must apologize for being away from Fodor's and not responding to your posts, or finishing my trip report. I can't believe it's been over 10 days!! Since the beginning of April I started working full-time (was working 3 days/wk), I had the carpets in three rooms of my house shampooed (moved lots of furniture), and I had a house full of guests this past weekend who journeyed to my town for the annual beer-tasting fundraiser for our local theatre ensemble. I'm exhausted! It feels good to sit down at my computer, and finally get to relax and travel.

    yk - I found the bus schedules, thanks to Larryincolorado, who provided me with links to the RVO bus line.

    www.rvo-bus.de

    Check out my thread "Munich, Germany train questions" for a tinyURL link to the Bus 9606 schedule, as well as other public transportation info that may be useful. Link below:
    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=35073547

    I must admit, there were times when we were planning our trip to Germany that we considered renting a car - primarily because most every poster here on Fodor's said that a car was the only way to tour through southern Bavaria.

    We decided not to succumb to the pressure, but found a public transportation route instead, thanks to the help from people like Larry.

    In all my research here at Fodor's, I can't remember reading a trip report where the posters used public transport to get through Bavaria, so I hope my report will show travelers that there is another way.

    Yes, public transportation is less flexible than taking a car, but we would never have met so many of the wonderful folks on our journey if we were sitting in a car by ourselves, driving from point to point, probably taking the same roads that the bus took.

    By the way, yk, that's so cool that you saw the segment about the Schlenkerla Brewery. Unfortunately, we don't have access to cable where we live, and I'm too cheap to pay for satellite (I'd rather save it for travelling), so I've never heard of the Thirsty Traveler. It sounds like a fun and interesting show (lucky host).

    missypie & Maudie - We really enjoyed our stay at the Alpenrose in Mittenwald. The breakfast buffet was one of the best that we had on our trip. I had read a word of caution while planning our trip, that sometimes the Alpenrose will take your reservation, then book you into the Bichlerhof instead (their sister hotel). Since we really wanted to stay in the colorfully painted Alpenrose, we specifically asked not to be switched. However, the Bichlerhof sounded like it was just as nice a hotel, with perhaps a few extra amenities.

    Anyway... keep posted - I hope to have my trip report completed in the next week (there, I set a goal, now I have to keep it).

    Auf Wiedersehen -
    Robyn :)>-

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    Hi Robyn - I wasn't trying to be pushy! Sounds like you've got lots going on right now, so no worries, take your time.

    I'm not planning any trip to Bavaria anytime soon (though I'd love to fly over now just to eat the spargel), but it's just great to know public transporation is doable. My husband is not very keen on driving in Europe (he doesn't even have a car here in the US), and I don't drive stick; so if we do plan to go there in the future, I know we don't have to rent a car.

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    Hi artstuff, hope life settles down for you soon and its great to see you back. Thanks for the info on Alpenrose , I shall keep that in mind.

    It is also great to hear about you enjoying public transport, we too are debating the use of a car around the St Gilgen, Berchtesgaden and Mittenwald area's. We have never driven in Europe and it is the opposite side of the road for us as well.

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    It just goes to show that there is no right way or wrong way. No better way or worse way. It depends on what you are looking for from your travel experience; time of year; where you are going; your time budget and your money budget; your personality; and probabley a few dozen other factors.

    There is no "only" way to travel.

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    Hi Artstuff,

    My wife and I just found your interesting trip report and got to the part where you and B.J. went to Oberoewisheim – which about blew us away! We are leaving for Germany the first week in May, and one of our prime reasons for going is to see that exact same tiny village! My ancestors came from there, which we discovered in recent months after thinking for many years that they came from Baden-Baden. What a coincidence that your ancestors came from the same little place. May I ask you some questions?

    We will be going there by train from Stuttgart; is there just one stop for the village? Or at which stop should we get off? Do you know if they “recycle” burial plots there, the way you described they do in other places? Thanks in advance.

    We really are enjoying your trip report. Thanks for sharing it.

    Gary Todd

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    Gary -

    WOW! That is so weird that our ancestors come from the same tiny little town, Oberöwisheim. The family names that I can trace back to Oberöwisheim are Schropp (Schrope), Kessler, Trautwein, Schibel & Hockner. Any chance we are distant cousins?

    The only way to get to Oberöwisheim by train is through Karlsruhe, so you would need to take the train from Stuttgart to Karlsruhe first. Check out the link below for the Karlsruhe rail map - look for the green line S-32, in the northeast corner, ending in Menzingen.

    http://www.kvv.de/kvv/documentpool/liniennetzplan/j07/lnetz_j07.pdf

    Here's a link for a Baden-Würrtemburg rail map. The website is in German, but the map is universal.

    http://www.rail-and-relax.de/home.htm

    We were going to take the train to Oberöwisheim, but we also wanted to go to Eppingen, where the Kessler's were originally from. Although the towns are just a few miles apart, you can't get to each of them easily by train. That's where Barbara came in. She's from Eppingen, and generously agreed to tour us through the region in her car (for a fee).

    Although we didn't go past the train station in Oberöwisheim, there is only one in town. If you go to mapquest.com and zoom in, you'll see there are only three main streets running through the tiny village.

    From what Barbara explained to us, they recycle burial plots throughout Germany, or at least in the Mosel, Rhine & Baden regions, where we visited cemeteries.

    That's all I can add for now. I have 6:30 reservations for Wednesday night all-you-can-eat fish fry. I'll try to check back this evening - if you have any other questions.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Hi Robyn,

    Many thanks for your prompt reply. None of the surnames that you mentioned match mine, although we could still be very distant cousins, since women’s maiden names stop going forward when they marry and adopt their husbands’ surnames. I am a case in point, with the Anglo surname Todd, but with Oberoewisheim ancestors named Banscher, Schorle, and Winter (which may not sound German but is). In going back through various family lines, I find many other surnames belonging to women, so we are all kin to a lot of people whose surnames we don’t recognize. None of this was easy before computers, so we are lucky.

    My gg grandfather, Franz Joseph Winter, arrived in San Antonio, Texas, from Oberoewisheim in 1867, and we have been able to trace the line back into the 1700s. Very few people know it, but the dominant language in San Antonio from the 1840s to the 1870s was not English or Spanish, but German. After that, all three were spoken widely by many people in the various ethnic groups, until German began fading in the bad days of the World Wars. Today, only a few people are left around here who speak German. I regret that loss, because German-Americans were not to blame for what the Nazis did (nor were many Germans who are alive today, for that matter). Anyway, I am glad that our two countries have good relations today and, like you, I am really looking forward to walking the ground walked by my ancestors for so many generations. Your travel report was so well written and so interesting, that it really makes somebody want to go. Like B.J., I like my beer and will make my contributions to the local economies and gemutlichtkeit.

    My wife, Carol, is on our other computer checking out the links you were kind enough to provide, and so our planning is going forward.

    If you think of any advice and want to email us direct, I’ll give you our email address in this format so it cannot be “harvested” by spammers: gctodd at yahoo dot com. The “at” and “dot” are @ and . of course. We once got so flooded by spam and porn that we had to change our email address and then learned the technique I just described.

    Robyn, again, many thanks for your advice and your interesting trip report.

    Possible distant cousin,

    Gary

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    Day Fifteen (23 Oct, Tuesday, Bayern Länder Pass) - MITTENWALD, WIESKIRCHE & HOHENSCHWANGAU

    “Holy sh*t!! Look at that big-ass mountain,” I exclaimed to my husband when I pulled open the hotel window curtain. “We sure don’t have mountains like that in Pennsylvania.”

    I was looking at the Karwendel Mountain range, covered in snow, as it towered 2300-2400 meters above us (Mittenwald sits at 920 m). But by the time B.J. dragged him self out of bed to look out the window, the mountain was gone; disappeared behind the clouds that rolled in. No, wait…. there it was again. Oh, - now it’s gone… But, now it’s back…

    It was dark, snowing and foggy when we arrived in Mittenwald last evening, so we had no idea of the picturesque surroundings that we had fallen into. Our room was at the back of the hotel, and even though it overlooked the parking area, it still had a great view… when the clouds weren’t in the way.

    I was surprised to find a washcloth-mitt in the bathroom, with the towels. I’ve stayed in dozens of hotels in Europe during the last decade, and the Hotel Alpenrose was the first that provided a wash cloth. And not just a wash cloth… it was a wash cloth mitt! Since I travel with my old, ratty wash cloths, which I use and then throw out, the wash mitt was one of those small, yet significant little extras that made our stay at the Alpenrose memorable.

    After bulking up on one of our most favorite breakfast buffets on our trip, we left our luggage at the hotel while we went out to explore Mittenwald. We exited through the hotel’s front door into a proverbial winter fairytale land – the snow was softly falling all around us as we made our way down the Obermarkt, being careful not to trip and fall into the little stream that winds it’s way along the street, while gazing in amazement at the wonderful trompe l’oeil paintings covering the buildings. It was like walking into a storybook, with the larger-than-life illustrations of scenes from the Bible and Bavarian life, history and culture plastered all around us.

    We visited the peachy-pink colored Sts. Peter and Paul Kirche, with its ornately painted church tower, where we lit a candle for Karen. Although the church looks somewhat plain on the outside, the inside is overflowing with all things roccoco.

    After doing a lot of window shopping, we decided to venture into one of the many woodcarving shops found throughout Mittenwald, for a little sticker shock. There were so many beautiful pieces of woodcarving to choose from, all worth every penny that the artist was asking, but most way out of our budget. I wanted the cute tiny little pig – B.J. wanted the dachshund. Since we couldn’t make up our minds which one to buy, we ended up buying both of them, and probably spent more euros than we should have.

    It was almost 11:00, so we made our way over to the Geigenbaumuseum – the Violin Museum – which was one of the main reasons we wanted to visit Mittenwald (my husband and I have a background in making musical instruments and sound sculptures). We paid Euro 4,00 each, and spent the next hour wandering through this magnificent museum dedicated to the stringed instrument.

    We grabbed our luggage from the hotel and made it to the train station in time to buy a Bayern-Ticket (Euro 27,00) and catch the 12:37 to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. We were sadly disappointed to leave Mittenwald, as this was the one town we absolutely did not allow enough time for. We could easily have stayed an additional day/night in any of the many towns we visited, but we truly regret not having scheduled an extra night in this beautiful painted valley village, cradled by the majestic mountains.

    Our adventure today was to take Bus 9606, which runs from G-P to Füssen, stopping at the Wieskirche along the way. We boarded the 13:05 and were shocked to find the bus completely full. There was barely room to stand in the aisle, so finding a seat was out of the question. Except for B.J. and me, and 6-8 other adults, the rest of the passengers on the bus were school age. In fact, we would later learn, we were on the school bus. It seems that certain scheduled runs on the public transportation line also double as the school run.

    The bus made several stops as we snaked our way through G-P, dropping off a couple of students here and there, including two young girls whose seats we grabbed as soon as they disembarked. We were so glad that we had seats for the hour-and-a-half bus ride, particularly when we stopped at the Ettal Monastery and another group of at least 20-25 kids got on board!!

    Even despite all the kids, the bus ride was actually very enjoyable, taking us over the mountainous roads, through many small towns along the way, including Ettal, Oberammergau, Unterammergau, Saulgrub, Bad Kohlgrub, Bad Bayersoin, Rottenbuch, Wildsteig and Steingaden. At each bus stop (and there were many of them) we would lose a couple more kids, until, by the time we got to the Wieskirche, B.J. and I were the only passengers left on the bus. It was kind of nice having our own personal coach. The bus dropped us in the parking lot at 14:31.

    The Wieskirche (c.1740’s) blended in with the snowy landscape, and looked very unassuming and out of place, sitting in a white meadow, in the middle of nowhere. We made the short walk to the church entrance, where we stepped through the doorway, under the architects name (Dominikus Zimmermann), and stood in awe at one of the loveliest rococo churches we have ever seen, with splashes of gold gilt on plastered white walls, beneath a lightly frescoed ceiling. Because of the ingenious use of windows by the architect, the Wieskirche is known for the “movement of light” within the church – during the course of the day a different section of the church is illuminated by the light of the sun. Throughout the church there are no dark corners, except in the area that surrounds the Scourged Saviour.

    The statue of the “Scourged Saviour of the Wies”, and the “Miracle of Tears” which took place in 1738, was the catalyst for the construction of the Wieskirche and the beginning of the pilgrimage of a countless number of people from around the world to this isolated little spot in Germany. And now, here we were, among those numbers of people. However, our desire to view the statue was not a religious one, but instead, a weird fixation for religious relics. And this was perhaps the most out of the way pilgrimage we have taken so far to see a reliquary.

    After lighting a candle for Karen, we took a seat in one of the pews so we could just gaze in amazement at the beautiful artwork. We were giddy with delight when a small school group started singing a German folk song. There voices sounded so lovely and light echoing throughout the church. Then their tour guide started playing the organ, which sounded deep and resonated through our bodies. The whole experience was really cool, and well worth the bus journey to get there.

    It was lightly snowing when we exited the Wieskirche, and we had a few minutes to kill, so we stopped in the original little Wieskirche, which sits near the bus stop, lit another candle, and waited for Bus #73 to arrive.

    We boarded an empty bus at 15:50, and enjoyed our private motor coach as we rolled our way through the scenic, snowy Bavarian countryside towards Hohenschwangau. After a relaxing 50 minute ride, we were dropped in the middle of town by the visitor’s kiosk. We were glad to see a Money Access machine, as we were getting low on Euros (we spent it all on our little woodcarvings in Mittenwald) and we needed to pay cash for our hotel room, but we kept getting a system failure when we tried both of our cards. Oh well. We’ll try again later.

    It was an easy five minute walk to our hotel, the Romantic-Pension Albrecht (Euro 67,00), which sits at the foot of Schloss Neuschwanstein, although we couldn’t see the castle through the lightly falling snow and clouds. We checked in to room #2, which has a tiny terrace with a view of the castle in nice weather. We relaxed for a brief period, and then realized we were famished, and needed to go in search of food and money.

    By now it had stopped snowing, and the lights had come on illuminating both the castles. Schloss Hohenschwangau was ablaze in yellow against the freshly fallen snowy landscape. And looking at Schloss Neuschwanstein, perched up in the hills, we could truly see where Walt Disney found the inspiration to build his fairy tale castle. I felt like Snow White walking down the road with my Prince Charming beside me.

    We tried the money machine again, with no success, so we had to resort to Plan B. We both carry a couple one-hundred dollar US bills in our neck pouches in case of emergency, so we walked to the Hotel Müller where we were able to exchange a $100.00 bill for 69 Euros – not a bad rate, we thought.

    We checked the menu at the Hotel, but it was a bit out of our price range, so we stopped at the little café/restaurant, Alpenstuben, where we had a delicious meal of Weisnerschnitzel with Pomme Frites for me, and the “Farmers Special” for B.J., which was pork, sausages, sauerkraut and boiled potatoes. We had several Hefe-Weizens and shared an Apfelstrudel for desert (total Euro 39,30), and then waddled our way back to our very comfortable and warm hotel room.

    As we caught occasional glimpses of Neuschwanstein from our terraced window, we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves for having made the journey through the Bavarian Alps by public transportation, despite most everyone’s advice to rent a car. We were glad we took on this challenge, and feel we were able to see most of the highlights of the area, but from a different perspective than most tourists do when they visit.

    Mittenwald - http://www.mittenwald.de/
    Violin Museum - http://www.matthias-klotz.de/
    Wieskirche - http://www.wieskirche.de/
    Romantic Pension Albrecht - http://www.albrecht-neuschwanstein.de/

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    artstuff, thanks so much for taking the time to finish your trip report.
    I will be printing it out and taking it with us, so much useful information written so well. Congratulations.

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    Artstuff - where were your suitcases during the school bus trip? It must've been insane lugging them around everywhere. I'd love to know what kind of luggage you used that gave you that kind of mobility. I'm too old to use a backpack trekking through Europe!

    The more I read of your "training" adventures the more I think about giving it a go.

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    Thanks guys, for all your replies. I'm still working on the trip report for the last day and a half of our German Odyssey, and then our journeys will be over... at least this one. I hope to finish it up this week, after work.

    Zeus - We usually travel with a 24" x 14" x 9" rolling suitcase for each of us, along with an 11" x 14" x 8" carry-on, which attaches to the pull handle of the larger suitcase.

    However, for our two-night adventure in southern Bavaria, we left our larger pieces of luggage and one of the carry-ons with Peter at the Pension Westphalia, and travelled with just a carry-on and a day back-pack. We were so glad not to have had all our luggage on the very crowded "school bus".

    And despite the crowded bus and the rail strike inconveniences, we were so glad we used public transportation because it gave us the opportunity to meet many wonderful people along the way. I do hope you'll give "training" a try some time.

    Robyn :)>-



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    Day Sixteen (24 Oct, Wednesday, Bayern Länder Pass) - HOHENSCHWANGAU, NEUSCHWANSTEIN, FUESSEN, MUNICH

    Our last full day in Germany. It’s hard to believe that our holiday is almost over…

    When we arose in the morning and looked out the window we were happy to see that it wasn’t snowing for a change. It was cloudy, however, but it was also neat to watch as the clouds rolled in and out of the mountain range, mystically shrouding Schloss Neuschwanstein, as if to hide some of crazy King Ludwig’s secrets. We had read a lot about the history of King Ludwig, and had long anticipated our castle day in Bavaria.

    We went down to the breakfast room just to find out we were the only guests in the pension, so our host gave us her complete attention, making sure we had plenty to eat, including scrambling some eggs for us. She also allowed us to stash our luggage while we spent the day exploring Ludwig’s homes.

    We walked back to the center of Hohenschwangau, then up the hill to the ticket office for the castles. Schloss Neuschwanstein was covered by the Bavarian Castle Pass, but Schloss Hohenschwangau was not, since it is privately owned (the rest are owned by the Bavarian Castle Department). However, they did give us a Euro 1,00 discount on each of our tickets, so the total cost for the two of us came to Euro 16,00. It was now 9:30 and our first tour for Schloss Hohenschwangau (c.1535) was booked for 10:15.

    We made the easy trek up the hill to the castle, stopping at the little church along the way to light a candle for Karen, and still had plenty of time to spare (they recommend 30 minutes, it took us 10-15). We checked the large electronic board in the courtyard for our tour number status – we were #115, they were on #108. Geez! Just how many tours do they run through here in a day?

    As we wandered around the grounds, taking pictures of the outside of the castle, and Schloss Neuschwanstein across the valley, we met a woman from Utah, who was travelling with her husband by car through the area. We got to talking about travel, and before we knew it #115 was coming to the top of the board. Our tour was about to begin.

    We were greeted by our tour guide, Wolfgang, who spoke English very well, was very animated with his descriptions, and took the time to answer our many questions. We spent the next 35-40 minutes touring through Ludwig’s childhood home, getting little glimpses into his life, and better understanding his quirkiness. Ludwig grew up on the site where the Knights of Schwangau formerly resided, who were descended from the legendary knight Driant, known to have battled dragons and wood demons in the mountains and forests around Hohenschwangau.

    Chivalrous knighthood and the Crusades were the theme throughout the originally furnished castle. The entrance to the palace takes you through the Knights’ Hall, where you ascend a staircase to the first floor, the Queen’s chambers. There we toured through the Billiard Room, the Hall of the Knight of the Swan, the Schyren Room (Queen’s dressing room), the Oriental Room (Queen’s bedroom), the Schwangau Room or Local History Room, the Berchta Room (Queen’s study), and the Ladies’ Chamber.

    The second floor was occupied first by Ludwig’s father, Maxmillian, and then upon his death, King Ludwig II moved in. Our guide led us through the Banqueting Hall, also known as the Hall of the Heroes or Knights, the Hohenstaufen Room which doubled as the King’s dressing room and the music room, the Guelph Room (former library), the Authari Room (series of paintings depicting Bavarian legend), the King’s Study with attached Oriel Room, and the Tasso Room, or King’s bedroom. The bizarre murals painted on the bedroom walls depicting the story of Armida & Rinaldo from the epic poem Jerusalem Delivered really helped me understand where some of Ludwig’s fantasies came from. Out of the four Ludwig castles that we visited on our trip, Hohenschwangau was perhaps our favorite, because it felt more medieval and intimate.

    It was a little after 11:00 by the time we finished shopping in the gift shop; our reservation time for Schloss Neuschwanstein was 12:15. So off we went, back down the hill, and then proceeded to climb the hill on the opposite side of the valley. They suggest one hour to walk the constant uphill grade on the paved road to the castle. By now, the clouds had almost disappeared and there was actually a hint of blue in the sky. The sun was beginning to shine, and all the heavy, thick snow hanging on the evergreen boughs, towering above the road to Neuschwanstein, began to melt. Plop… Plop… Plop… We spent our time hiking up to the castle dodging “snow patties” from the sky, and listening to people’s shrieks and giggles as they got careened on their heads.

    We arrived at the castle in plenty of time (took about 40 minutes), and looked for a place to hang out in the shade in the courtyard while we waited for our tour number to queue up. Before we knew it, the woman from Utah had tracked us down to ask us our opinion about Rothenburg & Salzburg and where should they head next on their road trip. It seems they decided to visit Germany on a whim, and had done very little planning. So little, that they drove in the vicinity of Wieskirche, but didn’t know to stop in, and… they both play the violin, but knew nothing of Mittenwald or the Violin Museum. This was a perfect example of what you can miss without proper planning. We spent the next ½ hour filling her head with information about the area, until our number came up. We’ve often wondered which direction they eventually headed in for the rest of their travels – Salzburg, Rothenburg,.. or perhaps Mittenwald?

    Because of King Ludwig’s untimely death, Schloss Neuschwanstein (c.1869-1886) was never completed, but the rooms that were, are lavishly decorated. We entered through the four-cornered tower where we had to climb 73 steps to the second floor of the Knights’ Building. From here there was another climb of 96 steps in the main tower to the third and fourth floors which contain the Singer’s Hall (4th floor) with its pinewood ceiling and impressive wall paintings depicting the legend of Parsifal (an inspiration for a Wagner opera); the incredible Throne Room (3rd fl) with its massive chandelier and beautiful mosaic floor; and the King’s Apartment Rooms (3rd fl).

    Ludwig’s bedroom was a splendid display of oak carved wood, particularly his canopy bed, which reminded me of an alter canopy in a church. The oak Dining Room was embedded with paintings depicting the Wartburg Singer’s Festival (from c.1207), another Wagner inspiration. Ludwig could worship in his private House Chapel which was right off of the King’s Dressing Room. The King’s Living Room was divided into a large Salon area and a smaller “Schwanen-Eck”, or Swan’s Corner. The theme of the wall paintings in the salon is the Lohengrin legend, yet another inspiration for Wagner. We passed through the Grotto and Winter Garden and into the Study then the Adjutants’ Room. Ludwig certainly set himself up in a nice little apartment complex.

    At every opportunity along our tour we stopped to look out the windows of the castle at the incredible scenery. We saw the Alpensee nestled among the mountains out one window, and out of another the flatland stretched out to the Forggensee, until the horizon was swallowed up by the clouds. The views of the Marienbrüke, and the gorge beneath it, were awesome. There were several people out on the bridge, despite the fact that the trail and bridge were closed because of the snow. I was secretly glad to see the barricade across the trail head since I’m a bit afraid of heights and really didn’t want to be tempted to scale across the very high suspension bridge.

    We left the castle and proceeded back down the hill, which was a real toe killer. The road had a constant downhill grade which caused our toes to be smashed against the front of our shoes. We were so happy when we finally saw the blue and white May Pole which stands at the bottom of the hill in town. We actually found the descent down the hill worse than the ascent.

    We grabbed our luggage from the pension, and caught the 13:55 bus to Füssen. We used a Bayern Länder Pass (Euro 27,00) which we bought ahead of time yesterday. Within ten minutes we were stashing our bag in the luggage locker at the train station, and then we were off to explore this quaint little town.

    We wandered up and down a few streets, enjoying the many buildings painted in the trompe l’oeil style. The Stadt Apotheke was especially impressive. On the Reichenstrasse, which was lined with patrician’s houses containing storefronts, we found the Stadtbrunner fountain, with a statue memorializing St. Magnus. Close to the fountain, imbedded into the cobblestones of the road, is an engraved strip, marking the Via Claudia Augusta, the ancient trade route from Rome to the Danube. I guess it’s true what they say, “All roads lead to Rome”. I just love walking in the footsteps of history.

    By now we were getting pretty hungry, so we decided to try Nordsee, located at Reichenstrasse 40, which apparently is Germany’s answer to a fast-food, fish joint, chain-restaurant, which have been around since 1896! It’s set up cafeteria style, where you grab your tray, then select from various entrees and side dishes, and then you find your own table. We ordered shrimp stir-fry with noodles and vegetables, which was freshly prepared in a wok and delivered to our table. And when we selected our King Ludwig Weizenbeirs, which were among many different bottles of libations, the staff insisted on pouring our beers into the proper glass. We really enjoyed our fast-food meal (Euro 21,30 total) and joked about opening a Nordsee here in the States.

    We enjoyed a leisurely stroll back to the Bahnhof, stopping briefly at the Monastery of St. Mang, which doubles as the town hall and municipal museum. We grabbed our luggage from the train station locker and boarded the 16:05 to Buchloe with lots of other tourists, arriving at 17:20. We were supposed to have a 30 minute lay-over until the next train to Munich, so we grabbed a seat on the platform. It was cold outside, and most everyone else who was transferring to Munich had gone into the train station to stay warm. We, too, contemplated going in, then all of a sudden, at 17:30, a train to Munich showed up, 20 minutes early. We figured the trains were running off schedule because of the strike, but for a change, the strike benefited us. We were actually able to get “home” to Munich, and Peter at the Pension Westfalia, a little sooner than we had expected. We had an enjoyable 45 minute train ride talking with a couple from New Zealand, who had been travelling around Europe for the last month and a half. Lucky them…

    After arriving at the Munich Hauptbahnhof we took the S-line to the Marienplatz, then the U-line to Goetheplatz, and then a short walk back to our pension, where we checked into room #72, only to find the rest of our luggage was waiting for us. This room was smaller than our other room here, with only one sofa, but it did have separate rooms for the toilet and the bath/shower.

    After a short respite, we took the U-line back to the Marienplatz, and headed towards the Hofbrauhaus. We figured this was as good a place as any to spend our last evening in Germany. We found a seat in a side area, looking towards the back of the oom-pah band. It was a long table with three people sitting at one end, so we took two seats across from each other at the other end, and ordered ourselves a couple of half-liters of hefe-wiezens, our first of many for the evening, and dinner. B.J. decided to try the Surhaxe, boiled pig knuckle served with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. I had grilled turkey and mushrooms served with a sauce over spaetzle.

    Before too long another couple sat at the table between us and the other group. We enjoyed talking with them briefly, until the woman lit up a cigarette. She was one of those smokers who seemed to feel entitled, and didn’t care where her smoke was blowing. What a drag. We did a little “dance of joy and happiness” when they finally left.

    We were really enjoying ourselves… drinking beer, eating dinner, drinking beer, listening to the band, drinking beer, people-watching. There was a lot of activity in the Hofbrauhaus tonight, including a large oriental group whose members all had to take their turns conducting the band, and several tables of young men and women who seemed to be getting to know each other better. We noticed the two very-large, “don’t f*ck with me”, ex-rugby playing bouncers circulating through the room (we affectionately named them “Hans & Franz”, after the Saturday Night Live characters).

    Then suddenly we hear glass shattering! When we turn to look, we see a punch being thrown. But before a second one can be wailed, Hans & Franz show up on the scene. Hans had his humongous arm wrapped around some guy’s neck, as he proceeded to drag him outside. Franz stayed behind and kept the crowd calm. It all happened very quickly, and then things were back to normal. I don’t even think the band missed a beat. We did notice, however, that several of the liter-mugs of beer on some of the tables had suddenly been replaced with water. Perhaps that was the Hofbrauhaus’ way of “flagging” someone who had a little too much to drink.

    Well they didn’t flag us, even though we had five half-liters of hefe-wiezen each!!! Total bill for dinner and beers came to Euro 54,30. Of course, we had to stop at the gift shop and pick up a pair of wiessen glasses for ourselves, and one for our beer buddy, Roger. We were feeling pretty good as we made our way back to our pension, even though it was our last night in Germany,

    Hohenschwangau - http://www.hohenschwangau.de/556.0.html
    Schloss Neuschwanstein - http://www.neuschwanstein.com/
    Füssen - http://www.fuessen.de/

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    Hi artstuff,

    I just glanced at your trip report and would love to read it but it
    is very long and I dont have the
    time to read it right now.. My husband and I are going to drive the Mosel Valley and go to Worms and drive the Romantic Road to Munich. I was wondering if you could send me this trip report as an
    email so i could spend the time reading about your experience.
    I cannot print this out as this is.
    My email is: natjgc@aol.com

    If you can't do this, I'll understand.. Thanks natjgc

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    Oh artstuff- I too am sad to see your journey ends... It's been so much fun reading your trip report. Perhaps I don't even need to go visit at all since I have traveled Bavaria thru your most excellent descriptions! I just want to say again how much I enjoyed this and thank you so much for taking the time to write this (and taking such detail notes of your trip).

    I have a few questions (and comments) on your last day:

    1) The discount you got at Schloss Hohenschwangau - is that from having the Bavarian Castle Pass?

    2) How did you make a reservation for Schloss Neuschwanstein when you already have the Pass?

    3) Regarding your exchange with that woman from Utah - it goes to show that it's okay to have OCD when it comes to trip planning (I'm guilty as charge). I can't imagine paying $$$ and traveling thousands of miles to go to Europe and miss important sights!

    4) Interesting (and funny) observation about Hans and Franz!

    5) 2.5 liters of beer for each of you! Oh my goodness. I'm glad you made it back to the Pension.

    6) Lastly, I'm going to save your TR in a special folder. It'll be very handy and useful when I plan my trip in the future.

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    One more question:
    You mentioned that you bought your Bayern Ticket a day earlier. Did you do it using the ticket machines?

    When I was in Germany last year, I recall the machine gives you an option of which day you want the Bayern Ticket to be. But somehow I messed up (or the machine did) and I think the conductor on the train gave me some grief.

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    Hi Robyn,
    Still enjoying traveling along with you. I am very impressed that you did this all by public transport too.

    You are making me rethink our plans to hire a car. A few questions from me too: How much German do you speak? I know you put the RVO link on here but how did you plan out all the buses? Did you have all your days and travel times sorted before you left or did you just turn up and hope for the best? We do not speak any German and I am wondering how easy it will be to catch buses. We want to travel around the St Gilgen, Berchtesgarten and Garmisch area's so I am curious to see if that is possible without a car.
    Thanks.

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    Robyn - one more question. I understand the area you went was very scenic... But, after a week or so of seeing the same scenery, scenic towns and castles, did you ever feel like "everything looks the same"?

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    yk - I've really had a great time reliving our experiences by writing our trip report, and I'm so glad that you, and others, will be able to put it to good use.

    I must confess, when we were planning for this trip I posted a thread titled What's the temperature of beer in Germany?, where I stated, "We're not planning on drinking 2 liters of beer in one sitting,..." Well, I had to eat, or should I say, drink my words. It wasn't at all hard to drink 2 1/2 liters, because the beer was so good. And while we were feeling really good, we weren't really drunk. You can check out the beer thread below:

    http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34956141

    Now to answer your questions:

    1) The discount you got at Schloss Hohenschwangau - is that from having the Bavarian Castle Pass?

    Yes, it was a little bonus we weren't expecting. The Bavarian Castle Pass was such a great deal for us. If you buy one, just make sure you have your name printed on it, and the correct date!

    2) How did you make a reservation for Schloss Neuschwanstein when you already have the Pass?

    Since we were traveling in October we took our chances and didn't bother with reservations. One of the benefits of staying overnight in Hohenschwangau was being able to get to the ticket booth early in the morning, before the tourist buses arrived. We walked right up to the ticket booth and got booked on to the next English tour (given plenty of time to hike up the hill).

    One more question:
    You mentioned that you bought your Bayern Ticket a day earlier. Did you do it using the ticket machines?


    Yes, we used the ticket machines to purchase all of our tickets (except the Germany Eurail Pass). The machine does give you the option of choosing your date for the Länder Passes, so you can buy your tickets in advance.

    natjgc - Have you tried cutting & pasting the trip report (or only the sections that you're interested in) into a WORD document, using your right mouse button, and then printing it out? That's usually how I cull info from the Fodor's Forum when I'm planning a trip.

    Well, I only have one more day to write and post, which I hope to do this weekend, since it's supposed to be cold and rainy outside (the garden will have to wait).

    Thanks everyone, for allowing me to share my travels with you.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Maudie - Good day, good morning, please, thank you, good-by, and a few other words that Joseph Steiner tried to teach me on the train platform, are the extent of the words that I know in German. Most everyone that we came in contact with spoke English, and when they didn't, hand gestures and sketches on paper helped fill the language gap.

    As far as planning, I used the Bahn website for all of our public transport itineraries, including rail & bus.

    http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

    For each leg of travel I printed off itineraries with several options, in case we decided to stay somewhere an extra hour or two, we always knew when another train was coming along (sans the strike).

    I then included these itineraries in a packet that I prepared for each day of our journey, which also included photocopies of guide books, notes taken in WORD, hotel reservation info, and maps downloaded from mapquest.com All 17 days, individually clipped together, easily fit into a manilla envelope. Each morning I would pull out a packet, and we would be armed with info, and ready to go.

    My friend and her son recently visited Berchtesgaden by bus, from Salzburg, so I know that leg of your journey can be done (a quick search on the Bahn page came up with a 46 minute bus ride as an option).

    yk - ...after a week or so of seeing the same scenery, scenic towns and castles, did you ever feel like "everything looks the same"?

    Very interesting question. We were only in Germany for 17 days, and saw such a contrast in scenery from the Mosel to Bavaria, that we really didn't tire of it. We visited a lot of churches and castles, and some of them have blurred together in my mind - we must have seen five different "Hall of Mirrors", the next one just as impressive as the last.

    But luckily, we have very distinct remembrances about each place we visited (thanks to my journal), so even though five of the castles had Hall of Mirrors, our visits to each of those castles were different experiences.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Robyn,
    I thought you must have spoken fluent German to get around so easily! I will spend some time on the weekend going over our itinerary and seeing what I come up with.
    We have the same philosophy when it comes to trip organization - we were away for 8 weeks last year (if fact we were in Brugge today one year ago - sigh) and I did the same as you.

    Looking forward to your final hours in Germany, thanks again for your great report and kindness in sharing.

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    Robyn - You had me fooled also. I thought you and/or your husband speak some German. Now it's even better for me to know that I can follow your footsteps with tourist German! To be honest, when I was in Franconia last year, I was a bit surprised that quite a few of folks in the tourist industry didn't speak English (waitresses, museum guards etc), but I've always managed to get by okay. For some reason, I find German easier to decipher than Spanish...

    Will you be posting some pictures? Would love to see them.

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    Somehow I missed the beginning of this report, but in a way, it ws a blessing. I got to read it almost in its completed form. I have really enjoyed reading this and sharing your adventures. Thanks for being so complete. I second the request to post your pictures.

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    Day Seventeen (25 Oct, Thursday, MVV All Zone Pass) - MUNICH, NYC, HOME

    I awoke early from a freaky science-fiction nightmare, which kept me from falling back to sleep, so I was feeling sluggish when I hastily packed our luggage and prepared for our final few hours in Munich and Germany.

    We both enjoyed our last typical-German breakfast buffet provided by Peter, and then we were off to the Goetheplatz, where we purchased our MVV All Zone Pass for the day’s public transport. The U-line to the Marienplatz was incredibly full; we were literally crushed into the U-bahn car. I was glad we were only going two stops to the Marienplatz.

    They say you don’t really own beer - you rent it - and since we had leased a lot of liquid the night before, we were both relieved to use the free, but foul-smelling, public water closet which is located in the bowels of the Marienplatz station. We had both become quite familiar with this WC during our stay in Munich, since we had “rented” many beers.

    We strolled down the Kaufingerstrasse, which turns into the Neuhauserstrasse, and stopped briefly at the Deutsches Jagd und Fischereimuseum (Museum of Hunting & Fishing) to look at the brass wildlife posed outside. A few doors down was the tower less, renaissance St. Michaelskirche (c.1585-97), which houses a crypt containing the remains of 40+ members of the Wittelsbach family, including Bavaria’s beloved castle builder, King Ludwig II. We paid the Euro 2,00 entrance each, and paid homage to the man that sent us on our travels to visit four of his five homes (not counting the “little shack” in the mountains). We figured our journey wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t visit his final resting place.

    Afterwards, we zigged and zagged our way through the streets of Munich, stopping at a few souvenir shops along the way, until we arrived on Sendlingerstrasse, at the Church of St. Johann Nepomuk, named for a monk who drowned in the Danube, but better known as the Asamkirche (c.1733-46), named after the brothers who built this incredibly opulent Baroque masterpiece. The entrance way is enveloped by craggy formations that seem to erupt from the ground, which transform into a sleek upright foundation. A sculpture of St. Nepomuk rests above the doorway. Inside, every square inch of the church is covered by gold gilt, swirling rose marble, statues and frescoes. We have visited numerous churches on our journey, but this was perhaps the most over-the-top creation in the name of God that we experienced! It was stunningly beautiful. The gilt skeleton was one of the best “skeletons in churches” that I photographed.

    It was after 11:00, and we had to get back to the hotel to grab our luggage and head to the airport, so we took one final walk around the Marienplatz before heading to the U-Bahn station. When we arrived at the platform we were shocked to see the vast amount of people waiting for the train. There was a message on the electronic board, in German of course, about the S-Bahn trains, so we asked a young woman what was going on. She informed us that all of the S-Bahn trains were shut down due to the rail strike. The U-line wasn’t involved, which is why it was so crowded. But even worse yet, we needed to take the S-Bahn to the München Flughafen (Munich Airport) in order to fly home today. (If the trains aren’t running, does that mean we don’t have to go home?)

    After a very scary and claustrophobic ride to the Goetheplatz (I could barely breathe), we were back at our pension, where we were able to look over the timetable schedules I had downloaded from the Bahn.de website before we left on our journey. We were glad to see there was a bus that runs every 20 minutes to the airport, so we had Peter call us a taxi, we paid our bill and said good-bye, and then we were off to the Hauptbahnhof (Euro 10,00).

    Once we got to the train station we inquired at the information desk, where we learned that although the S-Bahn was indeed down due to the strike, the S-8 to the airport was still running. WHEW! It was two minutes before noon when we left the Hauptbahnhof, and within 45 minutes we were at the Munich airport, with a little direction from a flight attendant who helped us when we had to change trains half way through our trip.

    We easily navigated our way through the airport, where we were able to use the Easy Check-In to get our boarding passes, and then we dropped off our checked luggage and headed to security check-in with our carry-on bags. I obediently displayed my 3-1-1 bag of liquids to the inspector, and was expecting to be waived on, but instead was told there was a “suspicious item” in my bag, and I would have to unpack it. In all my times flying, I have never had a problem with security. I was feeling a bit mortified – I had a flash-vision of being dragged away in handcuffs to be interrogated, but even more terrifying was that the three wiessen glasses we had bought at the Hofbrauhaus for souvenirs were gently packed in the bag, wrapped in our dirty underware.

    Luckily, the inspector showed me the x-ray of the bag, and I immediately knew what it was that had made the alarms go off. In my groggy haste to pack this morning, I forgot to remove the little cosmetic bag with my moleskin, folding scissors (with hidden knife), and our corkscrew, that I had packed for our two-night jaunt through Ludwig-land. I was ready and willing to surrender my suspicious items just so I could get on my way. Instead, the inspector inspected them, and then called over another guard, who looked at the items carefully, looked at me, and then asked me if I was an American. I hesitantly said “yes”, and then she handed my items back, told me to have a nice trip, and then waived me on. Needless to say, I was shocked and relieved.

    We had an hour to spare until boarding the plane, so we found a little bar/café in the terminal, where we ordered up two 0.33 liters of wissenbier, our last in Germany. As we sat there, remembering some of the highlights of our holiday, and lamenting that our trip was over, we realized that all the folks sitting around us who were eating were using silverware – not plastic knives and forks, but metal ones. Oh no… does that mean there was another inspector to get past?

    Sure enough, there was another security check point before we could board the plane. This time I was prepared, and not only did I have my 3-1-1 bag displayed, I had my scissors & corkscrew in my hand, ready to surrender. I explained to the inspector my error in packing while she was x-raying the contents of my carry-on. She carefully inspected the “suspicious items”, then she studied the x-ray screen, and then she took a good look at me, before returning her glance back to the x-ray of my carry-on. Suddenly a smile came across her face as she approvingly exclaimed, “wiessen glassen”!! I was elated when she handed me my items and carry-on bag, bid me “auf wiedersehen”, and then waived me on my way. I guess in Germany, beer truly is a universal language.

    We boarded the plane at 14:30 and spent the next half hour watching an annoying little man trying to sit in other people’s seats. Apparently he didn’t want to sit next to his wife, who was behind us, so he just took another empty seat in the plane, which was still being boarded. I suppose that would be okay if the plane wasn’t filled to capacity, but, as it turned out, there wasn’t an empty seat to spare on this flight. We watched twice as he ignored the passengers who tried to sit in their assigned seats… as if they would go away if he didn’t acknowledge them. He was eventually booted from both seats, and had to spend the duration of the flight sitting next to his wife…. poor woman.

    Our flight on Lufthansa was in a “346” aircraft, which we found to have an excellent lay-out of their bathrooms, which were located downstairs. There were five stalls, and an area where you could get as much drinking water as you needed. A “green-light, red-light” system at the top of the stairwell let you know when a stall was vacant. It was nice to give our legs the exercise of walking up and down the steps during the long flight home.

    Dinner was Chicken Teriyaki, which was standard airplane food, and the in flight movie was Evan Almighty (glad I don’t have to watch that again). The flight attendants were very generous with the fluids, and not just the alcoholic beverages. They were constantly serving us juice, soda, water, etc… We can’t remember ever being on a flight before where we felt so hydrated.

    We arrived at JFK airport in New York ahead of schedule, around 18:00 EST, but spent the next 30-45 minutes sitting on the tarmac waiting for space to clear so the pilot could park the plane. By the time we retrieved our luggage and made our way through immigration and customs it was nearly 19:30. JFK has got to be one of the most inefficient airports around. I don’t know why we keep flying out of here.

    We were excited to see my brother, Charles, waiting for us at the gate. It was warm and balmy in New York as we left the airport and headed back to the Poconos of Pennsylvania. We talked non-stop for the three hour drive home, sharing our stories of travel with fresh enthusiasm. As we pulled into the driveway the headlights on the car illuminated our two cats, Stevie & Gordon, who were waiting on the porch for us. It was a wonderful 17 day vacation… but it was still good to get home again, to our own bed and pillows.

    THE END

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    Danke! Danke! Danke!

    ...for all your kind replies, and taking the time to read my quite lengthy trip report (WORD stats: 44 pages, 353 paragraphs, 23,191 words).

    But more importantly, danke schön to the many people here at Fodor's who helped us with our planning. I was really happy when I saw some of your names pop up as replies to my post. We couldn't have done it without your help.

    From the time I was a toddler I can remember my mother writing in her journal about our travels around the United States. Naturally, when I got older I started keeping my own travel journals. But now, thanks to the computer, it allows me to be more fanatical with my thoughts and memories.

    Thanks all, for joining in.

    Robyn :)>-

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    artstuff: I just saw the link to your report in another posting and have printed off for my leisurely reading. It looks very similar to trip we did last September except we didn't make it to Munich. We are going back to Germany and also Austria this September, starting in Munich and ending in Austria. We loved Germany and are looking forward to seeing more of it this year.

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    Thanks, winnick, for taking the time to post. I hope you enjoy reading my trip report. It's been a couple of years since I posted it, so I started reading it again and remembering some events I had forgotten about!

    We just got back from 8 nights in the Black Forest and Schwabische Alb, so I'll be working on a trip report - before I forget some of those special events.

    Enjoy your time travelling in Bavaria and Austria.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Both my husband and I read your trip report last night - it was fantastic. We both really enjoyed reliving some of the places we visited last year and have us looking forward to some of places we will be seeing this year when we return to Germany.

    Thanks for a well written enjoyable read.

    We look forward to your report from the Black Forest and Schwabische Alb.

    Karen

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    Thank you, atfox1 & winnick, for your kind replies. I'm glad you enjoyed my trip report.

    atfox1 - That's so cool that you are booking with Edith. I do hope that you enjoy your stay with her as much as we did.

    Happy travels!

    Robyn :)>-

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    Loving the report. Heading to Germany in September. LOL, I travel with my own pillow. Willing to wear black every day just to have that pillow and my good nights rest :) Hubs and I agree, the planning (something we start almost immediately upon return home from last trip) is more than half the excitment of the trip. I shouldn't be doing anything on this trip yet because my piles of notes and half written trip report from last year remain unfinished. Life-a parent that had to be moved to assisted living, a wedding and 3 graduations....that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

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    Hey, LuvToRoam, thanks for reading my report and responding. I do hate when LIFE gets in the way of LIVING. It sure sounds like you have a lot on your plate, but I do hope you enjoy your trip to Germany in September. It's a beautiful time of the year to visit, with all the flower boxes overflowing with colors.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Many thanks for some of the links I had lost when my computer crashed awhile back... They will prove useful in 10 weeks!!!

    And we all APPRECIATE how much time you devoted to generate this TR...

    ((B))

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    You're welcome, Travelforbeer. It was my pleasure to write the trip report, both to share with the readers who come to Fodors and for my own personal memories. It's always fun to go back and read the reports after a couple of years. There is usually something written in them that we forgot about.

    Hope you have a great time on your upcoming journey to Germany.

    Robyn :)>-

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    Robyn the overflowing flower boxes are about half the shots I take on vacation, just love those. We reference our trip reports all the time, they are the best time capsules! Your report finally kicked me in the butt to finish up our Rome report and so I can now, utterly guilt free, delve in to Germany!!! Yea, in 69 days I'll be trading in the reds for the whites ;) The full side of dealing with an aging parent is you are totally reminded that you need to put those legs to good use while you still have them. Castles on high, here we come!

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