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Trip Report Trip Report - Germany and Austria May 2005

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First, my husband and I are in our mid-50's, no children, just a dog. Not big on the nightlife and enjoy good food, but don't go in for expensive gourmet meals. On Thursday, 5 May, we flew over to Frankfurt on American Airlines from Houston via DFW. Upgraded to Business Class on the way over using miles and $$. Well worth it in my opinion. Arrived on time in Frankfurt and took a short taxi ride to the Avis office in Kelsterbach to pick up our rental car. Cost of the taxi was under 20 Euro including tip. Got an Opel Astra 1.7 diesel 4-door which held all of our luggage just perfectly. Off to Beilstein --- in the rain.

BEILSTEIN: Spent 3 days at the Hotel Haus Lipmann. (See my separate posting on hotel reviews.) It rained off and on the entire time but we still managed to see as much as our jet-lagged bodies would allow. Spent our first day just wandering around the little river town of Beilstein. What a gem. Had a delicious lunch at our hotel and dinner at a small Italian place close to the hotel. Turned in early.

The second day, we got some money at the ATM in nearby Bruttig before heading off to Cochem. We first went to an internet café to send some pictures home to friends. With a little break in the weather, we decided to wander the streets of Cochem. The many narrow streets in the Altstadt were really crowded with tourists and locals alike. Unfortunately, the rain intensified so instead of going on to Burg Eltz, we returned to our hotel. Later, we walked up to the castle ruins of Burg Metternich. This is a fantastic vantage point for viewing the river and surrounding area. Dinner that night was at another Lipmann property, the Altes Zollhaus.

Sunday, we went to Burg Eltz with an American couple we met at breakfast. They had been training their way around Germany and Austria, using Rick Steves' book as a guide. We offered to take them to the ATM in Bruttig and then go on to Burg Eltz. We followed the advice Rick Steves' gives in his book so we only had a short 15-minute walk to the Castle. What a breathtaking walk it was too! If you do nothing else while visiting the Mosel or Rhine River areas, you must see Burg Eltz. It was one of the highlights of our trip. Our tour was in German but when you buy your ticket, you can get a little guide that's in English. We stopped back in Cochem for lunch and a quick walk around. Most of the shops were open which surprised us. Back in Beilstein, my husband and I decided to walk up to the Karmelitenkirche since the rain had once again abated. A lovely church famous for the Black Madonna and Child left there by the fleeing Spaniards in the 16th century. Dinner this evening was at the Haus Burg Metternich Hotel. They had the most wonderful warm Apfelstrudel with Vanilla Ice Cream and Whipped cream! Yum! I wish I had some right now!

BAD WIMPFEN: This morning we drove through some lovely German countryside towards Heidelberg and our eventual destination of Bad Wimpfen on the Neckar River. Along the way, we saw a lot of castles ' some in ruins, some not. Arrived at the Hotel Neckarblick early afternoon and decided to wander the streets of Bad Wimpfen. It was obvious that this place is not on the tourist radar, but it certainly should be. We were overwhelmed by all of the beautifully maintained half timbered buildings and the two medieval towers, the Blauer Turm and the Roter Turm, dating from around 1200, as well as the remains of the Imperial Palace. Everywhere you turned was another fantastic photo opportunity. But, the shops were all closed. In every town we visited on this trip, the shops would close at 1 PM and not reopen until 3 PM. Then, everything except the hotels and restaurants would shut down for the night at 6 PM.

The next day, we drove about 45 minutes to Schwaebisch Hall, a much larger and more spread out city that was very prosperous in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries due to its salt mines. There is a fabulous town square with the Rathaus and St. Michel's Lutheran Church. Down along the Kocher River is another picture postcard view looking at the half timbered houses that back up to the river. After lunch, we toured the church and then headed back to Bad Wimpfen for another lovely walk around town.

Our last day trip was to Dinkelsbuhl, a little over an hour away from Bad Wimpfen. Once we parked, we walked around this 'mini Rothenburg' as it's been described. However, the locals think that Dinkelsbuhl is better because so much of the town is original. I found it to be beautiful, but busy. A lot of car traffic that you don't seem to have in Rothenburg. Anyway, we took some great photos, had a bite of lunch and then returned to Bad Wimpfen.

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