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A still, a hooker and a Dodo bird. Paris and Oberkirch.

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Dec 3rd, 2013, 03:16 AM
  #1
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A still, a hooker and a Dodo bird. Paris and Oberkirch.

Two farm kid high school sweethearts celebrate 35 years of marriage in Europe. 3 days in The Black Forest and 9 days in Paris. I planned the whole trip from Fodor's forums, Trip Advisor forums and a couple of guide books. My mantra is 'attitude is everything', so I tried to travel with nukesafe's class, kerouac's experience, LucieV's sense of humor, santamonica's wisdom, St.Cirq's intellegence,OB1's wine free days,maitaitoms trip report humor, and most importantly like Cold_up_here, I don't add up the cost of the trip. Ever. I am a bad speller and worse at grammer so if that bothers you drive on by. I type like I talk, whatever I think comes out.
We still live in rural USA. The county in which we reside is about 180 square miles. There are less than 14,000 residents in the whole county. Paris proves to be a little more crowded than that.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 03:29 AM
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I'm the trip planner. Always have been, probably always will be. My vacation does not start until I set my luggage on the hotel bed. I have a plan A, plan B, and a credit card plan C. I know I should enjoy the journey but I enjoy the execution of plan A more than the journey itself. I know it is a stupid thing to enjoy, especially when I am at the mercy of airlines and on this trip, European train and bus lines.

Plan A.
Fly Delta from MSP directly to Paris CDG landing at 8:30, hop onto the TGV at 12:30 to Strasbourg, take a bus into Oberkirch and a cab to the hotel, about 1 1/2 miles from the bus station, up the mountain in the Black Forest region of Germany.

Hunkee doree, land early, fly through immigration, pick up our bag and could have made the 8:30 train to Strasbourg. That O.K., there's one at 10:30. They want $140. Euros for two tickets on the 10:30 train. I'll wait. Get to the Strasbourg station around 3:00 and my Andrews chip and pin credit card will not work in the machine to purchase bus passes. Miss the bus. The next bus is in 90 minutes. After that there is a 60 minute wait to catch the following bus into Oberkirch. It will be too dark to see by the time we arrive, not in the plan.

Plan B.
The train. Neither I nor the agent in Strasbourg can purchase train tickets to Oberkirch. WTF. I have never been to Oberkirch and I want to get to the hotel before dark. We can get tickets to every surrounding town but not to Oberkirch.

Plan C.
Avis. Visa. Where is the light switch? Wipers? What kind of fuel did he say? The Renault was great, a SUV type of vehicle. Strasbourg is busy, and crowded. I am from the farm, these people are in a hurry. They like to blow their horns. There is road construction everywhere. I wish the iPhone had a bigger screen. Much bigger, damn, missed the freeway exit and there is no place to turn around, or pull over the get my bearings and new directions. Head east is all I know, and we get to Oberkirch. There is road construction in Oberkirch, and the train tracks are tore up. That is why we could not buy tickets in France to the town. We see the castle ruins on the mountain and I remember that the hotel is a little south of the ruins. So north we go. I should mention that I brought along my compass(thanks Kerouac)and used it every day on this trip. We find the hotel before dark(yea, just like I planned )and I throw my luggage onto the bed, 21 hours after leaving home. It took my great,great grandfather Friedrich, the immigrant ziggypop, weeks to make that journey.

Guten Tag, I'm your American cousin, what's for dinner?
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 04:53 AM
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Great start!
As a fellow trip planner I await the rest of the report.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 05:40 AM
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Looks like this is going to be a great read!
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:15 AM
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Along for the ride!
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 08:57 AM
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ttt
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 09:36 AM
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I'm jumping along for the ride too! Great start and I'm looking forward to reading more!
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Thanks for the support, I will get back to the report asap. I see I already made a mistake. The county where we live is about 1,800 square miles, not 180. Still only 13,500 residents though.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 10:34 AM
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I await the rest with baited breath!
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 11:02 AM
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Do you have fish hooks in your mouth, nuke? Generally, if you are holding your breath, it has abated, so it becomes bated breath. (No, I am not picking on you, because I know that you know this -- but I think that a lot of people do not, so it's always good to have a grammatical reminder from time to time.)
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 12:06 PM
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You are correct, Kerouac. I did spell it wrong but, in my (weak) defense, here is a bit I found on Google:

"The correct spelling is actually bated breath but it’s so common these days to see it written as baited breath that there’s every chance that it will soon become the usual form, to the disgust of conservative speakers and the confusion of dictionary writers. Examples in newspapers and magazines are legion; this one appeared in the Daily Mirror on 12 April 2003: “She hasn’t responded yet but Michael is waiting with baited breath”.

Be that as it may, I still want to read the rest of Ziggy's trip report.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 12:53 PM
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Oberkirch.

"Black Forest and Vines. Enjoy and Live"

The town motto. It is fitting. A town of about 20,000 not centered in tourism, just a working mans town. Tractors running up and down the one lane mountain streets(one lane, not one way) I feel at home. The town is full of half timbered homes and none of them are in sad shape. The mountain(Mooskopf) has an altitude of 871 meters. Every inch of it seems to have a fruit tree or a vine growing on it. It also has a castle ruins, the Schaeunburg ruin, which I think dates to the year 1050. There is a hiking trail circling the castle and a hiker passes by as we are there. The Black Forest portion of this trip was about walking on the homestead of my great-great-great grandfathers' farm. It is still in the family. They grow grapes for some of the best wine in the Ortenau region of Germany. They also have a permit for a distillery, and make apple schnapps and cherry schnapps. The permit and the recipe have been handed down for all of these generations as well. I am an alcoholic in recovery so I know I insulted the hosts by not drinking any of their wine or schnapps. I did help myself to extra pieces of Black Forest cake though . This part of the trip went as well as it could have, expecially with the language barrier. Christoph, their 23 year old son spoke pretty good English so he was kind enough to translate for us. Thankyou iPhone app i-translate.

We also visited a 1400's gothic Catholic church in Lautenbach and went to mass in Oberkirch in a church that has been attended by my family since the 1600's. I can't explain why but a very spiritual experience for me.

Gengenbach.
The old town(tourist area) is walled and has a Saturday market. I had the best bratwurst I have ever eaten at this market. The lady selling the brats has a daughter going to college in Chicago, so she has experienced 'midwestern nice". The midwest has nothing on these German towns. Even with my limited language skills I encountered nothing but very nice people on my whole vacation.

Hotel: The Gasbacher Hof

The Gaisbacher Hof is exactly the kind of hotel you hope to find when you travel to a small town. Clean, on site restaurant with a motivated chef doing the cooking,very friendly staff, and many types of beer on tap and wine.(even nonalcoholic beer!) and free breakfast. As far as a home base and a Black Forest Hotel, it is going to be hard to beat the Gaisbacher Hof. Easy to find and cheap also.
www.gaisbacherhof.de.

Damn, missed the freeway exit again.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:31 PM
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It is always an extraordinary experience to return to one's ancestral roots.

On the French side of the Rhine as well, people have ancestral distilling permits, fewer and fewer as the years go by. Just about all of them are in the grandfather's name, even though the grandfather died 20 or 30 years ago.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:34 PM
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ziggypop, this is great! I hope it's a long trip.

Now I'll go check to see if you've done any previous trip reports.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 01:44 PM
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this is going to be fun!
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 02:10 PM
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I'm also checking for previous trip reports. This is already sooo good. We were in Oberkirch 5 years's ago.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:04 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement.

Micheline, I thought Oberkirch was a very busy town. We saw two houses that need a little work, otherwise every house looked just painted.

Kerouac, they told me that one family member is allowed to keep the distilling permit. It gets passed down from one generation to the next.

A couple of things about Karl and Rosa, the cousins that own the homestead. They are both 82 years old and still walk up the mountain to help with the grape vines. We brought a picture book of Minnesota as a gift for them and they were enthralled with water towers. Looking back I don't recall seeing one in Germany. They also were wondering about the USA's reported spying agency NSA, and how much I knew about it. After I told them that I wished the NSA would help me with my computer passwords they laughed it off and changed the subject.
It was apple harvest time and there were unattended fruit stands set up all over town with a price list and a can or box to deposit your money on the honor system. It reminded me of my home town.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:12 PM
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Ziggy Hits Paris.

That would make a great movie.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:29 PM
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Strasbourg.

We left Oberkirch on the 18th of November with the intention of taking the TGV to Paris. There was road construction everywhere we drove and we were delayed for a while on the road.(just like Minnesota)I had the route memorized but between Kiln and Strasbourg there was a little detour and I missed the entrance for the freeway(ring road?) for the fast lane to the train station. Damn. We drove through the center of a very busy, very crowded Strasbourg and I could not get to the train station from the streets that we were on. My wife is a sweetheart, but she can not navigate to save her soul. Not one little bit can she navigate. She also does not like to drive in tense situations. Long story short, it took about two hours longer than it should have taken to drop off the rental car at the train station and make our way to see the beautiful cathedral. They close for lunch so we did not get to go inside. A camera does not do the exterior justice.

The museum also is closed on Mondays. We walked in with a private tour of Asian tourists but were politely escorted to the door, and out the door, by the staff who then shut the door immediatly behind us. Honestly, she almost hit me in the a$$ with the door.
The TGV was uneventful, until we got to Gare Le Est.
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Dec 3rd, 2013, 07:38 PM
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Irresistable title. Great report. Waiting for more, but breathing.
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