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

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

Old Apr 26th, 2008, 11:39 AM
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Beautiful.
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Old Apr 26th, 2008, 12:54 PM
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Frame it! Now that is how to write a travel Journal!

Wonderful Journey, Artstuff!
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 04:06 AM
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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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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 05:53 AM
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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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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 10:45 AM
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artstuff, I'm hoping that you're not done posting your report! Surely there are a few more days of your trip. This is quite an enjoyable read.
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Old Apr 27th, 2008, 05:46 PM
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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.

<b>Zeus</b> - We usually travel with a 24&quot; x 14&quot; x 9&quot; rolling suitcase for each of us, along with an 11&quot; x 14&quot; x 8&quot; 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 &quot;school bus&quot;.

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 &quot;training&quot; a try some time.

Robyn &gt;-



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Old May 1st, 2008, 03:27 AM
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<b>Day Sixteen</b> (24 Oct, Wednesday, Bayern L&auml;nder 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 <b>Hohenschwangau</b>, 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 <b>Schloss Hohenschwangau</b> (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 &amp; 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 <b>Schloss Neuschwanstein</b> 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 &amp; 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 Marienbr&uuml;ke, 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 <b>May Pole</b> 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 <b>F&uuml;ssen</b>. We used a Bayern L&auml;nder 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 <b>Stadt Apotheke</b> was especially impressive. On the <b>Reichenstrasse</b>, which was lined with patrician’s houses containing storefronts, we found the <b>Stadtbrunner</b> fountain, with a statue memorializing St. Magnus. Close to the fountain, imbedded into the cobblestones of the road, is an engraved strip, marking the <b>Via Claudia Augusta</b>, 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 <b>Nordsee</b>, 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 <b>Monastery of St. Mang</b>, 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 <b>Munich</b>, and Peter at the <b>Pension Westfalia</b>, 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 <b>Hofbrauhaus</b>. 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 &amp; 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 &amp; 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/
F&uuml;ssen - http://www.fuessen.de/
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Old May 1st, 2008, 04:40 AM
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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: [email protected]

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

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Old May 1st, 2008, 06:20 AM
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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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Old May 1st, 2008, 06:44 AM
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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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Old May 1st, 2008, 03:55 PM
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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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Old May 1st, 2008, 04:04 PM
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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 &quot;everything looks the same&quot;?
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Old May 1st, 2008, 04:54 PM
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<b>yk</b> - 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 <b>What's the temperature of beer in Germany?</b>, where I stated, <i>&quot;We're not planning on drinking 2 liters of beer in one sitting,...&quot;</i> 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 <u>really</u> good, we weren't really drunk. You can check out the beer thread below:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34956141

Now to answer your questions:

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

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, <u>and the correct date!</u>

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

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).

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

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 L&auml;nder Passes, so you can buy your tickets in advance.

<b>natjgc</b> - Have you tried cutting &amp; 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 &gt;-
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Old May 1st, 2008, 06:00 PM
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<b>Maudie</b> - 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 &amp; 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).

<b>yk</b> - <i>...after a week or so of seeing the same scenery, scenic towns and castles, did you ever feel like &quot;everything looks the same&quot;?</i>

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 &quot;Hall of Mirrors&quot;, 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 &gt;-

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Old May 1st, 2008, 06:34 PM
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Thank you, I have copied your report
Did you know that this report is 61 pages! The information will be very helpful. natjgc
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Old May 1st, 2008, 11:51 PM
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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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Old May 2nd, 2008, 06:56 AM
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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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Old May 2nd, 2008, 07:37 AM
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bookmarking
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 01:00 PM
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Wonderful! Thank you so much.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 03:54 PM
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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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