Germany Trip Report - March 2004

Apr 11th, 2005, 04:42 PM
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Germany Trip Report - March 2004

I have received so much wonderful information from this forum that I would like to share the some of the details of the trip I took with my daughter, Nadia last year before she entered into the Air Force. We planned our trip on the info I found in this forum. Many thanks to all...especially Bavarian Ben who not only provided excellent information, but also put a big smile on my face every time I entered his website and heard the oompah music!

Our first 2 days were spent in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. What a lovely, lovely place! We landed in Frankfurt and it was about a 2.5 hour drive - Autobahn most of the way. It took us a while to figure out how to get into the city walls, and then it got REALLY interesting. There are loads of one way and pedestrian only streets...not to mention dead-ends on streets so narrow that you have to back out the entire length (hoping not to hit the stray dog that was determined to commit suicide under my wheels. Nadia kept trying to "shoo" him away, but stray dog only understood German...it took the trusty phrase book to communicate with the pup). Finding our hotel (Klosterstuble) was abit difficult as well, but find it we did and it only took us another 45 minutes to find a parking spot. We got settled in and went to an outdoor cafe where we ate spatzel mit kase und speck (noodles with cheese and bacon - yum) had my first German beer - a Pils. We then did what all red-blooded American girls do - went shopping! Nadia was on a mission to find the perfect cuckoo clock. After about 4 hours, we went to a weinstubbe and sampled some very tasty wines...you get a series of 5 for 4 euro. The meal there was wonderful as well...roast pork with chantrelles in cream sauce. We trudged back to the hotel and fell into bed.

On day 2, we got up early and had the "typical" German breakfast - coldcuts, cheese, bread, and yogurt. Now bologna hasn't passed these lips in about 30 years, but throw a couple of pistashios in the sausage and you can call it gourmet...I really enjoyed it! It was quite early and the shops weren't open yet, so Nadia and I walked the wall of the city - very interesting. The architecture and rooftops of the buildings are just amazing. It was a very sunny and crisp day...perfect for the walk. By lunchtime, we found the shop with the perfect cuckoo clock and the perfect price at Annaliese Friese Shop. She mailed it home for us. We then strolled through the Castle Gardens and discovered that it was a very short distance from our hotel. There is a very large clock that chimes on the hour and half hour close by...more on that later. After shopping some more (Kathe Wolfhart?), we decided to try the town delicacy - the schneeball. Now why there are about 15 bakeries specializing in this rather bland pastry, I cannot tell you. This is essentially strips of pie dough that is somehow formed into a ball and then sugared or dipped in chocolate. We couldn't figure out how it bakes evenly and decided that it is the "Mystery of the Schneeball" and the secret is passed on generation by generation. (again...why???). Two glasses of “ice” wine at our favorite outside cafe and then we rolled down the hill and had dinner at our hotel. I can't remember what I had, but I'm pretty sure it was very good. I found that I really do like German wine, even though its mostly white...I also found that you can't "keep up" with your 24 year-old daughter when you are basically a 2 glass max person. Onward to bed with a slight headache brewing. Sometime during the night, nature nudged me from my wine induced slumber and I ambled to the WC. Returning to bed, I heard a single chime of the aforementioned clock. Being the "systems" person that I am, I pondered the pattern...it could be on a half-hour or perhaps one o'clock. Did I look at my watch? Heck no...I waited for the next chime...another single one. Hmmmmm...this could mean that the former chime was either 12:30 OR 1:00. Did I look at my watch? HECK NO...I waited for the next chime...ANOTHER SINGLE ONE. Okay...now I knew that the first chime was 12:30, the second one want 1:00, and this third was 1:30. Tossing and turning, I heard 2 chimes, then one, then 3, then one, then 4, then one, then 5...Needless to say, the drive to Garmisch was going to be a very long one.

Regrets - other than the wine, I have one. We were in Rothenburg on March 29 and 30. The marionette theatre and the Night Watchman's tours do not start until April 1. I wish we were able to do both of these things.


sandyd is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 04:45 PM
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Days 3 thru 5 - yes the trip to Garmisch was rather long...we made the wrong turn twice due to road construction. It seemed that we were driving forever and not really seeing any remarkable scenery (keep in mind that due to the season, there were no beautiful blankets of snow and the greening of spring had not yet happened). I was anxious to see the Alps and it was puzzling to me that even within 20 km of GAP, I still wasn't seeing mountains. I was preparing myself to be 'not-impressed'. Well...down this very winding road we went and at the bottom I looked up and BAM!! Alps!! Really breathtaking! All of the towns along the way looked like something out of Heidi (the Shirley Temple version - she was the REAL Heidi). We stayed in Partenkirchen at a place called Gasthaus Fraundorfer. We stayed here for 3 nights. Every night they have "Tyrolean Evening" - complete with yodeling and slap-dancing. This was a very good time. Nadia liked it so well that we ate supper there all 3 nights. We got to meet and party with folks at our table...and other tables. This place was great! Antlers all over the wall. A table reserved for Stamisch (regular patrons). Heavy food. Lots of beer (I stopped on the wine). The next morning we went to Neuschwanstein and Hogschwangau (sp?). We determined that Ludwig II was one wacky dude and decided to dedicate our trip to touring his castles. We tried to go up the Zugspitze that afternoon, but missed the last train by about 10 minutes. We drove to Mittenwald and I bought myself a Hummel. The next day was too cloudy to go up the Zugspitze, but we did go to Ludwig's Linderof (the Venus Grotto was amazing!), Wieskirche, and Oberammergau. While one of the shops gave me an excellent deal on a carved Nativity set, I decided to pass and pocket the $600. I'm really very fond of the porcelain set that we've had for over 20 years now. Upon our return to GAP, it was a bit early to grab our seat for the Tyrolean Evening, so we walked to the Garmisch side of GAP and found the casino. We were informed that we were not dressed appropriately for Roulette, upstairs, but we were welcome to hit the slots downstairs. Having saved $600 dollars earlier in the day (Steve keeps telling me that not spending money is not necessarily saving it), I decided to throw caution to the wind and put 10 euro in a machine. Picking the max combinations to win and hitting the automatic button, all I had to do was sit there and watch my 10 euro drain - but wait!! The tally was climbing! 50...65...85...90...80...75...omigod! How do you stop the auto pilot!?!? I punched enough buttons to finally get it to stop...at 73.50 euro. JOY! But...how do you get the money out of the machine? Everything was written in German and our handy phrase book did not have gambling vocab. Not wanting to leave the machine that had my treasure in its bowels, I sent Nadia off to find someone...anyone...who could show me how to liberate my booty. A not so friendly German guy came by, rolled his eyes and pushed the magic button (you must understand that since I didn't know what button I pushed to stop the decline, I was petrified that if I experimented I would lose EVERYTHING...funny how attached you become to money that you didn't even have 10 minutes prior). Feeling extremely wealthy, I offered to buy Nadia dinner since I never would have gotten my money without her help. We quickly walked home with visions of slap dancing on our mind. Wait! What is that bus doing in front of the Gasthaus? OH NO!! A busload of Japanese businessmen! Quick...run inside and get a seat. This was a very interesting cultural event...one observation...the Japanese smoke about 10 times more than the Germans.

Regrets? Zugspitze. Oh...and a small altercation between my car and the gate to the Gasthaus...a dent in the bumper for which I am still waiting for the damage estimate quote (fortunately, my VISA will cover the damage).

sandyd is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 04:47 PM
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Days 6 thru 8 - A very chilly morning and we are on our way to Berchtesgaden. On the way we stop at Herrenchimsee, Ludwig's 4th castle which is on an island in the middle of the Chimesee Lake. Very opulent...the guy was really crazy, but in a most fascinating way. I'm thinking that I would love to meet him at a dinner party, but would not want him for a relative. The remaining drive to B-gdn was uneventful. We had a bit of a problem finding the Gaesthaus Alpina, but Nadia used her formidable powers of deduction in finding the address at the Tourist Office and then asked for directions at the friendly neighborhood gas station. Well...in the advertisement for this Gaesthaus (note the different spelling from Fraundorfer), it boasted balconies with views of Mount Waltzman, Germany's 2nd highest peak, and that it was situated across from a picturesque creek - both true. What it didn't say is that the train from Salzburg ran directly under the balcony (I'm serious) and that since its also on a blind curve right before it gets the the B-gdn bahnhof, that it lets out an ear piercing whistle - twice (just in case the first one didn't sufficiently jar you from a deep sleep). Also, we received lessons in how to drive across the parking lot (and train tracks) so we would not be creamed by the train going TO Salzburg as it does not do the whistle warning. 24 euro per person per night...a real bargain. Once we figured out that the last whistle was at 11:30pm and the first was 5:30 am, we were much better prepared to handle it. The next day (surprisingly, we got up around 5:30) we headed to Salzburg. The rain was pouring with no indication that it would ever let up. The temperature also dropped significantly. Since the train station was so close, we thought that might be a good way to go to Salzburg since we drove so much the day before. What we found was this...its a 25 minute drive to a free parking lot in Salzburg. The train took 90 minutes with one change and a bus to the old town. It didn't matter...once we got to the old town, it was so lovely that the trip was insignificant. Did I say it was still raining? Yep...a bit lighter, however much chillier. We found the wonderful narrow street that was filled with really cool shops. There was also an internet cafe, so we used the opportunity to send Steve an email and let him know when we were returning on Thursday. WE FOUND THE EGG SHOP...remember this was the week before EASTER...it was awesome!! Thousands and thousands of intricately decorated hollow eggs. Since it was so early in the day, we decided to delay our egg shopping spree and continue with our sight seeing. We had lunch at a cafe with a Hollywood theme. I had the first truly wonderful salad since arriving in Germany (maybe because it was an Austrian salad??). We walked around the square and Nadia decided to see the fort. Since I was a bit overwhelmed with castles and such, I opted for a tour of the cemetery and catacombs. FASCINATING!! I also toured a church and saw an exhibit of painted icons. Beautiful. I went back to the square to meet Nadia. I got a wonderful almond pretzel from a vendor and watched the human chess game until Nadia arrived. We went shopping on the other side of the old town. Then the rains and wind reappeared in earnest. We decided to forgo egg shopping and walk to the train station. We walked thru Mirabella Palace gardens which were lovely and fortunately caught them when there was a small break in the rain. Home on the train, which was direct. Got to see our house as we went whistling by. Dinner at a Chinese restaurant by the train station, then home to read until 11:30. Lights out. The next morning was colder and wetter. We drove to the Koeningsee and took the boat tour to St. Bart's. I was pretty disappointed that the tour guide only spoke German when over half of the passengers were English speaking. A bit more shopping and then we did the Saltmine Tour - this was great fun. We went towards the Austrian border for the best German meal we had since our arrival. B-gdn was interesting in that there was far less English spoken willingly and hardly anyone took credit cards.

Regrets - No eggs. Also disappointed that the horn used on the Koeningsee trip was a trumpet...I had visions of the horn used in the Riccola commercial!

When we left B-gdn, it was snowing, sleeting, raining, and windy. This continued all the way to Frankfurt. There was a terrible accident on the Autobahn which added 2 hours to our trip. We went directly to the airport so I could fill out the damage paperwork for the car instead of early the next morning. We stayed at a Marriott about 15 minutes from the airport. Watched Big Fish and Under the Tuscan Sun on the way home...I recommend both movies.

If I would return in the future, I think I'd like to fly into Munich, see the sights there for a few days. Then perhaps 3 days in Prague and 2 in Salzburg. I would definitely pick a different season.

sandyd is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 04:53 PM
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Hi,
I love your report. Keep it coming. It sounds like you had a lot of fun.
yipper is offline  
Apr 11th, 2005, 05:23 PM
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Thanks, Yipper. The trip was amazing...from seldom venturing far from western PA to then be speeding down the autobahn was unbelievable! Everyone in Germany was so helpful. Erika, who was a waitress at the Klosterstubble Hotel gave us lessons on the way to tip (and not to tip) in Europe. Fellow diners at Fraundorfer's wree so gracious in explaining various menu items and sharing traditions.
sandyd is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 09:24 AM
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sandy - great report! I'm interested in finding out more about this egg shop...I would love to pick one up on my trip in late September.
lexi_0906 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Bet ya can't just buy one! The shop is amazing! Eggs are decorated for every holiday imaginable and then each one is so cute you want to buy several of the same type. When you go into the old town of Salzburg, turn to your left and go up the small lane that has many many shops along it. Its about 3 quarters of the way up the lane on the left hand side.
sandyd is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 05:11 PM
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sandy, Our Bavarian trip last Oct almost mirrors yours. We loved Klosterstubel and its location in Rothenburg. Gasthof Fraundorfer was a fun place and Barbara and her crew were great. My screen saver is pic of our rental car parked in front of Gasthof Barbara. We had dinner with 3 German couples who all spoke excellent English-was a blast. The fort high above Saltzburg was fabulous. Luckily we saw no accidents on Autobahn and loved driving 130km per hr! Enjoyed your reprt very much. Thanks
irish is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 06:32 PM
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130 kph is only 80 mph. Come to Maryland and you'll see traffic moving at that speed any time, except the beltway at rush hour.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Apr 12th, 2005, 09:13 PM
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actually it is 78 mph. sharing the road with drivers who know how to drive is the best part. Yes, we were passed as tho we were standing still---part of the fun.
irish is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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irish--actually it's closer to 81 mph.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 06:11 AM
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Peep
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Hey Sandy! I enjoyed reading your report! Next time for sure add Munich.
 
Apr 13th, 2005, 07:10 AM
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Hi Sandy!
The restaurant where you got the 5 wine sampler for 4€ is Restaurant Glocke. We went there on our February trip and tried the same thing! We also had a clock shipped from the Freise store. Their prices were very reasonable.
Glad you had fun!
TexasAggie is offline  
Apr 13th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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aggiemom
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Hey Sandy - I'm in the middle of your trip reports and it sounds wonderful. My mom and I are going on a similar trip in a few weeks. I may need to pick your brain a bit before we take off!
 
Apr 13th, 2005, 04:18 PM
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aggiemom...would be happy to answer any questions. Timing could be an issue. Steve and I are headed to Italy on Sunday and will return May 2. You will have a wonderful time!
sandyd is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 05:24 PM
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Your report is good EXCEPT for your comment on Schneeballs. These things are the BEST! I would love for someone to open a shop here in the US. I would strongly advise anyone reading this to try them for yourself. I love them so much I even tried to have my german speaking mother in law persuade them to ship overseas. No dice though.
rswrig is offline  

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