Old Trip Report For Germany and England

Apr 1st, 2007, 08:39 PM
  #1  
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Old Trip Report For Germany and England

I recently discovered the wonderful forums here at Fodor’s! I have been reading some of the trip reports in the forums and find them very interesting and informative.

In 2005 my wife and I took a trip to England and Germany. I wrote several emails home to friends and family, I have decided to post them here now. I do not know if anyone will find these interesting or what the etiquette is on posting old trip reports, but hopefully a few of you will enjoy them.

We are in the process of getting ready for our next trip (this time with our 19 month old daughter) in May, and I will be sure to post the trip report from this trip in a much more timely manner.

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Email Originally sent on 3/15/2005

Deille and I have made it to Germany successfully!

Our flight from Phoenix to London was uneventful except for an extremely rude customs agent in London. We arrived in good spirits and got a cab to take us to our hotel in St. Albans. I knew the cab would cost us quite a bit, but I had no idea just how much. In the end it was 90 pounds. This is equivalent to 180+ dollars.

Other than that our stay in St. Albans was quite pleasant. St. Albans is a bedroom community about 30 miles from London, however in Roman Times it was the third largest (as well as third most important) city in Britain. It was then known as Verallamium. In the second century A.D. a roman soldier, named Alban, sheltered and hid a Christian missionary from the authorities. Apparently he became a Christian himself and was later captured and punished for his actions. He was taken to the top of a hill overlooking the city and beheaded. This made Alban the first martyr in Britain. Later the Saxon King Offa made a grant of land on top of this hill to create a monastery in memory of Alban. This monastery remained until it was replaced by the Norman abbot Paul in 1077. After the dissolution of the church by Henry VIII, the monastery fell into disrepair until restoration started last century.

Deille and I spent quite a bit of time exploring this magnificent church and then the ruins of Verallamium. We have some really great pictures to show.

This morning (Tuesday) we went to a much closer airport than the one we landed in on Sunday. We caught a flight to Dortmund, and then drove up to Deille's family. Tomorrow we intend to vist the nearby town of Soest.

We are both still fairly jet lagged but we are hoping that we will pretty much be finished with that by tomorrow.

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Email Originally sent on 3/16/2005

When last we left you, Jack and Deille had just arrived in Germany, and were still extremely jet-lagged from the flight to England...

I believe we defeated the jet-lag thing last night. We both finally got enough sleep. I think this had a lot to do with finally being in a bed big enough for us. The bed at the hotel was quite small, and while that might sound somewhat romantic, it is just a pain when you are dealing with jet-lag.

Today we went to the town of Soest. It is a really beautiful town with lots of old half-timbered houses and buildings. The churches have a greenish tint to them from the local sandstone with which they are built. The town has a nice museum with many artifacts from the middle ages.

We ate lunch at one of the many half-timbered restaurants/pubs. I had a traditional Westphalian meal. It consisted of a piece of ham, a sausage (local variety... whatever that means) and a large portion of this half spinach, half cabbage vegetable. Of course there was also the obligatory potatoes cooked with onions and more ham. It was very tasty and went well with the local beer Deille had chicken with hollandaise sauce and some potatoes with no ham. Unfortunately, she had to forgo the beer

The funniest part of the trip came when we left Soest. The rental car we have is a Mercedes C class. I do not know why they gave it to us, considering I paid for a VW Golf or similar, but I am not complaining. Anyways, this car has one of those GPS navigation systems that talks to you. Of course it speaks German, so Deille helps me when I do not understand something the car says. We decided to use it to get home from Soest. So the car tells me to take a left, and I am like.. this road looks to small? But I am not about to argue with a car. I mean did Michael ever argue with Kit? So needless to say we ended up in the wrong place, but we just kept listening to the car, as it took us all through this residential area. Finally Deille realizes, that the car is telling us what our next turn will be when it is time to turn... not necessarily that it is time to turn just then. Once we figured out how to listen to the car we got right back on track. The cool thing is that every time we made a wrong turn the car just refigured where we were and tried to get us back on track.

Well, tomorrow we are taking a field trip to the city court here in Münster. We are going to tell them that we really do not feel right accepting the estate of Deille's uncle. I wonder if they will figure out that it is because it only consists of debt...

Look for the next update in a day or two...

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Email Originally sent on 3/17/2005

Last time we spoke, Jack and Deille were recovering from an episode with a talking car and were preparing to confront the German legal system...

Today we spent the day in Münster, which is the city that Deille grew up in. Münster, from what I can tell, is famous for three things, two of which are historical.

The first is that the Peace of Westphalia was signed here. This was what ended the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). This war was all about how good a Christian you were. At first if you were Christian it meant you were Catholic (never mind the Eastern Orthodox Church, The Coptic Church, The Nestorians, the Cathars... forget the Cathars, the Catholics had already eradicated them... None of these where Christians according to the Catholics). Then in the 15th and 16th centuries this started to change. People (and not just crazies like the Cathars) started to question the church on all sorts of issues. There was Luther, Calvin, some King from England named Henry VIII and many others. The Pope did not handle these questions that well and soon things got kind of nasty. Basically this meant that everyone built armies and laid waste to each other’s countries, cities and farms (read peasants). This war waged back and forth for thirty years and at first it looked as if the Catholics would win in the end. Then for some odd reason the Swedes showed up and sided with the non-catholics. Their King, Gustavus Adolphus (kind of an odd name for a Swede if you ask me), won a string of amazing victories before dieing suddenly from food poisoning, the flu or SARs.. I cannot remember what it was. Anyways, after this everyone eventually tired of the fighting and they signed a peace treaty in Münster. The reason they chose Münster may have been because of its tolerance.

An example of this tolerance can be seen in the second historical thing that Münster is famous for, but actually this occurred before the Thirty Years War. This was the Anabaptist movement. This group sought to establish adult baptism, polygamy and the abolishment of money. The church was not happy about this and decided to stamp out this movement before it spread from Münster. The local bishop defeated the Anabaptists in a pitched battle and then tortured and executed their leaders. The corpses of the three most prominent leaders where then placed in iron cages and hung from the tower of one of the churches in town as a reminder to anyone else that would challenge the catholic churches views. These cages can still be seen hanging from the church.

So I guess it is unlikely that tolerance was the actual reason that Münster was chosen. I think it was more likely that it was spared from any damage during the Thirty Years War, which was quite a novelty in this part of Europe (However this luck did not hold during World War II when most of the city was leveled - except for the tower with the cages).

Finally I get to the third claim to fame of Münster. This is that it must have more bicycles than anywhere else in the world. I am not over exaggerating in the least. I swear, it is unbelievable. They even have a bicycle parking structure downtown. It can become quite dangerous to a person not educated in the ways of bicycle/pedestrian etiquette like myself. There are certain areas unperceivable to a North American's eye, where standing or walking is an invitation to get run over by a bicycle. It does not help when this American is looking at come rusty cages hanging from a church and oblivious to all else, especially some quiet bicycle bell chime. Lets just say that I am home to type this email, so all is ok... but it was close.

This email is already long, but I feel I must touch briefly on our adventure with German bureaucracy in its finest. I bet most of you did not know that Deille is a German heiress. It is or was true until this afternoon. This heiress role became hers when one of her uncles died. After all the rest of the family declined to accept his estate, a letter was sent to Deille and I in Glendale Arizona informing us that she was the heiress to this German estate. The best part was, that no response was necessary for it to become all Hers! The problem was that the estate consisted only of debt. If Deille wanted to decline this estate all she needed was to write a letter and have it notarized by a German notary... no problem in Glendale Arizona. Luckily we were already planning our trip to Germany so we were able to handle this today. Let me just say that the experience of visiting a German notary was so exciting that I can not begin to describe it...

Well, this has been a long update so I will end it.

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I will repost the rest soon….

Btw… I now have remembered (thanks to my library) that Gustavus Adolphus died in battle. I was pulling most of the historical points above off the top of my head at the time, and was actually impressed that I could remember as much as I did.

I hope you enjoyed these.
jgwagner4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 03:48 AM
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Thanks for sharing your notes... lots of interesting history. We'll be travelling to Germany in October, although not to Munster. I hope you enjoy your travels this May. Peace, Robyn >-
artstuff is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 12:37 PM
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Here are some more of my trip reports from our trip to England and Germany in 2005…


Email Originally sent on 3/20/2005

When last we spoke, Jack had narrowly avoided death at the hands of an insane German bicyclist...

Compared to the last several updates this one should be relatively short. We have spent the last couple of days with Deille's family and friends, and while this was interesting it is not the sort of things that make for interesting updates.

Friday was a cold and wet day here in this part of the world. The rain fell so finely that it was more like constant dew than actual rain. This made it seem as if there was a constant fog throughout the day. Deille told me that this type of weather is typical for the area. She also said that many ghost stories have originated here on just these types of days.

In the morning we drove a short distance to the town of Warendorf, were we walked through the old part of the town. While I am sure it was nice, the rain and cold really took the enthusiasm from us. After lunch we stopped at a museum about Prussia in the little town Wolbeck. Historically Prussia was part of Germany, after the Teutonic Knights Christianized the area. After World War I, it was still part of Germany, but was not connected with the rest of the country due to the Treaty of Versailles that gave a large portion of the eastern part of Germany to Poland. Many historians today believe that the Treaty of Versailles was responsible for World War II. After World War II Prussia was also taken from Germany. This museum was used as a place for Prussian refugees after the war, so I guess this is why they chose to turn it into a Prussian history museum.

In the Afternoon we met with Deille's Aunt for Tea, and in the evening we went to Deille's High school friend, Birgit's, house for dinner.

Yesterday (Saturday), we drove to Nordhorn to visit more of Deille’s family. We did have an opportunity to visit a local castle, and I took some good pictures, despite the still rainy weather. I never ceases to amaze me how good Deille is with animals. Outside the castle was a large pen with two sheep in it. As soon as Deille walked up to the fence one lamb ran over to the fence and begged Deille to pet it. Well, maybe it really wanted food, but it seemed happy getting petted, which was all it got.

This morning it is very sunny, but still quite cold. We are preparing to go to the Planetarium and possibly the zoo here in Münster. Tomorrow we will go to visit Deille's best friend, Hedy. We will be there for a couple of days before we head to the town of Bacharach on the Rhine River. I may not have internet access for awhile so you may be sparred from anymore updates for a few days... but I will strive to disappoint you.


Email Originally sent on 3/22/2005

Welcome to the next installment of Jack and Deille's European Adventure. This time we find Jack and Deille in the small town of Juelich. Juelich may seem small an unassuming now, but during the late middle ages it was the seat of the powerful Dukes of Juelich who controlled much of this part of Germany, and often influenced European politics. The most famous member of this family was Anne of Kleves, who was one of the wives of Henry VIII of England. Her father was the Duke of Juelich and her mother was the Countess of Kleve. I have been in the museum here in Juelich and I have seen the paintings of Anne and her mother, and I must say that I can certainly see reasons why Henry might have been less than happy with his choice of Anne as his wife. But enough about Juelich for now…

Today we spent the day in two museums in Bonn and Essen. Both museums had parts of the same exhibit. The exhibit was called "Crown and Veil". It was about women in cloisters in the middle ages. The first part was in Essen and covered the history from 500 to 1200. The second part in Bonn was from 1200-1500. The exhibit as a whole was very interesting. I was especially interested in Hildegard von Bingen. We intend to visit Bingen tomorrow to learn even more about this remarkable woman.

I think now that I will take some time to explain a little bit about culture in Germany. I find some of these parts of German culture charming, some a little odd, and others down right annoying:

- German Breakfasts: One of the things that I always miss when we return from Germany is the breakfasts. German's insist that American breakfasts are too heavy, and while I fail to see how their breakfasts are lighter (they are usually colder) they are indeed better in my opinion. The basic item that must be had for a proper German breakfast is brotchen. Brotchen are bread rolls with a fairly tough crust but a very soft inside. For some reason, American bakers seem incapable of properly reproducing brotchen. Along with these rolls are an assortment of meats, cheeses, jams, other spreadables and butter. All brotchen get buttered whether they will have jam, cheese of even liverwurst applied to them, and to my complete surprise this makes them even better. Other items such as yogurt, hard-boiled eggs or cereals might also be served, but are in no way required for a proper German breakfast. The breakfast is rounded out with juice, coffee and tea.
- German Radio: Lets just say that German rock stations seem to have no format, except that it has to have been made since the 1950s. You are very likely to hear a song by AC/DC followed by a song by Eminem followed by the Beatles and then some techno band. It is also likely that all the songs are rare B-sides or perhaps were never even released as singles.
- Schrebergaerten: These are rental gardens for people living in the city. Basically, people get these small plots to plant gardens. They often build small house-like sheds so that they can have barbeques, take naps and generally relax in their own private gardens. They are not allowed to actually live in these gardens but they can pretty much do whatever else they want with their gardens, provided they are well maintained and others do not complain about their plot. But rest assured people will complain if there are weeds in your garden or they are not maintained. Friends of ours here paid a lot of money to be able to assume someone else's lease (and thereby avoid a long wait on a list… see next point). However, they did not maintain their garden to a level that their neighbors expected. The letters and complaints started, followed soon by fines from the Schrebergaerten management. They decided after one or two seasons that it was too much work and too costly, and sold their lease. I think these are cool and they look really neat as you drive by, but I doubt I would try to maintain one if I lived here.
- Lines, queues, etc: From my experiences, Germans have very different conventions for how one should behave in a line while waiting for something. Basically it is a free for all. If you are older, grumpy looking and can pretend to be oblivious you can push your way to the front. If you try to be polite and courteous you will never get to the front of the line. Anyway that you can skip the line is fair play. This point may seem a bit harsh, but it’s true and Deille agrees with me.
- Toilet paper: The Germans have led the way in many technological fields over the years, but they seem to have lagged behind in the development of toilet paper. Mr. Charmin would be very irate if he tried to squeeze the rolls here. German toilet paper has more in common with sand paper then it does America's fine bathroom linen.

Well that’s all for this episode but I will email you all again soon.


Email Originally sent on 3/28/2005

Well, we are still here and the updates are back after a brief lapse after the network cancelled us. But thanks to fans like yourselves and all your letters of support we are back on the air….

Deille and I spent the last couple of days in Bacharach on the Rhine River. Bacharach is a very picturesque town with a castle on the hill above it and an intact city wall encircling it. Most of the houses within the walls are old half-timbered structures, some dating back to the middle of the 1300s. We stayed in a very nice Inn on the city wall, with a wonderful view of the river from the porch (which is perched upon the wall itself).

Wednesday (The day we arrived in Bacharach) we visited a castle called Shoernburg in the village of Oberwessel. It was a beautiful castle, but unfortunately had been converted into a very expensive hotel, so we were unable to view much of the inside.

On Thursday, Deille and I went in search of Hildegard von Bingen. Hildegard was a famous abbess from this part of Germany. She was probably one of the most influential women of the middle ages. She founded two monasteries, wrote several books and composed music, all in a time when this was very uncommon for a woman (1100s). We started our search in the town of Bingen, which is about 20 miles south of Bacharach. We visited a museum dedicated to Hildegard and learned much that we did not know about her life. Although there were not a lot of actual items to see, they had a lot of informative plaques and pictures. These plaques were in English as well as German. After leaving this museum we traveled up a steep hill on the south side of the town to visit the Rochuskapelle, which is a chapel dedicated to Hildegard. This chapel had some interesting art dedicated to the abbess. We then stopped at the Hildegard Forum, which is a center next to the chapel. Some nuns run this place as a sort of visitor center with exhibits. They have an herb garden, a gift shop (of course) and a restaurant that specializes in recipes using "spelt." This is a grain, which was favored by Hildegard. The food was quite tasty, but I still cannot really tell you what a spelt is. After completing lunch we crossed the Rhein on a ferry to the town of Hildesheim. In a suburb of this town we visited the parish church of Eibingen. This church started its life as one of the two Abbeys that Hildegard established. They have the reliquary of St. Hildegard, which contains several of her bones, some of her hair, as well as her tongue and heart… Those medieval folks were a bit strange if you ask me. Luckily all this stuff is quite out of site in the reliquary.

Finally we drove to the New St. Hildegard convent on the hill above Rudesheim. The main thing to see there was a huge gift shop where you could purchase all sorts of items produced by the nuns. This includes wine, carved wood, ceramics and of course lots of items made with spelt. After spending the day learning about Hildegard and driving all over the Rhine valley we met up with some friends who now live in Germany.

On Friday we spent the day traveling from castle to castle along the Rhein River with our friends. We visited Burg Sooneck, Rheinstein, Reichensburg and Marksburg. We also saw countless other castles from a distance. As the day started to end we found ourselves near Koblenz, which is a rather large city where the Rhein and Mosel rivers meet. We decided to let the car's navigation system plot the path home for us. Deille told the car to plot a scenic route. The path was quite scenic and also quite narrow at times as we headed back to Bacharach. Luckily we hardly passed anyone else or we might have had to back up several kilometers to let them pass in certain areas. We did get to see a really cool ruined castle, and the road followed a small brook for quite awhile.

Today it is Saturday and we are at the Airport in Cologne getting ready to head back to England. Of course our flight has been delayed, but we should be in York by this evening.

Hopefully we will have more access to an Internet cafe once we get to York. Talk to you all then.



I guess I will post the last two tomorrow…
jgwagner4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 12:56 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2006
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hi, jg,

thanks for the great report - do we get to find out how refusing the inheritance went?

in the UK, the communal gardens you describe are called "allotments" - very popular in WW2, then underwent a decline, now rising in popularity again, though under threat from "development". Rules are somewhat the same as you describe - must be kept tidy and well- tended, weeds under control, etc. etc.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Ann,

There was really no more to the story. My wife just had to sign a document in front of the notary that said that she did not claim the inheritance. The only reason it even got as far as being offered to her was because it was all debt, and all other members of the family had passed on it. I do not know why they do this in Germany. Maybe someone reading this post understands more about German law than I do (the extent of which is that I need to drive in the right lane all the time while on the autobahn or I may get run down by a expensive Mercedes) can explain why they have this rule.

She has had to go through this three times now (perhaps she needs to lecture her extended family on paying their bills!). Luckily this last time we found a German notary here in Arizona so it was much easier.

Thanks for the information about the gardens. I wonder if we have things like that here in the U.S. perhaps in the big eastern cities? I actually think they are really neat to look at, but I would never try to maintain one.

Jack
jgwagner4 is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2007, 06:21 PM
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Jack - Thanks again for the history lesson. I read your report to my husband, and now he wants to go to Munster to see the cages on the church. That's the problem with reading trip reports... we keep wanting to add to our itinerary.

" They have the reliquary of St. Hildegard, which contains several of her bones, some of her hair, as well as her tongue and heart… Those medieval folks were a bit strange if you ask me. Luckily all this stuff is quite out of site in the reliquary."

This is so cool!!! My husband and I search out reliquaries on our travels. We got hooked on them after seeing a special exhibition in Amsterdam, where they had gathered together many from around Europe, for display in the Nieuwe Kerk.

We will be travelling by train when we visit Germany. Do you know whether the parish church of Eibingen is accessible by public transport, or do you need a car?

Robyn >-
artstuff is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 04:18 AM
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Robyn,
It looks like Eibingen is considered a suburb of Ruedesheim. Trains run to Ruedesheim fairly frequently. You might inquire whether and from where buses then run to Eibingen....hope this helps.
rachw is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 04:46 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
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Hi Jack, I am bookmarking your post so I can read it later. I've been living in Germany (Stuttgart) for 18 months, and just skimming your post I can tell it will be a fun read. I saw the bit you wrote about German radio, and I have to tell you, it hasn't changed a bit! Only in Germany can you hear such classics as "The Eye of the Tiger" twice in one day (mixed in with the latest rap and modern rock hits, naturally).
hausfrau is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Thanks for the great comments and feedback!

Robyn,
I definitely think Münster is worth a visit, and not just for the cages. My wife is from this city and her family still lives there. We have spent a lot of time there over the years. To me the only downside of Münster is that it lacks some of the medieval and/or Roman appeal some other cities further south (Heidelberg, Worms, Trier, etc.). However from Münster it is a short trip to Soest with its half timbered buildings.

While the reliquaries in Eibingen where interesting, the church itself was not. I do not think I would spend my time visiting this site when there are so many better places to see nearby, unless you have a particular interest in Hildegard (which we did). I seem to remember there being a large number of reliquaries in the cathedral museums in Aachen and Köln. We visited these on earlier trips. There are also many other things to see in these cities as well that to me make them better stops. Köln, of course, is a huge tourist Mecca; however Aachen undeservedly gets much less press. It is a great city and the one time seat of power for Charlemagne.

Hausfrau,
I think that Europe is in need of satellite radio (XM, SIRIUS). It would be interesting to see how they would accept the very genre specific stations.

I will need to check out Stuttgart one day. I have actually been there once, back when I was in the army (1990-ish).

I broke down in the middle of the night on the autobahn, had to get towed to a repair shop. My friend and I slept in the car because we could not afford a hotel (this was December). The next day I got a taxi to the military post where I convinced the bank to give me a short term loan (it was one day before payday) to pay for my car. Unfortunately, I did not take the cost of the taxi into account, so after paying for that I did not have enough money, so we took the train home and I rescued my car a few days later.

Thinking back on that story I realize how young and unwise I was back then. I kind of doubt if that car should have even been on the road legally. It was a 1975 green VW golf with an orange interior that had M&M (like the candy) painted on the hood.

There I go reminiscing… I will let you get back to you day…

But thanks for putting up with me.
jgwagner4 is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2007, 03:48 PM
  #10  
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Here are the final two posts from my Trip Report. I hope you enjoy…

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Email Originally sent on 3/28/2005

You probably just received the last update, and now you are getting this one at about the same time. Well, a lot has happened since the last update.

The first thing that occurred was that my laptop ran out of power right as I was about to send the last update. Luckily I had written it in Microsoft Word, and so I had it saved. Then I called our B&B in York to let them know we were running late. Despite having received an email confirmation from them with a credit card confirmation and a reservation number, they claimed they had no info about us and no room for us. I guess it was good that we found this out before we left Germany rather than when we showed up at their door at 11 PM. In the end we decided to stop and sleep halfway between Nottingham (Where we flew into) and York.

Yesterday morning (Easter) we drove onto Leeds and visited the Royal Armouries Museum. It was very interesting but also very crowded. They allow pictures, but many of the displays are not really suitable for getting good pictures. I hoped to buy a museum guide that would fill in the blanks between the photos I did take, but they really did not have anything. However, Deille and I did do our part to support the museum via our purchases in the museum shop.

We then continued to York and found a hotel very near to the city center. The hardest part of getting settled into our hotel was figuring how to park. There was a parking lot right across the street where we were told we could park, although we would need to pay for it. The problem was that directions on the machine where you pay for the parking where not in a language that Deille or I understood. I mean all the individual words were in English, and the sentences seemed to be properly constructed, but we were unable to comprehend what we were suppose to do. We did understand the part that said that if we violated the rules of the “car park” that we would be booted and this would cost us 100 pounds (over $200). Finally, we gave up and left and drove up the street were we found another car park where a scruffy little man took our money instead of a machine. He was able to assure us that our car would be safe and not get booted… I hope he actually understood us. You see it is funny, we have already had several experiences here in England where we thought we have been understood (such as at restaurants or shops) only to later realize that the person we spoke to obviously did not understand our thick American accents and just assumed they knew what we REALLY needed.

Last night I decided to go on a ghost walk. Deille was a bit tired and chose to catch up on sleep. There are probably 10 different guides to choose from for a ghost walk. You see signs that say things like, “The Original Ghost Walk of York meets here at 8PM sharp, rain or shine” and then lists a bunch of awards they have gotten. I chose to go on one simply called, “The Ghost Hunt of York” which meets in The Shambles. The Shambles is the street where all the old butcher shops used to be. The buildings on this street are all old half-timbered buildings where the second floors extend precariously over the street. The buildings are now occupied by merchants that sell souvenirs, the type that someone with only 15 minutes to get something and back to the bus would buy. Anyways I was at the appointed place at the appointed time and so was a horde or other people including tons of children. At 7:30 sharp the guide showed up and took our money. He then led us around for 1-½ hours and told us ghost stories. It was actually pretty cool, but there were just too many people for me.

Today we walked our feet off. We visited the Jorvik Viking center which is a Museum/Theme Park dedicated to the Vikings that lived in York. It is right on the spot where they excavated a portion of the Viking village of Jorvik. After paying your entry fee they put you into a little cart type thing similar to what you would ride in Disney World for “It’s a Small World.” You then ride through the recreated village. There is a very informative recording that plays in your cart and you experiences all the sights, sounds and smell of a Viking village. Yes, I did say (or rather type) smells… They are included in all their glory… well apparently they have actually been toned down after several people got nauseous. After the ride there is a small museum and then of course the obligatory gift shop. Unfortunately for Deille and I this museum actually had really cool stuff along with the normal cheesy stuff.

After the Jorvik center we walked along the old city walls, visited the Yorkshire Museum (with the famous Coppergate Viking helmet found in the Jorvik dig), visited the Richard III museum and visited the York Minster (Cathedral). All were interesting and we will have many stories to tell when we get home.

Finally as I end this I wanted to tell you about English food and restaurants. First thing to understand is that English breakfasts are really not that appetizing. Although I did have a good English Breakfast in Tucson before, the ones here have been mediocre at best. Secondly, food is expensive. At first glance prices look similar to home until you remember that they are priced in pounds not dollars…. (currently the pound is worth more than $2)

Well that’s it for today,

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Email Originally sent on 3/31/2005

Well, this will most likely be the last update, as we will be coming home on Saturday. We have had a great visit but we are really starting to miss our own bed.

We left York on Tuesday and drove to the tiny hamlet of Enford, which is in the County of Wiltshire. Along the way we stopped at Warwick castle, which is supposedly the most impressive castle in all of the British Isles, or at least that is what their website and brochures would have you believe. The castle itself is pretty cool even though it had a lot of renovations as late as the Victorian period, but the way it is presented is very commercial. There are people in cheesy medieval costumes trying to get you to try their games. These games are of the normal carnival sorts that if you manage to win you get a cheep stuffed dragon or something along those lines. The entry fee was also very steep at over $30 a piece, but once we got there I was not going to miss it.

Enford and Wiltshire more then made up for the disappointment of Warwick. We stayed at a B&B called The Three Horseshoes Cottage. This was a building dating from the 17th century that had a thatched roof. At one time the building had actually been divided into three separate businesses. The part of the house that we were in had been a butchers shop (I am sure Deille tried not to think about this). The center section of the building had been a bar (Also called The Three Horseshoes), and the kitchen had been a blacksmith shop. When I booked this B&B I thought it would be cool to stay in a thatched roof house, but I assumed that this was a gimmick and that thatched roofs were pretty much a thing of the past. This is not true at all. Many of the rural buildings in Wiltshire are still thatched. These days having a new thatched roof installed it is a very expensive project. Our host was a very friendly woman a few years older than us with a 15-year-old son. Amazingly the English breakfasts that she prepared for us were quite tasty.

The main thing to see in Wiltshire is Stonehenge, so of course we checked it out yesterday. It was pretty amazing to see it in person, but Deille thought it looked much smaller in real life than she thought it would. Wiltshire is actually covered with Bronze Age sites. From Stonehenge you can see many burial mounds (barrows) from this period. Today we visited Avesbury, which has a henge of its own. We actually liked Avesbury better, because of the museum and also because you can still walk right up to the stones.

After we stopped at Stonehenge we headed south toward Salisbury. Just outside Salisbury is a hill fort called Sarum. Sarum also started out as a Bronze Age site, but it was later used by the Romans, the Saxons and finally the Normans, who built a stone castle in the center of it.

Next we headed the rest of the way into Salisbury where we spent several hours looking at its amazing cathedral. What makes this cathedral so cool is that it is all one style. It still looks now as it did when it was completed in the 13th century. Most other cathedrals are a compilation of several styles as they are constantly being added to.

From Salisbury we headed back north to look for the battle site of Edington. This battle occurred in the 870s and was when Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, was able to defeat the Danish Vikings. The Vikings had already conquered the rest of the English kingdoms, and Wessex had been on the verge of defeat itself. Earlier in the year Alfred had been defeated and had been forced to hide in a swamp while he re-assembled his army, however after Edington he was able to force the Viking king to be baptized as a Christian.

Finally, we ended the day by visiting the village of Lacock. This beautiful village with its manor house and abbey have been seen in the Harry Potter films. We had tea and scones in a very nice teahouse before heading back to our B&B.

This morning after stopping by Avesbury we headed to Farnham. While Farnham seemed like a nice town it was disappointing over all. Nothing has really survived from the Saxon or Norman periods. We did visit the city museum, but other than that there was nothing really to see.

We are now in London. We plan to visit the British museum tomorrow, and then it is time to fly home.

I hope you have enjoyed these updates. It has actually been a lot of fun writing them and reflecting on what we have done on our trip. Hopefully we will get a chance to share our photos and more stories sometime soon in person.

Talk to you all soon,

---------------------------------------

I hope you enjoyed my trip reports. If you have any questions about the places we visited or stayed please let me know.

One of the interesting things that I did not mention in my trip reports was witnessing Pope John Paul’s final days while in Europe. It was interesting to view it from a European point of view.

If you could not tell from my reports, my wife and I are huge history buffs. My goal in England was to see the three most famous (in my opinion) medieval helmets in England while on our trip. These were the Sutton Hoo helmet at the British Museum, the Coppergate Helmet at the Yorkshire Museum and the Horned Helmet from the Royal Armouries at Leeds. I succeeded and saw a lot more on top of that J
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