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TexasAggie Trip Report - Valentine's Day in Germany

TexasAggie Trip Report - Valentine's Day in Germany

Old Feb 16th, 2005, 02:05 PM
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TexasAggie Trip Report - Valentine's Day in Germany

Here is the first installment of our trip to Germany February 10-15. Just a warning, I am quite a verbose (to put it kindly!!) person so I hope the detail will not bore you all. Many thanks to Grasshopper, ira, hsv, Tuck and RufusT, and the many other posters who helped so much in our planning!

We flew American Airlines because I recently acquired Platinum FF status due to my business travel and get a great bonus mileage supplement every time I fly AA. I never thought AA had particularly good transcontinental service, but it has REALLY gone down over the past few years. This was a "we just want to go somewhere for a few days" trip, so we flew economy as we were able to get roundtrip for two people (Denver-Frankfurt) for $372 each (total) with my corporate travel discount. The food absolutely awful, completely inedible unless you consider a half pound of salt per meal item "flavorful". We didn’t expect the food to be good by any means, but when McDonald’s starts looking like a gourmet meal compared to what you are eating, you know something is wrong!
The biggest gripe came on our return trip however. Although DH and I were holding confirmations with our seat reservations and arrived at check-in 2.5 hours early, they had bumped DH’s seat to four rows behind me. I guess they did not bump me because of the Platinum status even though I also had the deep discount (i.e., lowest priority) corporate fare. We went round and round with the agent at the Business Class check-in (a so-called "perk" of the Platinum upgrade) and they finally moved me to sit beside DH (they would not move him back to his original seat, despite the confirmation in hand). We were assured that the seats were the same type as we had originally reserved (even the same letter, H and J). We proceeded to the gate thinking all was well, then somewhere back in the back of my mind a dark thought arose… I vaguely remembered glancing at the diagram of the plane when we reserved our seats and noticing that we were only a few rows in front of the seats that back up to the restroom (and thus do not recline). I began to wonder… (translate – worry). I had a very difficult time adjusting to the time difference and got no more than about 4 hours of sleep every night on the trip, so I was really looking forward to sleeping on the plane. We boarded directly after first class and proceeded to our new "same as you had before" seats. I don’t know how, but somehow I had memorized that little plane chart correctly. We were in the seats backing up to the WC that did not recline and that were just about the loudest on the plane due to the lines in the aisles and the flushing every few minutes. When I politely asked the flight attendant if there was anything to be done, I was very rudely told "I’m not God, I can’t change your seat from here!" and to call the company with any complaint. We decide not to get worked up as there probably truly wasn’t anything to be done at that point. So we settle in with our books to wait for the plane to continue to fill up and take off (this is about 2pm). The scheduled take-off time comes and goes… we have been on the plane for over an hour and no announcement. Then the pilot comes on and says we will be delayed on take-off by about 75 minutes but that they hope to make up some of the time in the air. The flight attendants will not be serving any beverages or food until after takeoff. The AC never came on so the plane became rather warm.
The flight finally takes off after DH and I have been in our uncomfortable seats for a little over two hours. In the meantime we have discovered that there is an unhappy baby right in front of us, the lavoratory has some sort of odor problem, and there was gum on the armrest that got all over DH’s pants. There was a German couple up a couple of rows that got into a loud argument with the flight attendants because they had brought their own beer and liquor onto the plane and wouldn’t put them away or turn them over to the flight attendant. For a little while it seemed as if they were going to be escorted off the plane (this was the threat the FAs were making), but they eventually gave it all to the flight attendant. They seemed quite insulted to be asked to pay "$5.00 or 5,00 Euro" (how is that fair anyway with the current exchange rates??) for very inferior beer when they had their own "good bier" in their carryon. DH and I looked on in amusement and with sympathy.
We arrived in Chicago about 75 minutes late and literally RAN through customs and the airport. We made our connection to Denver by about 5 minutes, whew!! There was one large positive to the whole ordeal. We must have looked so stressed and harried that customs didn’t question us at all about anything. Just stamped our form and waved us through. As we had 11 bottles of wonderful Franconian wine (including wines from my favorite Wurzburg winery, the Juliusspital) in our luggage, we were quite pleased
Just as an FYI to other travelers, there were government officials with trained beagles and other dogs at the baggage carousel. The dogs were smelling for food (and probably drugs and other banned substances). I had a small apple in my purse that I had meant to leave on the plane, but was in such a panicked rush that I forgot. The apple was confiscated, however we didn’t receive the $100+ fine for bringing back fruit, meat, etc.

Trains and Rental Car
I bought our tickets online 10 days ahead of our trip (once we had more or less finalized our itinerary). By purchasing in advance, we were able to take advantage of some sort of Saver plan whereby our roundtrip ride from Frankfurt Flughafen (airport train station) to Wurzburg Hbf was only 45E for the two of us (2nd class with window seat reservations). We picked up our rental car (Avis) in Wurzburg and returned it in Bamberg. The train fare (2nd class with window seat reservations) from Bamberg back to Wurzburg was 29,40E for the both of us. Even though we reserved nonsmoking cars (I have both chronic allergies and bad asthma), we had smokers in our cars. I just went to the end of the car and waited for them to finish and then came back to my seat.
I reserved our rental car via Avis (preferred member due to work) a couple of months before our trip. We prepaid $197.12 for a compact car for 4 days picked up in Wurzburg (DH wasn’t wild about driving in/out of Frankfurt since it was his first time driving overseas and his first time driving a car with a manual transmission in several years) and returned in Bamberg. We weren’t sure how large a subcompact car would be in Europe (and didn’t want to end up with a SMART!), so we went with the compact. It had room for 5 passengers and a fairly spacious trunk. We decided we would have been fine with a subcompact, a lesson for next time.
We had originally planned to do quite a bit of driving along the Romantic Road and countryside from our Rothenburg base, but we did a lot less than we had planned due to snowy weather and our desire to just relax and not "go, go, go". We only used the car around Wurzburg (day one), from Wurzburg to Rothenburg, and from Rothenburg to Bamberg. Even though we ended up barely using the car (and it would have been more economical to just take trains), we enjoyed the drives we did do. We saw a few deer and one enormous rabbit, as well as several small charming towns. DH really enjoyed driving in the countryside, though the medieval streets in Bamberg’s Altstadt and Rothenburg were a bit unnerving in traffic when we weren’t quite sure where we were going. I had ordered a 2005 Michelin atlas from www.overstock.com about three weeks before we left, but for some unknown reason the publisher didn’t release it on the set date so we had only the directions I had printed from www.ViaMichelin.com. The direction were pretty good, but they didn’t necessarily take you the most scenic routes so we relied on directions kindly given by the hotel proprietors. There were large yellow signs with city names at most major intersections on the roads so we only got lost a couple of times (only in the dark when we missed a couple of signs).

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We stayed at Gasthof Greifen for 3 nights (February 11, 12, 13) in a double room (room 17) at 58,50E per night. The hotel is the former residence of Mayor Toppler and was built in 1374. We really liked the hotel and the owners were very kind and friendly. The location is wonderful - less than half a block off the market square. The hotel was lovely and the main areas were beautifully decorated with antiques. The breakfast room is Mayor Toppler’s old office and there is a very interesting old safe with a medieval combination lock that we found fascinating. The breakfast was quite good and was served from 7:30am - 10am. There were several kinds of cereals and breads, yogurt, fruit, cheeses, and meats. Our room overlooked the biergarten and parking lot behind the house and was very quiet (of course, the entire town is quiet in February!). Our room was large and modernized with a nice-sized bathroom (great water pressure in the shower) and a good heater. No hair drier, a small TV that we never turned on. We loved the warm and comfortable down duvets, but the down pillows were a bit hard to get used to. Each side of the bed had a reading lamp. We received a 10% discount for staying 3 nights and the parking lot behind the hotel was free. The owners kindly scraped the snow off our car early the morning we were heading out of town and mapped out a very pretty driving route for us to our next destination. Incidentally, the restaurant was very good as well. They even served us hot chocolate when we came in freezing cold after the kitchen was closed. Mastercard is accepted and any meals taken in the restaurant are put on your room bill. We would definitely recommend this hotel to others and will stay here again when we bring our parents to Germany in 2007.


We stayed at Hotel Brudermuhle for 1 night (February 14) in a double room (room 5) overlooking the river for 105E. The hotel is a 14th century mill but it was completely renovated in the 1980s so it is difficult to tell it is that old except for the décor in the restaurant. The restaurant was very good by the way, but I will save that for my food section. If we leaned WAY out one of the windows, we could see the old town hall sitting in the middle of the river on its artificial island. The sounds of the river were wonderful – they put us right to sleep! Unfortunately, they were remodeling the floor that our room was on so everything smelled a little funny, not too bad, but noticeable when you first entered the floor. The remodelers were at work by 7:30am in the morning, pounding away with their hammers. Fortunately, we were already up but I would have found this annoying were I still trying to sleep. The room was fairly spacious and we really liked the fluffy pillows (2 for each person, yeah!!). There was a hair drier, telephone and small TV in the room and the heater worked well. There was also a sofa that looked as though it could be used as a bed if necessary. The bed (two singles pushed together) had reading lights on each side and a button on the headboard that controlled the other lights and lamps in the room. DH found this quite cool for some reason…??? The bathroom was pretty small and there was no curtain or door on the shower. One very strange and somewhat disconcerting thing was that the water from the shower and toilet and sink was somewhat brown, with little bits of sediment. The hotel is RIGHT next to the river (we looked out our window and down and there it was!) and the river water was the same shade of brown…. Hmmmmm…. There was no odor or anything, but showering in brown water still made me more than a little uncomfortable. Fortunately, DH is a saint and he went out and bought several bottles of water for me to wash off with after I showered with the brown water!! It's the little things in a marriage that make you adore your spouse ;-) The bottled water bath was a little cold, but I felt much more certain of being truly clean. Breakfast was great with the same fare as Gasthof Greifen but with an added bonus – scrambled eggs and sausages! We were given a free welcome cocktail at the restaurant when we ate dinner there (details will be in the food section) and we were given free little apples wrapped in pretty paper upon checkout. The hotel owners were most helpful with directions.
Bamberg is a very interesting town and we definitely want to come back and visit for a couple days at some point. I would recommend the Brudermuhle, but I’d suggest that you request a room on a floor NOT being remodeled. Maybe the "brown water" was due to the remodeling, maybe because of the proximity to the river...

Further installments to come later including main sights and museums, weather, food and wine, adventures in driving ("is that a... DEER IN THE ROAD!"), a couple of "rude American tourists", museums that were colder than the outdoors, and of course... Valentine's Day
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2005, 02:12 PM
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TexasAggie, I am really enjoying your report - looking forward to more.

SRS is offline  
Old Feb 16th, 2005, 02:17 PM
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Thanks Sally

I just realized that when I hit cut and paste from Word, all my paragraphs got lumped together and the report ebcame rather hard to read. I will make sure to format it better in the next installments!!
TexasAggie is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2005, 05:59 PM
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Sorry to hear about the water at the Brudermuehle. We didn't have that experience when we were there in June 2002. Hopefully it was just some temporary problem.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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both of your trip report instalments make for very enjoyable and informative reading.

I hope you did feel safe on the Autobahn and feel privileged if I indeed should have been able to be of any help whatsoever.
Looking forward to more!

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Old Mar 1st, 2005, 09:41 AM
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Very much enjoying your trip report.

I don't know anything about Bamberg, but is it surrounded by moorland ? If so, the brown water could be due to peat. I remember coming across brown bath water in the highlands & islands of Scotland many years ago. If so, it's nothing to worry about.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
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