Trip Report - TexasAggie in Germany

Feb 17th, 2005, 03:46 PM
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Trip Report - TexasAggie in Germany

My initial installment was written the morning after our return flight, and the wording and formatting was terrible and very hard to read. I thought I'd try again in case anyone is interested in any of the information.

My husband and I were married this past June and wanted to do something "special, memorable, and unusual" for our first Valentine’s Day together as a family. I (the "travel bug" in the relationship) had long wanted to show Chris (DH) one of my favorite areas of Germany (Bavaria), so we decided to take a short whirlwind trip over the pond from 2/10 – 2/15. Here is my rather wordy trip report on our Valentine’s Trip to the Romantic Road (cheesy, I know!).

We landed in Frankfurt about 7:15am and were most pleased to find that our luggage followed us over the pond and to the correct baggage carousel (we have uncanny bad luck with luggage!). I had bought our train tickets in advance on the internet and we made our way to the train station in the airport (Frankfurt Flughafen). We caught the 9:03am train to Wurzburg and arrived (VERY hungry after that awful inedible airplane food) about 10:30am. I remembered that there used to be a little stand right outside the Wurzburg Hbf train station that sold wursts and french fries. It was still there We both had a bratwurst with mustard on a bun and we split a cone of french fries. DH was amused that we were given mayonnaise with the fries, as he used to eat them that way as a child. Turned out, he still likes fries with mayo. Lunch cost about 5 €.

We made our way to the taxi stand and caught a taxi to the Avis rental car pick-up location. It was about a 10-15 minute ride and cost approximately 10 €. We picked up the car and attempted to follow the map to the city center. I remembered a large parking lot outside the Residenz (a UNESCO world heritage sight built in the early 18th century and the former home of the powerful Wurzburg Prince Bishops) and assured Chris that I could find it with the aid of the little map we were given by the folks at Avis. Our agreement before the trip had been that he would drive and I would navigate. BAD AGREEMENT!!! I have a reputation for being a person with an “utter lack of an internal compass” and this turned out to be almost true... the real truth of the situation turned out to be (with an alarmingly high percentage rate!) that whichever way I said to turn, the exact opposite way was the correct direction. This was the case about 7-8 times out of 10. By the end of the trip Chris was joking about automatically turning left when I said right (he was convinced that this would save u-turns)

After a lot of extra driving around, we started seeing signs for the Residenz. We followed them there and parked in the pay lot right out in front of the buildings. As you face the palace complex, there are two entrances. We erroneously went in on the right which is not the main entrance into the main rooms and apartments, however is was the entrance to a free art display/museum. We were able to see several interesting 17th century paintings.

Once we finished with the art gallery, we proceeded to the correct entrance and went to the ticket booth. There was a large sign saying that restoration was being done on Tiepolo’s fresco (the largest ceiling fresco in the world) and that there was a 0,50 € discount on the admission fee because it was "partially covered from view". Discounted admission was 4,50 € per adult. The fresco was MUCH more than "partially" obscured, but much effort had gone into making sure that museum visitors could get an idea of what it would look like. There were silk screens of the obscured portions in many places, and there was a display (including a movie) explaining the restoration process. There was also a "model" of sorts that you could walk underneath, look up, and see what the ceiling would normally look like. We went through the rest of the Residenz in a bit of a hurry, as it was colder indoors than outdoors (this was a weird phenomenon that we experienced in MANY of the cathedrals and palaces).

We visited the Hofkirche (court chapel attached to the Residenz, free) and had the chapel entirely to ourselves. The marble work and sculpture was lovely and somewhat reminiscent of several of the baroque churches we saw in Italy last June. We took a brief stroll through the Court Gardens (open daily from dawn to dusk, free). In the summer these gardens are spellbindingly beautiful, full of flowers, ivies, hedged walkways, fountains and even adorable (albeit destructive) hedgehogs. They were still pretty, but rather gloomy as is to be expected in mid-winter. The mist from the fountains that were still running had created some rather odd-looking ice sculptures, however!

Next up on the itinerary was the Old Main Bridge and Marienberg Fortress. Mareinberg Fortress was built in the early 13th century and was the home of the Prince Bishops from 1253 to 1719, when they decided to build the more “glamorous” Residenz. The Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrücke) was built between 1473 –1543 and the famous and beautiful statues of saints that line the bridge were added about 1730.

We decided to leave the car where it was (after my bad navigating and the stress to poor Chris’ nerves) and walk, thinking it would be about a 30 minute walk from where we were standing. As it turned out, it should have been a 30 minute walk… but we turned left after crossing the bridge instead of right. It was an incredibly frustrating experience looking up the hill and seeing the fortifications and castle above us but not finding a way to get up there! We walked around almost the entire castle for 1 hour before finally stumbling upon a way to the top. It was very pretty to walk up the trail through the vineyards, but parts of the walk were quite steep (even to two young people who live in the Rocky Mountains!)

The museum inside Festung Marienberg’s baroque armoury (Mainfränkisches Museum) was open and the admission price was 3 € per adult. The museum has an interesting collection of Franconian art, including sculptures by Tilman Riemenschneider. The museum also had several exhibits on prehistoric Franconia. I wish I could remember more about the museum, but I was so sleep deprived that I mainly just remember how cold the museum was and that whenever I locked my knees to look closely at something, I would start to sway. Not a very useful review of the museum, I know!

In our exhaustion, we decided to save further exploration of the Fortress for another trip and we walked back towards our car. We found the normal route, and it took less than half an hour. Alas, the parking lot proved to be another challenge. We had taken a small ticket when we drove in and could not find a pay machine anywhere in the lot. We decided to drive to the gate and see if you could put in coins or bills there. No luck, the bar remained firmly down. Adventures in reversing the car ensued… we parked again and walked back to the museum to see if we could find anyone to tell us how to pay and get out, but the museum was closed by that time. Finally Chris noticed a blue sign marked "Kasse" that we had thought was associated with the bus stop right next to it. Yea, we had found the pay machine and were no longer prisoners in the parking lot!
We drove (with another few mishaps) to the Juliusspital winery. The Juliusspital is actually a hospital that was founded in 1576 by Princebishop Julius Echter as a home for the poor and the invalids. Profits from the wine shop help support the hospital. We declined to do much wine tasting due to being so tired (good as the spread looked) and purchased four gold medal bottles of white wine. I believe the total price was approximately 60 €.
After purchasing our wine, we headed back to the car and headed off toward the Romantic Road for more adventures in driving and navigation (final destination – Rothenburg ob der Tauber and a good night’s sleep in our hotel).

TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 04:01 PM
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oops - forgot to add that additional installments will be posted as work permits

If anyone would like me to list the opening hours (different in the winter than in the summer) of all the sights and museums I will, I just hated to add any more detail to my already overly verbose report.
TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 04:10 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful way to spend Valentines Day. Bavaria is one of my favorite places as well.
Nice trip report -
annesherrod is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:07 AM
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Installment Two

We found our way out of Wurzburg with relative ease and I began to think I was getting the hang of map reading... Wrong again We found the main road leading out of town with the little brown "Romantische Strasse" sign and proceeded. I knew from the directions I had printed from that our next turn was in approximately 7 kilometers.

The scenery was lovely (hills, trees, old farmhouses) and thinking in "miles terms" instead of "kilometers terms", I assumed I had a few minutes to enjoy it (i.e., not strain to read every road sign that we whizzed past). Thus the driving part of the trip proceeded much as it began, and we missed the turnoff for the next village on the Romantic Road (Tauberbischofsheim). It took us a little while to realize we had probably missed it (as we hadn’t seen any little brown RR signs), and we decided we should endeavor to turn around. Hence, the "near disaster left turn..."

We drove for another few kilometers without seeing any intersecting road or anything resembling an exit (this was a two way road and we were out in the countryside). It was starting to get dark by now, and we really wanted to get back onto the RR before it was pitch black. Finally we saw a small road ahead on the left side of the road we were on. In the States, it is common to turn left onto an intersecting street across traffic irregardless of it there is a traffic light or not. So we start to turn left, only to see at that moment a large semi-tractor truck turning onto the road we were about to turn onto, and coming right at us. Chris hesitated briefly, then swerved back onto our side of the road. We proceeded to get honked at by: the large truck, an oncoming car on the other side of the road, and the motorist behind us who had sped up thinking we were going to turn and then had to slam on his breaks when we didn’t. Only the car behind us came truly close to hitting us, but the experience certainly yanked me out of my jet lag sleepiness and into full alertness! We still aren’t sure, but we now think that in Germany at least, when needing to turn across traffic, one should either try to find an exit to the right that will let you go over/under the road or find a traffic light!! We did feel quite bad for the driver behind us and gave him an apologetic wave.

We did eventually manage to turn around (the proper way!) and found our way back to our turnoff. We went through the villages Tauberbischofsheim, Bad Mergentheim, Weikersheim, Rottingen, and Creglingen in semi- to complete darkness. We were able to see Tauberbischofsheim’s neo-Gothic town hall with the beautiful glockenspiel (clock tower) when driving through, as it wasn’t completely dark at that point yet. There were several stunning half-timbered houses and other churches in and around Tauberbischofsheim and Bad Mergentheim. In Weikersheim, the Renaissance Castle was illuminated and looked quite beautiful from the road. We took another wrong turn after Weikersheim and it took us another 20 minutes to get back to the RR. We made it to Rottingen and Creglingen with no further problems, but we were so tired by this point that nothing really stands out in my memory about either town. Of course, it was also very dark by this point!

We followed the signs to Rothenburg (again with no problems) and drove up to the old part of the city surrounded by its fortifications and wall. Chris crept in through the arched Medieval gate, afraid that the car was too wide to enter. I’m not sure which gate we came in, but we didn’t have more than a few inches of wiggle room on each side of the car. My grand plan for finding our hotel was to "look at the skyline, spot the town hall clock tower (indicating the location of the market square), and drive towards it". Amazingly, it worked.

We spent about 5 minutes driving toward what we hoped was the center of the town before we spotted the clock tower. Tired as we were, it was a magical experience driving through the largely deserted streets of the medieval town at night. We drove through the arch through/under St. Jakob’s Kirche (Chris commented that driving THROUGH a church was a first for him!) and happened to stumble upon the street our hotel was on (Obere Schmiedgasse) before we made it all the way to the market square. The hotel was a little less than half a block downhill from the market square, we loved the location. Too tired to try to find our way to the parking behind the hotel (being a Medieval city, all of the houses touch and there are not "driveways" or "alleys" such as we are used to), Chris stopped the car right outside the hotel and I ran inside to ask directions. A man (the husband of the owner’s daughter, we later found out), gave us directions (“turn around, drive past 3 left turns, take a left at the blue house, take the first left after that”…) and kindly offered to go out behind the hotel to the street and wave us down. It was a good thing we did, as we almost missed the turn. Though we are quite bad with directions, I do want to mention how narrow and winding Medieval streets are less you all think we are complete idiots!

We were lead up to our room immediately (see the Hotels section for my reviews on the hotel and room). After dropping our bags and freshening up, we headed downstairs for dinner. I believe it was a little after 9pm at this point (we had been awake for close to 30 hours!). We each ordered a glass of white wine (2.50 € each). Chris had rumpsteak with thin crunchy onions, small salad, and french fries for 13 €. I ordered the weinersnitzel, which also came with a small salad and french fries for 12,50 €. I don’t believe we had dessert, but I honestly don’t remember. The food was good, not wonderful, but perfectly adequate. The bill was added to our room and we headed upstairs to collapse.

Thus concludes Day One of our trip

TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:13 AM
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Also, here is the other section of my trip report including flights, trains, rental cars, and hotel reviews.


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 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 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...

TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:20 AM
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I forgot to add, a German choral group was meeting in the dining room when we were having dinner in the hotel. Our waitress tried to explain what they were, and we took away that they were some sort of singing group that sang traditional folk music.

Just as our dinner was being served, they began singing. Someone played a guitar-like instrument, another played a flute, and they all sang several beautiful songs in German.

It was very interesting to see and hear, and we thoroughly enjoyed our "dinner serenade".
TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:40 AM
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We stayed at Gasthof Greifen in the late 90s. My wife still enjoys telling people how many times I hit my head when walking into the room at night. Obviously, in the 1300s, people were a little shorter (and maybe they didn't have as many schnaps as I did, either). Enjoying the report.
maitaitom is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 10:51 AM
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Too funny, I actually took a PICTURE of our doorframe because my husband hit his head so many times!! Not only is it short, but it was crooked too!
TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 11:07 AM
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"but it was crooked too!"

After a few schnapps, it actually seemed straight to me.

I will happily tell my wife that somebody else had the same experience as me.

maitaitom is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 09:46 AM
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Topping for SLCLibrarian
TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 09:54 AM
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Don't know if you saw this in your other post:

Author: RufusTFirefly
Date: 02/17/2005, 08:59 pm

Message: 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.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 10:16 AM
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Hi Rufus

I hadn't seen your comment, thanks for reposting.

We really did like the Brudermuehle aside from that one strange thing. My husband thinks it was brown from sediment from the remodeling (not the river), as there were pipes in the hall along with other raw materials.

In any case, we plan on staying there again when we next visit Bamberg (hopefully next winter). I'm sure the remodeling will be complete long before then, and the location of the hotel is simply unbeatable.

Thanks again for the rec!

TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 11:25 AM
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Wow! You wore me out reading this. What a lot to tackle on your first day, presumably with jet lag. I'm glad you had such an adventure. Are you posting your photos anywhere?
Grasshopper is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 11:40 AM
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May every day be Valentine's day for you. You sure covered alot of ground
cigalechanta is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 11:40 AM
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Hi G

How is your bronchitis, I hope you are feeling MUCH better!

It really was much "too much" for Day 1 of any transatlantic trip. We were both so exhausted we could barely make it up the stairs by the time we finally went to bed. We will definitely plan differently next time!

I'm planning on posting pictures, hopefully this weekend. I'll drop you an email if I get them up! Hopefully I'll be able to finish the report by then too.

Hope you are staying DRY in California!
TexasAggie is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2005, 11:44 AM
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My bronchitis is MUCH better. Thanks for asking. My body clock is completely upside down though. I've never had this happen before. I think maybe because we haven't had a ray of sunshine in days. By the way, that was an incredible fare you got! I thought I had a steal at just over $400. I'm looking forward to your pictures.
Grasshopper is offline  
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