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Auf Wiedersehen Deutschland

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Picking up where I left off in the previous post is our last day in Germany. We drove to a little town named Sohren which is about 10 minutes away from the Frankfurt Hahn Airport. We had decided to stay at a little place called Hotel Schinderhannes that was adorable instead of booking a room at the airport hotel due to possible noise issues. It didn’t really matter since we only got about 4 hours sleep preparing our bags for luggage requirements on Ryan Air. Cheap tickets but you had better make sure your luggage doesn’t weigh more than 10 kilograms for carry on baggage. Checked baggage can only be 30 kilograms. We stashed anything too heavy in our Scottie Vests which have a million pockets that are large enough to carry a laptop computer. We needn’t have worried though because we didn’t even meet the maximum when we weighed the baggage on the pay scale when we arrived at the airport.

After we checked in at Hotel Schinderhannes it was beginning to mist rain but we decided to go ahead and drive to Cochem since the town had been on our agenda at the beginning of our trip but we had knocked it off the itinerary due to time constraints. I am glad we went ahead and drove over to Cochem that day even though it was raining off and on. The mountain roads are full of switchbacks but I had already learned to drive carefully on them during our first week while in Baden Baden.  It is amazing to see the vineyards perfectly planted on the tiniest steep patches of land along with the wow factor of picturesque little hamlets everywhere you look.  We kept passing small bands of motorcycles (lots of Harleys) on the country roads and actually recognized some of them pulling into Cochem right after we arrived. By then the rain was fairly steady but we didn’t let it rain on our parade.

I have to tell you a few years ago we went to New Orleans for a special weekend. It rained like crazy the whole time we were there but we had the best time ever running from place to place under our umbrellas. So we enjoyed  Cochem albeit slightly wet but no big deal. We ducked into an Irish pub for a warm Irish coffee and WC (water closet/ ladies room) to get our bearings. When we finished up there, we looked around for the perfect little restaurant to grab a late lunch since we realized we were hungry. We chose one that had a covered patio,  ordered a couple beers, and the best Schweineschnitzel I’ve ever eaten. When in Rome- oops I mean Germany- do as the Germans do. Eat, drink, and be merry. We walked around for awhile, marveled at the quaintness of the town, and wished we had the time and energy to climb to the local castle.

Just a note, exploring castles can be a lot of work. Physically, I mean. Hundreds of steps and steep paths that seem to go straight up at crazy angles. You are going to get some exercise even if you had no intention of doing so. With the soggy weather we decided the castle would have to wait for another day. We did duck into a lovely bakery and a couple shops that are full of typical wine country items. Next time we visit this area we will make sure to book reservations for a wine tasting event.

Since the day was beginning to disappear on us and the drive back to Sohren would take about 45 minutes, we decided to head back to our hotel about 5 pm. We stopped at the airport to drop off the rental car and take a look-see to find out where everything was situated for our early morning flight. We have learned that it is much easier to survey the train stations and airports ahead of time so no unpleasant surprises greet you when you are traveling on a tight schedule. Everything runs a bit smoother when you know where the terminal for your flight is and how to find the customs or the passport counter quickly. Fortunately, Frankfurt Hahn is a small airport similar to how Hobby Airport in Houston was in olden days and presented no issues. We did have to grab a taxi back to the hotel and have the inn keeper make a call for one to pick us up the next morning at 4:30 am but it all went smoothly. We both agreed that we’d like to come back and visit more of Germany. Below are a few pictures of some of the lovely spots we came across while in the Deutschland. Enjoy!

Back of Hotel Schinderhannes

Church around the corner from cafe

View from the cafe where we had late lunch in Cochem

Castle in Cochem

Local German beer (house brand). Yum!

Steep street leading up into the town

Church tower in Cochem

Leaving Cochem

The Mosel river running by Cochem between the Eifel and Hunsruck mountains

One of the churches in Sohren

Slowly but surely the next post will be the last leg of our European journey through Italy. Have a great day!

K & K

Goodbye Germany!

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I’m going to miss your fabulous meals and beer but Italy is calling our names. We leave early in the morning at 6AM from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport on Ryan Air and fly in to Rome. Then we will jump on a train down to Naples for 3 days, then back up to Rome until Saturday morning. I apologize for no pics in this post but it had to be a quick one since we have been on the road all day. We are staying in Sohren which is about about 30 minutes from Cochem which is on the Mosel. A most picturesque town with wonderful views including another castle, great food and beer, and friendly people. We will definitely put Cochem on our itinerary for a longer visit next visit.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and say hello from Kris and I. She is officially on holiday again! Next time you hear from us, we will be in Italy.

Ciao,

Karen

Baden Baden Roman Irish Bath and Ruins

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We stayed at Hotel Gasthaus Hirsch. A small hotel about 5 kilometers outside of Baden Baden. It was a charming little place with great views of the town and of the local church which we soon learned rang the bells about a hundred times each morning at 6 AM.

When we first started planning the trip here I gave Karen my tentative agenda for the business portion and one of my stops is in Karlsruhe, Germany. At that point we planned to be there at the end of this week and having heard it was in the Black Forest I told Karen we would spend the weekend in that area. She immediately began her research and after seeing a Rick Steves’ video planned some time in Baden Baden. The video actually shows the bathing experience very well and you can see it at http://www.ricksteves.com/tvr/clips/germany.htm.
The timing changed a little but once our hearts were set on the idea of visiting the Roman-Irish Bath we found a way to make it fit in the pre-work days.


We stayed at Hotel Gasthaus Hirsch. A small hotel about 5 kilometers outside of Baden Baden. It was a charming little place with great views of the town and of the local church which we soon learned rang the bells about a hundred times each morning at 6 AM.
That really was ok since we get up so early except for the fact that the Germans don’t serve breakfast before 8 and we were starving.

That made us realize we needed to pick up a few things and we wondered around a little until we found the German version of Wal-Mart and right beside it was a McDonalds that we thought some of our friends would love since it also had a casino.




After we finished breakfast we finally made it to Friedrichsbad where we toured the ruins of the original Roman bath and then spent about 4 hours soaking, steaming and living the good life.

I found the ruins to be a fascinating lesson in the ingenuity of the ancient Romans. The Bath house was positioned to take advantage of one of the many mineral water springs in the area and then through engineering and creativity the water was heated and channeled through the walls and floors to create a steam chambers leading to the actual bath.

This Photo shows how the floor was elevated using thousands of stone blocks to create the support system needed and to create the channels where the heated water would flow. I wish I had pictures of the actual heating chamber but unfortunately those were destroyed. Basically though men (probably slaves) kept the fires burning 24-7 and the water flowed through channels on all sides of the fire box. To stand and admire this 2000 year old example of engineering is simply amazing.

This next photo shows the channels in the walls. The water also flowed through these creating chambers where the soldiers were completely surrounded by warmth that must have been wonderful and therapeutic especially in the long German winters.

I could have spent many hours exploring if they had only let me go off on my own but wisely they only allow visitors to view from well placed walkways. Below is one more of the floors.

After the very busy fun-filled days in Amsterdam and the natural levels of stress produced by traveling Baden Baden was the perfect place to catch our breath and rejuvenate. There is more but I will leave that for another day or maybe for Karen to post.

Germany and more

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Another quick update on where we are now. The Cathedral in Cologne is the first thing we saw when we walked out of the train station. It was Assumption Day and the crowds were beginning to form so we took an hour to experience the beauty of the Gothic architecture before we took off in our rental car.
I was a little nervous about driving a stick for the first time in awhile especially on the infamous autobahn but it went rather smoothly once I got my bearings. The big thing is getting adjusted to seeing the speed signs that read 130. I had a hard time not panicking in the beginning when the speedometer read 130/ 140, then my mind would readjust and calculate kilometers instead of miles. Not so bad!
after a few hours of driving we took a detour and stopped in Koblenz for lunch. Another pretty town (a little too touristy for my taste) and a great Turkish lunch.
Arrived in Baden-Baden around 5 that afternoon and checked into our room at the quaintest German Hotel with the gruffest German man I’d met in awhile. It was only temporary- he was harried from his day running his hotel and small beer garden that served a complete menu. He turned out to be a very nice man once he’d had a nights rest.
The next day we went into Baden-Baden proper to go to the spa and wander around the countryside and ogle the vineyards that are everywhere.
There is a lot more to tell you but I will give more details when we get back to the Netherlands. It is actually Saturday morning here- 9:19am and we are in Vianden, Luxembourg.
The town is beautiful and the Hotel Heinzt is probably one of the most beautiful houses I’ve ever seen. And it is only considered a 2 star hotel. Pictures will come…

We’re off to climb up the path to see the castle, Buerg Veianen, and take the chair lift back down this morning. then we will get in the car and head to Maastricht, NL to stay overnight before we get into Terneuzen for Kris’s job. She has her first meetings starting Monday. I, on the other hand, will be working on the blog and exploring the city. Gotta catch up on washing clothes, finding nail polish remover in a Dutch store, and knockin’ about by myself.

Till next time,
K&K

Der Kölner Dom

Cologne Cathedral