Saturday, December 27, 2014

Authentic Germany

On Friday we hit the Autobahn once again, this time headed
back north past Frankfurt and into the German State of

A shot of our GPS along the way.
Note the MPH readout.
(please note - Kate was snapping the photos)

Our destination was a small village outside of Altenkirchen where we would
meet back up with Marcel & Michaela, and get to spend a few days with
them, the girls, and Michaela's parents at Michaela's childhood home.

After leaving the autobahn we drove for a while on the smaller secondary roads.

We first stopped at our hotel...   A quirky but nice place in Altenkirchen.
We had "The Sailing Suite" which was one of the larger rooms, brand new
and quite appropriate for us recent landlubbers.

Arriving at our hosts - our visit began with Beer and wine, followed by
homemade cakes and good strong coffee.

Later was dinner.   
A feast for sure - I did not get any pictures as I was too busy with my fork.

Then a walk around the village.
This is the old Bahnhof (railway station)
Now a private residence.

This morning Winter arrived.
We woke up to snow on the ground, cold temps and a strong wind.

At 9am Marcel & Michaela picked us up at the hotel and it was back to
our hosts house for Frühstück (breakfast)
Fresh breads, meats, sausages, home made jams..
and some incredible cheeses from Switzerland.

After breakfast we loaded up two cars for a winter outing.
After a couple of shopping stops we arrived in Hachenburg, a beautiful town which
dates to the 1200's.

The town takes its name from the Schloss Hachenburg (Hachenburg Castle) 
which occupies the high ground.

The snow lends a beautiful ambiance to the old town.

Outside the gate of Schloss Hachenburg

Walking down the hill from the castle.

Next stop was the Marienstatt Abbey and brewery.

The abbey dates back to the 1200s as well.   This area escaped any damage during the
war and is now a Catholic Church, school, and brewery run by the Monks.

Inside the church.   I just love the color contrast in the stone.

The basilica has the only Spanish Trumpets Organ outside of Spain.
It really must be something to hear it in action.

Our hosts the past two days.

What can be better than Mittagessen (lunch) and biers
at a German Brewery?

It was truly a special 2 days in a small German village with incredibly warm and
hospitable people.   It was a chance to really live the rural German lifestyle
and get a small taste of the real Germany a tourist would not see.

From the moment we walked in the door we were treated like friends
and family and felt like we were home.

Tomorrow morning we are back on the Autobahn headed to Munich but
we will carry the memories of the past two days forever.

Thank you so much Heinz & Krista.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Christmastown

Yesterday we hit the Autobahn once more and relocated about 90 miles
to Rothenburg odt

The "odt" means on der Tauber (river) and is used to distinguish it
from another town with the same name.

We are staying in the Hotel Hernschlossen.
It is a 4-star Hotel and the service has been amazing from the moment
we set foot in the door.

They REFUSED to let us touch our luggage.
They said it is our holiday - and we should relax and come in a
nd have a glass of wine while the luggage is taken to our room....
So we had to oblige I reckon.

Our room with the typical German feather bed comforter.
I'm getting the hang of them.   Quite comfy.

The view from our windows - a church from 1200.

Very little of the town was destroyed during the war.
During WWII, Nazi soldiers defended Rothenburg with orders to fight until the end.
Parts of the city were bombed, including several houses and part of the wall. 

The U.S. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy knew of the historic significance 
and beauty of Rothenburg so he ordered his generals not to use heavy artillery on the city. 

The story is that McCloy grew up with a painting of Rothenburg on the wall 
of his home that his mother bought after visiting the town. 

His mothers love of Rothenburg was essentially what saved the city on the American side. 

The local military commander, Major Thommes, also contributed to the city’s preservation by ignoring Hitler’s directive for all towns to fight to the end 
and surrendered the town before it was destroyed, thus saving the city.

A few years after the war ended, the town named Secretary McCloy
an Honorary Protectorate of Rothenburg.

A local pastry of shortbread dough deep fried and covered with all
sorts of confections.

The town is just gorgeous.
Warner Bros filmed the Brothers Grimm Movie here.
It is so well preserved it has an almost Disney like feel to it.

Last night we went for dinner to Zum Holl  (To Hell).
Located in the oldest building in town - it is over 1,000 years old.

The food however was fresh and delicious.
Kate had consume followed by a steak, fried crispy onions and spaetzle.
It was extremely delicious and the steak could be cut with a fork.

I had Horseradish soup (out of this world) baby back ribs with
Fried Potatoes.
The baby backs were also quite good.  They were slow cooked, tender
and had a German flair to them.  Quite different and a nice change.

All was washed down with a healthy dose of light and dark beers and Champagne.

After dinner we had a long long walk back up a long hill.
(did i mention it was long)
We knew on the way down that we'd probably pay for dinner later.

Around every corner is another fantastic fairy tale scene.

This morning after breakfast we hit the city wall.
We wanted to walk around the whole city.

Your tour guides:
 Herr Greg Von Stash
und Frau Helga!

A view standing outside of the wall.
There are small slits all along the wall where
the archers could fire arrows at invaders.

A watch tower on the wall.

Looking inside the city from the wall walkway where the defenders would have
positioned themselves to defend the town.

Walking the back alleys.
I just love the little courtyards that lead to the homes.

The sun started to come out as we were finishing up our morning - afternoon walk.

I hope to get some more sunny photos before we depart.
We will spend tomorrow - Christmas Day here - and then on the 26th
head about 4 hrs back north past Frankfurt to visit our
friends at their parents home for 2 days.

It's 3pm Christmas Eve here in Deutschland.
I expect the sidewalks should start rolling up soon as
Christmas Eve (Weihnachten) is the real family holiday here.

We will have a nice special Weihnachten meal here in our hotel
and then see what tomorrow will bring.

So from Herr Fritz und Frau Helga
to all of friends, family, blog followers...
Whatever you celebrate - we hope its a great one!

Frohe Weihnachten
Merry Christmas
Happy Chanukah
Happy Kwanza
or Festivus for the Restofus.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Yesterday we said Aufwiedersehen Frankfurt,  jumped into the Benz...
(I  just love saying that)

We burned up the pavement southbound on the Autobahn.
It was pure farfegnugen.

Destination Nuremberg.

Nuremberg was a special stop for two reasons...
First - The Christmas Market here is the largest in Deutschland.
Second - as a World War II history buff - Nuremberg holds a special place
in the history of the War.

Our first stop - on the way to our hotel was the 
Nuremberg Documentation Center.

Nuremberg was the ideological home of the Nazi Party.
It was here that the party created a massive complex in order to stage
their annual rallies to create the myth and lure the citizenry as well as
impress them with their overall power.

The Congress Hall - pictured below is one of the few relics still standing
that was built by the National Socialists.

It was patterned after the coliseum of Rome but was never finished
as the war started before completion.

This is a view of what the above picture would have looked like had it been competed.

The documentation center exhibits try to explain how the Nazis came to power.
How they first intoxicated, and then enslaved a nation.
It also explains the terrible toll that they extracted on 
both the world and the German people.

The picture below was one of the most poignant exhibits.
Named: "The Tracks: The Logistics of Racial Madness"

Funded by Deutsche Bahn - the German Railway System, it purpose is to
acknowledge the enormous part the railways played in the Halocaust.

Without the rails - the death machine would not have run.

 On the wall are railway station signs - each of a death camp.
In between the rail ties are cards - each with one persons name...  
a person who perished in the camps.

The exhibit is about 200' long and filled with 60,000 cards.
Each card represents 1,000 people.

To have one card for every person transported on the death trains,
the exhibit would have to be 37 miles long!

Below are the remains of the parade grounds viewing stand.
Hitler and other party officials would stand and review troops
and make speeches in the center pedestal.

This is what it looked like in the 1930's

History buffs might recall this photo of the swastika being blow up by US Troops
shortly after liberating Nuremberg. 

The exhibits did a wonderful job in confronting the past.

The permanent exhibition "Fascination and Terror" looks at the causes, 
the context and the consequences of the National Socialist reign of terror.

The Congress Hall today is a wonderful contrast.
On one side is the Documentation Center Museum,
on the other the Nuremberg Symphony.

Now for a lighter subject...

Heading back to the car - our car model - Kate struck a pose.

Soon we were at our hotel on the edge of the Altstadt (old town)
the Hotel Drei Raben (three Ravens)

We immediately hit the pavement to immerse ourselves in the Christkindlemarkt.

Along the way.
The dog remained perched while Santa sang and played songs.
Everytime a dog would pass by the dog would bark and sing.

Crossing a bridge over the Pegnitz River in the Altstadt

In the center market

Inside the Frauenkirche (church of our lady)
Remember the Christmas song about "good king Wenceslaus"???
Well he was baptized in here.

The church casts an impressive backdrop over the market.

English translation:  "Kate farts like a wolf"

The variety of seasonal foods and sweets in the market is amazing.
The market is huge.  It must be a mile in all directions.

Outside the Frauenkirche.
The each day at 12 noon the figurines put on a display for several minutes
while seven other figures parade around the king.

Next it was time to head up the hill to the west end of the Altstadt to
the Castle of Nuremberg.

Looking back towards the market you can see the throngs of people.

Headed up the hill towards the castle

We made it.

Built over 1,000 years ago - it along with 90% of Nuremberg was destroyed during
allied bombing in WW2.

It has been lovingly and painstakingly restored to its former glory.

Inside the walls.

The shadows were starting to get long and I still wanted to
see the train station so down the hill and across town we went.

I am always impressed with the European Passenger Railway System.
Clean, efficient, on-time.

The Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof  (main train station)

Now it was time for dinner...
Tonight I was to have a local Franconia delight...  Schäufele.

A roasted pork shoulder..  cooked so the meat is tender and falls off of the bone.
The layer of fat on top - crisp and flavorful.

Served with Kraut and Potato dumpling and served in a brown beer gravy.

Kate had Wienerschnitzel and fried potatoes.

Und Zwei Bier.
Kate's is Dunkle (dark)
und mine was light.

Nuremberg is a beautiful town.
We barely scratched the surface - there is so much more to see but its time to move on.
There was one more surprise though...

We ran into my long lost brother...  Fritz von Stash.

Can you see the family resemblance?

Tomorrow it's time to say goodbye to Fritz and Nuremberg,
we are headed to Rothenburg ODT a well preserved,
walled Medieval Town where we will spend 3 nights and Christmas.