Sunday, May 24, 2009

Tourin'

A relaxing sunday afternoon, Mayzie is being entertained by the in-laws, so I have some time to blog. Jenna's parents arrived thursday morning...the drive up to Frankfurt was successful although we managed to keep them waiting since we were a little late. Their flight from Portland (Lufthansa, Portland to Frankfurt direct) actually arrived 20 minutes early! Good ol German efficiency. After the hellos, we headed back south towards home, driving through Heidelberg and the amazing countryside around that area. Everything is so green and lush right now...I think they were surprised by the large expanses of forest, farmland and other chloriform-filled goodness. Driving around, we came to a classic car ferry crossing over the Neckar river. 2.50 euro, never done that before...

Before the jet lag completely consumed them, we had lunch at our favorite biergarten, near our house in Marbach. It is difficult to avoid meaty dishes in Germany and we had pork and more pork (with tzaziki on the side) for lunch. It was good, but a bit heavy. Beers and heavy food.....Jack and Rae were soon zombified and fell asleep in our apartment at 5pm or so, and not waking until 10am the next day! Amazing. I thought for sure they would be up at 3 or 4 in the morning, ready to go.

The next morning Rae wanted to see a castle, so we drove down to Berg Hohenzollern, which we visited back in February. This castle is everything your mind pictures in fairytale land. And on a fine spring day like this one, it was a great destination. Jack was super into the history of it all, even though we couldn't understand the German language tour, it was still fascinating to look around inside, which we didn't do last time (cheap ass alert!). The views over the countryside and the sun hitting the castle made for some nice pics.





The Ritter chocolate factory was in a nearby town, and we are all chocoholics, so we made that a must see. There was no tours or anything going on, but the shop was open, so we were able to buy the mixed packs and every variety possible. This is some damn good German chocolate...I think I had seen it at Trader Joes in the states, but had never tried it before. Try it if you see it (although it tastes better in Germany, I bet, like a Guiness does in Dublin). After gorging on chocolate we headed up to Bietigheim (10 mins north of Tamm) for a brewery/classic German meal at Rossknechts brewery. These guys brew some good beers and we were able to sit outside amongst the cobblestones and enjoy some fine (HEAVY) grub.

The next day we headed toward Munich to see the Dachau Concentration Camp and to visit (eat and drink their beer, at least) the brewing monks at Andechs Monastery. Dachau was the first concentration camp setup by the Nazi's in 1933, and is a sombering experience. Jenna and I had been there back in 2000, but it was high on Jacks list so we had to get him out there. The place had changed a little bit (new visitors center) but the effect was the same. You can see the cellblocks, the execution wall, the "Work Brings Freedom" gate, the crematorium and a very vivid video explaining the history. Free entrance! 




A beer was essential after that place. Andechs should be on the list of any beer geek, because these monks brew the best beers in Germany (in my opinion, of course). We had been here in 2000 as well, but I had wanted to return (I never wanted to leave!) since we left that fateful day. The setting is awesome...rolling green Bavarian hills surrounding a hilltop monastery. We had some beers (Dopplebock, Helles, and Apfelweiss) and even a pork knuckle out on the terrace, overlooking what seemed like a Monet painting.






2-1/2 hour drive back home and we were tired. Our Ford kombi has turned out to be a great car! Super reliable and we almost got 30 mpg out of her. Driving on the autobahn requires complete focus and we topped her out at 130kph (80mph) but were always in the slow lane. ALWAYS. Its crazy out there...on an unrestricted stretch, you would see cars going 150mph easy. And at night too. Better take it easy with our car...its not able to hang with the big boys. She starts quiverring at high speeds hah.

So that was a fun weekend...I am excited to have the car, and feel more at ease about our travel restrictions.  Back to work this week, so we will be hanging around Stuttgart. We have 2 nights booked next weekend in Interlaken, one of our favorite places that we have ever visited (back in 2001... we shall see if it is still as great), and a night booked at that hostel castle that we stayed at back in February, on the Rhine. 

Its nice to have visitors--we are seeing the best of Germany, stuff that normal tourists see. The stuff that sucks about Germany a tourists doesnt see, thats how we fell into this trap haha. 

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