Barbara and George Macdonald

(Music on/off)

We took our German trip in March,2005. Pre-arrangements for hotels were made through Expedia and for a car (Opal) through Auto Europe. Several hotel chains were represented throughout. Rates were reasonable, especially in eastern Germany. It helped that we were both over age 50 and traveling off season.

We flew into Frankfurt and picked up the Opal at the airport. We drove south and spent our first two nites with German friends at the delightful village of Weisenheim am Berg near Mannheim and the start of the "Wine Road".

Mainly a residential town whose residents appear to be either wine merchants or executives in the surrounding cities. Their home was like a 4 star hotel. 9000 sq.ft. with an indoor swimming pool.

After leaving our friends, we drove through Heidelberg along the picturesque Neckar River.

We made our first stop at Michelstadt.

Continuing on we stopped at the town of Miltenberg.

Our final tour stop of the day was Wertheim.

We stayed at the Hotel Ibis, a 20 minute walk from the main square. Great rate, free parking lot, buffet breakfast included.

Hotel Ibis-Würzburg
Veitshoechheimer Strasse 5B
Tel - 931/45220 ~ Fax - 931/4522222
111 air-conditioned rooms - swimming pool - parking area
24 hours bar service
1½ km to city center and Bahnhof
Elevator - Laundry service - Cable TV - Internet access

Würzburg is a beautiful old episcopal city.

The Main Bridge, a walking bridge, is decorated with statues of saints. One city site definitely worth visiting is the Residenz of the Prince Bishops. The monumental staircase hall with a hugh fresco by Tiepolo is worth the admission ticket. Another worthwhile site on the left bank of the River Main is the old Marienburg fortress, the original seat of the Prince Bishops.

From Würzburg we headed north to Eisenach, a surprisingly well preserved city. To say the Wartburg Castle is impressively situated is a major understatement! Wartburg is where Luther translated the New Testament from Greek to German. No other castle in Germany is so filled with German history from medieval times to a standoff between Hitler’s National Socialists and the Lutheran Church. One is cautioned that the visit to Wartburg does require a long, uphill walk.

After Würzburg we went to Erfurt. We spent several nights at a lovely hotel outside the town. The old town was spared the indignity of modernization. As a result, it’s quaint and delightful to walk around. Two massive churches crown the same hill in the town’s center.

We then visted the former concentration camp at Buchenwald between Erfurt and Weimar. The day was foggy, cold, and windy. Although fully clothed and fed, we were miserable. We were unable to imagine how any of the prisoners survived the camp.

After Buchenwald, we went to Weimar. We weren’t in the mood to appreciate anything Weimar had to offer, especially its intellectual and cultural attractions. We did walk the grounds of the Belvedere and Tiefurt palaces though.

From Erfurt, we went to Meissen with its Burgberg (castle, cathedral, and subsidiary buildings grouped on a hill that was the original town site). We wandered many of the old streets of the Burgberg.

As we were there on a Sunday, we were unable to tour the Meissen Porcelain Factory. There had been extensive flooding along the Elbe earlier in the month and the roads along the Elbe were closed. We had to retrace some of our route to access an autobahn to reach Dresden.

Dresden is known as the Florence of the Elbe with good reason. 75% of the city was destroyed by Allied bombings in 1945. Restoration has been impressive especially that of the Zwinger complex. The best view of the whole complex is if you go in via the Glockenspielpavillion on the Sophienstraße. We took a tour of Dresden that was very worthwhile.

The drive from Dresden to Berlin is one of the less scenic in Germany. Since it is autobahn all the way we were there in no time. I love the autobahn but do not use it for the Indy 500 as Europeans seem to do. For us, a good pace for us is 75 mph in the "slow lane". We did not know what to expect from Berlin but it turned out to be a real treat. We were there five days but needed at least five more! We stayed at a friendly multi-story Stalin design buidling that is now a Comfort Hotel located in the former East Berlin sector. Great hotel with an extremely friendly and helpful staff. Good restaraunt next door and Barbara was able to have her "Berliner" beer. The hotel was a city block from public transit and it is only 15-20 minutes to the center by tram. We bought a three day transit pass that gave us cheap, fast, and effortless transportation in and around the city (allows you to ride all the trams, buses, German Rail, plus discounts on museums). There are so many attractions for each and every taste that it’s hard to make recommendations.

Comfort Hotel Lichtenberg
Rhinstrasse 159
Tel - 1/800/754/6835
Near Tierpark. Alexanderplatz 15 min. Near access to highway.
120 contemporary style rooms - Lounge Bar open 24 hours

We leisurely walked down the Unter der Linden Boulevard one afternoon taking in all the sites along the way. The Unter De Linden will provide you with a weeks worth of sights and museums in it self.

A good starting point is the Alexander Platz with its many stores and restaurants.

There are too many museums to see on one trip but some "don't miss" ones -

Before crossing the Elbe on the right is the Permagon with many wonders.

Proceeding down the Unter De Linden is the Berlin dom where you can go to the top for a great view. Many famous tombs are here.

Close by is the National Museum.

Humboldt University is located about halfway between Alexander Platz and the Brandenburg Gate.

You will also pass the famous statue of Frederick The Great.

At the end of "museum row" is the Brandenburg gate.

Across the street you will see the Reichstag and past that the park in memory of the Russians.

Turning left on the way to Potsdammer Platz is the new Jewish Memorial, not far from Hitler's old bunker that has been covered over.

Potsdammer Platz is also a good center to see surrounding sights.

Nearby is Checkpoint Charlie and memorials to those who tried to escape.

A large section of the old wall has been turned into a history of the Nazi regime.

At the end of the Kurfürstendamm which replaced the Unter De Linden as the "In street" is the ruins of the Kaiser Welhelm church left as a memorial. It is also the location of the KaDeWe, the largest department store in Europe.

We took a half day trip to Charlottenburg and Spandau Citadel.

Day trips included going to Potsdam's Sans Souci palaces. the surrounding grounds are interesting but huge.

Our last day trip was to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp which was the original concentration camp of the Nazi regime. After the war the Russians used it for captured Nazi's and political prisoners.

The jewel of our trip was our stop in UNESCO’s World Heritage town of Quedlinburg. The town has over 750 houses that are classified as historical monuments. Each half timbered house is more picturesque that the one before it.

We definitely want to return to Quedlinburg one day.

From Quedlinburg we headed to Kassel for the night. As we’d been there previously, we rested. On the way south from Kassel to Frankfurt we stopped at two lovely towns.

The first, Alsfeld, was one of the favorites of the Brothers Grimm.

The second, Friedberg, is an attractive example of a medieval community with two distinct centers connected by a long, long stree. One center is enclosed within the imperial castle and the other center (working class) grouped at the foot of the church.

We stayed near the Frankfurt Airport at a Comfort Inn in the town of Walldorf. As we’d stayed there before, we knew the breakfast was a wonderful buffet and the drive to the airport only ten minutes.

Auf Wiedersehen Old Germany!

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