Gengenbach, Neustadt, Meckenbeuren, and Bacharach


I was surprised one day when out of the blue, Tykewife said "We could take a trip to Germany". I replied "This year?". "Yes". I went to the computer and started playing around with our frequent flyer miles to see if we could get over there for "free". There were several flights available but the ones using the lower amounts of miles were not convenient. However, we did have enough miles to use the higher mileage flights and I found flights that would work. It cost us 180,000 miles (total). Our trip in Dec. 2011 had only cost us 160,000 for us and the two kids! We would be going American to Miami where we would transfer to Air Berlin for the legs to Berlin and back to Frankfurt. On return, just like in 2011, it would be Frankfurt to Dallas to Denver, all on American . Taxes were $297.40

Tykewife seemed to indicate that she wanted to go places we hadn't visited before. Since returning from our 2011 trip, I had been putting together ideas for another trip. Most of that was assuming that we would be cycling for much of it. That wouldn't work this time because Tykewife would need a new knee before that was possible. I had only been to the Black Forest area for a couple of days in 1970 so I thought we would make that area the focus of the trip.

I mentioned to Tykewife that we could made a day trip into France, so she could use her French language skills (She was a French minor in college). Then she said that it would be nice to go to Paris for a few days and also another few in the Loire Valley. Ooops! Too much for this trip I convinced her, but it looks like the French trip will have to be our next overseas jaunt!

I suggested that we might want to drive a car on the trip. That was promptly vetoed which was o.k. since we both like taking the trains, and with the KONUS Card, the Black Forest portion of the trip would have free transportation.

I knew I wanted to stay the last days in Bacharach on the Rhine, so we could get an early morning train to the airport. While we had finished our last trip there, the river boats weren't working at that time and Tykewife had never taken the Rhine River trip. I emailed the tourist office and asked them to make a reservation for me at the same place we had stayed before - Irmgard Orth's. We would be there for 4 nights. The tourist office responded the next day with a confirmation. Excellent!

Every other place would be new to both of us.

I found a place in Gengenbach that looked nice. I filled out a form on the town website ( After a week, no response. I filled it our again, saying that this was the second inquiry. The fewo had no email. A few days later I received a letter saying the fewo was available. I needed to send a 50 Euro deposit. They provided the bank account number for an international wire transfer. I went to the bank and of course, the person there had never done one before. He got the home office on the phone and they figured out what to do. The EUR 50 was sent. The fee for this was $45.00 !!. My rate on the Euro as 1.3224 - including the fee, the rate was $2.22 - yikes!

I decided that our second stop in the Black Forest would be Titisee-Neustadt. Whoa, some of the places were pretty expensive, and some of the less expensive places and those mentioned on Bavaria Ben's website were out of town. I wanted to be in town, fairly near the train station. I found one and filled out the online form. No answer for a week. I tried again and got a prompt resonse. The owner had been in the hospital having shoulder surgery! I would need to pay in early Sept., again by wire transfer.

I had originally though about staying in Ravensburg for 5 days, but I was unable to find a place that was available for those days. I looked around and found a place in nearby Meckenbeuren, located only a short walk from the train station. An internet inquiry was answered the next day and our last place was booked.

Now it was just to wait for about 6 months.

Two other tasks were to be completed. When I booked the flights, I was able to select the seats for the American flights, but not for the Air Berlin segments. I had to call AA to get the confirmation code for my Air Berlin flights. I couldn't make the seat selections online - it looked like I would have to wait until I checked in!

When we took a trip to Germany in Dec. 2011, we bought our train tickets from Frankfurt to Stuttgart on the day of our arrival. It proved pretty expensive. I decided to get tickets in advance (92 days in advance). So on June 26, I used the internet to purchase tickets from Frankfurt to Gengenbach. This was quite a savings - 29 euro for the both of us as compared to 102 standard fare. That price was even cheaper than the Quer-Durchs-Land ticket, and it would be on faster trains!. It was an extra 8 euro to have a reserved seat. Since our last time with no seat reservation we had to change seats 2-3 times, I thought the 8 euro was worth it. The only downside is the tickets are for one specific set of trains. We allowed 3 hours from our scheduled arrival time to the train departure time. It is somewhat of a gamble since our last trip was delayed a day and 4 of my last 7 transatlantic flights have been late! We'll see if the gamble paid off.

A couple of weeks later I purchased tickets from Meckenbeuren to Bachrach for 49 + 8 (reservation) = 57 euro. No worry about missing these trains since we would already be in Meckenbeuren! The first of the train trips was at $1.31 per Euro, the second at $1.29. Total foreign transaction fee charged was $3.65. (total 48.41 + 73.50 + 3.65 = 125.56 or 1.336 per Euro)

On August 10, I received an email from American Airlines. The flight had been changed. Luckily just the segment to Miami and just leaving 20 minutes later.

When the family went to Germany in 2011, we had not only our bank account but also the two boys accounts to draw on if there was a problem. Since we were going alone, we needed to have a second account to use an ATM on. So we deposited the cash I received from selling my 27 year old Bronco into a different bank.

A month prior to the trip, I sent in payment for our 3 days in Titisee-Neustadt. I used the second bank since its fee for the wire transfer was $10 less than the other bank, The amount for the 3 nights is 137.60 euro. With conversion and fee, the total was $226.61 (1.65). Clearly avoiding wire transfers (especially for small amounts) is to be desired if possible.

Tuesday, Sept. 24

We got up at 3:00 AM. Tykewife tried to stay up all night but fell asleep about 1:00 AM. At 3:45 the SuperShuttle van came to pick us up and drive us to Loveland where we got their bus to the Denver Airport. At 7:50 we boarded the plane for an uneventful flight to Miami. At Miami we had a long, long walk from the gate to Terminal F. Termimal F is not even shown on most of the maps in the airport, but we kept following the infrequent signs. There were only 2 sections of moving sidewalks - one of which was not working. I will never change planes in Miami again!

The plane to Berlin was late and we would miss the connection to Frankfurt. The Air Berlin staff was on top of this and had us rescheduled before we even checked in in Miami. The airline assigned us seats which were ok. The flight to Berlin was fine.

Wednesday, Sept. 25

Neither of us slept on the flight, watching 2 movies and a TV program. My headset was not the best and so I wasn't able to watch one movie that Tykewife was able to. In Berlin we had to take a bus from where we landed to the terminal. It was quicker since we could de-plane from 3 exits. Passport control was easy then a not-too-long walk to the next gate. The gate area was blocked off and there were few places to sit while we waited the couple of hours for the next flight. I used the ATM and we had a snack.

Eventually we were let into the boarding area, going through a very short security check. One of our bags was over the 8 kg weight limit so it had to be checked through - no charge. Two flights were boarding from the area at the same time and we almost got into the wrong line! Fortunately, the ticket checking machine caught our error. We took a bus out to the plane. It had FLYNIKI.COM on the plane - What kind of airline was this? I then spotted a small 'Air Berlin" sticker on it, so I guessed it was the right plane. A short, fine flight to Frankfurt where I collected the bag and went through without seeing anyone in the "Nothing to Declare" customs area. Bus to the Fernbahnhof.

Since the train for my pre-bought tickets was long gone, I had to buy tickets for the train to Gengenbach - 106 Euros. Since we were arriving late, I called the landlady to tell her we would be arriving late. The ICE train was crowded and we had to stand between the cars until the first stop in Mannheim. At Offenburg we changed from the ICE to the local train system with its light rail type cars [Ortenau S-Bahn (OSB)].

We walked to the apartment, following the map I had printed from Google maps. The fewo doesn't have a sign and we walked right by it. We stopped at a pharmacy to ask directions (and to get some liniment for Tykewife's knee). Dr. Wink checked us in, gave us our KONUS card, and we went to our apartment - up 46 steps on the third floor (as Americans count). Exhausted, we quickly fell asleep.


Ferienwohnungen Wink

Ferienwohnungen Wink
Dr. Annette Wink
Victor-Kretz-Str 11-13
Tel - 7803/2682

Dr. Wink speaks very little English. In addition to German, she speaks French (which was good since Tykewife also speaks French)
Our apartment consisted of a bedroom with two beds put together (so essentially a king bed), kitchen, bathroom, second toilet, large living room. Two other bedrooms are part of the apartment but were closed off for us. 36 E per day plus tax (2.20 per person per day).

The building was built in 1699 and was the city council's chambers. It is right on the main square. Two sets of bells can be heard throughout the day. We slept with the windows open and they did not bother us, but I can see that it might bother some. Dr. Wink is very friendly.


Thursday, Sept. 26

We slept until about 9:00 AM when I went across the street to a bakery to get bread and coffee for breakfast. Later we walked down the street through the tower (Kinzigtorturm) and across the Kinzig River. We walked by the rafting museum and along the levee by the river. Back in town we found a grocery store and stocked up on basics for the next 4 days. The tourist office was near the fewo and I picked up a free town map. It had a insert showing a walking tour (stadtrundgang). There are small bronze markers in the sidewalk to make it easy to follow. I also asked if there was an internet cafe in town. It turned out to be just outside the other town tower.

We went to the internet cafe and emailed everyone to tell them we had arrived safely. Tykewife could not use her Yahoo email account, a problem she never did get fixed during the trip. My Comcast account worked well. Internet was about 3 Euro per hour.

For dinner I ate at a Kebap place, having an excellent (and very large) gyro. Tykewife ate across the street at a Thai buffet. We stopped at a pastry shop and had a carrot cake on the way back to the fewo.

Friday, Sept. 27

Up at 7:00 I took a nice shower. The shower had a temperature dial on it, making the setting of the water temperature easy and accurate. I had a very good muesli for breakfast while Tykewife scrambled eggs for herself. Down to the train station where we took the 10:12 light rail train to Hausach where we got the #7150 bus for a quick trip to the Vogtsbauernhof. I'm glad we took the bus as it is a little longer than Tykewife would have been up for. We entered the outdoor museum and got the audio guide. The audio guide did not work very well for us. There must be something about my fingers that touch screens don't pick up because I can never get good results. What little we did hear was more than we wanted to hear. I would prefer a written guide with a paragraph or two about each building. We spent a couple of hours there. I enjoyed watching a workman repairing a thatched roof and Tykewife enjoyed sampling the cherry schnapps! She also enjoyed seeing the sheep, horses, goats and geese.

We then walked the short distance to the Rodelbahn. We put our bag and my hat in a locker (2 E, refunded) and each took a ride (2.50 each). I used the camera to take a video on the way down. Once was enough for Tykewife, but I had two more rides. There was virtually no waiting and I would have liked to take even more rides, but we needed to get going to catch the bus. We walked back to the Vogtsbauernhof and had only a few minute wait for the bus back to the train.

Back in Gengenbach, Tykewife bought a scarf for her sister and we stopped at the butcher shop and bakery for dinner items. Tykewife's sciatic nerve was really bothering her and my feet were aching. I later discovered that I hadn't put in a better insert in my shoes like I normally do.

Saturday, Sept. 28

It was the day to take Tykewife to France! We took the short train ride to Offenburg where there is a bigger, manned train station. I tried to ask for the 'Europass 24H' ticket but the agent couldn't understand. She then asked if I wanted to go to Strasburg, round trip and I said yes. She then issued me the Europass 24H ticket! It is 8 E for one, but only 12 E for 2! Germany is pretty good about a good discount for multiple users of transportation tickets. The OSB train took us the short trip across the Rhine.

At the train station, we got a map at the tourist information office and asked how far it was to the old town. The answer was a 15 minute walk. That might have been right to get to the edge of the old town, but it was about another 10-15 to the cathedral. The signage to the old town was not good but we made it. I wish we would have taken one of the busses or trams. We went to the Cathedral but it was closed (we were there just after noon). I think they close it for a while and then charge a special price for the clock tower tour. We went to the 'Batorama' dock to find out about the boat trip around the old city. The next several trips were in covered boats and we wanted to go in one of the uncovered boats, so we got our ticket for a later tour and then went back to the cathedral.

The cathedral was nice but not as elaborate as many. The stained glass was nice and Tykewife, as always, lit a candle for her grandmother who was a 'good Catholic'. Back to the boat area, Tykewife used a WC that looked like a converted cargo container. There was a long line but it was well maintained and Tykewife said it was perhaps the cleanest public toilet she had ever used. The 70 minute boat tour was nice, seeing not only some of the oldest parts of the city - Petite France - but also the new buildings built for the European Union.

Tykewife enjoyed using her French a little bit. Later in front of the cathedral, we saw some policemen rousting a street performer. He was painted gold and pretended to be a statue. He had some sort of portable stage with him. Perhaps it was the prop that was the problem as there were other performers in the city that did not get police attention. Saturday in a big city meant lots of tourists. The city seemed very crowded.

We took the light rail tram back to the train station (included in the Europass 24 H ticket) and then the train back to Gengenbach. Tykewife fixed herself asparagus soup while I had half a chicken from the butcher and a nice salad. Gengenbach has a Night Watchman tour twice a week. It is all in German so we weren't going to take the tour but I had planned on getting a picture of the watchman. However since it was raining that night, I forgot that.

Sunday, Sept. 29

Up early while Tykewife slept, I walked around town, going by the internet cafe to see if it was open on Sundays. It was so I went later to plan the train trip for tomorrow and to email the landlord when we would be arriving. We went to the Niggelturm to see the Narrenmuseum. The museum is only opened a few hours a week. It cost 2.50 E each and was well worth it. The museum is about Fastnacht (the pre-Lenten carnival) during which people don grotesque masks. Since the museum is in a 'turm' or tower, each floor is rather small and there are several floors to visit and several stairs to climb. Even Tykewife's knees didn't mind the climb as the museum was so interesting. It would be a fun time to visit Gengenbach.

After lunch we took a walk around a portion of the town wall and through a nice park before visiting the Floesserei Museum (2.50 E each). This museum, another of the museums with limited opening hours, is devoted to the rafting of timber down the Kinzig river. It is a small museum with not too much in it. Using the river to transport the timber ended in the 1890's. Since my relatives were engaged in similar activity in Maine until much later than that, I found it of limited interest. While I would certainly visit the Narrenmuseum again, I would not the Floesserei one.

There was a concert in the marketplace in the afternoon. We opened our apartment windows and listed for the next two hours. Excellent with music ranging from traditional German to American rock. For dinner we went to the Klosterstuble which is located at the base of the Kinzigtorturm. I had the pork schnitzel - 2 large ones and a big side of French fries, while Tykewife had 2 bratwurst and potato salad. I had a large coke and Tykewife two beers - total 20 E. My schnitzel was a little burned on the edges, but it didn't really matter since there was so much that I couldn't eat it all.

We really liked Gengenbach. Looking out from our apartment window, it was a scene that screamed 'THIS IS GERMANY' - half timbered buildings, medieval towers, nice fountain. Gengenbach would also be interesting during the Advent season as the Rathaus becomes the biggest advent calendar in the world.

Monday, Sept. 30

After breakfast we straightened the apartment - Tykewife always leaves them tidy. There was not a guestbook but Dr. Wink was very pleased that we liked the apartment. Except for the 46 steps, it would be hard to beat.

On the way to the train station, we went in the post office to mail some post cards - a relic from the past that we haven't given up yet! The train ride to Neustadt was nice. We were in the upper level at the end of the car where there was just one seat on each side and plenty of room for luggage. That was good because the overhead racks were pretty small. Lots of tunnels on the route. I didn't get the feeling that we were curving around a whole lot, even though it is apparent from looking at the route that there are plenty of curves. A conductor checked our tickets - the first time except for the ICE train. He was very helpful, asking where we were going and telling us where we would have to change and what track the train would depart from. Apparently he was very humorous as there was lots of laughter as he talked to the other passengers.

We got off at Donaueschingen with 30 minutes to wait. I tried to get some candy from a vending machine, but no luck so I went out of the train station to a nearby newsstand where I was able to get something to eat. Soon we were on the train and arrived at Neustadt, Frau Heitz greeted us as we exited the underpass stairs. She drove us the 200 yards or so to the house. It was a nice new car and I think she needs more practice in shifting! After checking us in and giving us the KONUS cards, she offered to drive me to a supermarket where I picked up supplies.


Ferienwohnung Waltraud Heitz

Ferienwohnung Waltraud Heitz
Färbeweg 8a
Tel - 7651/9729082
Email -

Nice, large, modern, first floor apartment. 52 E per day plus tax of 5.40 per day. Bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living room. Large flat screen TV, WiFi, all the amenities. Additional sleeping spaces for larger families. Quiet location. Frau Heitz speaks a little English. Extremely friendly.


While Tykewife slept, I walked around town, stopping in a small toy store (we used to own a toy store) and then getting a kebap at a store near the train station. Having the wifi was nice as we could email and web surf from the couch. The TV set received CNN and BBC.

Tuesday, Oct. 1

After breakfast we went to the bahnhof for a quick ride to Titisee. Right near the station was a shop with lots of wood carvings. Very nice but pricey. My Scoutmaster could have made a fortune over here. I needed to sew a button on a pair of my pants so we looked for a sewing kit. At the third souvenir stand, we found one.

It was cloudy and cool so we decided against renting a boat and took the large boat trip around the lake (5 E each). It was a short cruise but gave us a good view of the lake which is only 1 km long. We looked in more of the souvenir shops and Tykewife bought a small bell for a teaching friend. We stopped in a cafe and had some Black Forest cake. It was good. If it was up to me, I could eat it at every meal! The sun started to shine so we decided to play a game of miniature golf which was at the cafe. It also had a model railway setup they charged for but while Tykeson1 would have wanted to see it, we skipped it. The mini golf course was rather unimaginative (especially for we who had played at one of the best courses ever - Green Gables in Phoenix, sadly closed about the time we got married), but it was surprisingly challenging.

On the way back to the station we stopped in a combined butcher shop/bakery for the makings of a picnic lunch which we enjoyed on a nearby bench. Back at Neustadt, I walked the town walk while Tykewife slept. The signage was not as good as the Gengenbach walk so I missed some of the sights, but it was interesting and it got me into the town proper, which was uphill from the station.

Later Frau Heitz came by to settle the bill. I owed another 44 Euro for a shorttime rental/final cleaning and a miscalculation of the tax. Still, it was less per day than I had paid for a Super 8 room in Cheyenne last month! She asked us to write in her guest book and to pose for a picture for it before we left. She showed us many pictures from past guest books, many showing pets so when Tykewife made a fuss over the cats, Frau Heitz brought her two cats to show her. Looking in 12 years of guest books, it appears that we are the first Americans to stay there. There was one person from California but he was there with two German relatives. There were two other entries in English - Israel and Iceland.

We cooked brats for dinner and then used the internet. We hadn't heard from Tykeson1 for a couple of days, so we wrote him to write ASAP and emailed a neighbor to tell him that also. Funny how dependent we get on the almost instant communication. When I was his age, I and my 5 year younger brother were cycling around Europe for 6 weeks without our parents having any idea where we were, only where we had been a week before from our trail of post cards!

Wednesday, Oct. 2

I checked the internet when I got up and Tykesons 1 and 2 had emailed. At 9:00 AM we walked to the station for the 9:31 train to Freiburg im Breisgau. It was a short walk from the bahnhof to the cathedral. There was a farmer's market around the cathedral, lots of flowers, fresh food, and cooked food. We went inside the church and admired the stained glass. Good thing it was a fairly sunny day as I had previously read somewhere that the church was somewhat dark. Not as many side chapels as many such churches. Outside I took several pictures of gargoyles.

We had a nice weisswurst at one of the stands. Next to it was a stand featuring tofu - not doing much business! A 2 man band was playing - guitar and bass. Doing a very good job. If all street musicians were this good, I wouldn't mind them. We later saw them in another location, drawing a good crowd in both locations. We walked around more of the old town, buying a few postcards and taking pictures of the light rail for Tykeson1.

Back in Neustadt, I walked back into the town to buy some cokes and I found some bottles of Mountain Dew (my favorite). I stopped to pick up another slice of Black Forest cake. Back at the fewo, it was nice and sunny so I ate my cake and drank my dew on the terrace. Very nice. The Heitz's took our picture and we took one of them. The frau asked what time she needed to take us to the station. We said she didn't need to take us as it was such a short walk, but she insisted!

Thursday, Oct. 3 - German Unity Day

At 10:00 AM Frau Heitz drove us to the bahnhof. She gave us a big package of dark chocolate/cherry candy bars as a going away gift. Very friendly. We were traveling outside of the Black Forest so our Konus card would do us little good today. I bought the Baden-Württemberg ticket (26 E). It was not checked on any of the trains. I thought today might be crowded on the train since it was a holiday, but that was not the case. It looked like the first leg would be almost empty, but then a train arrived and almost everyone got on the one we were taking. Rather than the most direct route, I planned to go via the upper Danube valley.

We rode from Neustadt to Sigmaringen, with the most scenic part between Tuttlingen, Beuron, and Sigmaringen. While we were trying to see the sights in the area before Beuron, the lady sitting across from us told us (in her pretty good English) that the part after Beuron was also interesting. She got off and a young monk sat down. There is a monastery in Beuron. When Tykewife and I were speculating about the type of rock that formed the cliffs, he spoke up in English that the rocks were Jurassic. The valley is very scenic and I have planned a future canoe or bicycle trip through the area.

We had a brief look at the Sigmaringen castle as we entered the town. I had toured it years ago. While we waited for the next train, we looked for a WC. There was a sign saying that there was one 200 M down the road. Well, we couldn't find it! Fortunately our next train came before disaster! In Aulendorf, our next change station, the train was 15 minutes late, but no big deal as we were soon in Meckenbeuren.

We oriented ourself to the map from Google and walked perhaps 200 yards where Frau Boos was waiting for us. The room was on the second floor. Somewhat of a shock to go from a big apartment to a room not much bigger than the bed and a bathroom. Still it was adequate. Breakfast was not included in the rent but we had use of the kitchen where we used the refrigerator but did not cook there. Frau Boos brought the bill but I didn't have enough cash and she was satisfied to be paid the next day.


Haus am Geissbock

Haus am Geissbock
Famile Franz und Ulrike Boos
Bahnhof Str 6
Tel - 7542/21936
Email -

Frau Boos speaks very little English. 50 E per day. Nice location not far from train station. On a road that is busy at times. Crosswalk in front of house. At night there is not much traffic. If windows are closed, very little noise.


I walked around the town and used the ATM at a local bank. For dinner we ate at the nearby El Greco Greek restaurant. I had an OK schnitzel while Tykewife had dolmades and spanakopita. They also gave us some ouzo. Tykewife took one small sip and was almost sick. Since I don't drink. it didn't matter to me! The food was fine. I don't think it was that meal, but Tykewife had a bad bout of stomach flu that night.

Friday, Oct. 4

Since Tykewife was feeling under the weather, I went out on my own for the day after getting some food supplies at the supermarket near the bahnhof. I got the all day, all zone transportation pass for 13.80 E. for the BODO system (Bodensee-Oberschwaben Bahn). I took the train to Freiedrichshafen, stopping first at the 'stadt' station and then a very short way on at the 'hafen' station. Walking down the steps from the station, you are right at the Zeppelin Museum. Admission was 8 E and audio guide was 3 E. I had to leave my driver's license as security. The audio guide was an old fashioned one (rather than like at the Vogtsbauernhof) and I was able to operate it. It did give me more information that I needed so I used it sparingly. Some exhibits had English descriptions. It was an interesting museum. My mother-in-law claimed that she saw the Hindenberg explode. I especially liked the display of Zeppelin medals and souvenirs.

While I waited for the next train, I wandered around the city and bought a nice bratwurst at a stand. I took the train to Ravensburg where I walked to the Altstadt. It has several towers and a partial wall. Much bigger than Gengenbach and seems more modern. Lots of stores selling stuff I don't need. My camera batteries gave out and I found some batteries at a 'everything costs a Euro' store, but before I put them in, I came across a camera store and bought two packages of good Lithium batteries. Good thing since I needed them before the trip was over.

When we had a toy store, we sold Ravensburger puzzles and games. (Their 'Amazing Labyrinth' is one of the best games ever created). I went into the Ravensburger Museum store but didn't go into the museum, saving it for later if Tykewife came to Ravensburg. I found a very nice toy store with a great selection of Playmobil toys, another brand that we sold. The company has really expanded its line and I doubt we would have been able to carry every item they made (as we did when we had the store). I bought 4 small boxes, mostly various knights for the Playmobil castle I still have. The tourist office in town is smart, having a box outside the office with town maps that can be accessed even when the office is closed.

Back in Meckenbeuren I went to the internet cafe that was just down the street from the zimmer. It really is a cafe so we needed to order a drink while we used the internet. It had 2 terminals, coin operated. After checking the emails, we went across the street to eat. I had another kebap and Tykewife had a cheese pizza to try to calm her digestive system. She said it was an excellent pizza.

Saturday, Oct. 5

After breakfast we bought the BODO all zone, group ticket - only 15 E. On the train to Friedrichshafen Stadt where we picked up bus 7395. Nice bus with not that many stops. We took it to Unteruhldingen. At the bus stop was a sign directing us to the Pfahlbauten - an open air museum of the stone age and bronze age lake dwellings. There was a light rain but easily handled without an umbrella. Admission 8 E each. We got the English guide (4 E) to read later and there was a free English handout which was adequate. The admission lady told us to go with the German tour that was starting as there were two buildings that could only be visited with a tour. We were able to understand quite a bit in the first (bronze age) house, but the second house lecture was not well understood and went on and on, so we left the tour and did the rest on our own. It was disappointing that photos are not allowed. What possible damage would taking photos do? An interesting museum, but not one that you would visit a second time.

When we got off the bus, there was a sign to a reptile house. Tykewife wanted to go, so we walked a couple of hundred yards to it. Admission was 6 E each. It was a small exhibit but we enjoyed it. We especially liked the Green Iguana since we and Tykeson2 had raised one for the past 7 years. The one in the exhibit was quite a bit bigger than ours (thank goodness our Fred didn't get that big!). We had recently transferred ownership to a nice family with lots of kids who would love him.

Back to the bus stop and bus 7395 which we took 2 more stops to the church Birnau. From the bus stop it was a short walk through an apple orchard to the church. Not much from the outside, but WOW, what an inside. Great view overlooking the Bodensee. Grrrr - no pictures allowed - two places in one day! We had thought about going to Meersburg castle (also on bus 7395's route), but Tykewife was feeling tired. So it was back by bus to Friedrichshafen where we wandered around the downtown looking for a place to eat. Tykewife ate at a nice Asian restaurant with excellent food while I had another Kebap. Do you notice a pattern in my eating preferences? Back in Meckenbeuren we visited the internet cafe again and then back to the room.

Sunday, Oct. 6

Today is German-American Day in the US. In Germany it is the last day of the prime tourism season. I guess just like our summer season ends after Labor Day, the German season ends on the Sunday after Unity Day.

Tykewife wasn't feeling up to par, so she stayed at the zimmer while I went on my own. The train to Friedrichshafen was 10 minutes late so I missed my bus. Since it was Sunday, the bus ran every hour rather than every half hour. I eventually got on bus 7395 and went to Meersburg. Nice old town, excellent castle. I got a 10% discount (off the 8.50 E admission) to the castle by showing my BODO ticket (this discount was suggested by the ticket seller!). I also got the discount on the 1 E English guide (excellent - just the right amount of description). Lots of animal trophies, armor, and weapons. Nice location on the hill overlooking the Bodensee.

I walked around the town - lots of half timbered buildings - and down to the lake. Quite a number of steps down to the lake (and back up again!). For a Sunday, there were lots of businesses open.

On the way back I went all the way to Ravensburg to check out the bus schedules if I decided to visit the church in Weingarten and then back to Meckenbeuren and the internet cafe and then another kebap.

Monday, Oct. 7

I got up and went to the supermarket at 8:00 AM to get bread, etc. for breakfast and stopped at the bahnhof to get the Euroregio Bodensee East zone ticket - 17.50 E each. This ticket was necessary because we would be traveling outside the BODO area and Baden-Wuerttenberg area. I figure it would have cost twice as much if we had bought separate tickets for each leg of our day's journeys. At 10:10 we took the train to Lindau. The train goes all the way to the harbor. We walked around the island. Some nice old buildings but not as compact as Gengenbach. We tried to go into one church but it was locked so we went in the one next to it. Wow, another great interior. Lots of marble - what a pulpit! The rathaus exterior was also very nice.

Back in Friedrichshafen where we grabbed a bite to eat then took the ferry to Romanshorn, Switzerland. It was cold and there was no place to sit out of the wind except the eating area so I had a hot chocolate while Tykewife had a cappuccino. We paid in Euro although they priced it in Swiss Francs and then converted to Euros - at a good rate for them, I'm sure.

We arrived in Romanshorn and saw no passport control or customs. We walked around the harbor to a church on the hill (closed) and then back to town. It was like we were in the Twilight Zone - all the streets were deserted, the stores were closed. There was one interesting fountain/sculpture. It was a coiled pipe with a handle. I turned it and water was forced up the coil and out the top. At the nearby train station we got some snacks, again paying in Euro at a disadvantageous exchange rate. We took the next ferry back (a few very big trucks on the ferry) and trained back to Meckenbeuren. This was Tykewife's first trip into Switzerland - not a very impressive introduction.

The internet cafe is closed on Monday and Tuesday so we weren't able to check email. We just finished up the leftover food we had instead of going out for dinner. Frau Boos came by to ask us if she could take a picture of us for the guestbook, and we wrote our entry in the book. From the ones we read, it appeared that we are the first Americans to stay there.

Tuesday, Oct. 8

After I got breakfast food at the supermarket, I used the nearby ATM and discovered that I could specify the amount and denominations I wanted, rather than the pre-specified amounts and denominations which tended to give an awful lot of 50 E notes. I specified more 10 E and 20 E notes. The train to Ulm had plenty of seats and then we changed to the IC train where fortunately we had reservations. Most people didn't and many had to stand. The train was running late and we missed the connection at Bingen. While we were waiting for the next one, we talked to a couple from Texas. They were using some sort of train pass that cost them about $900 each for 10 days of first class travel - Yikes! There was no problem from the conductor with our ticket even though it was for the previous train. Of course it wasn't our fault that we missed that one. We walked to our zimmer.


Haus Irmgard Orth

Haus Irmgard Orth
Spurgasse 2
Tel - 6743/1553

Bacharach Tourist Office

We had stayed with Frau Orth in Dec. 2011. We had the same room with the king sized bed and private bath. On the third floor, but Tykewife was ok with the stairs. 20 E apiece with a nice breakfast. Frau asked what we wanted for breakfast and I told her no egg for me, hot chocolate for me, egg and coffee for Tykewife. We also had wurst, cheese and bread. Excellent honey. The house is not too far from the train tracks, but trains seem to whoosh through the town rather than blowing their whistle and noisily clickety-clacking along. Frau Orth speaks very little English but we did a good job communicating with our limited German.


Frau Orth greeted us cheerfully and showed us to the room. Tykewife thought that maybe the room had been redecorated. I walked around town and then Tykewife and I went to eat at Ben's recommended eatery - Cafe Rusticana. The cafe is poorly identified with the 'Rusticana' sign in small letters a sign that is not very noticeable. I had the 1/4 chicken (excellent and served very hot) while Tykewife had goulash soup and the cold plate. Both of us thought the food was excellent. Tykewife had apple strudel for desert - the best she has ever had - and I had chocolate ice cream. Tykewife also had an excellent white wine.

Wednesday, October 9

The breakfast was excellent. I got the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket (RP) at the train station. First I tried by credit card, but if I had selected a PIN when I got the card recently, I had forgotten it. So I tried cash and only exact change was accepted. Luckily I had the 26 E. We trained to St. Goar and walked around. Not nearly as picturesque as Bacharach. I asked at the tourist office where to catch the little train to the castle. It was at the other end of the street, so we walked down. Tykewife needed to use the WC. Fortunately there is one near the little train stop. Although there was a sign saying there was no toilet paper in the WC, in fact there was. There was no soap however.

The little train was 4 E round trip - a good value as the castle is 300 feet above the town. We bought tickets (4 E each) and got the English guide sheet. I really liked the location and the ruins. I had a flashlight for the tunnels but did not explore them as much as last time. Oh well, I'm not as active as I was at 23!

Back down in town, we took the train to Koblenz. Funny how well we both remembered the layout of the station. I had a nice bratwurst/baguette at one of the eateries (only 2.20 E) while Tykewife had a salmon sandwich. We walked across the street to where they have internet. For some reason, they needed to check our passports. They asked if we wanted anything to drink and Tykewife said white wine. No, they said, they can't serve alcohol. Certainly we were in no casino in the US! We had cokes. We checked our email and when we went to pay for the cokes, they said they were on the house!

Back at the bookstore in the Hbf, I found some cans of Mountain Dew so I bought a couple as well as a USA Today. Mountain Dew has a fruitier taste in Germany than in the USA. Back in Bacharach, I walked along the Rhine before going to the little grocery for supplies for a picnic dinner.

Thursday, Oct. 10

Neither of us slept well last night for some reason. After breakfast we trained to Koblenz, then decided to go to Cochem. The sky was clearing and becoming a little sunny. In Cochem we got off and walked around the town for a couple of hours. There is a nice castle on the hill and lots of ships on the river. Some of the ships were multiday ships with cabins. We went in a church with nice, modern stained glass. Certainly a difference from the ones we saw on the Bodensee. Back in Koblenz we again visited the internet cafe and had another free coke and also a little piece of candy! I checked to see that our plane was still scheduled for a 10:30 departure. I had thought until this week that it was at 10:10, so I was glad to have the extra 20 minutes.

I checked on and for the train ticket to the airport and there was no longer a savings fare as there was yesterday. So not getting my ticket yesterday cost me an additional 14 E (43 vs 29). I walked across the street to the Hbf. and bought the ticket at the DB ticket office. At the bookstore, I found out they also had Dr. Pepper. I got a bottle - more of a cherry flavor than in the US.

We ate dinner again at the Cafe Rusticana. Tykewife had the same while I had the Schnitzel. A nice portion of schnitzel - not too much as the other places. Very good. Tykewife again had the excellent strudel. The owner said it was her own recipe and she made it herself.

We told the owner (Astrid Krzywicki) that we had tried to eat there in Dec. 2011, but the restaurant was closed for remodeling. She then explained that after her husband died, she didn't want to stay open, essentially by herself, for so few customers in the winter. So now she closes in November, sleeps for two weeks, and then does whatever sprucing up that the place needs. Then in January and February she goes to somewhere warm, usually in the southern hemisphere. She went first to Thailand and learned to SCUBA dive. The next two years she went to Australia and Ecuador (and Galapagos Islands) where of course she did more SCUBA. This winter she is going to South Africa. A day previously, she had met a couple from South Africa and it looks like she may visit them when she is there and go diving with the wife - in a cage surrounded by great white sharks! Quite a lady!

Friday, Oct. 11

We took the 9:30 train to Bingen. It waited for a few minutes at the hbf before it went to the Bingen (Stadt) station. A short walk to the pier where we bought the tickets for the KD boat. We got a discount by showing the RP ticket. While waiting, Tykewife tried a glass of Hildegard wine - named for a local female saint. It was just ok.

The weather was cold and drizzly so we got seats inside and had some Black Forest cake and apple strudel - neither as good as previous ones. There were a lot of Japanese tourists on board. The trip was ok, obviously would have been better if the weather was sunny and warmer. The Japanese got off at St. Goar, making the boat almost seem deserted. We went to Boppard, the final stop of the day. We walked with no difficulty to the train station, getting good directions the two times we asked along the way. Train to Koblenz where we again used the internet - no free cokes or candy today! I got another 100 Euro from the ATM, just to make sure I didn't run out before we left. I think I could have made it without it, but I didn't want to come up short.

For dinner we ate at the small kebap/pizza place across the street from the Rusticana. I had another Kebap and Tykewife a pepperoni Pizza which she declared 'excellent'. We got packed and cleaned up the room, then got to sleep.

Saturday, Oct. 12

Of course we never sleep well before we have an early day of travel. Up at 5:30 AM at the train station 15 minutes before the 6:31 train. It was a few minutes late to Mainz but we had enough time to catch the train to the airport. Bus to the terminal and then checked in with American Airlines. The plane was delayed two hours, but that wasn't too bad as it would cut our wait time in Dallas to a reasonable time. Passport checked various times, stupid security questions answered, a couple of last minute gifts and then we were waiting to board. We had to take the bus to the plane, so the orderly boarding of first class, etc was disrupted. No big deal, except for some reason we had 'priority access' boarding this time and it gave us no advantage. We had checked both bags so we only had our camera and netbook bags to take on board,

The flight to Dallas was long. My headset was worthless so I read a book and watched the progress of the plane across the ocean. Landing in Dallas, passport control was easy as was customs. We rechecked our bags and then had to go through security again. American's instructions were unclear as they seemed to indicate that we wouldn't have another security check. The checker was the slowest I have ever experienced. He took forever to check the boarding passes. A German couple in front of us were clearly puzzled as to why it was taking so long.

Finally on the plane to Denver where the slightly delayed plane made us just miss our Super Shuttle connections, causing us to wait two hours for the next. Uneventful bus and van ride to home, arriving about 25 hours after we had awakened that day.

Observations and lessons learned.

Well, at the end of my Christmas 2011 trip report, I mentioned that I would not plan anything on the first day except get to a hotel. I sort of broke that rule by planning to take a train to the first city. And what happened? For the SIXTH time my flight did not land on time. Tykeson2 who works for Sheraton had asked me if I wanted to stay at any of their hotels. I had already booked the accommodations, so I said no. As I sat in the Frankfurt Airport train station, looking up at the Sheraton, I concluded that I should have taken his offer. If I go again to Frankfurt and he still works for Sheraton, I will just go to the airport hotel the first day.

With Tykewife's bad knee (and mine having recent problems) we made a special effort to use the elevators that are available at many of the train stations, even smaller ones. This probably saved us at least 60 trips up or down stairs, a big help to the knees.

Why don't Germans use window screens?

I would like to avoid places that require a deposit sent by bank transfer. The fees for this are ridiculous. However, the two places where we were required to do this were such nice places that I am ok with them for this trip.

Germany has a plethora of transit groups. Lander tickets are good, but sometimes using a more localized system group will be more economical, such as the BODO system we used. It covered what we needed for 3 days. The Euroregio Bodensee ticket has 3 different zones that you can use to travel the Bodensee area of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Using just the east zone was good enough for our needs.

The BodenseeErlebniskarte is a discount card that covers the admission to several attractions. I considered purchasing one, but eventually decided against it and that was the best decision as we wouldn't have gotten full value out of it. If you are very busy visiting attractions, it might pay for itself.

If I was to go at this time of year again, I would not travel on Oct. 3. I had hoped to do a volksmarch on the trip and there were several on Oct. 3, but we were unable to do one then because of our travel plans.

Several of my trains were running late. It only really affected me on one day, but I was surprised that it happened so often.

Trip cost - 2328 Euro plus $378 plus whatever the ATM and conversion fees were. The Euro was about $1.35 during the trip.

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