Erskine by HHAV

April 29 - Wednesday

I rode with Mike H. to the airport this morning. Heís on the job and Iím starting my trip. Weíll get together next week at Zur Blume in the Black Forest for my second week and the first and only week of their trip. The Delta flight (from Tennessee) got to Atlanta on time and I had about three hours wait before departure of the flight to Munich. The Munich flight arrived about 45 minutes early.

April 30 - Thursday

Getting to Munich early didnít help as my bag was misplaced in the Munich airport. It took two hours to find the bag. I then took the train (Euro 6.90 = $9.00) to Ismaning. But that saved 20% airport fee on the car rental.

On the way to the Prössl (near Regensburg) I stopped at a bank for Euros. It appears the $ has lost more value since leaving home. Got to the Prössl about 1:00 and Frau Prössl had my room ready. This is the first time Iíve seen her in several years as she had some serious health issues. She looks very good now but Herr Prössl is having health problems. Henry and his Frau have three daughters ranging in age of three to nine years. I hope I can stay awake until 9:00.

Weather 45 degrees with rain changing to clouds. Prössl beer (½ litre) - Euro 2.60. ½ Schweinehaxen - Euro 7.20

May 1 - Friday - May Day

I stayed awake until 9:00 last night but woke up at 1:00. At 2:00 I took half a sleeping pill and went to sleep until 7:00. Started the day with a hearty breakfast by Frau Prössl. Ein four minute egg with Brot, jam, butter and coffee. I made a Speck, ham and cheese sandwich for lunch.
The weather is nice today and after washing a few clothes I left for the area of Kelheim and Riedenburg on the Main-Danau Kanal. This is a lovely area with the ships being lowered and raised by the locks. I got some good pics of the activity. A roadside park was just what I needed for my sandwich picnic. After lunch I continued the exploration of the Kanal. It's May Day in Europe, a big holiday, so no stores are open because the people are in the parks, lakes, Biergartens and woods.

I enjoyed the trip back via Hemau. The rapeseed are not in full bloom but very pretty, as usual. Back to the Prössl about 3:00 and the place is crowded. Two large busses and about 150 motorcycles and cars.

The busses are used to bring people for meals and enjoyment of the Prössl grounds with horses, cats, dogs and a goat.

May 2 - Saturday

Another good Prössl breakfast and settled up with Frau Prössl. She charged me $10 per day less than the posted rate. Then she gave me a six pack of Prössl beer. Iíll have to drink it because I canít pack it for the trip. Iíd like to pack two for Troy and Kim. Iíve got enough space in my bag but Iíll be using the train next week and I need to have light luggage. Oh well, T & K will understand--wonít they?

Left the Prössl about 8:30 and headed south via A93 and A9. Then took B471 rather than the autobahn around Munich. This was a good choice as this secondary road was mostly entrance/exit controlled. This is similar to autobahn except it's one lane each direction with occasional passing lanes.
I took some time driving around Pilsensee as I remembered it as the See where I stayed in 2000 with Walter Parker. After enjoying the Pilsensee for about an hour and half I saw a sign to Worthsee. That's it, thatís the see, not Pilsensee. So in five minutes Iím at the the front door of Woerl Gasthaus. Checked in and tried to connect to the internet. No luck so I took a drive to find an internet café. No luck there either as itís a holiday weekend and the only wi-fi place in town is closed.

I went to Andechs and found a huge crowd. There is always a large crowd but this was a holiday and made it even more crowded. They also had a antique display and to top it off it started to rain. The crowd took cover at all the food and beer places and had long, long lines. I took the umbrella and headed to the car. Sorry, I had to miss the antique show.

Back to the Woerl Gasthaus and drank a Prössl beer that I will not be able to take home. Had dinner overlooking the Worthsee. Two women joined me as there were no more seats overlooking the lake. I was about finished and they were very appreciative of the see-view seats. Not much English.
The Woerl rooms have been refurbished since Walter and I were here in 2000.

May 3 - Sunday

Woerl Breakfast was excellent. They offered to scramble some eggs but I thought missing an egg was OK since I have not missed a day on this trip.
Left the Woerl about 9:00 and shortly entered A96 direction Lindau. This autobahn has been under construction for many years and now finished. My plans (based on non-completion of A96) would have required five secondary roads. With the completion of A96 and A7I - only had two secondary.
I noticed that the front left tire was low so it was time to gas up and I found a station with an air hose. How much air is enough in a German car? The meter showed 2.2 which I though was the cost. So I asked a young man how much air and he said 2, 4. Twenty four I replied and he again said two, four. Then he took me to the meter and showed me two, period and four. Now, I think Iíve got it. So I put 2,.4 in the low tire and it still looked low. Pulled the trigger again and now the register reads 2.6 and that seemed to be OK. Bought some $5.85 gas, used the toilet and drove on to Bad Schussenried.

Arrived at Hotel Linde and tried for the fourth day to get a little afternoon nap. No luck but I am in luck with wireless facilities. In a few minutes the connections are made and Iím reading many e-mails. This new computer is really neat weighing two and half pounds. The keys are about the size of a regular notebook but some of the keys are in different locations. My left hand has a problem resting on the correct letters. So if you see an s, it likely should be an a. Also the delete button is at the top right and Iím accustomed to the bottom right. That caused a few additions rather than deletions.

Hotel Linde was fooled by the warm weather this afternoon. The hotel thought Spring had arrived so all the room heat was turned off. Now evening arrived and there is little doubt that winter-like weather is still here. But the heat operator is stubborn and refused to return heat. So I crawled under the heavy cover at 8:00 thinking that the heat will return tomorrow morning. Not so--still no heat. So now I warm up the car, which by the way, has damp clothes hanging by the windows to dry. I had washed thinking that the heat would continue but it was still Winter.

May 4 - Monday

Breakfast at the Linde was just average. Everything was average except the wi-fi. I had time to catch up with a few details and washed a few things expecting the heat to be on but it didnít happen. While it was very warm yesterday afternoon the rain dropped the temperature and the heat was never turned on--last night or this morning. I put wet clothes into the car on the dash board and rear deck. After a couple of hours it appeared the clothes had not dried but were dry enough to pack. So I will not return to the Linde.

I took part of the day driving scenic mountain roads. I have never been in the the Schwäbische Albs area. The elevation is about 1000 meters (3,300 feet) and lots of streams, forest, and narrow roads. There is a railroad that runs down the valley from Munsingen to Sigmaringen accenting the topography east and west. The Albquell Bräuhaus is in the downtown plaza as if the town was built around the Brauerei. Itís a charming place and the townís people gather at the Albquell Brauhaus, of course.

The rooms are excellent. Very clean and arranged to be comfortable and also to do a little work on an all wooden desk. This is the very best facility of the trip (Zur Blume excluded). But, of course they are not wireless. The published price for a single is E 38.

I had white wurst, special mustard and bread for dinner. It was really good. The pair of small white parsley wurst were cooked in a chicken broth with parsley flakes. Wow, really tasty. I noticed about half of the customers were eating the parsley wurst special so I followed the group.
The Bräuhaus is a special place and worth a repeat. The Bräuhaus sales a five litre beer keg for E 9 ($12), Around Hendersonville the five litre keg goes for $20-22.

May 5 - Tuesday

The Albquell Bräuhaus breakfast was the best so far on the trip and the manager gave me three beers and a beer glass. The routing to Zur Blume took three hours rather than the planned two hours. Traffic on the secondary roads was very heavy. Many trucks driving slowly up the 5-8% grades at 49 kph and the speed limit was only 50. I just stayed behind the trucks. Peg would not believe that I have such patience.

Arrived at Zur Blume and desk clerk had saved me a beautiful room with balcony. Iím sure Ingrid had coded the reservation. She also helped me with the internet but that room would not accept my cable. She moved me to another room one floor lower. The internet works. The usual Blume Gemütlichkeit.

Took some time to shop for Peg and the kids this afternoon. Very difficult because it must be what they want, space efficient and not breakable. Also, I canít find anything for Ryan (almost 7).

May 6 - Wednesday

Mike and Denise arrived about noon. Their plane was two hours late leaving Charlotte--bad weather. So, they arrived Haslach later than planned. After lunch they took to the hills climbing all the way to the top. I turned down an invitation to join them and took care of some laundry. Zur Blume has a towel warmer so as soon as the clothes stopped dripping I placed them on the rack. Shortly later the clothes were dry. I tried to get an afternoon nap but failed again.

Mike and Denise were waiting for me on the outside balcony. We talked about the trip and made plans for the next six days. Then I had a real unexpected surprise--Thomas, Beate, Protrion and newest member of the family--Tim. Both children are adopted. She is 5½ years and Tim is 15 months. Their daughter is Thai and they searched for a German boy for several years. When the opportunity arrived the agency gave them one hour to decide if they wanted the one day old boy. Thomas was at work and Beate called his secretary and they started the search. After 45 minutes Thomas had not been located so Beate called and accepted the boy. Thomas was thrilled. The day after receiving the child they realized he was deaf. The boy has just started walking and he is much loved by the big sister, Thomas and Beate. What a lovely family.

Thomas resigned his former job that required a lot of international travel. He was not at home enough to enjoy watching his family grow. He was rehired by Bosch and now drives 45 minutes to the job. Heís home most nights. It was a delight to share an evening with the Singler family. They wished Peg well and would love to see her. They would like to see Troy and Kim and give all the children a chance to meet. They said they still talk about the Christmas party in Alabama with Walter, Marlene, kids and friends. They wanted me to especially thank Tom Corley for the Zur Blume painting. Itís hung on the wall with the Moser family history in the Gasthaus. What a delightful evening.

May 7 - Thursday

Maria was taking care of the breakfast buffet this morning when she saw me. We had a big hug. I understood her to say, ďif I could only speak Englishď. And I said if I could only speak Deutsch. The body language had to do the communications as neither of us could express our affections in the otherĎs language.

Following breakfast Mike/Denise followed me to Offenburg to return the car. The road detours were awful, all the way to Offenburg. Mike took the lead and we found Avis. Took about two minutes to get the Lancia back to them.

We left Offenburg and started the return to Haslach. We stopped in Gengenbach and enjoyed seeing this charming old city within the wall. After Gengenbach we went to Zell am Harmersbach which will be my home for two days.

Iím staying in a private home named Haus Daheim. The room is a double and has bathroom ensuite, lots of room, accessable to the train station and places to shop and eat. Recommended by BavariaBen. The man that can find the best place to stay at a reasonable price. This looks like a great find.

I spent the afternoon scouting out the area, including the information center. The Bahnhof is about 200 meters from Haus Daheim and the Gasthaus Berger is next door. Mike and Denise joined me for dinner at the Gasthaus. Everyone was pleased with the food and especially the service. The Herr Ober (Edgar) was also the owner (third generation). He spoke excellent English which he learned in school starting at age eight. The Gasthaus is 20 yards from the Haus Daheim.

May 8 - Friday

Frau Zimmerman had breakfast ready and I was hungry. Meats, cheese, butter, jelly, juice and great hard rolls and coffee. What a way to start the day. Again I made a small sandwich for lunch. The Zimmerman family are really nice.

I spent more than half the day utilizing my train/bus pass viewing the Black Forest. The trains were not crowded this morning but about noon school kids plus regular passengers poured into the small one car train. The kids were taking a group trip and they all had bags, large bags. The kids were about 10 and wanted to try out their English. At one stop a young woman with bike squeezed into the train, well almost as the rear wheel was outside the door. The train operator opened the door and everyone was ready except for two more girls running down the platform with bikes. They also got in the door and every one was in good spirits.

I returned to the Haus about 2:00 and took a nap--first during the trip. There was a heavy rainstorm early this morning but cleared in time for me to walk the 200 yards to the Bahnhof. When I returned from the train this afternoon the rain started again. Timing is everything. Now if I can make it to the Gasthaus and back without rain Iíll be three for three. Made two of three. There was a very bad rain and hail storm. I had planned to eat at 5:00 but the storm lasted until 6:30. With only a light rain I took the umbrella and went to the Gasthaus and found no one there except the owner (Edgar). He fixed a sandwich and I took it back to Haus Daheim. The sandwich was good. No beer.

May 9 - Saturday

I had a good breakfast and caught the 9:09 train from Zell to Biberach (four minutes) and connected to the next train to Offenburg. Then another train to Freiburg. Peg and Walter will remember Freiburg as we spent the night there without our luggage from Brussels. It will be here Morgen said the clerk and we found out it means maybe tomorrow. We found a Gasthaus near the Bahnhof and early the next morning Walt and I went to pick up the bags. No luck, maybe after lunch. So we took a train into the Black Forest to Titisee and returned to Freiburg and found our luggage. We ran to the platform and jumped on the train to Brig and continued our trip on the Glacier Express and then to Austria and Germany.

Back to current travel - I took the fourth train today from Freiburg to Kirchzarten. Arrived about 11:30 and checked into the Alte Post and returned to the Bahnhof which is just across the street. Sort of figured out the train schedule and took the train to Seebrugg which also stopped at Titisee. I took the next train to Kirchzarten and thought about taking a nap before meeting Mike and Denise, No luck again.

Mike and Denise have been here two days and have learned the area well. We had dinner at a beautiful country Gasthaus. I ordered Forelle (trout). Iím not so fond of trout but Peg likes it so much, so thinking of her and Mutters day tomorrow I took the fish. Must say it was good.

Back to the Alte Post and started writing the dayís activities. I hope for a good nightís sleep, just like last night. The night was not as good as hoped because the thick comforter was much too warm. I got up at midnight and took the sheet off the comforter, put on my PJ's, took half a sleeping tablet and closed the window. Slept good until 6:15. Breakfast OK, good rolls--sounds familiar!

May 10 - Sunday

The trains are getting accustomed to me with my frequent access. Now I took a bus trip that included St. Peter. Peg and I visited this charming little village with a large church and school some years ago. After the bus tour I did a little research for Mike & Denise. Mike wants to go to the top of Feldberg mountain (tallest in the Black Forest). It's on his priority list. Denise is more interested in shopping some classy shops in Freiburg. So I took the train to Barental (train stop for Feldberg). Got the information for the trip to the mountain that included trains to and from Kirchzarten.

Getting shopping information for Denise was more difficult as I had no idea where to find the good stuff in Freiburg. So I went to the city and walked the platform looking for an answer. Then I noticed a well dressed young woman waiting for a train - and maybe her boy friend. I approached her and said, my daughter is arriving tomorrow and wants to shop for top of the line womenís clothes. Can you give me some directions to the best shops in town. She began to tell me where to go and how to get there. I couldnít write fast enough so I asked her to write the name of the shops. She drew a diagram of the train station, location of the shops and the distances.

I have not seen Mike and Denise today, as planned. So I took the information for Feldberg and shops to their Gasthaus. Early that evening I ran into them in the townís plaza. We had a sandwich and I headed back to the Alte Post.

May 11 - Monday

Breakfast at the Alte Post is OK, not outstanding. The woman hostess is very nice and helpful but the man has not spoken since I checked into the room. Thatís OK with me.

Back onto the train - Iím on the way to Donaueschingen where the Donau (Danube) river is only a bubbling spring. The train from Neustadt is outstanding. The others in the area are suited more for cattle transit. They all run on time.

I struggled up the hill from the Bahnhof to the Café Benegler. Peg and I and others have eaten desserts there and they are really good. I bought one and took it back to Kirchzarten for Mike and Denise. They went to Freiburg for shopping. I also went to Freiburg only to transfer trains to Elzach. After leaving the urban Freiburg area there are some beautiful farm lands in the valleys surrounded by Black Forest mountains. One of the mountain ranges was recovering from a high wind storm in 2000. There were no trees but bushes had been planted. The storm was very bad. Germany does not have tornadoes but high winds of 100 MPH. When I returned to Kirchzarten and exited the train there was Mike and Denise getting off the same train.

I excused myself for dinner as there was some packing and note writing. We plan to meet tomorrow at 9:00 and drive to Heidelberg. Iíll take a train from there to Russelsheim (near the airport). Walter, Marlene and P & I visited Heidelberg and stayed in Russelsheim on one of our trips. Philipp Pension will be my lodging place in Russelsheim before returning home Wednesday morning. It's near Frankfurt Airport.

Philipp has wireless service in every room which will give me a chance to catch up with notes. Wireless service is so valuable on a trip, ie, I may have language problems at the train information center but on the internet I can find exactly what I want. Someday (not distant) there will be wireless service in every hotel room, It's here now in the expensive hotels at extra cost. It's not only good to keep up with family and USA news but to be able to handle plans during the trip.

May 12 - Tuesday

Had breakfast at 8:00 at the Alte Post and finished packing and ready for Mike/Denise to pick me up at 9:00. Weíre off to Heidelberg where they drop me at the Hauptbahnof. I bought a ticket to Russelsheim and was on the train in eight minutes--that included the time waiting. When we arrived at the Russelsheim station it was raining heavily. I waited a few minutes and then took a chance and about half way to the pension it started raining again. My luggage was not totally wet but very damp.

I arrived and met Herr Philipp (Pension) wet and glad to have cover. Heís 80 and speaks English very well. The house is about twice his age and has many rules.

He demonstrated how the TV operates and then explained the shower. Push two buttons on the left and wait 15 minutes. Then push the third button on the right and step into the shower. I think thatís the order. He didnít say how long the hot water will last. Men are asked to sit on the commode to urinate. No standing allowed.

I unpacked my bags and hung clothes on a line to dry. Iím sure the Pension has a rule against drying clothes. The rain stopped and I walked the neighborhood looking for a place to have my last meal of the trip. There is a Gasthaus across the street and I dodged the traffic and entered the place. It smelled like Turkish tobacco and as guessed it was a mid-eastern café. Men only. Iíve never seen a German Gasthaus like this. Back on the street and thereís an Italian restaurant. I opened the mini computer and started recapping the dayís activity while sipping a beer. The food was good and the service excellent. Why is it that Italians are the best waiters?

Back to Philipp Pension and repack the clothes. I stayed up until 10:00 and slept well until 5:30. Left the Pension at 6:30. I had planned to have breakfast at 7:15 but decided that more time was needed to get to the airport. So I left my host a note that I was leaving early. I had paid in advance, of course.

I walked to the Bahnhof and took the train to FRA (Frankfurt airport). Itís a 12 minute trip. The train stops at Terminal 1 and Delta leaves from Terminal 2. It took 20 minutes of walking and rail shuttle to get to Terminal 2. It's not easy to get to Frankfurt airport by car nor is it easy to get between the terminals and gates. The newer airports like Munich are much more passenger friendly.

The flight leaves on time and this is a really nice Delta 767. Good seats, and an entertainment screen in the back of each seat. You have choices of TV, flight maps, numerous games, movies, music and more. The flights are on time or early and Peg and Kim meet me at BNA (Nashville airport). Surprise, Mike and Denise arrive at the same time on their USAir flight. They had gotten onto an earlier flight than planned.

Oh it's good to be home and see Peg and family. As always, Iím ready for a long, good night of rest...


E1.00 = $1.33 - for most of the May period

Average cost of lodging per night: E40 = $52.30

Average cost of gas per gallon $5.85

Average MPG 35. I requested the smallest diesel car. Got a gas Lancia (rather large car).
Rental car weekly cost $233. No airport tax.

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