by - KJones2840
My planning for this trip to Germany started last October. The main goal in a start so early before departure was to secure an economical airfare with reasonable flight times. After many hours searching the Internet, I decided to lock-in the price and flights with DiscountFlights.com. The price was $594.12 per person. This included all fares, taxes, and fees. I felt very lucky to get this price on the airfares along with good flights. Once I got the air portion of the trip taken care of, I began to work on the lodging reservations. We had decided on flying into Munich, driving over to Rothenburg for 3 nights, then down to Garmisch for 3 nights, eastward to Reit Im Winkl for 3 nights, and finally 1 night in Eching, departing from the Munich airport. After securing room reservations I contacted Gemut.com and Andy Bestor assisted me with getting the car I needed. Gemütlichkeit was cheaper than Auto Europe but the contract was written thru them, the car supplied by Europcar. The price was in the $400.00 range for 10 days, having lost my receipt. Now with all the airfares, rooms, car taken care of, it's time to read trip reports, contact folks with questions, and make notes. Waiting for D-Day is almost unbearable, but also fun at the same time in the anticipation of the journey.
On this trip my daughter Lauren and her
friend Laurin, both 14 years old are going with me. My Frau Barbara and our friend Janice also are tagging along.
My mother and two sisters are traveling to Germany apart from us. They are flying into Munich the day after our
arrival and driving up to the Hof area for 2 days before coming to Rothenburg. We all will meet up then.
Sunday June 8th finally arrives. All the bags are packed. I had confirmed all flight and hotel reservations the day before. We're ready to go. We are flying from Nashville, TN to Washington, D.C. and then on to Munich. Easy check-in at Nashville, long lines at Security, but they move everyone along quickly. We are on United Express, riding in a CRJ to Dulles, departing on time we arrive in Washington a few minutes early. Easy walk/ride to the gate and our United Airlines flight 962 departs on time. We are in seats 25 A-E. I'm smiling because I know in 8 hours I'll be in a favorite place of mine, Germany.
Monday June 9th, we arrive in Munich at 0730, 30 minutes ahead of schedule. The weather outside is warm and sunny. As usual, slow going thru Passport Control. My bags are some of the last to come off the aircraft, but thankfully everyone's baggage has arrived with no problems. We grab a luggage cart and load up. First stop is an ATM machine to stock up on Euros. Barbara, Janice and myself use our ATM cards without difficulty. The rate is 1.20 US to one Euro, a 20% increase from my September visit. We used our ATM cards several times during the trip and encountered no problems. We had been watching the rates and knew we would be paying more due to the exchange rates. We then wander the airport shopping area a few minutes checking out some of the stores. I hit the Nordsee restaurant for my first shrimp sandwich of the trip. Sehr gut!
On to the car rental center, a pretty good hike from the center of the airport where we are now. No lines at the Europcar counter, very nice employees here. We are given a new Audi A-4 diesel station wagon. As I open the back hatch it's " oh no, will this luggage fit?" The cargo area is not very large. Finally after much cramming and rearranging we get most of the bags in place. Two of our small carry-on bags ride on laps.
Anyway, away we go, easy exit from the airport onto the
A-92, then over to the A-9 heading north. We turn off the A-9 at exit 55 driving over to Hwy 2 near Roth. From
Roth we hit the A-6 at exit 57 near Schwabach and on over to the A-7 getting off at exit 108 at Rothenburg. Rothenburg
is in the 3rd day of the Pfingstfestpiele (Whitsun Festival).
The town is completely closed off to vehicle traffic till 1800. We park in the P-1 lot down near the Spital Bastion.
We are staying at the Gerberhaus, Spitalgasse 25, it is near 12 noon, figure we cannot check-in yet,
but decide to stop at the hotel anyway.
Downstairs Barbara and Janice's apartment is almost a duplicate of our quarters. The upstairs apartment was € 94 a night, downstairs € 89. We could have had rooms inside the hotel but we like having the refrigerators and the extra room. My Mom and sisters had room 17 inside the hotel upon their arrival a couple days later. This room is huge with a king size bed, one double bed along with a couple of chairs, tables and a nice bathroom. Several stairs one has to take to this room is the only negative.
Once we dump off the luggage we head out to explore the town and checkout the goings-on of the Fest. The town as you can guess is crowded with visitors. Dozens of townspeople are dressed in garb from 1600's. Soldiers march in squads up and down the streets. Local peasants perform dances in the Marktplatz. A blacksmith has set up shop at the corner of Rödergasse and Paradeisgasse, we pause here to watch as several men hold a "mad" man down and the blacksmith places the poor fellow in chains and pounds the clamps shut around his limbs. Outside the town wall near the Rödertor the "attacking army" has set up camp, several tents with campfires going here.
Back at our hotel the rooms have been cleaned and we spend a few minutes unpacking. Time for a short rest, it's been a long day since starting the day before. Hard to rest though as the foot traffic is heavy along the town wall that is only about 4 meters from the bedroom window, not to mention the outside temperature is right at 92 degrees, the room is hot. Thank goodness for my portable fan which is moving the air a little.
After our afternoon break we again walk up to the P-4 area, find us a table and enjoy the music the band is playing. A parade is also coming down the footpath along here and going thru the Gallows gate down to the Rathaus for the closing ceremonies of the Fest. No one being very hungry, the teens dine on schnitzel sandwiches, I have a couple of grilled bratwursts mit semmel und senf and Barbara and Janice have soft pretzels along with a couple of pastries.
After 90 minutes or so listening to the
music we head back toward our hotel pausing at the Marktplatz for a few minutes to watch the ending of the parade.
The town has emptied out fairly well by now, auto traffic is back on the streets and most of the shops are closed.
Back to our rooms and lights out shortly for myself.
Tuesday June 10th, another sunny and very hot day. I'm up early to get my run at the shower before the teenagers take the bathroom over. Getting everyone on the move before long we eat breakfast at the Gerberhaus. Good breakfast. Scrambled eggs mixed with diced ham, several fruits, yogurts, breads, cereals, jellies, juice, coffee, tea, a couple of different meat and cheese choices. Everyone tanked up we load up in the car for a long day of sightseeing.
In retrospect I tried to do too much for this day, everyone is still suffering some from jet lag plus the time we spent on the road I underestimated. Anyway we jump on the A-7 heading north then over to the A-3 west and onto Hwy 42 with the Rhine River area being our destination. We get to Rüdesheim in just over a couple of hours, ran into a stau coming into the outskirts of Frankfurt, but was not a major holdup. We find a parking spot without difficulty, as the town is very quiet. We stop at Wencel Kaiser's shop at Rheinstrasse 8 making a few purchases, what a salesman this fellow is. Everything is 50% off or more when he is at the shop. Exploring the shops lining the Drosselgasse and up along Oberstrasse, I stop in at a wine shop across from the Hotel zum Grünen Kranz I found on my last visit here to pickup some wine for my Mother. Stopping back at an imbiss about halfway down the Drosselgasse we munch on bratwurst and schnitzel sandwiches with pommes frites along with cokes. Barb gets an ice cream cone.
It's almost a two-hour wait for the next cruise up to St. Goarhausen, we don't want to wait and decide to visit the Burg Eltz, a castle Barbara and I missed on our last visit. We drive up Hwy 42 to Kaub and cross the Rhine on the car ferry here, we head up to Oberwesel and from here over to the A-61 at exit 44, heading north we get off at exit 40 and cross over the Mosel River at Lof. Roads are very well marked leading us to the parking area for the Eltz.
The Burg Eltz is a magnificent castle sitting in a very pretty valley. I am surprised due to there being only 3 to 4 dozen cars in the parking lot, I was expecting it to be crowded. We hike down to the castle pausing to take photos along the way. We join the next German tour, no English tours today, and follow along with our English brochure. The tour guide is very nice and answers our questions as we go along. The tour over, we purchase a few postcards and elect to take the taxi back to our auto. The steep walk back along with the hot sun, I'm not up for that today.
We backtrack thru Lof and over to the A-61 heading straight to the A-60 and onto Mainz hitting the A-3 just above Russelsheim. From here we scoot over to the A-7 at Würzburg and head south to Rothenburg. Everyone is tired when we get back to Rothenburg late this afternoon, too much riding for one day. But everyone is also ready for supper and we pick a winner for our next meal. We dine at the Restaurant Rothenburger Kartoffelstube in the Gasthof Rödertor, Ansbacher Strasse 7. Ginny Harper recommended this place in her trip report on Ben's website and again when I emailed her with questions. This place has a large Biergarten out back that has a limited menu. However there is a small area just outside the entrance to the restaurant that uses the same menu as the inside restaurant in case you want to sit outside and not have limits on food choices. This restaurant is as the name implies "Kartoffel-Spezialitäten".
After ordering drinks Janice excuses herself to the Toilette and returns in a minute. She says, "Okay am I a Herren or a Damen? I've always had pictures before but not this time." Of course we crack up and direct her to the correct door missing a golden opportunity for a joke here. Lauren and Laurin have the Rahmschnitzel mit kartoffelpuffer und salat. I have the Putenschnitzel mit champignons und kartoffelkroketten with a salat. We drink 4 eistees. Rechnung is 39.40 euros. Barbara has the potato soup and Janice has the same meal as myself. This is a great place to dine, excellent service and great food.
Everyone feeling better after getting
our bellies full we head on to our hotel. Janice and the teens climb the stairs at the Rödertor and walk the
wall back to the Gerberhaus, don't blame them for walking, I'm sick of the car also. Relaxing at the room for a
few minutes Barbara, the girls and I decide to walk up to the Roter Hahn Hotel,
Obere Schmiedgasse 21. They have a small Internet café inside costing € 3 per half hour. The girls send
messages home to their Mom's. Barbara and I send messages to family also along with checking any messages sent
our way. We take our time wandering back to the Gerberhaus doing some window-shopping along the way and also hitting
an Eiscafe for ice cream cones on the way back. Back at the room it's lights out for me after a couple hours of
Wednesday June 11th, another beautiful sunny day, but the temperatures have been unusually hot mostly up in the 90 to 94 degrees F. range. Hopefully today will not be so heiss. Thankful though that it is not raining. We have another fine breakfast at our hotel and shortly after eating we load up the car. Time to stop for petrol as I'm near empty and I halt at the first Tankstelle I see outside the town wall. I hop out and start pumping fuel and realize after putting about 6 liters of gasoline into the car that I am driving a diesel engine auto. Dummkopf!!! What a dummy I am! Kicking myself, I walk into the store and pay for the Benzin, then walk out to the pump and resume fueling the car with diesel. When I go back into the store the clerk is looking at me like I'm crazy, after I explain to him in my limited Deutsch what a fool I am he gets a big laugh out of this. Thankfully the car did ok and I did not ruin the engine. I'm thinking maybe I should go back to bed.
Today we are going to drive over to visit the Castle and the Altstadt in Heidelberg. Again we start on the A-7 heading south to connect with the A-6 running to the west and finally hit the A-5 getting off at exit 38, which takes us into downtown Heidelberg. The traffic on the A-6 was terrible with a heavy volume of cars and trucks. There is lots of construction on the road. Near Heilbronn there is a horrible wreck on the other side of the autobahn involving a large tanker truck and the stau stretches over 30 kms. I'm sorry for the accident but glad I'm not on the other side of the autobahn.
Anyway all this makes for slow going and adds an hour
to our ride. We finally arrive near the old part of town and park in an underground garage near the Hauptstrasse.
We visit the Heiliggeistkirche
(Church of the Holy Ghost) before heading over to take the funicular up to the Castle. Wonderful views here especially
from the Castle Terrace.
I check to see if my Mom and sisters have arrived from
Hof. They have checked in, but are not in their room. The teens go for a walk around the town. Janice also heads
out to check a few shops. Barbara and I decide to join the crowd and walk up to the Fussgängerzone to do some
shopping also. We find some great bargains along the way on glass Christmas ornaments and as a collector of bier
glasses, I find a few new ones to add to my collection. On our way back just before the Plönlein, we run into
my Mom and sisters coming out of a shop.
It's time for supper with everyone hungry
and after telling my Mom and sisters about the Rothenburger Kartoffelstube, we all agree to eat there and head
out for the walk up to the restaurant. We choose to sit outside due to the temperature. My Mom orders Leitungswasse
(tap water) and finds that they will not serve it even with an offer to pay for the water. I have read of this
happening but have never experienced it before today. We all laugh at this. Another great meal with good service
although the waitress I think was a little stressed figuring individual tabs, but it worked out ok. The teenagers
had the same meal as the day before, I had the schweine schnitzel, which was huge, almost too much to eat, along
with bratkartoffein, Barbara has a potato au gratin dish which was a meal cooked in a 3 inch deep by 8 inch wide
ceramic pan. Janice has a pizza type meal loaded with potatoes, several meats and cheese. The portions were just
too much to eat for most of us. Das Essen war vorzüglich. My total for 3 meals and 5 drinks was € 41.60. Afterwards
we waddle back down toward the hotel stopping along the way looking at the wares displayed in the shop windows.
Back to my room I clean up some and read for a couple of hours before drifting off to sleep.
Thursday June 12th I'm up early again and before long get the troops moving. We pack up our bags and again it's a chore to get it all loaded. We enjoy another good German breakfast. Pay our bill and say good-bye to our hostess. Before leaving Rothenburg we walk up to the Kriminalmuseum, Burggasse 3, entrance price is € 3.20 for me, € 1.70 per student. This museum has an incredible collection of exhibits of torture devices used back in the Middle Ages. Spending over an hour here it's soon time to hit the road. My Mom and sisters are going to stay in Rothenburg a little while longer to hit some of the shops they missed yesterday. We'll all meet up again later this day in Garmisch.
Today is a day to travel to Garmisch and not much else, taking Bill Hickox's advice to slow down and have a rest day every 4 days or so. Again we jump on the A-7 heading south and shortly are getting off the autobahn at its termination down near Nesselwang. As we get off the autobahn the road circles around to go under the autobahn to connect into Hwy 310. At the underpass is a Polizei roadblock, a good place for one because you are stuck as you come under the bridge here. They signal us to halt and come up to the car to look inside and then motion us to be on our way. There is never a word spoken. Glad we are not the folks they are looking for. We continue down Hwy 310 into Füssen and finding a parking spot several blocks away from the Fussgängerzone. It's good to get out of the car after riding for the past 2 to 3 hours and walk although the temperature by now is above 90 degrees, but it is not as humid today as it has been the past few days. Again thankful it is not raining, but do wish it would cool down just a tad. The teenagers and myself are ready for lunch. Barbara and Janice hit the Woolworth's for a minute. We take a seat outside the Ephesus Pizzeria, Reichenstrasse 33. Barbara and Janice join us in a few minutes. Laurin has the Pizza Margharita (€ 4.70), Lauren and I have Pizza Salami (€ 6.50 ea.), Barbara has a banana split and Janice has an ice cream dish called Heisse Liebe. We drink colas or eistees. The teens later have scoops of ice cream for dessert. Total tab is € 49.50. Good pizza here, huge pies. Slow, but friendly service. We spend some time going in and out of the shops here along the main drag and finally make our way back to the car.
We drive onto Hwy 17 heading north. Everyone is excited to see Neuschwanstein as we pass thru Schwangau. I love the drive along Hwy 17 and then connecting to Hwy 23. This is such pretty countryside. The traffic is light and makes for easy driving. We soon are at Hwy 2 and continue on into Garmisch. I notice a radar camera as we exit the tunnel going toward town. It doesn't get me, however I was nailed near a construction site on the A-9 our first day and since have watched my speeds in areas with speed limits posted.
We are staying in Garmisch for 3 nights at the Der Bichlerhof am Hausberg, Hausberg 10.
I am especially looking forward to staying
here as this place of Herr Sailor's is highly recommended by several people from Ben's website. Finding the farm
is easier than I thought it would be. No one is home as we arrive. I park out front and we walk about the barn
and farm property looking things over. Near the barn we walk up on a fairly good size gray colored snake crawling