Okies from Muskogee... Maryann - Pat S. - Terry - Pat M.

by Pat (QueenAn2)

(Music on/off)

Trip Report - September 16 – October 2, 2003

Tuesday - September 16

At long last our day of departure is here. Our Delta flight leaves Tulsa at 3:50pm, right on time. It’s an easy flight to Atlanta, arriving 15 minutes early, but our departing gate is at the exact opposite end of the airport. Thanks to the tram, we get from Concourse A to Concourse E in no time. Our 7:50pm flight starts boarding at 6:10! Not good, since I was left with all the carry on’s while the other 3 (remember this - - it’s a recurring theme) went shopping. I was beginning to sweat when our rows were called, but soon the shoppers returned and we boarded.

Since the plane was not very full, we spread out to find comfortable sleeping seats. We left the gate exactly on time, 7:50 and wheels up at 8:00. The captain said we would travel 4,605 miles, with an estimated travel time of 8 hours, 12 minutes. For dinner, we had a choice of chicken lasagna or babyback ribs. The movie was Anger Management. I slept with my favorite Stress Reliever tape playing over and over… I woke at 8am, local time. We had a light breakfast before landing early – 10:20am.

Wednesday - September 17 (Day 1 in Germany)

It was a beautiful, sunny day in Frankfurt. The weather was very warm. Actually, we only had 2 rainy days the whole trip – not bad for this time of year! We proceeded quickly through immigration & baggage claim. At Europacar, we were upgraded to a VW Touran van – diesel. Terry was our designated driver, since she has the most experience with stick shifts. I don’t even want to try to drive a stick, and Maryann and Pat could, if needed. Terry jumped on the autobahn like she’s been driving it for years! We drove to Rüdesheim, where we had reservations at the
Zum grünen Kranz (at Lump’s suggestion). This lovely old hotel was built in 1826! Unfortunately, they were full, so they put us up in their “annex”, the Hotel Rose, about a 10 minute walk away. The innkeeper drove us (in our van) to the Rose where we were happy to see that they had a lift! We needed it, with all our luggage! We had 2 doubles, next to each other. The rooms were small and the bathrooms tiny.

We headed out to find a bank, lunch & die Post. The bank was closed, but we were able to get Euro at an ATM. We walked all over Rüdesheim. The Drosselgasse was as delightful as ever, with the oompah bands playing at various stubes. We went back to the Grünen Kranz for lunch.

Maryann had the Jagerschnitzel (Schnitzel with mushroom sauce), which she proclaimed was wonderful - - especially the tater tot type potatoes, which we were never to see again on this trip. We had neuwein, which was very good. Terry ordered bottled water and a huge bottle of mineral water was placed before her. I only wish I’d had my camera ready when she took a big gulp… It tasted awful! Pat & Terry had pork steak with onions, which was delicious. How do I know? We shared, of course. My Schnitzel mit Pommes was nothing to write home about…

We again hit the streets of Rüdesheim, looking for die Post. Finally we found it. They didn’t exchange money, but we were able to purchase phone cards and stamps there. While we were trying to get a phone to work at die Post, a very drunk person, dressed all in leather, came up to us, asking directions. Yea, riiight… Like WE could give directions! We headed away from there quickly. We finally found phones that worked and we called home. The main reason we were so eager to phone home was to find out the time difference between Germany & Oklahoma. SOME PEOPLE were wondering why their spouses weren’t home at 10 at night, while SOME OTHER PEOPLE knew it was 10 in the morning there. (Thank heavens Bill Parham proved me right!) Pat Morgan still kept her watch set to Tulsa time.

We rode the cable car up to the
Niederwald monument (6 Euros, round trip). The view overlooking the Rhine was spectacular. There were a lot of tourists there. After taking some pictures, we rode back down to Rüdesheim and proceeded to get totally lost trying to find our hotel. We couldn’t even remember the name of our hotel, so we couldn’t even ask for directions! Remember, this is our first day - - we haven’t slept since leaving Tulsa! It is getting dark, and we finally find our annex hotel. We purchase a couple of bottles of the house wine and slept like LOGS… Well, 2 of us did… And those 2 became good roomies for the duration of the trip! The other 2 didn’t know what they were talking about!

Thursday - September 18

Wake up call at 7. We were packed and in the van, heading for the Grünen Kranz in record time. The breakfast buffet called to us and we were hungry, after a good night’s sleep (or not). It was a cool, clear morning. Terry gave the busload of young men who were staying at our annex the “okie dokey” sign as they drove away. The breakfast buffet was a bit sparse and we had to wait forever for the innkeeper to come and take our 29.50 Euros (each) for our rooms.

On the road to Cochem on the Mosel via Bacharach… We each put 20 Euro in the car kitty for gas, tolls, etc. We took the car ferry across the Rhine at Bingen. We stopped at Bacharach to check on some wine at the Kranenturm. Due to construction, we weren’t able to get into the hotel, but there was a construction worker that cracked us up… Almost got a picture of that fellow… (Inside joke, girls. Remember?) We did stop to see Lettie at the Pension Lettie. Both Maryann & I had stayed there on previous trips. She claimed to remember us, and was as delightful as ever. She’s added a skylight to her breakfast room. Maryann and I love Bacharach.

We got lost on our way to Burg Eltz and ended up driving through parts of Koblenz, a really big city. We walked part of the way down to Burg Eltz, but decided not to go all the way down. This was probably a mistake, since Burg Eltz is supposed to be really beautiful, inside & out. Huffing and puffing, we walked back up the hill to our car. Lunch in Meistermarksberg was disappointing. Even the Gulaschsuppe was watery. There was a bike race in town, so the Polizei had all the main streets blocked off. Terry’s a great driver - getting really good at U’ys by now! The scenery was beautiful on our drive to Cochem. The Mosel is calm, compared to the Rhine. We stayed at the Hotel Weinhof right on the Mosel in Cochem. Depending on whether it was a double or single room, our rooms were 34-38 Euro per person. My room overlooked the river and I could hear the swans “singing”.

Beware of parking places that seem too good to be true… Terry had backed up to get into a great space right in front of the hotel. We hadn’t plugged the parking machine (what parking machine?), so we got a ticket. When Terry discovered the ticket, she wasn’t sure what it was, so asked the ladies at the front desk, who didn’t speak much English. They said the hotel would pay for it. Apparently, between 8 am & 6 pm, you have to get a receipt at the parking machine & put it on the dash. Now we know!

We walked down the street for dinner. On the way in, a table of men started talking to Pat & Terry - in German. After a friendly exchange, Terry gave them an “okie dokey”, complete with the hand sign, which brought chuckles. Do NOT do the OK hand sign in Europe! It has a not very nice meaning there. We had a wonderful dinner. Pat M. finally got a huge helping of veggies. Afterwards, we walked across the bridge from which we could see Cochem Castle, all lit up. Maryann stopped at a casino to try her luck. No luck tonight. When we got back to the Weinhof, we were locked out! It was 10:05 pm. They lock the doors at 10. We panicked for a few minutes, then tried the side door, which was open. Phew.

Friday - September 19

The breakfast buffet at the Weinhof was beautiful. All the good breads, cheeses, meats, soft boiled eggs, as well as cereal, yoghurt and juices that we look forward to in Germany. We were on the road by 9:00. Destination: Route du Vin. Terry loves the autobahn! Today, she was going 120K at one point!

Needless to say, we got to Ribeauville quickly. It was very warm - must have been in the 80’s - when we stopped at a lovely sidewalk café for lunch. I had a wonderful tuna (thun) salad. There was a very handsome couple (especially the male half!) at the next table. They were from Holland and spoke English. He told Terry she smelled like an American. (!?!) It turns out, he sells perfumes & recognized her Elizabeth Arden Red Door.

We were concerned about finding a room for the night. The couple from Holland offered to go to their car to get their Michelin Guide for us. How nice. We declined, since we planned on going to the TI (Tourist Information), where we discovered there were no rooms left in Ribeauville. Luckily, Riquewihr, 5km away, had a few rooms left, so we headed there.

We went to the Hotel au Cerf – a very old, quaint hotel. It was a bit more expensive than we wanted, but a truly lovely spot. (51 Euro for a single & 56 Euro for a double.) There was no lift, and Maryann & Terry were 2 flights up, one of those a winding stairway. We had to park outside the town walls and plug Mr. Parking Machine between 9 & 6. (We may be blonde, but you don’t have to tell US twice!!)

We thought we had acquired a groupie… We were trying to take a picture of Maryann by a picturesque door and this guy stayed behind her forever, reading a menu. After a few minutes, we gave up and took the picture with him in it. Then he left, followed us a ways, so we got him in another picture with Maryann. We love this town!!

We walked down the street for dinner. I had onion soup & a green salad. Maryann had quiche; Terry, pizza; Pat M, a wurst salad, which she didn’t like. We walked some more and Pat and Terry stopped for some wonderful dessert, while Maryann and I walked around & checked out some places to stop/shop in the morning. We ate dinner here two nights in a row! Restaurant - Winstub l'Ecurie (16 rue Charles de Gaulle)

Saturday - September 20

Today is my mother’s 90th birthday and I call her from the hotel as soon as I wake up. Calling from hotel rooms is not as pricey as it used to be. After a nice chat with her, I head out to walk around town and take some videos before the tour busses arrive. It’s warm & sunny. The only ones up & about are the folks going to the bakery to get their bread for the day. The aroma from the bakeries makes my mouth water, so I have to stop and get a pomme (apple) croissant – warm. I could really get used to this!

We drove to Kaysersberg in the afternoon to shop. Doctor Albert Schweitzer was born in this beautiful village. The town was packed. We were driving on a pedestrian street until a lady stopped us, but Terry still managed to find a great parking spot! For lunch, I had salad, Pat and Maryann had onion tarts (special to this region - and good!) and Terry had tarte flame plus a Coke with 3 ice cubes!! A record! We were sure to take a picture of that! We bought some beautiful linens here as well as Christmas post cards drawn by the shopkeeper’s husband. It shows the town square, where we sat for lunch!

Terry drove up into a vineyard on the way back to Riquewihr. We got some fun pictures with the grapes, up close & personal.

The excitement of the day came when Pat M’s ruby came out of her ring and went down the drain. Terry used her plumbing skills to get it out. What WOULD we do without Terry?!?

Sunday - September 21 (We visited 3 countries today!)

It’s still very warm & sunny. Terry was up early, went to get the car, so we could load up. She couldn’t get back into the hotel. (Having a blonde moment, she forgot to push Enter after the code on the door.) She called to Pat M, below her window, at 7 am. Pat was dressed and ready, so she joined Terry and they walked down the rue (street) for some pastries. We checked out and were on the road by 9. Our rooms at Hotel au Cerf were 39 Euro for a single & 68 Euro for a double. It is a lovely, very old hotel, right in the center of town. Our van is getting pretty full now, with all the souvenirs we’ve bought!

We didn’t have to be anywhere until late this afternoon, so decided to catch a train to Switzerland. We drove to Colmar (still in France) & decided Basel was as far as we could go and still get back to the Black Forest this evening. While Maryann and I were waiting in line to get our train tickets, two old ladies rudely butted in front of the line. They just ignored us and got their tickets. There were two American gals ahead of us who were cousins, one from Florida and one from Maryland. They had a rail pass, one carry-on and a backpack each, and were at the end of three weeks traveling all over Europe. We thought of our packed van & mused, “How do they DO that?!?” When we finally got to the counter, the attendant spoke NO English. Luckily, as so often happens, the young man behind us spoke French and helped us get four round trip tickets to Basel.

MEANWHILE… Pat & Terry were having an adventure of their own… They went to use the WC. You had to pay, so Terry held the door open, after she had finished, so Pat could get in without paying. Pat was doing her thing when, all of a sudden, the lights go out, the potty flushes automatically, and WATER starts spraying from the walls! Pat screams, tries to find the door latch (the lights are out, remember) and when she does, it’s locked! Terry is standing outside, chatting with a guy from Boston. They try to get Pat calmed down. Somehow, she gets the door open and sloshes out of the WC. Moral: Never try to outwit a potty that’s smarter than you!

While we were waiting on the platform for our train, one of the aforementioned rude old ladies came and sat with us and tried to start a conversation. She only spoke French, so we smiled and chatted and told her how rude we thought she was (in English). She smiled back. We even took her picture! She was especially fond of Pat M. We were afraid she’d be on the same train, but she wasn’t. Mon Dieu…

Our ticket to Basel from Colmar was 15 Euro for the four of us. We bought falafels at the train station in Basel and ate them outside before catching our train back to Colmar. In the Basel train station, we met a girl from Sand Springs, Oklahoma! On our way to Titisee, our back hatch popped open - too full already?! Nothing was lost. Titisee was packed, so we drove to Neustadt. We found a lovely hotel, Gasthof zum Baren. We each had a single room - 39 Euro each. We had a wonderful dinner here then walked a bit. There was a band and a guy giving a (political?) speech in the town square. So we had cheap entertainment while some of us called home.

Part 2

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