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Eurotrip 2012 – Day 2

July 20th, 2012 1 comment

15-June-2012

Up and at ‘em! I try out the razor included in the overnight bag KLM gave us since we needed some essential items. That razor hurt so bad that I almost went out with just one side of my face shaved. “Honey, be sure to take a picture of my good side!”. The gasthof has breakfast already waiting for us when we get down to the restaurant. Breakfast consisted of extra strong coffee, breads and jams, fresh yogurt, deli meats and cheeses, and soft boiled eggs in little cups.

Today we visit Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle. While walking through the castle on a tour, a Japanese group in front of us repeat to each other the instructions of the tour guide, “Ascend! Ascend!” when we reach a set of stairs with 63 steps. This became our battle cry throughout the vacation as we climbed many stairs with many more steps.

While standing on Marienbrücke , (a bridge with a fantastic view of the castle) I ask a young lady to take a picture of the family. She proceeds frame the family into the picture but does not move in order to put the castle in the background. I politely add “with the castle”…

Here are some interesting tidbits from the tour. The castle was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria and the influence of Richard Wagner is seen in paintings throughout the castle. King Ludwig had the first telephone in the area but could not call anyone as he was the only one with a phone, so he bought another phone for the village near the castle. Ludwig II spent much of his personal wealth and the income of the kingdom in the construction of castles and artwork; this among other things caused his advisors to think of him as “mad”. A medical doctor collaborated with that opinion and thus the king was disposed. Strangely though both he and Ludwig were found drowned shortly after that; accident?

During World War II, the regents for the family of the Bavarian Kings did not agree with the Nazi movement and they attempted an assassination of Hilter. They failed earning the wrath of Hitler. Thus many of the families, women, and children were captured and sent to concentration camps. Many died while only a few survived to be released at the end of the war.

OK, time to drive back to Munich and get our luggage. After getting our bags we set off in search of an OBI store (similar to a Home Depot) in order to get some supplies. They have the propane tanks, but the connections are different that what our grill needs. Well, guess we’ll get a new grill, too. Off to the campsite!

As we get close to the campsite, we find the bridge is out. We turn around and start searching for a different route. Eventually the GPS recalculates a new route which takes up this one lane country road through a wheat field – I kid you not! I am just glad there was no oncoming traffic. We eventually find our way through to a quaint little town called Hopfen am See. What a beautiful lake and mountains in the background too.

By time we get to the campsite and get our tents set up it is already after 9:00, and we are hungry. We decide to walk into town to check out one of the many restaurants. But, one after another we find the restaurants closed – and it is Friday night! Jason remarks that here in Germany they “Roll up the sidewalks” at dark. We finally find the Riviera Restaurant Pizzeria Cafe is still open and enjoy a nice meal. In addition, way off in the distance, we could see some big Disneyland like fireworks.

At dinner we let Chris try some Dunkel or dark beer (drinking laws are different Germany). He takes a sip and states, “This doesn’t taste as strong as I remember.” To which Jason replies with, “That is because you are a man now!” We all bust up laughing.

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Eurotrip 2012 – Day 1

July 19th, 2012 1 comment

13-June-2012

And so the journey begins… Today we leave for a 4-week vacation to Europe. The flight path takes us from Orlando to JFK to Amsterdam to Munich. We leave Orlando around 12:00pm and land in Germany about 11:00am the next day. Any “night” on an airplane consists of about 4 hours where the lighting is dim and the stewardess doesn’t bother you too much so you can sort of catnap.

14-June-2012

7:30am
We land in Amsterdam and I took opportunity to take a few pictures. One restaurant had tables that looked like tea cups. And the tulips were on display everywhere and would you like some wooden shoes? The Amsterdam airport has a huge area of Duty-Free shopping; fortunately we were not distracted and headed right for our next gate. What we found was another security/customs line we had to navigate before getting to the gate area, good thing we are not shoppers.

12:00pm
We are hanging around the Munich airport as our luggage is not here. We are hopeful that it arrives on the next plane around 1:30pm as the bags contain all of our camping gear and clothes. We will be in a real bind if it does not show up.

Chris is crashed out; I don’t think he really slept on the plane too many movies to watch. Vicky and I caught a few Z’s so we are holding together at the moment… where are our bags?

2:30pm
Bags are still not here. They (KLM) don’t know where they are but are hopeful they will get here. In the meantime we need to go get the rental car so we can pick up Jason in Füssen. This should be interesting as our navigation device is also in our missing luggage, along with all the maps, reservation information, etc… Fortunately we have the laptop with most of the information. However, while we have the power cord, we do not have the transformer to tap into the car battery.

We get the rental car from Avis which turns out to be a 6-speed manual transmission. I haven’t driven a manual in over 6 years… I can’t figure out how to get the car into reverse. This will be interesting. It has a built-in navigation system so that is a real life saver.

We get out on the autobahn. I guess I didn’t really know what to expect. I suppose in the back of my mind I had romanticized the autobahn into something bigger. But in reality it is equivalent to our interstate system. Although, it was cool looking down at the speedometer and seeing 120. Ok, it was 120 km/h and not mph. But in a Ford station wagon, what did you expect?

After being on the road for over an hour, we discovered that we were heading to the wrong place. Apparently the GPS requires the dots on the “u” or it takes you to the wrong location and not to Füssen. We wind up getting to Füssen late where we pick up Jason who arrived from Heidelberg via train. I finally figure out how to put the car in reverse, else we wouldn’t have been able to leave the train station. The stick shift has a ring that you have to slide up in order to engage reverse.

We stay at a local gasthof, Alpengasthof Geiselstein, since all of our camping gear is still missing. As we are checking into the gasthof, there is a man in the dining area having a seizure. I hope it wasn’t the wienerschnitzel. Finally we settle down to order some of that famous German beer and Bratwurst. While we eat dinner, we get a call from KLM that our bags have arrived. Too late to get them tonight, but it is a relief to know that they have finally made it. We’ll deal with that tomorrow after a little sightseeing. We all sleep good as we are totally exhausted. The stay at the gasthof was about 130€ (or $164) for 4 people. They cost the stay dependent upon the number of people not the space you take up; that’s different.

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