Hallo from Europe (Germany and Austria)
I am way behind on updating everyone in the life of a backpacker and her mother as they traipse across Europe, slowly accumulating more baggage (and more pounds) from our shopping excursions and gelato tasting extravaganzas, but here's my super quick update:
We started out in Germany. Doris (Mom's cousin) and her husband Dirk picked us up at the Frankfurt airport. With the little German that Mom knows, and the pretty good English that Dirk and Doris speak, we were able to get along well. We spent four nights in Bendorf, Germany with Doris and her family. The first night, we also went for coffee and cake at Claudia and Rolf's house (Claudia is another of Mom's cousins - the sister of Doris).
The next day, Mom and I took the Rhine River cruise. Unfortunately for us, Monday was half-price for senior citizens, so we were by far the youngest and most able people on the ship. The walkers, wheel chairs, and shoes with socks style was overwhelming.Nonetheless, we enjoyed our day relaxing as we soaked up the sun and many castles and schloss' on the Rhine until....
Just one slight mishap - we missed the boat for the return trip. We spent nearly six hours riding the boat down the river, and we got off at the last stop to do a little shopping. Unfortunately for us, Germans leave early, and Mom's watch was two minutes behind the clock of the dock operator. So here we are, two lovely American tourists running, waving and yelling (in a slight panic voice) to just "stop, wait, wait, WAIT" but we didn't have a chance. We arrived at the dock just as they were sailing away. Maybe if we would have been thinking faster we could have run and leaped the space and jumped on the boat, but then maybe that's just a little wishful thinking. After another 20 minutes of running in the sun, many unwanted hot flash episodes, some foul language (not on my part, of course), slight menopausal breakdowns, sweating ridiculous amounts - we can contribute that to the sun, the hot flashes, the menopause, and the increase in stress levels - and some minor panic attacks (after trying unsuccessfully to find any taxi ANYWHERE in the entire town) we walked to the nearby train station, hopped on the train, and found our way back to our starting destination. Crisis averted. Mom reallyyyyyy loves those castles. And hot flashes. She reads too many romantic novels, I think.
The next day Rolf graciously took us (as part of his business outing) to the BUGA (a traveling flower festival in Germany). We enjoyed looking at flowers, sampling some foods, and then taking another boat trip to visit Schloss Stozenfels on the Rhine, but this time we could go inside. And this time we didn't miss the boat. We were able to tour the schloss inside and see beautiful views from the outside. We also saw the Deutsche Eiche up close and personal.
The next day we went to visit Kim and her husband in Marburg (Kim is Doris' daughter). We had a lovely day in Marburg, and I really enjoyed meeting Kim (she is a teacher as well). We came back in the evening, visited with Waltraud, and also met Dirk's mother and her friend. Then, we spent our last night with Doris and her family. Doris, if you read this, thank you very, very much for all of your hospitality and enjoyable coversation for the five days you hosted us. Dirk, thank you for all of your taxi, chef, and computer extraordinaire services. Alexander, danke for allowing us into your home. Rolf, thank you for being so generous and for taking us with your business trip to the BUGA. And thank you all for the many laughs and great conversation. We hope you will come visit us in America someday so we might return the favor.
The next day, we took the train to Rothenburg, a medieval town that is surrounded by a wall. We took the nightwatchman's tour, which we loved. Very funny. We shopped for Christmas goods, and walked the wall. The next day, we headed off to Munich, mostly just to tour Dachau.
Although neither of us were huge fans of Munich, we both thoroughly enjoyed the experience of visiting Dachau. We took a guided tour, and we learned a lot! We enjoyed the modern, educational, informational and reflective attitude of our guide Gordon and the memorials.
Yikes, seems I am not good at condensed versions of updates. I'll save Vienna, Austria for another day.