Notes on Our Trip with the Folks: Part I

I’m feeling the crunch. As in I only have ONE WEEK LEFT to do a gajillion things before we take a last hoorah road trip. And then I say Auf Wiedersehen to life in Germany.

But I don’t want to neglect the freshness of my memories. So rather than give you a traveler’s monologue of the entire 15 day trip with my folks I will simply reminisce through a procession of a few posts to include a few highlights along with a few lowlights–since lowlights are highlights in retrospect.

(In no specific order, the following are only the best of my iPad library. Yep, most of the photos are from my iPad. Now that we have ‘his’ and ‘hers’ laptops all the good photos are on ‘his’ new laptop and I’m too immersed in other stuff to get them from there.)

Highlight #1  – The Peugeot 3008

As rental cars in Europe go, we got a screamin’ deal. We could not have been…ok…I, could not have been happier with the 3008 or Avis on Karlsruher Strasse 43, Heidelberg. Alan was hoping to drive a Mercedes. But I say how often do you see Peugeot’s in America? Somewhere around never. Mercedes’ are a dime a dozen around here (that is, of course, only a figure of speech.)

This puppy had guts, gusto, comfort, was brand new, had good gas mileage and–best of all–a sky roof which made it so we could just look up and see beautiful architecture and countryside right above our heads.

Speaking of puppies…

Lowlight #1 – The car was black interior. Woody sheds.

Any advice for me on shedding dogs would be appreciated. Unless you’re going to tell me to get rid of the dog and in that case you can just go adopt a dog of your own, fall in love with him and then try the advice thing again.

#2 – The Knight’s Castle in Baden-Baden

We spent almost two hours exploring this castle ruin. The ruins we had visited up to this point had all been from prince electors’ palaces or monks’ monasteries. Seeing a knight’s helmet on the crest above the door gave it a whole different feeling. I was ready to see a live joust. With Paul Bettany having “the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure” of introducing the hero’s entrance.

This photo (from Alan’s camera–I did manage to get one or two of the “good photos” from his stash) was taken from the tower looking down on the bulk of the castle. I would enjoy pointing out to you what everything is in this photo, but I won’t presume that you’re as fascinated as I am. The most interesting feature of the exploration, however, was the fact that you can walk along the second story hallway. Pretty darn incredible.

#2 Lowlight – It left me wanting. Wanting the story of this knight. There’s just not enough information in English at German landmarks or on their websites. I most definitely don’t have enough historical or archaeological or architectural knowledge to accurately recreate this period of history in my imagination.

#3 – Rothenberg ob der Tauber

I’ve seen photos galore of this place because it is one of the most popular destinations in this part of Germany. I didn’t get that the towers I was seeing in the photos were separate towers. I thought they were one in the same. Note to those who just look at photos and don’t read captions or narration (like this one), there are several towers. They are one of the many things that make this town unique.

The most amazing thing about this village is that it’s been in a state of preservation since the early 1800’s. I challenge you to ponder that one for a few moments.

Because it is so touristy, Rothenberg can be super duper crowded in Spring, Summer, Fall and Christmas time. But in February it’s only touristy enough to know it’s a hot spot rather than feel crowded.

We explored this village for nine hours. On foot. And not one of us complained or said, “Is it time to go yet?” At least not until after we ate dinner. With two men and endless shops for the two women they were with to “just look in here for a minute”, nine hours is saying a whole lot for the place. And the men.

If the photo below was good quality, our being charmed might make more sense.

Oh, and Rothenberg is the village where the photo of my mom in surprise was taken.

#3 Lowlight – We originally planned to stay in a nearby castle hotel, but we did a switcheroo at the last moment and replaced that time with a trip to Salzburg, Austria. I was sad to scrap the castle stay, but it was a good trade.

The other downside to visiting Rothenberg in February was that The Night Watchman tour (a humorous must-see, apparently) was hibernating for the winter. BUT we did get to meet the NW’s fun blonde guy friend from Pennsylvania in his colorful, sparkly patchwork Liberace-like coat. He was the salesman at the Nachtwächer shop which was full of medieval jewelry and costumes. He individually wrapped each of the six pair of dangly earrings I purchased and he let us use the shop’s water closet.

#4 – Neuschwanstein Castle

The Disneyland castle. Sleeping Beauty’s castle. The most famous castle in Europe. Mad Ludwig’s dream castle. The castle that inspired me to paint a castle mural on my bedroom wall at age 17. We were all glad we made the trip to see the castle of many names up close and in person. The horse carriage ride up the snowy mountainside was awesome and the fresh, hot, crispy best pastry you’ll ever eat in Germany was even more awesome.

#4 Lowlight – A good chunk of it is covered in scaffolding. And we didn’t have enough time to go inside.

To be continued…

The next installment(s) will include highlights of Paris and Salzburg.

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