Richard and Anita Dyck left Vernon the morning of September 10, 2008 for the Kelowna International Airport. We first met Marjorie at her Kelowna home and she then drove us to the airport and had agreed to “baby sit” our car during our absence.
Our trip to Germany was first a visit with friends from our complex where we live in Canada who divide their time living half the year in Canada and the other half in Germany. They had requested numerous times that we come visit them and so we planned to on this trip. Second, we had booked a 12 day Trafalgar Bus Tour that we would embark on following the visit with our friends.
This segment will cover our visit and travels with our friends, Ulf and Friedl who reside in the city of Friedrichsdorf, 28 km north of Frankfurt/Main. For our visit Ulf had secured the use of a 4 Door 2008 BMW Auto with a diesel engine.
Throughout this journal the metric system will be a constant to record temperature, distance and the like. For those not using our metric system, below is an abbreviated conversion table to the US system of measurement:
Temperature Distance / Speed
15 C = 59 F 100 km = 62.14 miles
20 C = 68 F 200 km/h = 124 mph
25 C = 77 F2 250 km/h = 155 mph
30 C = 86 F
The Web Sites I have provided are to enhance the attractions we enjoyed and provide more background for you … enjoy!
Wednesday/Thursday, September 10 & 11
Our flight to Frankfurt took us first to Calgary, Alberta then on to Frankfurt. While at the Calgary Airport we enjoyed a short visit with our daughter, Louise who lives there with husband, Richard and daughters, Jamie and Carley. The overseas flight to Frankfurt was without incident, meals were good but neither of us slept and upon arrival we were met by Ulf and Friedl after passing through Customs and obtaining our luggage. We arrived to sunny skies and 26 C temperature. They drove us to Friedl’s home and had lunch. Later that afternoon we went for a short walk in a nearby park, had Thai food for dinner and returned home for a nightcap prior to an early bedtime as it was now Thursday evening.
Friday, September 12
We enjoyed a good sleep and had a leisurely breakfast. It began to rain about 9:30 a.m., with 19 C the temperature. Ulf and Richard went to Saalburg and visited the Roman fort, a reconstruction on the old Roman site, erected between 1898 and 1907. History of the fort dates back to around AD 90 and circa AD 135, late in the reign of Hadrian. Returned home for lunch then about 3 p.m. all 4 of us rode the train to Frankfurt Main. Here we had our first exposure to graffiti in Germany. We were shocked to find how wide-spread it was, even in places one wouldn’t dream of! Here Richard and Anita purchased a German Rail Twin Pass, valid for 4 days to take them to Osnabruck via Hannover. Anita was born in Osnabruck and the visit was planned to obtain a new birth certificate for her and visit her birth address. Next, Ulf and Friedl walked us through the downtown area where we visited a typical Department Store that also included a full grocery and liquor store. After a light dinner we attended a pipe organ Concert in a 12 th Century Church featuring 5 prominent composers … Bach, Schumann, Liszt, Kirchner and Sigrid Karg-Elert. The rain had ceased by the time we returned home for a nightcap and sleep.
Web Sites of Interest …
Saturday, September 13
Up very early, 4:30 a.m. to catch the train to Hannover>Osnabruck from Frankfurt. It was raining lightly. Anita and Richard left the station at 8 a.m. and within half an hour of leaving the rain had stopped giving us sunshine and clear skies an hour later. Our train ride was smooth and fast, averaging 240 – 260 kmh ! Passed through numerous tunnels, some quite long, on the journey to Hannover where it was sunny and windy for our 10:20 a.m. arrival. Stored our luggage at the train station then took a taxi to Neues Rathaus, the new city hall of Hannover for a tour. Next we walked “The Red Thread”, a floorline visitors’ guide of a different kind for some 3 plus hours. The Red Thread is painted on the pavement, is 4200 metres long [2.6 miles], and weaves its way through the inner city joining up 36 prime attractions. Returned to the train station for lunch, paying 1.10 euro to use the toilets! Our first of many times we had to pay to “pee”. The train to Osnabruck late that afternoon saw us pass by great expanses of farm lands and numerous windmills [for electric power] . Checked into our hotel, Hotel Sieme, a small quaint hotel, similar to the Altamont we stayed at in Sydney, Au. The proprietor most jovial and helpful to us as tourists. Room price included breakfast and our first on Sunday morning was most plentiful and tasty!
Web Sites of Interest …
Neues Rathaus http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMKJY
The Red Thread
Sunday, September 14
It was sunny and a bit cool with some wind at 9 when we went down for breakfast. We took a taxi to old Osnabruck where we walked the streets of the old town for some 3 hours. We became aware that the bicycle is a major means of transport apart from the car. On our stroll we encountered numerous old buildings and a very large Church. Enjoyed a long and enjoyable lunch while in the old town before returning to our Hotel just after 3 p.m. The skies had become cloudy by this time and remained so for the rest of Sunday. Enjoyed drinks at the Hotel before dinner, chatting with the son of our Hotel owner about this area and his country. Returned to the Hotel bar after dinner to relax with a nightcap before retiring for the night.
Monday, September 15
Another sunny morning greeted us when we went down for breakfast. We then took a taxi to check out / on Anita’s birth with the added hope that we could find the apartment or house where she was born. By this time the sun had disappeared giving us cloudy skies. Success!! We did not have any difficulty in obtaining 2 certified originals of her birth certificate for the price of 7 euros. Further information provided to us was her time of birth and the street address. Back in the taxi which took us to the street location which now is a parking lot! Luck would also have it that this street location was just in front of the Osnabruck Train Station, no more than the equivalent of say, one city block. Richard took photos of the parking lot and the next door house number. Not having any more business in Osnabruck we waited at the Train Station, reading and people watching, until our train for Frankfurt departed. Once more we had to endure pay toilets at the station. The ICE train ride Osnabruck>Frankfurt was delightful! Our route, of course, was different from our initial arrival in Osnabruck, this time passing through many towns and cities, Colgone and Bonn being two of the largest. Just outside Bonn we joined the Rhine River and followed it for about 1 hour. Spectacular scenery – vineyards on hillsides, castles and old buildings, barges and tour boats on the River. At times the train ran parallel to the road highway. We splurged and had drinks on the train. Upon arrival in Frankfurt, Ulf and Friedl met us and we shared our experiences with them over drinks after returning to Friedl’s house.
Web Sites of Interest …
German Trains http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InterCityExpress
Tuesday, September 16
Today was a rest day. Richard did email and sent his first post from Germany to family and friends. Went on a brief grocery shopping trip with our hosts and got an idea of their shopping habits as we visited two stores, Aldi a discount store and the second, a regular supermarket. After depositing the groceries at home we then drove to nearby Hessenpark, the Open-Air Museum of the State of Hesse to first enjoy a scrumptious lunch followed by an enjoyable walk through the Museum that featured relocated and restored buildings depicting 400 years of living history. That evening, Ulf lit the wood stove to take the chill off and we spent the evening playing cards.
Web Sites of Interest …
Wednesday, September 17
This was our first actual time spent driving on the autobahn [other than driving in from the airport upon our arrival] as we embarked on a day trip. Autobahn is the German word for a major high speed road with the recommended speed limit of 130 km/h but there is no speed limit. Autobahns are built and maintained by the federal government. The first were built in the 1920s, and in the 1930s. German motorways are toll-free for cars. We got up to speeds as high as 200 km/h – the fastest Anita and Richard had ever driven to date.
The two of us were impressed with the highway system in Germany. While we did encounter numerous construction zones during our 22 days there, traffic flow was never truly affected save for the odd traffic jam [Staus] . We noticed that almost all cars were new – Audi, BMW, Mercedez and Volkswagon accounting for the majority. Chevs, Fords, Hondas and Toyotas were also there and the models different, of course, to those we’re familiar with in North America. Trucks used to transport goods were always in great number on German highways, far greater in number that here in North America.
First stop was at the town of Schwetzingen around 10 km southwest of Heidleberg to viist the Palace Gardens and walk the grounds. Under the direction of Elector Carl Theodor (1724 – 1799) a garden complex was created in Schwetzingen based on the example of Versailles and is unequalled anywhere in Europe. We toured the mosque and obtained many photos of the buildings and grounds. Thirsty all of us were now and so we had beer and pretzels at a micro brewery nearby. Next, on to Heidleberg Castle after riding the spectacular Funicular Railway, 489 metres long and with a 43 per cent gradient at its steepest point. The Railway officially opened in 1890 and today the two split-level cars each carry 50 persons and travel at a speed of around four metres per second. Spectacular views from the top! We toured Heidleberg Castle, the landmark of Heidleberg, first constructed before 1214. Inside was the Heidleberg Tun, an extremely large wine vat, having a capacity of 220,000 litres [58,100 US gallons] and was made in 1751. One hundred and thirty oak trees were reputedly used in its construction. It has only rarely been used as a wine barrel. In Market Square we viewed the magnificant old buildings such as Town Hall and the Gothic Church of the Holy Spirit. The beginnings of this church date back to the 14th century. It was completed in the 16th century and then destroyed during the War of Succession in the 17th century. It was rebuilt in the early 18th century. We then drove along the Neckar River, a tributary of the Rhine, to have dinner at Schlosshotel Hirschhorn. It was now dark and our drive along the opposite side of the river allowed us to view the lights of Heidleberg Castle before our drive home via the autobahn. Or day trip took us some 390 km in total and we did enjoy sunny skies almost all day with 17 C the high.
Web Sites of Interest …
German Autobahn http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autobahn
Schwetzingen Palace Gardens
Heidleberg Funicular Railway
Heidleberg Castle http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidelberg_Castle
Heidleberg Tun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heidelberg_Tun
Heidleberg Market Square
Thursday, September 18
Back on the autobahn first thing this morning. Both Wednesday and today Ulf used the GPS to assist us finding locations. He and Friedl had named the GPS, “Susy” and we enjoyed many laughs both days when Susy would not advise us or say something not right in German and Ulf would admonish Susy in English! We had filtered sunlight and a cool wind as we rode the open air cable car up to the Niederwald Memorial near Rudesheim. This is a huge memorial designed to be a symbol of the re-establishment of the German Empire and the nation's unity. The monument is almost 132 feet high and about 120 feet wide. It was erected in the years between 1877 and 1883. All four of us were cold after our cable car descent so had delicious hot coffee and cognac in a nice restaurant. Back in the car, now in the Rhine Valley, we followed the Rhine River admiring the numerous vineyards on steep slopes, riverboats, tugs and barges on the river, the many castles situated high on the hillsides and the houses situated on both sides of the river. The highway runs on both sides of the Rhine and we drove both sides from time to time. Stopped for a relaxing glass of wine and enjoyed the river views at the Schloss Rheinfels Hotel, part of the castle Rheinfels, the largest fortress ruin on the central Rhine. Its location is opposite the legendary “Loreleyfelson” (rock of Loreley). The sun had now come out providing us with blue skies making for a warm, pleasant afternoon. At Koblenz we turned away from the Rhine to follow the Mosel River and continued enjoying similar views as on the Rhine. Stopped for a late lunch enjoying good food and more wine. Our next stop was to visit and photograph Cochem Castle, built around the start of the 11 th century and stands on a hill 100 metres above the River Mosel. Our overnight B & B in Valwig was our final destination. Here we participated in wine tasting with the proprietor and following a late evening “supper” we 4 called it a day.
Web Sites of Interest …
Cochem Castle http://www.burg-cochem.de/e_frame.html
Friday, September 19
We left the B & B enjoying sunny skies save for some fog on the Mosel River. Once more we followed the river on our drive to Trier enjoying the sights of boat traffic of all descriptions on the river, numerous RV parks – all full and last, but not least, vineyards on steep hillsides on both sides of the Mosel rising behind the homes in the numerous small towns we passed through. This lasted some 100 km of our drive. Around noon we stopped to enjoy a glass of wine outside on the terrace of a small hotel. Arrived in Trier first to visit Trier Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Germany and placed on the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in 1986 then enjoy the sites of Porta Nigra after a late lunch, Trier being the oldest city in Germany. The Porta Nigra, Latin for black gate, today is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps, was built in grey sandstone between 180 and 200 AD. Our route home to Friedl’s was via the autobahn, again speeds of 200 – 220 km/h were reached on the drive. We noticed many more windmills on the early part of our drive home. On this overnight road trip 625 km was the distance travelled.
Web Sites of Interest …
Trier Cathedral http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Trier
Porta Nigra http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Porta_Nigra
Saturday, September 20
A day of rest and relaxation – both Anita and Richard spent most of the day reading while Ulf and Friedl did things around the house that required their attention. Anita did laundry. The day was cloudy and 15 C was the high. That evening, while enjoying the fire Ulf made in the woodstove, we sipped wine and played cards.
Sunday, September 21
Cloudy skies again over breakfast that later turned to sunshine by 11 a.m. and 15 C was the high again. With Ulf and Friedl we attended a 65 th birthday celebration for a lady Friedl has been friends with for some 45 years. Richard was completely out of his element at this gathering as no one else but Ulf spoke English. There were some 120 people at this affair. We then went for a drive and some 20 km from Friedl’s place we visited the Opel-Zoo in Kronberg. Here, the cages or enclosures for the various animals were made of heavy mesh or steel with 1 inch squares – limited pictures could be taken. At 5 p.m. some 15 minutes before our exit a rain shower occurred and we saw further evidence of rain on our homeward drive. That evening, our last with our great hosts, was spent playing cards. We began our Trafalgar Tour the next day.