Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 1

WARNING: This will be less like a 'blog' and more like an online journal. This is not only for you, but for me and my sub-par memory that needs any little reminders it can get.

OK... so day one started early, with complimentary breakfast at the hotel. We got in the car and programmed our little british lady with all the cities we wanted to go to, and in what order. I have become a complete believer in navigation systems by the way. I must confess I used to be completely critical of them and worried some day one would send me over the side of a bridge or onto the wrong side of the highway. Ours has been a complete blessing... along with that and the autobahn we have been able to see so much and not waste hours and hours of driving time. Our first stop was a town called Rothenberg ob der Tauber. We drove under one of the towers that is in the surrounding city wall and were greated with an adorable town with beautiful houses and shops and plenty of flowerboxes and ... flower houses? I guess that's what you can call a house that is almost covered in flowers and vines. We parked our rented audi and walked up the stone steps to the city wall. We walked along the wall for a while, able to see down the towns small roads. We went in a few shops and saw things we liked but didn't buy anything (you must be careful not to buy too much at the first place you go, you never know what you'll find the rest of your trip!) After soaking up the towns charm we went to our next "intermediate destination" as our navagator sweetly told us in her english accent.

Nordlingen was the next town we were set to see and it didn't dissapoint!

While en route, I looked in the travel book on Germany we had bought at B&N and read that Nordlingen was built on a crater that was caused by a meteor 'millions' of years ago. Interesting. It also had a church, St. George that had a tower called daniels tower that if you climbed it you could get 360 view of the town. Interesting. The town itself was also very charming, but much harder to find a parking place. We drove around for a while before finding a spot we could slip into that was near enough the church. The church was beautiful of course but we weren't sure how long it would take to climb the tower so we quickly headed to the entrance. The first set of stairs were the stone kind that went into a tight spiral....not too bad. On a scale of one to ten the flimsiness was about a zero but in terms of me feeling claustrophic, it was a solid 9. They seemed to go on and on until I was slightly dizzy and slightly freaking out. Finally it opened up... to more stairs. These were made of wood and creaked as you walked on them and had slots where the wood just didn't quite meet up and you could very much see through them. Now started the hyperventilating. But I kept walking. TJ started walking behind me incase I passed out. I am just going to say this was rough.... I don't know why but sometimes I can force myself to handle heights and sometimes I feel completely hopeless. I once had a panic attack over having to climb an 8 foot ladder. We walked and walked and walked and at one point the hyperventilating went away but not the fear! When we got to the top we paid the man 2 euro each and climbed outside the tower. It was beautiful. You could walk completely around the small tower although the walkway could basically only fit one person. The fresh air helped me a bit and I got out my camera and snapped some photos of the buildings, wall, and distant fields. I wanted to take one straight down but there was no way I was leaning over that wall so I grabbed the tower with one hand and reached the other over the wall and took a photo, not knowing what was below. This was the resulting photo.

The walk down was better but not great, I stared at my feet 100 percent of the time and had both hands grasped on the rails and walls to ensure I wouldn't plummet to my death if one of the stairs fell through. We finally made it down and I was happy to sit in our car and take chill pill. All in all, glad I did it, and glad I didn't cry. hah. pee-ess... I looked it up later and there are 365 stairs!

Our final stop was in a town called Fussen where the grass was an intense green, the likes of which I have only seen in one other place, Ireland.

We instantly loved the little town at the foot of the alps and drove around trying to take it all in. We followed signs to take us to the castles. Neuschwanstein castle was beautiful, nestled into the mountain above us looking old and intricate and beautiful.

The sun was going down soon and it was foggy so we didn't take the time to park and walk up, but did take some photos of the castle with the fog around it that did turn out quite nice. We went back to the town and parked and walked around and found a cute place to eat dinner. TJ order something called a pork knuckle and truly, when they set it down in front of him it still had bits of pig hair sticking off it. Tj scraped the fat off it and said the pork underneath was "good... sortof like pulled pork in memphis" I have to admit If i saw animal hair on my meat I wouldn't be able to scrape it off and pretend it was never there! Luckily my food came, quite normal looking and good tasting. It got dark as we sat there next to the window listening to people walking around town. We decided to drive back up to the castle and see if it was lit up and it was! Tj got some good pictures but they aren't loaded up yet. My camera died soon after turning it on to try and so I really have nothing to offer you considering this.
It was getting late and so we headed home. It took us a little under 4 hours to get home but it was all very worth it and we decided we had a very successful, fun day!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


So I've been here about 2 1/2 days so far. I probably should start this blog with the flights. Here are the basics. My planes were first going from Memphis to Amsterdam... then Amsterdam to Frankfurt. I was standing in line to board the plane and the guy scanning the tickets was doing just that, scanning the tickets and sending people through. When he got to me he looked at my ticket and said "I need to see your passport" (I quickly open my purse and grab my passport and hand it to him) "You can't leave the country without your passport...and uh huh... you have an invalid passport" My stomach dropped to my knees.... invalid passport??? Did I accidently grab my old one with my maiden name on it?? No, turns out I forgot to sign it. He hands me a pen and tells me to step aside. My dread quickly turned into anger towards this old man who apparently wanted to be a jerk and punish me for forgetting to sign my passport by making me crap my pants. I went to my seat and fumed. Then, my journey began! My flights were generally pleasant, and included, but was not limited to.... one man sticking his knees in my seat the entire overseas flight, one seat-mate who was a fellow book reader, dachshund lover,and lover of the name claire...one semi cute inflight movie... one tired mother with one young child who had one million "whys" and three semi-decent meals.

Surprisingly I didn't have to wait long at the Frankfurt airport before TJ came to pick me up. It was so good to see him! My feelings quickly changed to dread when we got to the car, and we headed onto the autobahn. For those of you not familiar with the autobahn, it is basically a highway with no posted speed limit. For those of you not familiar with TJ, this is scarey. Oh and did I mention he rented a deisel audi? Audis are his favorite car and he pretty much is in love. The highway has parts where the speed IS posted due to unsafe conditions such as construction, exits etc. I have to say so far on the no limits areas we average 110-115mph but have gone as fast 130mph. Our oh-so-amazing audi has a digital display that shows us our speed in mph along with the km.

We reached ramstein and went straight to dinner. We stopped at a restaurant in town called Paradox (or something like that) and had schnitzel and potatoes and nice cold cokes that we later realized were 3 euros a piece (roughly 4.50 in u.s. dollars.) We finally headed to the hotel, and by then I was fully ready for bed. The hotel is called the Hotel Atlantis. It is a light blue stuccoey looking hotel several miles off base. It has 4 floors and is relatively small. Our hotel room is on the 4th floor and this is my description of it. The room has no air conditioning and is shaped rather differently than other hotel roomes with one big window on the slanted part of the ceiling/wall. We were not able to open it the first night but thank heavens there is a ceiling fan. Did I mention we're on the 4th floor and that heat rises? The walls are the same stuccoey texture as the outside of the building, but white. The floor is a hard grey and white tile and in some parts feels hot under your feet. There's a tv with a few channels, including CNN and MTV. Right now MTV's 'Made' is on, but it is dubbed over in german. The bed looks like it is made of two full beds put together in one frame and is low to the ground. The bathroom is pretty comparable to any hotel bathroom, although the TP here leans more towards the paper part of its name. Every morning there is a complimentary breakfast buffet downstairs in the restaurant that offers eggs, toast, bacon, hashbrowns, sausage, yogurt, fruit, and the customary european cold meat and cheese.

OK I didn't plan on writing so much on the plane/hotel etc so I now need to take a break and do something less... demanding. To be continued........