Hi everyone. After a heavy fondue dinner in Winterthur, Switzerland last night we all crashed hard about 7pm. Which has me up and awake at 3am, so I figure it’s a good time to catch you up on our travels. All pictures can be found over at my Facebook page if you’re interested at https://www.facebook.com/Brentallica
Ok….where were we. Heading to see the Nazi museum in Nuremburg last Thursday (maybe it was Friday). Holy cow! It’s been a week? I don’t know if I can remember all we’ve seen, done, and stayed, but I’ll give you the short and sweet. Moreso, so I can look at this years down the road and remember where I’ve been. 🙂
Friday, 9/25 – I think this happened Friday – Day touring the Nazi museum in Nuremburg which was really fascinating. It didn’t really focus on the war, or the anti-semitism and horrors of concentration camps, but more of the rise of the Nazi’s power and then the actual facility itself which was to built originally kind of as a massive 11 sq km complex as a headquarters and showplace with huge halls, parade grounds, stadiums, you name it. Huge rally’s were held here and brought people from all over Germany to attend. The complex was never completed as all construction ended at the beginning of WW2 and was never completed. After that we found a laundry mat and after a week in country it was nice to catch up on all clean clothes! All in all, a very interesting day. Slept back in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Saturday, 9/26 – Awoke in Rothenburg and as we hadn’t seen much of the adorable little German town (which is like the German version of Leavenworth). I know that sounds wierd, but it truly is. The town itself is remarkably intact from how it was 1000 years ago I understand. Completely surrounded by walls which you can still get up on and walk around a good part of the small old town part of the city. It’s old world charm, cobblestone streets, 1/2 timbered buildings/homes, shopes, cafes, hotels…..it’s really very touristy and mostly foreigners visiting. A tourist hot spot. Making it more of a Leavenworth in my eyes, but still great to see and get an idea that as much as things change, they stay the same. It is beautiful. It’s the little cute medevil city you see in every snow globe. Pretty perfect in every way. We also took a visit to the Criminal Museum in town. While not the greatest museum, it did have a lot of exhibts that dealt with criminal punishment in old world Rothenburg and covered it quite in depth. A good deal of it was in English. The way crimes were brought forth, the criminal prosecution and how that was handled, and ultimately a good deal of it dealt with the punishments, and tortures used to get someone to confess. I imagine a lot of innocent people endured a lot of pain to the point it was easier to admit guilt just to get the torture to stop. Gruesome, but interesting. Headed back on the road south after this and wound up spending the night in Krumbach. While there wasn’t anything particular interesting about Krumbach, other than it seemed a good stopping point, we did have a nice stay.
Sunday, 9/27 – Got into Stuttgart in the early afternoon and headed off to Cannstatter Volksfest which is a 2-3 week festival/party that is held annually in Stuttgart. I learned this is the equivalent of the Munich Oktoberfest. Imagine a gigantic Puyallup Fair with a lot of beer. There were thousands of people, more carnival rides than I’ve ever seen in one place by far, food vendors everywhere and then there were….beer tents. This was my first time. We walked in to a tent we figured easily had 2000-2500 people, many of them dressed in the traditional laddenhosen (sp?) drinking and partying and having an all around great time. We found a table and tried to take it what was going on around us and try to feel a part of it. At first, you’re clearly an outsider, however, as the beers go down (and they did), you find yourself getting into it and feeing more comfortable. People start toasting your glass and you go with the flow. Lots of singing, clapping, standing on benches, singing more, ordering beers…..we’re not really totally sure what happened after that as all our stories sort of conflict and not everyone in our group could remember the evening the next day. Let’s just say we know we had a great time looking through our pictures the next day. We figured we must’ve been in the beer tent 4-5 hours and have no idea how we were there that long. We were able to find our exceptional hotel room (another nod to booking.com) and were all excited at 10:30p that we could listen to the Seahawks game which was starting back home. By 10:45p, I think we were all fast asleep, but were excited to find out we beat the Bears 26-0 the next morning.
Monday, 9/28 – Figured we were so close, we couldn’t pass up a side trip to France, so we headed just over the border to Straussbourg, France and found a place for the night. After a parking garage adventure in the scariest parking garage on earth, we dropped our bags in our room and headed out to explore the old town here. Wound up finding the central plaza and another huge, beautiful cathedral (Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg) and admiring. To me, while very beautiful and a look into the past, they do start to look and feel very similar. They had a cheezy little tourist tram that drove you through and around the old town area at the speed of an 85-year old man on crutches, but it was a good overview. Afterwards we pretty much repeated the same route, but on foot. The area that really stood out to me was called Petite France (or little France). Right out of any postcard you’ve ever seen and probably one of the coolest, most quaint, little areas I can every remember visiting. It was spectacular to just sit at an outside care, watch the people passing by, and take it all in. I enjoyed a beer, but my mates all insisted on wine. We were in France so it was a must. Situated on a little canal, it was simply spectacular. The French gelato is also a spectacle in it’s own right. Absolutely delicious. And in my opinion, the majority of the French people we came across didn’t seem to really like us. Just an observation. I have no idea if it’s true, but they do seem to come off very snooty. The staff at our hotel and our dinner waiter were just kind of “dicky”. I still haven’t decided if it’s true that French people hate Americans, but in my short visit and experience, I can see where that belief comes from.
Tuesday, 9/29 – Headed back to Germany and stopped at the Friedrichsbad Irish-Roman bath. We knew about this place before our travels. Built in 1877 and catering only to the super rich (Baden-Baden is know as a “spa” town), it was the top spot back in it’s day if you wanted to be clean and pampered. It retains a lot of it’s heritage today and for $40 you too can experience showering with your friends. All nude. Co-ed. Now, it’s not exactly the Roman orgy, you may picture. In fact, there’s nothing sexual about it at all. It’s simply about well being and a series of steps (17 to be exact) you complete, in order, to get the full experience. There’s a lot of showering, soaking in pools of various temperatures, sitting in air baths of warm to hot air, sitting in steam rooms of varying degrees, and my favorite, laying on a marble table, buck ass naked, face up, while a man scrubs you down with soap and a soft brush. It was actually wonderful, and I loved the entire experience and the whole day. Michelle joined me in my enthusiasm for it. Chuck seemed to be cool, and even Jimmy while probably not his favorite part of the trip had a good experience as well. After literally about 1 minute, you completely forget you’re naked and just enjoy the whole thing. It was a blast and I wish we had something like it at home. I thought it was wonderfully relaxing and I don’t think I’ve ever been cleaner. I tried to not poop for as long as possible afterwards because I wanted to stay so shiny and pristine. (All good things must come to an end sadly.)
Back on the road south we stopped for a bit and a look around Frieburg. Another huge Cathedral (Munsterplatz Frieburg), lots of shopping streets, restaurants, and cafes. The most interesting thing is these little waterways that run alongside the streets. I believe they are called Buchle….something like that. I wanted to go buy a little toy boat and sail it down one. I’m sure they have some funtional, practical use, but I don’t know what that is. It did provide a nice ambience and trickling water noise. Probably would’ve sounded cooler at night and I can only imagine the hundreds of people (especially drunk ones) tripping in them later in the evening.
Now onto Switzerland. In searching for nightly accomodation we learned quickly that Zurich was out of our price range. A dump was $300 a night for meager, slim accomodation. We don’t need much, but spending that much for nothing didn’t seem to be a good enough value so we settled at a hostel just outside Zurich in the town of Winterfell. The place is an old factory that was refurbished in 2011 and is not only beautiful and spacious (but again remember it’s a hostel), but our room is big with very high ceilings. It’s a winner and we’re all very comfortable. We did not get in until 8pm so we found the Austrailian restaurant downstairs to have a few beers and unwind. We quickly learned that Switzerland is expensive!! $10 for a plate of french fries? However, they were so good, and they give you a bottle of ketchup to enjoy, not a wimpy little packet or two. Those were some grubbin fries.
Wednesday, 9/30 – We took the train from Winterthur into Zurich to explore for the day. Switzerland is expensive. Zurich is off the charts! $8 for a large coffee? $25 for a hamburger? It was just off the charts. We took a walking tour with our excellent guide Jonathan who took us through the old town area of Zurich which is very beautiful and very bustling. It’s a big city, lots of people, everyone going about their days. The day was brisk and cool and we had to walk in order to not freeze to death. Saw a few of the sights in the inner city and walked up to a park which had a great overlook view down onto the city below which seems to stretch as far as you can see in every direction. Had a walk about on our own down to the lakeshore, but on a cloudy almost foggy day, it was hard to see and get a good sense of the vast size. The public transport is exceptional and after some quick study it was easy to find your way around on the numerous trams that go off above ground in every direction and run every few minutes. All-in-all a very nice visit, but not kind on your wallet.
Heading back to Winterthur we were decided our mission was we needed to have fondue while we were here and went out in search. Fondue is a lot harder to find here than you would think it should be. We learned apparently, like many cultures, the Swiss, do not regularly eat “Swiss” food. Fondue is something you’d only have a few times a year, generally served after a cold day of skiing. We did finally find a very well-to-do restaurant that had it on the menu and it was the full experience, exactly what we were looking for. And of course, it wasn’t cheap. But our service and food was wonderful and none of us could hardly walk afterwards we were so full. Bread, and boiled potatoes, and so….much…..cheese. Mmmmm…..so good, but we all overate and then waddled back to our room. Everyone needed to lay down after that meal for a good hour or two and then we planned to head out for a beer.
Fast forward to now, 5am, Thursday morning, 10/1 as I sit here and write this. We never quite recovered and the gang is still upstairs asleep. I think we were all fast asleep before 8pm so it is a good chance to catch up on some rest with our tummies way overfilled.
In a little bit, everyone will wake up and we’re jump in our car and head back to Germany where we have an apartment rented just outside Munich for the rest of our trip. We stay 1 night in most places, and no more than 2, so I’m looking forward to actually getting to settle in to a place. We’ll be in the same place now until next Wednesday, 10/7, when we fly home. There are quite a few sights in Munich we have picked out to see, as well as a day planned at Oktoberfest. There are also nearby day trips we plan to take down to Innsbruck, Austria, the Zugitsphere mountain, and we’re all still looking forward to doing a summer luge. Can we get it all in? I don’t know, but we’ll try.
You’re totally caught up now as I sign off for the day. Will try to write more sooner. xoxo