Anticipation …

The idea of being on a plane for 11 hours makes me want to chug Nyquil!  Being 6′ tall and over 50 requires some form of artificial assistance to maintain even the most remote level of comfort on the shortest of flights, an 11 hour trip has the markings of a M Night Shyamalan movie.

OK, I know it won’t be that bad but none the less I am making preparations for a comfortable flight since a commercial airline is currently the only way I’m going to get to Germany.  Yep, first time for me, on my way to Europe trying to appear calm on the outside while experiencing a rush of excitement on the inside.  I am most excited about …

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Day 12 – Abschied

Stecker family in Rothenburg

Abschied translated means “Farewell”.  Better said for times like this “Farewell my friends, may we meet again soon”.  What an awesome journey this has been, and what wonderful friends to guide us along the way and make us to feel at home.  This will be perhaps an impossible vacation to outdo.  My family hopes to return one day and continue exploring this part of the world where history comes alive and the world we live in today becomes better understood and more appreciated.  The take away from all of this was the experience being in another culture and comparing it to my own.  I’ve always thought about that from time to time but now I know it was never accurate …

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Day 11 – Rothenburg

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Rothenburg, best known for its well-preserved medieval old town complete with surrounding wall still in tact.  According to historians there was a Catholic vs. Protestant tiff that left the town poor and nearly empty. Then along came the Black Death killing more of the remaining population. Without any money or power, Rothenburg stopped growing thus preserving its 17th century state.

 

Rothenburg (pronounced “Ro-ten-burg”) during the middle ages was a Free Imperial City  and to this day provides lots of evidence of what life was like a thousand years ago in this town which has been referred to as the epitome of the German ‘Home Town’, representing all that was quintessentially German.  The old walled town is so …

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Day 10 – Worms

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Worms, translated means “dragons”, apparently some have been spotted in the countryside surrounding this city.  Can’t say I blame them, it’s a beautiful place to hang out for a while which is exactly what we intend to do today!  Worms is perhaps most commonly known for the place where Martin Luther boldly nailed his 95 Thesis to the front doors of a local Catholic church.  Doesn’t seem like such a big deal except in those days that was like placing a sizable bounty on your own head.  You can read about what it got him in the Diet of Worms.

The city of Worms has a lot of history  and today remains …

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Day 09 – Trier

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Today we travel to Trier, the oldest city in Germany, established around 13 BC and history that dates back to 2000 BC. Located near the border of Luxembourg along the banks of the Moselle River, in the Mosel wine region. Occupied by near every country in Europe throughout it’s long history, Trier was heavily bombed during WWII and there remain only a few pieces of the Roman occupied walled city that once covered some 700 acres. We will visit three of them today, “Porte Nigra” – The Black Gate, “Trier Kaiserthermen” – what remains of a Roman bathhouse  and the eerie “Amphitheater Trier”.  It’s sad to think so much history got destroyed in that war and we can …

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Day 08 – Bavaria

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Today we head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, actually two small towns that came together to create a population large enough to qualify for the 1936 Winter Olympics yet still like to maintain separate identities to this day.  Partenkirchen was established in AD 15 by Rome as a trade route between Venice and Augsburg.  It’s main street “Ludwigsstrasse” still follows that route.  We parked the swagger wagon at the Olympia Stadion (Olympic Stadium) parking lot located at the foot of the ski jump which is bigger than life.  How anyone can muster up the courage to point their ski’s straight down that track and then leave the ground and literally fly without a parachute is beyond me. The photos below were taken …

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Day 07 – Bavaria

Neuschwanstein

Off to Bavaria to explore castles and hopefully go to the top of Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany. I say hopefully as we get closer to our destination the cloud cover on the mountains suggests the trip to the top will not be worth the time and expense, after all, who wants to arrive expecting spectacular views and end up with zero visibility? The day turned out to be beautiful.  Hohenschwangau was our first stop.  This is a picture perfect village right our of a fairy tale, located in the German state of Bavaria, once a country, that sits on the Austrian border. Somewhere in these foothills is where the von Trapp family escaped the Nazis by …

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Day 06 – Neckarsteinach

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There is so much to see in this part of the world.  Places and events throughout history that are right under my feet, waiting to be relived in my imagination.  Who passed through these halls and what events happened along these cobblestone streets that shaped our worlds history.  I feel so far removed from day to day life.  At the end of the day I feel alive yet exhausted, knowing I have lived this day to it’s fullest.  Seize the day.

This is day 7 of our time in Europe.  We’ve been to 3 cities in Germany; Neckargamund, Heidelberg, and Sperey, and Paris, France and now we need some time to re-charge our batteries.

So we start today in true German form, …

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Day 05 – Paris

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Today we check out of our housing which by the way was very cool (perhaps more on that later) and took our baggage to the train station for temporary storage.  Ready to battle the crowds we headed for the Louvre.

The Louvre is huge. It was the King’s Palace before the French Revolution and now houses a collection of anything artsy with a history.  Probably most well know for the home of the Mona Lisa.  What is it about this woman?  There were a lot of people at the Louvre today and by far the largest crowd I saw gathered around any display was at the Mona Lisa, the crowd filled most of the large room.  Staring at her portrait I …

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Day 04 – Paris

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Today I get up and join the morning breakfast hunters (translated; Sylvia & Kim) onto the early morning streets of Paris to find food for breakfast & lunch.  Turns out to be quite fun as Kim & I break away for some bakery goods and wind up communicating with the locals less our translator.

Once fed and ready for today’s adventure we head for the bus station. Our chosen path takes us through the Jardin des Plantes a hybrid of large park/zoo/gardens/museums which makes you feel like you are miles away from any city and only a block away from our condo. Nice work Brown Socks Man (that’s code name for our tour guide).  After …

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Day 03 – Paris

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Up at dawn, thanks to the evil Rooster Pigeons, a nice breakfast and off to Notre Dame in hopes  of beating the crowds to climb the long stairway to the top of the outer wall. The lines were long, it started raining and after a time we decided to hit the subways and head north to the Sacre Coeur (sacred heart) Catholic Church. Knowing what to expect I climbed on embracing a competitive spirit and ready to play the game. No takers. Probably a good thing.

Sacre Coeur is built on the highest point in Paris and via a fairly easy climb from the subway station it offers spectacular views of the city with lots of shops, restaurants, and …

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Day 02 – Paris

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We started the day early knowing we would be spending a fair amount of time commuting, but not like any commute I had ever experienced! My first time on a high speed train headed for Paris. Very nice way to travel. Smooth and quiet, reaching speeds somewhere around 180 mph with comfort to boot. And then another first from the train station to our apartment via “The Snubway” (background music; theme to Psycho).  My son almost got stuck in the door because I didn’t sandwich myself in to the already overcrowded train and the doors just close.  It’s a mad bull run of mindless commuters – personal space and politeness be damned. Since that first ride I have developed a …

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Day 01 – Heidelberg

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I titled this “Day 01″, but actually it is the second day of our journey.  We started in Texas yesterday and landed in Frankfurt this morning.  15 hours travel time, 11 in the air.  Our provided real estate was painfully small relative to the size of the aircraft.  The flight was a challenge, we ended up in the screaming baby and hurling Indians ward.  The first clue that we weren’t in Kansas anymore was how long we kept rolling after we landed.  Seriously, we just kept going and going and going and …  I didn’t watch the clock, it was at least 10 minutes before we finally began slowing down, or perhaps I was overly anxious to breath all natural …

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