Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Germany Day 19

Today was fun - a lot of riding - but fun.   We got up, ate breakfast and left the hotel by 8.  We then headed down the clock road where there are stores decorated with Cuckoo Clocks everywhere.  We stopped at one super nice shop that had a lot of hand made German stuff including Cuckoo's and Nativities - we splurged and ordered both.   They are being shipped to the house and I'm super excited.  If you remember I wanted to buy a nativity the other day and the guy insulted me telling me I could not afford it... so this felt right.  It was a little bit less, but more importantly the people were helpful and friendly.  

After making the credit card scream we drove on for a bit, stopping at a truck stop for a bite to eat, and then on to Heidelberg.  I really enjoyed Heidelberg.   They have a castle that has been damaged but you can still walk around and in some of it - I actually think it is one of my favorites.   The sweeping views off of the top, the fact we could just meander and take pictures.   I really liked it.  They also have a gigantic beer keg - so big you can dance on it.   Not sure I get the appeal, but it was certainly novel.   The town has a river running through it with a lovely water break they have in manufactured into it.    You can see this from a pedestrian bridge that also gives a lovely view of the castle.    I loved the castle and the bridge.  I loved walking the shops and just really enjoyed the city.  It may change my mind on Germany - we just maybe went to the wrong parts?    

It started raining on us right as we were leaving so we were all huddled under an awning waiting for the bus.  Once on we drove straight to the hotel where we had a nice going away dinner and got the bags ready for our flight home tomorrow.  

I'm have enjoyed our trip.  There was a lot more riding / traveling than expected in Germany and there were ups and downs, but we have had a good time.   Mama has a DR. appointment scheduled for Friday to do an assessment on the arm and determine next steps.   Jack has agreed to go with her - I want someone in the room with her and I know if I see that cast off and the beautiful colors underneath I will either pass out or vomit, so Jack is going.     I will be at the house recovering from the travel.  It's been great but I'm ready to be home.

Tomorrow is really just airplanes so unless something amazing happens this will be last journal entry for this trip.  I hope you have enjoyed traveling with us and until next time stay safe and God Bless.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Germany Day 18

Today showed us the German country side that everyone raves about.  But don't let me digress... I know you want to hear about the entire day right?

I woke up in the middle of the night not feeling well so I was moving slow this morning.  Jack took  Mama down to breakfast and I laid down for a bit longer.   I came down about 7:20 and wanted some of the French Toast.  When I went to get it there was none - when I asked the wait staff if they were going to make some more I got a very gruff "NO" and that was it.  There wasn't much else and my stomach wasn't 100% so I stuck with coffee.

We then left for Neushwanstein Castle.   This was the castle that inspired Disney and it was gorgeous from the distance.   The king designed it himself, but never got to live in it as he died before it was complete.  It was very pretty with amazing paintings and architecture throughout.  They said no photos, but I sneaked a few - not as many as yesterday as these guards were more watchful, but I sneaked and got some.

We had gotten a ride up to the castle but had to walk back down - the walk took about an hour.  The walk down was nice as it had stopped raining for the most part, but it was a deep - damp - cold so I was ready for the bus and the heater.  I thought we were early so I went to the bathroom and got some cash out - only to get on the bus and realize I was 5 minutes late, oops :)

We then road over to Lake Constance.  The drive over was gorgeous, but it was rainy as well - I am sure glad we have a great driver.   Once there we saw the lake, but didn't stay long as it was cold and rainy.  We walked quickly to a restaurant and sat down.   The service was good as was the food.   We had burgers and really enjoyed ourselves.  It was an inside restaurant but birds had flown in the doors so that was neat to see.  

After this we went back to the bus and drove to another short stop to see a church and a view of the lake.  It was raining and I had just warmed up ... given it was really more of a rest stop we opted to buy a couple of souvenirs and stay on the bus.     We then drove to our hotel in the Black Forest and are resting up for tomorrow.  

Last real day of our trip before we fly home is tomorrow -here is praying it's sunny and warm :)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Germany Day 17

Best day of the Germany portion of the trip so far and maybe of the entire trip.   We got up and ate breakfast (didn't have to check out of the hotel) and then headed to Zugspitze station - it is a spot where you can view Zugspitze Glacier at 8,530 feet high.   We didn't see much of the glacier itself as there was significant cloud cover, but OMG it was amazing.  White as far as you could see - it was cold, but we wore warm cloths so it wasn't too bad.  I had on two pair of jeans, 2 shirts, a sweater and a jacket...

The air was so crisp up there and it was so breath takingly gorgeous.  The wind was blowing which would also take your breath quite literally.  I'm really glad we brought Mama's O2 machine where she could enjoy it.  

We got some cocoa in the cafe and thawed out for a minute - then went out to enjoy it some more.   We then hopped on the cable car and road it down, which was nice as well - the condensation from the morning had dried up so we could see out of it - amazing.

We then came back to the Oberammergau and walked to the village itself.  We checked out the theater where they hold the Passion play every year and then went to grab a bite to eat.  After lunch we did some souvenir shopping before heading back to the hotel.

We rested for a few minutes and then headed Linderhof Castle.  This castle is original and the only one King Ludwig actually lived in.  It was fashioned after Versailles, but was a poor imitation.  That being said it was still amazing, especially the outside.  The fountains and the way they flowed into the building was really well done.

We had a guided tour of the castle.  The castle was gaudy as is Versailles.  I enjoyed seeing the gold inlay, the painted walls and the statues.  They said no pictures, but I sneaked and took several... I know I'm a bad person.  I think my favorite room was the bedroom and my favorite item was the glass peacocks.   They also had an ivory chandelier that was nice, but I feel bad about the fact it was ivory - even if it is old.

We then came back to the hotel and took a nap, went to get some Italian food, and are resting up to tackle tomorrow.   We are all getting a little tired with the go-go-go schedule, but today was worth it.   Amazing day !

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Germany Day 16

Every day you are on vacation is a good day and today was no exception.  I will say though - in all fairness - I've had better tours.   I've traveled with Globus 5 times now and this is the first time I've been disappointed in the trip for a number of small reasons that add up to just ... well not satisfied.   I won't dwell on that here though - just want to be up front and honest for my memories.  I also know it is coming across in the journal-ling some so I want to remember why when I'm 50 wondering why these journals don't sound all rosy and stupid happy like they normally do.

So on to happier things - what did we do today?  Jack put our bags out by 7 and we got up to start getting ready.   We were running a bit late so I ran our hand held luggage down by 8:15 while everyone else finished getting ready - we don't leave until later today as we opted out of the concentration camp excursion, but our bags needed to be on the bus so we didn't have to keep up with them.  

We then headed down to breakfast and ate at a leisurely pace since we had some free time.   Then we headed out to go see the Oktoberfest Parade.   We saw that they were lining up and ended up right where it started.  I wish later we would have moved as they were actually coming in from 3 different streets so Mama and I only got to see about 1/3 of it, but we saw a ton.  Jack scooted under the rope and went to get a better view, but Mama and I decided to just stay.   It was drizzling rain the entire time so it was a little comical - me trying to take pictures while we tried to keep myself, the camera and Mama's arm dry.  The parade was really neat with people all dressed up and horses pulling buggies.   It was very unique and LONG.  I think it's longer than the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving - we sat and watched it for 2 hours and it still had a little bit to go.

We then walked down to the MarienPlatz area and grabbed a bite to eat.   We ate at a local German restaurant, but I got a hamburger.  It was good though a bit expensive - they did have English menus though so that was a win.   We then wondered around the square a bit, everything and I do mean everything except a tiny tourist shop was closed.   Apparently that is the norm here on Sunday's.  I really wanted to buy a coat because 50 degrees is a lot colder than I thought it was, but everything was closed.

The square is pretty though - they have 2 town hall buildings the old and the new.  The new one is Gothic and really cool.  The old one is actually newer because it was rebuilt after the war was pretty as well.  We took some pictures of the outside and then it was time to meet with our group.

We were supposed to take a walking tour of Munich ... instead she spoke in the square - without using the Whisper system that makes it where you can actually hear her and then we went to the bus for a driving tour.   It was basically this is this building, this is that one, while we drove by them - it was so boring.  I fell asleep... I woke up when Jack showed me the Olympic stuff - that we didn't get to stop and see.

We then stopped at this palace which was amazing ... but we only got 20 minutes to see it.   I was PISSED let me tell you.  I wanted at least 30 to 45 to see it and take pictures of the amazing gardens. It took 10 to go to the bathroom and we were gong to be on the bus for 2 hours after not going was not an option for most of us.  

We then drove to Oberammergau.  The drive up was gorgeous - we are getting into the Alps and the mountains are just amazing.  We are staying tonight in this little hotel in the Passion Play town of Oberammergau.   The scenery is amazing and we have a free night tomorrow night to walk around, I'm really hoping the shops stay open a bit later.  

While I'm not happy with this tour on a number of levels, we are still having a great time and I'm really looking forward to our trips into the Alps tomorrow.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Germany Day 15

It seems like we live on the bus these days, but we had a good time today  We got up, ate breakfast and left the hotel by 8 AM.   We rode for about 2 hours to Rothenburg.  This town was really great little town.  They had a lot of great shops with Christmas ornaments and cute items.  We spent a good hour walking around and looking and then sat and ate a croissant and a coffee.  

On the hour they had this completely corny thing whee these dolls poke out of a building and pretend to drink a beer.  It goes back to something that may or may not have happened years ago where a army commander told the mayor he wouldn't destroy the town if someone could drink a liter of beer in one go - so the guy did and saved the town.  Now ever hour on the hour a fake doll pops out and drinks a beer - it is the corniest thing EVER.

As we were leaving the town we realized we missed the absolutely best street -- I wish we would have had another 30 minutes to walk down that street - ah well.

We then rode down a bunch of back roads and saw some gorgeous country side before landing in Munich.   We got to our rooms and headed to dinner.   Dinner was nice and now we are back at the hotel getting ready to go to sleep.     So another fairly lite day - honestly I didn't know Germany was big enough to have us in the bus this much, it seems we've crossed the entire country twice, lol :)

Friday, September 15, 2017

Germany Day 14

So today was really a travel day so this blog will be pretty lite.   We got up and had to have the bags out by 7.  So I got up at 6:30 and went to help Mama, then came back and helped her then came back and got ready myself.   We then headed down for breakfast which was ok before getting in the bus to head across Germany.

We stopped at a gas station along the way to have a bathroom break - then drove on to Leipzig.   Leipzig is where Bach lived.   We went to the church where he is buried and also where he lead worship.  It was a pretty church and we enjoyed walking around it.  They also had an open air market that we walked around a bit.   

We started to go into a Germany Cafe to get lunch, but they didn't speak English at all and we didn't feel like getting something unexpected so we ended up going to McDonald's and got a hamburger.  Mama tried to order it with only mayo, lettuce and onion - she needed up getting a plain hamburger... we couldn't get them to understand.   It was hilarious.

We scarfed the food down and then ran to catch our bus.   The driver wasn't there yet so I ran back and I mean RAN to go to the restroom before we left.

We then drove for a while longer before stopping at another convenience store for a 30 min break.   They had a machine that would cut and juice an orange - making fresh OJ and putting it in a 20 oz bottle; it was awesome.   I really liked it and wish we had them in the states.

We then drove on to Nuremberg.  We really wanted to see this town as they said it was the toy town of Germany, but we arrived after all of the shops closed which was a bit of a disappointment.   We rested a bit and then drove to the top of the city where there was an incredible view.   We then strolled down through the town taking pictures as we went.  The town was an old fortress and it is surrounded by a wall.   I enjoyed meandering down taking pictures though I wish we would have had a bit more time.

We then ate dinner before walking a back to our hotel - I really wish we had a little bit longer here.   I'm super tired though and look forward to whatever tomorrow holds.   

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Germany Day 13

Berlin - that is what today was all about.  I got up at 6:30, got dressed and went to help Mama with a few things given the bum arm.   I then came back to finish getting ready myself before heading down to breakfast with her at 7.  Jack was still in the shower so we went on just so as to not hurry.

We walked into the hotel dining room and several of the group came to check on Mama through out our meal which was very nice.  Breakfast this morning was ok, but nothing compared to the one yesterday.  However, it filled us up and prepared us for the day.

We then loaded on the bus and met our local guide.   She was very stylish with her hair half hanging down in her face and healed boots on that I would kill myself if I dared try to stand in them much less walk.   She is the daughter of the guide we had yesterday and I was dreading having her - her father was a bit monotone and I just really wanted a bit of personality today.  Well, I shouldn't have dreaded anything - she was fabulous!   She told great history about everything, was interesting, she strayed here and there to give us extra bits or to go off on a tangent.   I absolutely loved having her today.

This morning was an optional excursion to Potsdam.  On the way, as i twas a bit out of town, she pointed out some Berlin highlights and then proceeded to give us the entire royal history of Prussia.   The first palace we went to in Potsdam belonged to the Prussian royalty and was also where the Potsdam Conference was held in 1945, Cecilienhof Palace.   The palace was under construction on the outside but it seemed pretty and I was able to get a few photographs.  

On the inside you had to buy a photography permit - which I did.  I hung back far enough to get lots of pictures without people in them, but could still hear her through our ear pieces.  I love those things as they allow me to wonder and not miss the dialogue.  The interesting thing about this place is that the caretakers really guard it very closely -- but it isn't all that pretty or unique on the inside.  Apparently the guides can't say certain things or they get into trouble and the guards are trained to ease drop and report back.   We had a woman guard follow us most of ht time and I found her very unfriendly and intimidating.  She kept watching me but I paid for my permit by golly and I was taking my pictures.

We saw each of the big 3's desk along with the conference room.  The palace was chosen by Russia and they made sure they had their pick of rooms and desk.   The conference room was round and it was very important these 3 looked equal vs. one favoring the other - stupidity - just walk into a room and sit down, who care's who walks in first?  I don't understand how that pomp and circumstance every helps anything.

Once we finished here we drove to Sanssouci Palaece to see the gardens and take pictures of it's outside.  I thought it was really pretty and enjoyed strolling around it.   The Prussia King who helped bring the people out of famine by teaching them how to eat the potato king is here.  He is known as the potato king and people leave potatoes on his grave.  He is buried with his 10 dogs whom he loved greatly.   The gardens and fountain were quite pretty and it was an enjoyable stop.

We also drove over Glienicker Bruckle, a bridge that connects Potsdam with Berlin.  It was used to make spy swaps between the FBI and the KGB during the cold war.  After leaving Potsdam we drove back to our hotel to eat and rest before the next excursion.

We decided to eat at a all day breakfast place behind the hotel called Chips.  We walked in and there isn't a sign that says seat yourself so we waited... and waited.  Jack tried to ask a lady who looked like she worked there, but he was ignored.  So we waited some more.  Finally this lady, the one who ignored Jack, came over and said sit anywhere except if it says reserved.   Well, I sit down at the booth to which she says - RESERVED.   I didn't know - the sign was tiny.  So we sckoot over a table and wait.  I may have called her a bad word under my breath.

Then we waited some more.  Finally Jack said they have 5 minutes and we are leaving.   A minute later the waitress came over and took our order.   And we waited... several and I do mean several minutes later they bring us coffee and some soda no one has heard of.   The coffee is very much like English coffee, which means nasty!  I had to ask for cream twice and even then it was frothy and weird.

The food they brought was pretty good - very good actually.  We all had the lumberjack, which consist of eggs, bacon, french toast and a salad.

After eating we went back to the room and took a 20 minute power nap.

We were then up and at it again.  We hopped back on the bus with our guide and our tour director to go hear about the WW2 history up to the falling of the wall.   It was interesting to hear about it from her as she lived through the Berlin wall collapse - she was a child in 1990.    I learned some things and enjoyed the commentary.    We stopped at a timeline near a 1 mile section of Berlin Wall that is still standing.   We stopped at Checkpoint Charlie and also a Soviet Memorial for the WW2 soldiers that was in a very nice park.   It was interesting - however by time it was over I was dragging.

We came back upstairs to our room and crashed.   We had a good hour nap and then got up to go to dinner.

Dinner was at a local restaurant that obviously caters to tour groups.   It was so cramped you could barely move - which sucked.   It was also really loud.   However, the food was incredible and you could drink as much as you wanted - anything you wanted.  We stuck to soft drinks but several in our group got quite happy.  Before long they were all up dancing in this restaurant you could barely move in.   It was fun to witness - I would have loved to dance, but it was just too crowded.  Mama laughed at us.   The room is dancing - drinking - laughing.  Jack and I are translating the place mat with an app on his phone and having a great time... it takes all types I guess.   It was fun.

Now we are here at the hotel and need go to breakfast at 7 in the am so I'm calling it a night.  Sleep well blogland.

P.S.  Mama is doing great - didn't let her slow her down at all today.

Germany Day 19

Today was fun - a lot of riding - but fun.   We got up, ate breakfast and left the hotel by 8.  We then headed down the clock road where the...