quaint town northeast of Dusseldorf
It's Saturday, May 6, and I'm sitting in an internet cafe in Ulm, Germany. My friend Jim is at another swap meet (mostly old cars and antiques) while I'm on my own for a few hours in this city between Stuttgart and Munich (Southern Germany). It's good to be getting another update in. It's way overdue.
What have I been up to since my last update? Let me tell you. Well, let me try
to tell you (at least to the extent that my memory doesn't fail me and time permits).
In my last update, I was in Hannover, Germany (Northern German city). Jim and I left Hannover on Monday evening (May 1), and drove to Wiedenbruck, a small quaint town to the southwest of Hannover. The town center had the typical curving narrow cobblestone streets with interesting old German buildings rising several stories high on either side. We stayed at a hotel in town called Hotel zur Wartburg (3 story plain brick building with plenty of character inside). I liked this place (both town and hotel) and spent several hours meandering through town while Jim had an errand to do.
On Tuesday afternoon, Jim and I headed
interesting town along "The Fairy-Tale Road" northeast of Frankfurt.
to the Fairy-Tale Road. The Fairy-Tale Road is located in central Germany, and famous for being the source of the fairy tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm in the 1800s. Have you heard of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel, Cinderella, Rumpelstilskin, Little Red Riding Hood? Umm, yes. The Grimms captured the tales being told by storytellers in the area by writing them down (in later editions, they softened the tales to be more kid-friendly).
We stopped in Hann-Munden before continuing on to meet up with Laars in Gottingen. Hann-Munden is an interesting town worth a stop. It has easily navigated streets in the town center with some great old buildings.
In Gottingen, Jim and I met up with Laars (a friend of Jim's who is also in the VW auto business). We drove with Laars in one of his old VW buses to a restaurant/estate (Hardenberg) where we had a great meal. Jim and I stayed that night in nearby Kassel at a low-budget hotel (Motel One; 43 euros for a double with two beds).
The following day, we stopped in Marburg on our way towards Frankfurt and the Rhine River. Marburg is a college
the cobblestone path
heading up hill on a street in Marburg, Germany
town with lots of character. I loved the meandering cobblestone streets that traverse the steep hills. I could spend a lot of time checking out the various streets if time permitted. Unfortunately it did not. Jim and I walked around a bit, and I had an awesome strawberry cake at Cafe Vetter (great cafe with a view!) But sadly, we had to move on.
We went to Frankfurt next in order to take care of our car problem. What car problem? Our hope was to rent a car for our entire stay in Europe. However, our rental car with Alamo included a drop off fee of 1,000 euros (about $1,250) to leave the car in Milan, Italy (where we will be flying to London). That just wasn't going to work. We had a great daily rate but the drop off fee just killed it. So Jim and I went to the Frankfurt airport to try to figure out our best course of action. Renegotiate our plan with Alamo? Get rid of the Alamo car and replace it with a car from a different rental company (that had a better drop off rate)? Leave the Alamo car somewhere in Germany
overlooking the castle and city
and fly or take a train to Italy (get a rental car there or use the train exclusively)? Lots of options, and lots of decisions. While Jim spent his time dealing with the Alamo representative, I ventured over to the Europcar counter to talk with the lady there. I proceeded by "bombing" her with questions - ummm, her word, not mine. 😊 She actually was very helpful, but had an attitude. I kind of liked it. We got an amazing deal to pick up a car at another location (Mainz) outside of Frankfurt since all the Europcar rentals at the Frankfurt airport location were booked. And...there would be no drop off fee. The cost was 306 euros for 8 days (including all taxes, etc). Not as good as our daily rate with Alamo, but no drop off fee!
Unfortunately, that also meant we had to get to Mainz to take care of the switch (drop off the Alamo car and pick up the Europcar car). We managed to convince Europcar to pick us up at the Alamo location and by 6:00 (3 hours after this whole thing began in Frankfurt), we had our new car (Fiat Idea - diesel).
Hockenheim race track
huge racing facility in Hockenheim (outside of Heidelberg).
The diesel is a plus since the gas is cheaper and the gas mileage is better.
With our new car (and actually, it is new - less than a month old), we drove up the Rhine river to check out some castles and towns. Outside of Rudesheim, we had dinner at a great spot overlooking the Rhine and a nearby castle as the sun was setting. The food wasn't spectacular but the outdoor patio setting was perfect. Sorry Jim, but where's my girlfriend at a time like this? Saai - see you soon!
After a little more driving up the Rhine, Jim was super tired so he crashed (took a nap in the car) for an hour while I wandered around a nearby town (only Jim is authorized to drive the car - it costs extra to add drivers to the rental agreement). After Jim woke up, we headed south towards Heidelberg. We arrived in Heidelberg around 1:30 a.m. Since we are being budget-conscious, we shopped around for a while trying to find a reasonably priced hotel. Yikes, was that tough. Most of the hotels we tried were full (and we tried a lot!). At around 3:00 a.m.,
picture of Japanese tourists...oh, there is a castle there too
looking at the famous castle in Heidelberg with a Japanese tour group.
we found a hotel in a town 15 minutes away for around 50 euros (negotiated the price). We missed the check-out deadline of 11:00 the next morning (Thursday), but got out of there around 12:00 p.m. We stumbled upon Hockenheim in our efforts to get to Heidelberg. Hockenheim has a huge race track which we checked out (hard to find an open entrance!), and then went to Heidelberg. Heidelberg, what can I say? It's a famous city in Germany. And, you know what, I didn't really care for it. The castle is pretty impressive (with a great view), but otherwise, the city just wasn't as interesting to me as many of the small towns I have seen. It is very, very touristy. We did stop by the house where the Pepperdine students stay while studying in Heidelberg (Pepperdine is a university in Malibu, California). As for Jim, he loves the city. Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.
Our plan at that point was to head towards the Black Forest. However, I offered up the suggestion of going to Strasbourg (a city just across the border in France) that night. Jim agreed, and off we went to
huge castle in Heidelberg
France (with no idea what was in Strasbourg).
Strasbourg. The city is fairly ugly on the outskirts but the city center is interesting, alive and romantic (again, where is Saai?) I was fascinated by the place. We had dinner at a restaurant along a canal and then started to walk through the city. It was dark by that time, and as we turned a corner, we got our first view of the cathedral. It was faintly lighted, and I have to say, one of the most impressive buildings I have ever seen. It is tall, gothic, and intricate. Wow. I don't know what it looks like in the day, but at night, with crowds everywhere, it took on a life of its own. Wish I had a picture that was worthy of it.
Ok, where was I? Oh yes, so Jim and I left Strasbourg in an effort to reach Freiburg, Germany for lodging. We found a hotel outside Freiburg around 1:30 a.m. (late night after late night!).
The next day (yesterday), Jim and I drove through the Black Forest (a stop in Titisee) along B31 and B311 to get to Ulm. We arrived in Ulm around
@ Jens' house
3:00 and checked out the swap meet (vendors were setting up). That night we had dinner at Jens' house (Jim's friend who is a VW collector). There were 9 people present and we had home-made pizza (Jens' wife rolled the dough and all). It was fun being a part of a German household for an evening.
That gets you caught up to today.
Tonight, we plan on driving down to Fussen so we can check out Neuschwanstein (famous castle from which Disneyland's castle was based) tomorrow. Then, off to Italy (driving through Austria).
Thanks for reading. Look! There goes Dave!
Tot: 2.517s; Tpl: 0.021s; cc: 12; qc: 29; dbt: 0.021s; 2; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb