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Published: October 15th 2010
Meeting the family
Tea and cake with Ruth and Theo
We left Hamburg the morning of the 16th for Andernach, home of Dan's great-aunt Traudie and husband Wolfgang. Our train for some reason kept getting later and later. By the time we reached Koln we were thirty minutes late and our train to Andernach had left the same platform as the one from Hamburg pulled into. Oh well, Wolfgang phoned and got our new times.
A ride was waiting for us when we reached the Andernach banhof. We headed to Traudie and Wolfgang's house for a quick lunch (despite it being 1530 hrs), then headed out to have tea with Ruth and Theo. It was good to see Theo since he hadn't made it to the familien treffen, and it was nice to see Dan's great aunt Ruth's house; just a little more family history. Since Dan expressed an interest in Roman history we went to an old roman tomb that was found in there area; apparently a rather common occurance in these parts. We dropped in on Andreas (Traudie and Wolfgang's oldest son) and family while they were working around the house so we unfortunately did not get to spend much time with them. Not to far from Andreas'
What is Dan doing?
I'll let you guess.
there was a volcanic crater lake (no worries, it hasn't been active for ages). We climbed a tower near it on the top of the crater that gave us a commanding view back to Andreas' and the lake. Another stop at a historical site; this one was an old roman spring/well that was really rusty, and where a coin dating back to 67AD was found. It's figured that this volcanic area was where the first mineral water came from. CO2 from the magma rises up through cracks in the earth and pass through the layer of ground water, taking with it the minerals in the different layers of rock. We continued along to an old rehab (for alcoholics) center that was being refurbished as a home for the elderly. Here there were two fountains that both had the mineral contents listed, and were potable. Dan was right in there ready to try them while Ashley was much less impressed with the tastes and will likely stick to tap/bottled water; both were impressed with the natural carbonation of the fountains, and the variation in mineral content despite their close proximity.
The next day, after having seen the spring and fountains,
we went to see the biggest cold water geyser in the world; located just down the river from Andernach. The visitor centre taught us about how a cold water geyser is formed and how it is different from a hot water geyser which is much more common. The cold water geyser is created from built-up CO2 pressure under the Earth’s surface which finally explodes from under the ground. The visitor’s centre was really informative and had fun interactive displays for Dan to play with. Dan does love a good interactive display! The entrance to the geyser is reachable only by the river so our next stop was a boat. We took a 10 minute ferry ride down the Rhine to finally witness the awe-inspiring geyser. It was a cool, blustery day but we decided to stand on the top deck just for the view. It wasn’t so bad since the ride was short anyway. Once we got off the ferry and walked to the site the guide explained a few things in German, which Wolfgang kindly translated; such as, don’t let your glasses or camera lenses get water on them because the minerals from the water will surely scratch them.
Dan at his best playing with the interactive display.
While the guide was talking we heard a loud BOOM; we all looked toward the geyser hole and gas was fizzing out. Before we knew it water was shooting out; not quite the 60 metres it normally gets to but it was still really high. After standing in awe before the geyser we learned that the rocks around it are red because of the iron in the water and then we tasted it. It tastes like sulfury spruddlewasser (carbonated water). It’s bad enough for people who like fizzy water but even worse for those of us who don’t enjoy our water carbonated. The rest of the day we went for lunch and walked around Andernach. We really enjoyed Andernach; it’s a really pretty little town. We also learned that Dan’s Opa lived in Andernach from 1950 to 1952 before he moved to Canada. Some of the sites we saw were the wall that used to surround the city; the old castle; a memorial for Andernach residents who died in the World Ward and a memorial for disabled people who were euthanized under Hitler’s regime. The day finished with a drive to Bonn where Traudie and Wolfgang’s youngest son, Martin, is
Yep, it's water but it doesn't taste too good. Yuck.
studying. We met him and had dinner at a restaurant near to his dorm. We also met Sonja, Traudie and Wolfgang’s daughter, who was off on a motorcycle holiday to Spain the next day. It was so great to meet Traudie and Wolfgang’s kids who are Dan’s first cousins once removed.
Unfortunately, Ashley wasn’t feeling too well on the 18th but we did our best. Firstly, we drove to the Koblenz and saw the Deutsched Eke (German Corner) where the Rhine River meets the Mosel River. Then we took a gondola up to the old fortress. From the gondola you could see where the two rivers met due to the different colours of the water. It was weird because you’d expect the water to mix and have kind of a grey zone but it there was a very distinct line where they met. Unfortunately, the old fortress at the top of the gondola was under renovation for a big flower show in 2011 so we could only the enjoy the view from the top; we couldn’t go into the building. Later on we Wolfgang gave us a tour of the city. We saw a fountain which tells the history
Dinner with Traudie, Wolfgang, Martin and Sonja
of Koblenz like a totem pole. We also went to the Schaengelchen which is a statue of a small boy named Jean, who is spitting water every 5 minutes or so. We arrived at the statue just in time for his show. Be careful not to get wet if you ever visit him. We had lunch at the Maximillian Brauhaus which is just outside the city. Dan found an interesting site in their bathroom. Refer to the pictures and you are sure to see what we mean; can you figure it out. After lunch we went to Marksbourg castle which is the only castle along the Rhine never to have been destroyed. We got a 50 minute tour and Ashley began to understand why this castle was so difficult to conquer. First of all, it was on a cliff; second of all, the floors are cobblestone so you have to be careful not to trip when you’re walking around. Next we drove south through the UNESCO World Heritage Site section of the Rhine. It was beautiful land. To head back north we took a ferry across the river because there was no bridge for 130 km. At the ferry port
Not much to say
Dan didn't have the pleasure of having seeing someone use this...thankfully!
there was also a castle in the middle of the river which was originally built to collect tolls for ships using the Rhine. We stopped in Goar to stretch our legs and an ice cream. We saw some interesting stores there; a store dedicated to cuckoo clocks and another to steins. There was also a Birkenstock store which excited Ashley because those are her new favourite kind of shoes. That night we went for a curry wurst dinner. They also took us to the tomato vines that were planted for the next week’s first tomato festival. Too bad we wouldn’t be around for the festival since the town had never had a tomato festival and Traudie and Wolfgang didn’t even know what to expect. Maybe next year. The rest of the night we watched a video of Traudie and Wolfgang’s family vacation to Canada in 1998. Ashley was really excited to see a little Dan running around in the video but, alas, he wasn’t in the video at all. He figures he must have been at Cadet Camp or something.
On the 19th we travelled to Köln and walked up the 533 steps to the top of the Kolner
A castle in the middle of the river?
Dom. In the middle of the walk up we came across the bells that would ring at noon which was only a few minutes away. In anticipation of a hugely loud ringing which would commence shortly we covered our ears. However, once the bells actually began to ring it wasn’t too loud and Ashley uncovered her ears. Unfortunately, Dan couldn’t handle the noise and kept his ears covered. The bell in the middle, which didn‘t ring, is the world‘s largest working swinging bell. Apparently it only rings at Christmas and Easter so we’ll never hear it. Sigh. We hiked the rest of the way up the Dom and saw all of Köln that there is to see from an aerial view. We also walked through the Dom, and the treasury which houses old jewellery and clothing that used to be used in the church. We got lunch at yet another brewery, Fruhbrauhaus. This brauhaus looked really small from the front but once we walked downstairs it was never-ending. There wasn’t just 1 basement; there was a sub-basement too which just kept winding down with extra seating for those occasions when the brauhaus is really busy. After lunch we went to
Look at the chocolate being bornded!!!
the Chocolate Museum which outlined the history and chocolate making process of Lindt chocolates. The first part of the museum was the history of chocolate; the second bit, where we saw the chocolate being made was the best. When we got back to Andernach Wolfgang struck up a fire where we roasted sausages. Martin came home for the weekend and joined us that night. After dinner Traudie showed us old pictures of the Lipski family which Dan found intriguing. There were also great pictures of Dan’s Opa which was neat to see.
On the 20th we had lunch with the family and then headed off to Luxemburg.
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