I made it to Germany in late August for a 10-night trip. The primary impetus for the trip was a wedding. A young man from my town was marrying a German young lady from a small town in the Frankenwald (Franconian Forest). Any trip to Germany, of course, is a good excuse to visit my favorite city, Berlin.
I flew round trip from my local airport (GSP) to Atlanta to Frankfurt to burn some frequent flyer miles. The Germany itinerary was as follows: Bad Steben x 2 nights, Chemnitz x 1 night, Berlin x 6 nights, and Frankfurt x 1 night.
The Bad Beginning
So, I lost my carry on at the beginning of the trip. I’m one of those physically and mentally exhausted healthcare workers working in a state where “please get vaccinated” and “please wear a mask” are fightin’ words. I had about 5 hours of sleep each of the 3 nights before departure and had a ton of work stuff to accomplish during my layover in Atlanta, which dominated my thinking as I got off the plane. I grabbed my backpack but forgot to grab my spinner out of the overhead compartment. Rookie mistake. After about 3 hours of feverish office work, I realized I forgot my spinner. Panic!
The lovely Lorraine at the Delta Concourse D help desk spent an hour trying to locate my bag, shooing away other flyers who needed help (including one who approached the counter in tears) and sending them to the nearby bank of telephones to call customer service so she could continue the search for my bag. She even called the Knoxville outstation (the plane’s next stop) to see if perhaps the bag had made it there and been unloaded. No luck. Happily, my backpack had my laptop and my important documents, and there was nothing of great value in my spinner. So… I headed off to Germany with a small backpack and the clothes on my back.
The Delightful Driver
Once in Frankfurt, I needed to get to Bad Steben. Track work made the train trip a bit complicated, so I decided to try the Daytrip service (formerly My Daytrip). It’s a bit pricey, I’m not going to lie, but I had a great driver. We both happen to be building houses. The lumber for my house came from Germany; the lumber for his house came from Canada. Go figure.
We made stops at Volkach, a cute town in the Franconian Wine Region (thanks, mchpp, for the recommendation) and BAM!berg, which I’m pretty sure is Emeril Lagasse’s favorite German town. Both towns had very nice medieval architecture, and I enjoyed wandering them a little on my own. I bought a Red Bull in Volkach to try to fight jet lag and bought socks and underwear in Bamberg. My visit to the men’s underwear section of the Karstadt department store made me realize that there are a lot of men in Germany walking around in indecent underwear.
The Wonderful Wedding
Bad Steben is a nice little Frankenwald town with a spa built on a thermal spring. It has some grand old buildings. I stayed in the small family-owned Gästehaus Prinzregent Luitpold where my single room with breakfast was priced right at 51 euro per night. I was greeted on arrival by the owner’s teenage son, who checked me in. Great room. Great breakfast. Great stay.
I had been warned by some German acquaintances that a German wedding is a full-day affair. It was! The service began at 1 pm in a church that would delight any fan of brutalist architecture (despite the town being a part of West Germany). The post-service festivities at the church took on a very Bavarian feel when two large 3-foot pieces of a log were rolled out with nails sticking out of them in the shape of a heart – one for the groom, one for the bride. Both were to hammer the nails into their respective log – the bride with a large mallet and the groom with a small hammer. I’m not exactly sure what the first one to finish the task got, but the bride was the winner. The groom’s prize was to have the blood drained from under the nail of the thumb he hit with the hammer.