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One month in Germany and a side trip to Copenhagen (yes, it's long)

On April 25th, I woke up ready to leave for my trip, only to see that it was snowing. Go figure. Delta insisted on a three hour window of time to check my passport and vaccination card so I got there 3 hours early. But that only took 30 seconds, which left me with two hours and 59 minutes to sit there in a tiny airport with nothing to do. To make it worse, my flight was delayed 1 1/2 hours, but I finally made it to MSP.

The overnight flight from Minneapolis to CDG wasn’t horrible. The food was decent and the Premier Select seats were more roomy than economy but I still could not sleep a wink. So when we landed to face the chaos that is CDG, I was tired and grumpy. When you look at a map of CDG, going from Terminal 2E to Terminal 2F looks pretty easy. It’s not. You have hundreds of people being herded from their incoming planes to their outgoing planes, along with stops for passport control and security that are not very organized. The worst part is that there’s not much signage to show you the way so it’s easy to get lost. It was horrible, coupled by all the travelers who were trying to make short connections. They did their share of crying and screaming at the agents.

Finally the ordeal was over and I made my way to the new Air France lounge. Very nice! I bought a day pass for 58€ and it was well worth it. It had relaxation pods, full showers with fresh towels, and toothbrushes and toothpaste. There were lots and lots of food stations (and the food was really good)! I’m talking creamy butter and cheeses, fresh rolls, orange juice, eight different kinds of coffee, meats, salads and so on. There was also lots of alcohol available but I was afraid I would pass out if I had anything to drink, so I refrained.

At 2:45 pm, I promptly made my way to Gate F28 for my flight to Berlin. It was originally scheduled to leave at 1 pm, but was pushed back to 3:30 pm, which is why I had a 7+ hour layover at CDG. But I made my way on board, got settled (hoping for a nap) and we took off. And then it happened – about 45 minutes into the flight, we got an announcement from the pilot. We were turning around and going back to CDG. Evidently there was a problem. We didn’t know what the problem was (and never did find out). The chaos that ensued is described elsewhere on this forum.

Finally we left again and landed in Berlin around 8:30 pm. I had planned to catch public transport to my hotel but since it was dark out, I opted for a cab (Air France, you owe me €66). By the time I got to the Adina Apartment Hotel at Hackescher Markt, I was exhausted and grimy and all I wanted was sleep. The room was very nice – it had a kitchenette with microwave, sink, fridge, and dishwasher, nice view of a courtyard (no street noises, yay) and a very comfy bed, which was all I was concerned about. Within 10 minutes of walking into the room, I was fast asleep.

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Day 2: After 8 hours of sleep, I was a new person and ready to take on Berlin with gusto. First stop was Bäcker Wiedemann for coffee and a pastry. After that, I was off to the DDR Museum, which houses memorabilia from the Soviet occupation of East Berlin and Germany. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was very interesting. There were lots of kitschy household items and rooms that were set up to look like they did back during the Cold War. One showed a prisoner cell, where the Soviets kept the incarcerated dissidents, another was a typical bathroom in an East German flat.

When I left, I saw a water taxi in front of the museum so I walked down, paid my €17 and settled in for a comfortable 1-hour cruise. We saw a lot of Berlin’s incredible architecture, old and new. The Berlin Dom was on the agenda and it was immense. After that, I couldn’t keep track of everything but I really enjoyed it. There was a man who talked about what we were seeing, but my German was not good enough to catch all of it. We finally finished the tour and came back to the dock. I decided to walk after that and there’s no place better to walk than Unter den Linden. This is one of the prettiest streets in Berlin and many of the main sights are along it. It’s called Unter den LInden because of all the linden trees that line the street.

Soon I came to Brandenburg Tor and the Reichstag, home of Bundestag, the German parliament. Next to it were multiple embassies, including the Russian embassy, which is on the same street. I made a huge faux pas by ignoring the barricades set up in front and blithely walking along the sidewalk. Suddenly three police officers walked up to me and told me to cross the street NOW. Oops. That’s when I realized the barricades are there to prevent people from coming too close to the embassy. It’s not a popular place at the moment.

Next was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which was built in Berlin as a tribute to the Jewish victims of WWII. It is composed of 2711 concrete slabs that sit on uneven ground that goes up and down. The intent is for it to be a place of remembrance and warning. After that, I took a stroll through the Tiergarten, a wooded park located across from Brandenburg Tor, then made my way to Potsdamer Plaza; a huge square that dates back to the 1600’s. Hitler used it to market his propaganda and most of it was bombed repeatedly during WWII. Now it’s modern and very fancy.

By this time, I needed some food so I grabbed a seat at a Vietnamese restaurant called Viti. It was wonderful to sit in the sun and enjoy the beautiful weather. The food was good, too. Duluth has a dearth of ethnic restaurants so I always enjoy them when I’m traveling. After lunch, I took a break from sightseeing and did a little shopping. One of my favorite vendors is Gudrun Sjödren, a clothing company in Sweden. I was happy to find a Berlin shop in the city center. The shop was filled with lots of color and Scandinavian designs and it was fun checking out the store.

Jet lag finally hit me, so I grabbed a bus and headed back to the hotel. After I dropped off my purchases, I went to Rewe (a small grocery nearby) to pick up a few things for dinner. It was fun picking up sausage, cheese and fresh rolls for dinner, along with a bottle of Riesling. And even nicer to enjoy them in my room at the end of my first full day in Berlin!

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Day 3: A day for more history. The Berlin wall and Checkpoint Charlie were on my itinerary. I took the S-Bahn over to Checkpoint Charlie, which was one of the barriers separating East Berlin from West Berlin and was the only checkpoint used by Americans. I knew it was not the real guard building but it was still interesting to see. Up the street was one of the remaining segments of the Berlin Wall. And next to the wall was the Topography of Terror, a documentation center about the atrocities of Hitler and the Nazis. Photos showed real people who were Holocaust victims of the Holocaust and real people who committed the atrocities. I had a hard time looking at them – it reminded me of Dachau and how emotional that was.

Needing something to lighten my mind, I went back to Potsdamer Plaza to shop for family members. I stopped at the Mall of Berlin to get Bayern München gear for my son-in-law and grandson, then jumped on the tram to visit the Kaufhaus des Westerns, aka KaDeWa. I’ve never seen a single store so huge! It has over 60,000 square meters of retail space, and so many departments that I finally lost track. Since it was lunchtime, I checked out eating venues there and found an insane amount of restaurants in their store. They are all located on the 6th and 7th floors, and include an oyster bar, a champagne bar, a Budweiser bar (seriously?), a cheese counter, a caviar bar, a wine bar, a potato station and much more. I opted for German food and had a plate of Nürnberg sausages with sauerkraut and an Austiner white beer that was very good.

Nothing exhausts me more than shopping so I decided to head for home.I got sidetracked when I got off the bus near St. Marienkirche (St. Marien Church), however. It’s very near the hotel and was closed the first time I came, so I decided to visit it while I could. The church, which dates back to the early 13th century, was originally a Catholic church, but has been a Lutheran Protestant church since the Reformation in 1539. It is still in use as a parish church today.

By now, I’d gotten a second wind so I walked over to Hackescher Markt, which is near my hotel. This is a very cool area with lots of shops, hip restaurants and a street market twice a week, which was going on when I got there. It’s also the home of Hackescher Hofe, which is a large complex filled with shops and restaurants. I was still full from lunch but stopped at one place for a cappuccino and apple streusel Kuchen before going back to the hotel, where I promptly collapsed.

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Day 4: Today I just about killed myself. I keep forgetting that I’m five years older than when I took my last Europe trip. I need to slow down. But I digress. Let me start with the morning. It was another beautiful day in sunny Berlin so I headed out early. I wanted to see the place where Hitler’s bunker was. There is nothing there now as it was totally destroyed, but there is a sign with some information on it. I took the subway there – I’m finally starting to get the hang of Berlin’s public transport systems. It’s not too difficult to figure out which tram or bus or subway to take (and Google Maps helps a lot); it’s more that I can’t figure out which direction to go to find the correct transport or where to go after I get off. I can be a little dyslexic sometimes when it comes to directions. But I made it there and actually figured out how to get to the sign. I’m not sure it was worth it but the sign was interesting.

My intention was to spend part of the day in Prenzlauer Berg, a slightly hip and gentrified residential area. And that’s where I made my mistake. When I decided to walk through the entire district, I didn’t think about the hills that abound the area or the length of the walk. I started off fine and made time for a stop at Sammy's Berliners. The raspberry and basil donut I ordered was the BEST donut I have ever eaten. It had a raspberry glaze and filling – and it was not filled with the sickeningly sweet raspberry goop that so many places in the US use, but actual pureed raspberries. And the basil cream that mounded the top was just decadent. The flavors all melded together like perfection. Sigh. I want one now.

With the delicious donut to fortify me, I started trekking through Prenzlauer Berg, stopping at the occasional shop. After two hours, my feet hurt. After three hours, my body hurt. I desperately looked for public transportation and every stop I went to was in the wrong direction. I think my brain was weakened by the stress on my body. I made a detour to Frau Tulpe Stoffe (which had some adorable fabrics) on the way back and bought a few things. But after that I kept walking. And walking. And walking until I finally made it back to the hotel.

Then I had to make a decision – to go to my room and hibernate for the night (it was around 4 pm) or find a place to eat. I opted for eating Eden, a Vietnamese restaurant across the street. But even though I was hungry and the food was delicious, I was so worn out that I couldn’t eat more than half of it so I finally left and went up to my room. And of course I had to pack as I was leaving for Nuremberg the next day. Luckily it went quickly, since I gave up on the packing cubes and just rolled everything and put it in my suitcase.

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Day 5: This morning, I grabbed all my bags, checked out and walked a block or two to catch the S-Bahn to the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. It was a quick 5 minute trip there, then I just had to find my train platform in the huge multi-level station. I finally got there and waited till the ICE train came rolling in. Usually I get 2nd class but for some reason, Deutsche Bahn offered 1st class for only a couple of Euros more, so I figured why not? The seats were a little bigger and the coaches not so crowded. I even had a table.

The scenery was pretty but nothing spectacular. Still it was nice to relax and watch the rolling countryside. I arrived in Nürnberg around 11:30 am and was hoping to check in early at the Hotel Privat-Probst. The hotel was very close to the station so it was a quick walk. I took the elevator to the third floor reception and was told that I could check in. It was such a relief to get rid of my luggage. I definitely overpacked for this trip. I plan on finding a post office and sending a box home as soon as I can.

My room was nice, small, and clean. That’s all I needed. I unpacked a few things, freshened up and then went out to have some lunch. Right across the street was the Literaturhaus Nürnberg, which was mentioned in the RS guidebook. They had a large menu and I ordered breakfast with cheese and bread. It was very tasty. It had four different soft cheeses, Swiss cheese, German bread and butter, a fruit and yogurt salad with pomegranate, apples and grapes, and scrambled eggs served in a cute little jar. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Scrambled eggs get cold very quickly when served on a plate. But if you serve them in an enclosed jar, they stay warm. And coffee, of course. I love German coffee!

After that, I started wandering through the town. Unlike Berlin, Nuremberg is much smaller and has most of the sites within the Altstadt. The first major site I passed was Lorenzkirche, an ornate huge old church that was once Catholic but is now evangelical Lutheran. Much of the church was bombed during World War II, but they restored it to its original grandeur.

Next I passed the Holy Ghost hospital (Heilig-Geist-Spital), which sits on the river. It was built in the 14th century to care for the sick, disabled and elderly citizens of the town. A little bit after that is the Shöner Brunnen, which means “beautiful fountain”. Because the old slaughter houses and even the hospital dumped very unsanitary things into the river, the town built the fountain to provide clean drinking water to the square. And of course they made it as ornate and beautiful as possible.

Around this time it started to rain a little bit. Nothing major but it slowed me down a little. So I just wandered around and looked at the houses and the beautiful settings. Finally, I headed back over to the Literaturhaus for dinner. I ordered potato soup and bread, followed by an apple strudel for dessert. Then back to the hotel for an early night.

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Day 6: Most of the shops in Germany are closed on Sundays (plus this was May 1, Labor Day) so I figured I’d visit the museums. My first visit was to the Nazi Documentation Center, which explains how Hitler came into power and how best to prevent it happening again. The place is filled with photos and interactive exhibits. It was a very sobering and thought-provoking place.

Anyone who has seen the movie “Judgment at Nuremberg” knows about the infamous trials here after World War II. So my next visit was to the site of those trials – Courtroom 600. As a retired attorney, it was a thrill to see a courtroom where so much history was made, yet it was sad since I knew the trials did not accomplish all they were supposed to.

After I left here I went back into town to visit the toy museum. I wasn’t sure how I would like it so I planned to just go through quickly, but I wound up staying longer than I thought because it was so charming. I especially loved the miniature doll houses.

It was time for a break from museums and I strolled down Weissgerberstraße, which has some of the charming half-timbered houses that Germany is known for. After leaving there, I heard music playing so I followed the sounds to a festival. There was a band playing on stage and everybody was laughing and dancing along. It was a lot of fun and I stayed for a while to listen.

My last stop of the day was the German National Museum, which houses some original Dürer and Rembrandt paintings. It also has several pieces by Tilman Riemenschneider, a gifted and successful sculptor from the 15th and 16th century. After that I went back to the hotel and called my sister using FaceTime audio.

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Day 7: Today was Bamberg. It’s about 40 minutes away and I was taking a regional train. The Altstadt in Bamberg is about 20 minutes from the train station so I opted to grab a bus. I was trying to conserve energy because these feet can’t walk all day like they used to.

The bus dropped me off at the city center soon enough. As I walked, my eyes kept getting wider and wider – what a lovely and charming city! It reeked of charm. It’s no wonder that the entire Altstadt is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s known as an example of how central European towns were often built up around the layouts established in the early Middle Ages (thanks, Wikipedia!).

The first place I wanted to see was the Dom. It was huge and magnificent. And unlike many of the Catholic churches in Germany that turned protestant, this one stayed Catholic. What’s more amazing is that the original cathedral was built in 1012. It burned down and this one went up in the 1200’s, but the diocese has been around for over 1000 years.

The first thing I saw when I walked inside was the Papal Tomb of Pope Clemens II, who died in 1047. He was originally from Bamberg and loved it so much that he wanted to be buried there. Heading further down into the church, I came across an incredible wooden sculpture by Veit Stoss in 1520. It was originally at the Carmelite Church in Nuremberg, but when Nuremberg turned protestant, it was brought to Bamberg in 1530.

Soon I saw what I had been waiting for. The tomb of Heinrich II and his wife/consort, Kunigunde. It was created in 1513 by (once again) the amazing sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. The marble slab on top is a likeness of the couple and there are relief sculptures on the side panel. It is breathtaking and I could have spent all day here.

After that, I stopped for lunch and had a sandwich and a bottle of water at a small cafe, followed by Apfelkuchen and cappuccino. Once I finished, I wandered around the town some more, enjoying its beauty and forcing myself to do a little shopping (ahem). Yes, I now have a new purse.

Before I left, I took some photos of the Altes Rathaus, a medieval town hall in Bamberg. It is a beautiful building with amazing frescos painted on it. It stands on an artificial island in the middle of the Regnitz River. Legend has it that the Bishop of Bamberg did not give permission to the townspeople to build a town hall, and so the townspeople drove wooden piles in the river and built an island to house the town hall.

Late in the afternoon, I grabbed a bus and made my way to the train station for the trip back to Nuremberg. I relaxed in my room for a bit then went out for dinner at Literaturhaus (again) and had the most wonderful Wiener Schnitzel with white asparagus, potatoes and wine. The perfect ending to a perfect day!

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Day 8: Today I am headed to Regensburg, which is In a different tariff (public transport) zone, so I couldn’t use the day ticket that I used for Bamberg. But I did buy a Bayern ticket, which was a bit more expensive but not as expensive as a round-trip ticket.Unfortunately I forgot to read the rules, which say that you can’t begin your trip until 9 am AND you must take a regional train rather than an ICE. So because I left at 8:15 am and took the ICE train, I broke the rules.

I didn’t realize it until the train was on its way. I could see the conductor making his way through our car and I was dreading when he got to my seat. He went on one side of the car and then disappeared into the next car so I figured he was going to do one side and then come back up. But as luck would have it, I made it to my stop without him coming up. I lucked out big-time, as I could have been liable for a €60 fine. It was a dumb mistake on my part and I need to be more careful.

Once I got off the train, I walked to the Altstadt area. It was a fairly easy walk and I was able to stop and have a cappuccino on the way. The day was beautiful, the sun was out and it was lovely to sit outside and watch the city come alive. My first stop was the cathedral; St. Peter Dom. It was immense and quite gorgeous inside. No Tillman Reimenschneider sculptures, but plenty of other beautiful stained glass windows and sculptures.

One guidebook had told me to exit out of the north transcript to find Porta Praetoria. This is Germany’s oldest stone structure and is the remnant of a former gateway dating from 179 AD that once led into a Roman military camp called Castro Regina, and is almost 2000 years old. So I headed that way and found the ruins. After that I walked over to the Altes Rathaus, which houses the tourist info center, which offers guided tours. The English tour for that day had been canceled but I was offered a German tour guide and an audio guide in English.That sounded like a good deal to me so I went up the stairs to the room and found that I was the only tour participant.

It worked out really well! The woman who was giving the tour was very informed and happy that someone was there who was interested in history. I listened to the English guide and then the tour guide explained some more. I was able to speak to her in German, which was very helpful. It’s an amazing building that dates from the 13th century and consists of the Town Hall tower, the Gothic Imperial Chamber building and the baroque Town Hall.

But the most interesting part was when we went below to the dungeon area. This is where the interrogations were. Nobody could be tortured to death legally, but they used torture as a way of getting people to confess. The guide told me that many people confessed as soon as they saw the instruments of torture. ​​The rack was used to stretch peoples’ bodies, which caused excruciating pain. Even worse, during every torture session, the crucifix stayed in the room. She said that all of the instruments of torture are the original ones that were used. During the 1800s, officials locked up the room with everything inside. It wasn’t opened until the 1900s, when they decided to exhibit them.

Following the tour, I wandered around town some more, hten went to the Café Orphée, where I had a lovely brunch of meats, cheeses, bread, fruit and butter and marmalade. And of course a cappuccino.

Soon I was ready to head back to Nuremberg for my last night. I had dinner again at Literaturhaus. Tonight was more Wiener Schnitzel, with potato and cucumber salad. Very tasty! I really like this place – I see a lot of regulars who eat here every day and everyone is so friendly.

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Day 9: Yesterday I went to the Deutsche Post office with a large box I packed up with excess clothing and gifts, and had it shipped home. It cost €50 but was well worth it since my bags were lighter and I was traveling to Gengenbach in the Black Forest. I made my way to the platform, grabbed some coffee and boarded my train. Everything was great for the first three hours but later there were a series of delays. Most of them were just a few minutes, but every few minutes adds up, especially when you’re transferring to different trains. And I had two transfers to make. The first one was fine. I made it to the transferring train with a minute to spare. I almost killed myself doing it but I made it. I did not make the second one, but I looked at my handy-dandy DB Navigator app, and it informed me that there was another train to Gengenbach in about 15 minutes.

Gengenbach is only about 7 to 8 minutes down the line, so I made it there very quickly. And the hotel is only 2 km from the train station but by this point, I was hot and exhausted so I flagged down a cab. The cab driver took me to the Stadthotel Pfeffermühle, which is in a very lovely old building (part of it goes back to 1476) and looks very comfortable. When I checked in, the young woman at the reception desk was excited to hear that I was learning German. She told me that she would speak German to me exclusively but slowly so that I would have an easier time. I was so excited! Most Germans are happy to speak German to me but they speak it so fast that sometimes it’s hard to make out what they’re saying.

My room was quite large and comfortable, as they had upgraded me to a double. I got unpacked quickly, and headed outdoors for a walk through the town. OMG. This town really is like a giant chocolate box. It is the cutest, most adorable place I think I’ve ever seen. I am in love with it. I will be staying here for four nights and plan to make some day trips into the Black Forest, but I’m also planning one trip to Strasbourg, France, which is right over the border.

Since I hadn’t had any lunch, I stopped at a small bakery and ordered a raspberry mousse torte and a cappuccino. Then I wandered through the town, pretty much gaping at the scenery the whole time. At one point, it looked like it was getting ready to storm so I headed back to the hotel. Once there, I started chatting with my new friend at reception, and by the time we were done the clouds cleared up and it was beautiful again. I went back upstairs to rest for a little bit, then went back into town for dinner at Pfeffermühle restaurant where I had trout with a very delectable sauce and asparagus. And of course a glass of wine. By this point I was pretty exhausted (it doesn’t take much!) so I headed back to my room, journaled a bit and went to bed.

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Day 10: Today was the Vogtsbauernhof, an open-air museum in Gutach. The train to Gutach was scheduled to leave Gengenbach station at 9:50 am. But 9:50 came and went with no train. I asked a woman next to me if this was normal, and she just shrugged. An announcement came, so I asked an older couple with bikes what was going on. They told me we needed to move to the other track..

The train showed up 5 minutes later and we all boarded. After a few minutes, they told us all to get off. We did, then stood there while the train went down the track about 500 yards and stopped. 10 minutes later, the train came back. The same train. We got back on and it took off. I transferred to another train in Hausach and we finally arrived at the open-air museum, To get there from the train station, you walk through a tunnel under the road. I paid my €10 and entered. It started as a farmhouse circa 1612. Eventually other buildings from the Black Forest were dismantled, transported to the museum and reassembled. It was created to allow the public to see how people lived and worked in the Black Forest farms over the last 600 years. There are six houses, mills, sawmills, gardens and animals of all kinds.

It was really incredible to see and so beautiful. I’ve never seen grass this green anyplace and the setting was just idyllic. It had been raining in the morning but by the time I got there, it was clear. The perfect day for enjoying nature and history. When it was time to go, I headed towards the train station and found out that another train had been canceled. So while I could still get to Hausach, I would be stuck there for an hour. I couldn’t decide whether to stay and grab something to eat, or take a chance on Hausach. As I was trying to decide, I saw the train pull in and just ran for it. I made it to Hausach and waited about 15 minutes. Suddenly the Gengenbach train pulled in.

I was pretty excited as were several other people who were there. We all got on the train and ONCE AGAIN were told to get off. I was totally lost. Suddenly a woman who had been talking to the conductor yelled something at everyone and took off. Not to be outdone, I raced along with everyone else without knowing what I was running to.

It turns out there was a bus going to Offenburg that would pass right through Gengenbach. All 15 of us got on board (slightly astounding the bus driver), and we soon proceeded down the road. It was a slower ride but we saw some lovely scenery as we drove through the little towns in the Black Forest. And I still got to Gengenbach 35 minutes before the train would get me there.

By the time I got back, I was starving so headed out for an evening meal at Cuore di Puglia, an Italian restaurant in the city center. It was really good – I had linguine carbonara with a glass of a very nice red wine, then ended with some grappa and a cappuccino. The chef came out and I told him it was one of the best meals I’d had in Germany, so he sent over another glass of grappa. I may have been tottering a bit walking back to the hotel, but it was worth it.

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Day 11: Originally I had planned on making a day trip to Freiburg, a city that is about an hour away. It looked interesting and I thought it would be fun. But after the train debacles yesterday, the thought of having another mixup with public transportation made me cringe, so I decided to stay in town today. I ate breakfast at the hotel, then headed out to explore Gengenbach. I followed along with my tourist brochure showing all the historic sites, and headed towards the Benedictine Abbey. Next to the abbey is the town church of Saint Marien. Much of the church originates from the first half of the 12th century, but most of it was destroyed in 1689 during a huge fire. At some point the interior was changed to a more Romanesque style.It is really huge – it surprised me that a town of Gengenbach’s size would have this large of a church, but it’s quite beautiful.

After I left the church, I headed for the gardens behind the Abbey and the church. This was probably my favorite place so far. It was peaceful and inviting and I could’ve stayed for hours. I love gardens and this was a beautiful one. There were little signs of inspiration scattered around, and some children from a nearby kindergarten playing on one side.

After that, I decided to go on a hike. The Black Forest is known for hiking and while I wasn’t willing to travel some of the long hikes that they have in the area, I wasn’t averse to hiking into the hills above the town. It took me about 40 minutes to get up to the old chapel and all of it was uphill. But the views were breathtaking and I’m so glad I went. The old chapel was interesting and the rows and rows of vineyards set into the hills were beautiful.

I finally made my way back down again and decided I was due for a beer. So I relaxed for a while with my Pilsner and then headed out to get some dinner for the evening

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Day 12: Today was my day trip to Strasbourg, France. I’ve been to France before but not this area, and that trip was over 20 years ago. The train was on time and soon I was on my way.. It took about 40 minutes to get to Strasbourg. Since I am staying in Gengenbach, I got a free KONUS card which entitles me to free public transportation throughout the area. This privilege stops at the border, though, so I had to buy an additional RT ticket for €6 that would get me into France.

Soon I was strolling down the streets of Strasbourg. Along the way I passed some beautiful houses and scenery. Because this area has both French and German influence, there were quite a few half-timbered houses like you find in Germany. I also spotted a working carousel in the middle of a square. I soon saw Notre Dame Cathedral when I was still several blocks away, since it rose up out of the sky like a rocket. When I finally turned the corner and saw the view, I stopped and gasped. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything that beautiful.

In the church, there were beautiful stained glass windows, a huge astronomical clock that was built in 1842 and keeps impeccable time to this day, and a glorious organ that sits high above and is breathtaking. I later found out that building started in the year 1015, over 1000 years ago and finished in 1439.

After I left, I opted to visit the Musée de l’Œuvre Notre-Dame (Museum of the Work of Notre Dame). It contains many original statues from the cathedral. Because of pollution and weather concerns, the decision was made many years ago to replace the original sculptures with replicas and house the original ones in the museum. But it also contains other works of art that are just as interesting.

Later I was back in the square when I suddenly heard loud singing and music. A group of about 15 young men were chanting and singing and yelling all dressed in the same t-shirt except for one man who wore a white flowing dress and a hot pink wig.. I have no idea what it was about since they were yelling in French, but it was invigorating and the crowd loved it. I saw them later all marching down the street, still singing.

By that time, I was having lunch at a small sidewalk brasserie. I ordered flammeküche (tarte flambée), which was basically flatbread with cream, onions, pork and Münster cheese, accompanied by a glass of Gewurztraminer white wine. It was delicious but I could not eat it all, and sadly had to leave some behind. My next stop was the Alsatian Museum, which showcases the history of Alsace and its folklore. It’s in a somewhat rickety old Alsatian house and has many reconstructed rooms of the period. It paints a vivid picture of Alsatian life several hundred years ago. I love that kind of folk art, so it was especially appealing to me.

After that, I headed down towards the area called “Petit France'' with its charming houses and shops. I wanted to explore the whole area but it was very crowded with tourists (maybe I shouldn’t have picked a Saturday to go there). The crowds got to me so I left and headed towards the train station. Along the way, I stopped at a cafe and got a slightly squishy strawberry pastry, and a cappuccino.

By the time I boarded the train heading back, I was so tired that I didn’t even go out to dinner. Instead I went back to the hotel, opened a small bottle of wine from the minibar, ate some Landjäger sausage that I had stashed away and was set for the night.

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Day 13: My last morning in Gengenbach, I checked out and headed over to the train station. The hotel offered to take me in a shuttle bus but it was a beautiful morning and I wanted to walk. It’s only about a mile away. It was probably one of the most peaceful mornings I’ve ever experienced. It was Sunday so there wasn’t much going on and everything was so quiet that it almost seemed unnatural. There were a few birds in the area that were chirping at each other, but that only added to the charm of that morning.

I’m lucky I had that peaceful morning because the rest of the day was anything but peaceful. Train problems again. I had booked my train ticket for Boppard In the middle Rhine region about two months before. Unfortunately, about 3 weeks ago I got an email from Deutsche Bahn, telling me that because of construction problems, they were changing my itinerary.

My first itinerary took about four hours and had three changes. The new itinerary added another hour onto my time and added three additional changes. So I was now going to be changing trains six times. I figured there had to be a better way than this so I scoured the timetables and found one that left about an hour earlier, but kept the three changes and only lasted four hours. Because DB caused the change, I was allowed to change trains without penalty.

So everything went fine at first. I started in Gengenbach, then had a change in Offenburg. The next change was at Mannheim, which went fine until it was time to leave. Evidently there was an accident on the tracks near Bonn, so we lost about 30 minutes on the trip, which means I missed my connection to Koblenz. I caught the next train, though, and thought my train troubles were over. But after I got to Koblenz and while I was waiting for the 3:30 PM train to Boppard, everything got a little chaotic. They kept moving our gate.

We started at gate 5, then moved to 4, then 2, and then back to 4. That wouldn’t be so bad except every time they changed a gate, I had to get to the gate which required going down the stairs, crossing over and then going back up a different set of stairs to get to a different gate. Do this 3 times in a row and then feel free to collapse – especially if you are carrying a roller bag, a backpack and a tote. I was totally worn out.

Luckily there were a couple of people I’d been talking to who made sure I knew about the changes; otherwise I would probably have been left behind, since no one was translating and my German isn’t good enough to make out staticky announcements. DB finally settled on gate 4 but only gave us a minute or two to get on board, so everybody was dashing for the exit. Thank God this gate had an escalator! At any rate, I finally made it on board and about 15 minutes later I was making my way through the streets of Boppard. Another charming city in Germany. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I haven’t been to the Rhine area before but Boppard is gorgeous. And of course it sits right on the Rhine river, which only adds to its appeal.

I’m staying at the Bellevue Rheinhotel, which is quite beautiful. It’s been around since 1887 and is very ornate. You could easily mistake it for a museum. I settled into my room and then decided to walk around outside. It’s a beautiful day – sunny and warm – and everyone was outside. I wandered around and took some photos. Because it is Sunday, all the stores are closed. Restaurants were open so I was able to stop and have a cappuccino at a table overlooking the Rhine. And that was about it for the day. After waking up early and spending the day chasing trains, I was ready for an early dinner and then to bed.

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Day 14: I love taking a peaceful walk to the train station in the cool, clear morning air and waiting for a train to take you to some interesting destination. It’s a wonderful feeling. This morning I was waiting for the train to take me to Bingen, where I will catch one of the river cruises that goes down the Rhine. It was an easy train ride this morning, except I was chastised by the conductor. The hotel gives guests a train pass, similar to the one I got in Gengenbach. It is good for the entire VRM area, which is where I am staying. Unfortunately I didn’t realize that Bingham is one stop out of the VRM area. Luckily, she just gave me a warning.

I got to Bingen and then walked about 15 minutes to get to the KD port, which is where I was to pick up my cruise. I bought the ticket, and was happy to learn that there was a 30% discount for seniors over 60. Yippee! There are advantages to getting older! They opened the gate and we made our way on board. It was a small crowd this morning, which suited me fine. Me, a few Germans, and a group of people from India. We started off heading downstream on the river Rhine. There are so many castles to see! I’ve never seen this many castle ruins in one place. People were going crazy crossing from one side of the boat to the other to take pictures, and I was one of them.

But then in the middle, we had a break when all of the young Indian women decided to do a line dance on the boat. Everybody was clapping and chanting as they were dancing. Eventually, the boat pulled into St. Goar and everyone got off. We had about a 45 minute stop there until we got on another boat to take us to Boppard. Soon the boat showed up and I got on. The rest of the trip had just as many castles as before, so I kept snapping away. Eventually I got back to Boppard.

I ran out and got an early lunch so I could get ready for my 2 pm meeting with my German distant cousins. The lunch consisted of roasted Spätzle topped with 3 eggs and a salad. Everything was very good, but there was so much food that there was no way I could come close to finishing it.

After lunch, I went back to the hotel and was walking through the lobby around 1:30 pm to go upstairs to my room when I heard a voice saying, “Are you Mardee?” I turned around and realized at once that it was Jurgen, my distant cousin. We hugged each other, and then I hugged his twin brother, Volker, and his mother (I hadn’t realized that she was going to come but was happy to see her). She is 97 years old.

We decided to go outside to the cafe and get something to drink. Jurgen and I discovered each other on familysearch (dot) org when I was doing some genealogy research. I sent him a message and he responded almost immediately telling me who he was and what his relationship was in my family. I mentioned that I was coming to Germany and we decided that we should definitely get together. So that’s what we did.

I really had an incredible time talking with the three of them. Their mother didn’t speak any English so I tried to speak German as much as I could. Jurgen and Volker were both good about helping me with words that I didn’t know. We sat there and talked for almost 5 hours, and had a wonderful time. I hope that we will be able to keep in touch and meet again sometime.

After that, there wasn’t much time left in the day, so I decided to make an early night of it again. I went for a walk around town just to get moving, and then came back to the hotel and settled in

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Day 15: This morning, I was traveling to Burg Eltz castle on the Moselle. To get there, I took a train to Hatzenport, a small town in the Rhine valley, then got a bus to the castle. The 365 bus was created to take travelers to the castle. And the entire trip was free because I had a guest pass for this area. After I got on, another couple entered. They needed help but didn’t speak any German and the bus driver spoke no English so I translated for them. It felt good to help them out.

The bus took us into the hills through some pretty but very winding roads. Soon I could see the castle rising before us. We were dropped off at a large parking lot and I followed others up the path to a shuttle bus. You could walk or take a €2 shuttle bus. The shuttle bus took us on an even steeper road with some very winding curves then dropped us off at the foot of the castle. The closer I got, the more incredible it looked. I paid my €12 entrance fee and made my way inside, snapping frantically with my camera. The English tour was in 20 minutes so I sat down to wait.

While waiting, I struck up a conversation with two women sitting next to me. One was German and had a friend from Scotland. Her friend said that she and her husband live in Scotland during the summer but in the winter they have a house in Spain. I think that would probably be one of the most wonderful combinations of places to live in.

The tour was very interesting. The same families have been living in this area for over 800 years, and the current structure was built in the 1400s. Over time, the three branches of the Eltz family divided the structure into three houses. In the 1800s, one of the families died out because they had no sons to inherit, and later, the other family sold their interest to the remaining family member. After the tour, I stopped in the café, and ordered Currywurst. It’s basically a thin German sausage cut up into chunks, doused with ketchup and curry powder sprinkled over it. It wasn’t bad. It was served with french fries and I had a beer to go with it.

There was a German couple sitting at my table, and we struck up a conversation about my Currywurst, and they decided to have some, too. We were speaking in German, and it was so cool to be able to carry on a complete conversation in German. I’m sure they realized that my skills were not the best but I really enjoyed talking to them.

I finally left and made my way down to the shuttle bus. It took me to the parking lot. The Hatzenport 365 bus was due at 2:22 pm, but it showed up 15 minutes early. I’d been sitting on the ground because there was no seat, so I walked over to the bus, hoping to wait in it till it was ready to leave. The bus driver seemed to think that I wanted to leave, however, and was trying to tell me the bus wasn’t ready (I realized this, but he thought otherwise).

The problem was that he was Italian and his German was limited and mine isn’t great. I told him in German that I just wanted to wait on the bus.. But he didn’t understand and started using Google Translate to translate his Italian into German (not very successfully). I don’t think he realized I was not German. I finally got him to understand what I was asking and I got on.

The ride back was peaceful and very scenic. I loved looking at the tiny villages and the rolling fields of bright yellow-green rapeseed. I got into Boppard and stopped by the Eis shop in the main square where I ordered a cup of Himbeere and Schokolade Eis. It was nice to enjoy the ice cream while watching the kids play in the fountain.

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Day 16: I got up bright and early this morning and packed my last few things. After checking out, I headed to the train station to pick up my train to Cologne, which was to leave around 8 am (I’m not sure why I keep picking these early trains – probably because they were cheaper). It’s an IC train and will only take me about a little over an hour to get to Cologne. One of the annoying things about some of the trains is that the wifi is erratic and doesn’t always work. Like now. In the long run it doesn’t matter. I have an eSIM data plan on my phone that lets me access European cellular networks without paying Verizon‘s outrageous international fees. And the coverage is very good. But it is still annoying. The train ride passed uneventfully and with (thankfully) no transfers.

After we pulled into the Bahnhof in Cologne, I walked through the train station to head outside, picking up my first coffee of the day. I made my way to the City Class Europa am Dom hotel, which is a short walk from the station. I checked in and they upgraded me to a double - score! It is comfy and nice and it has air-conditioning, a big plus when it’s 80° outside like it is here now. And the best part is that I have a view of the Dom from my window! It’s so exciting to look out and see this incredible cathedral.

I was ready for lunch so I hunted down a nearby restaurant that looked good called maiBeck FÜR DICH. It was wonderful! Probably the best food I’ve had since I’ve been here. I ordered the pumpkin Cappellacci, which was so delicious and served with some of the best focaccia I’ve ever had. Dessert was their version of tiramisu and a cappuccino. It was nice to relax and enjoy my lunch. And it was the perfect amount. No gigantic portions.

After that, I wandered down to the Rhine river. There was a park and fountains and kids running around so I sat there for a little while and enjoyed the outdoors. As I headed back to the hotel, I passed the Hohenzollern bridge, which was decorated with thousands of small padlocks, called love locks. To show their eternal love, both residents and tourists attach their lock to the bridge grating and throw the key into the Rhine river.

Next I headed over to the Dom. I can’t find words to express how beautiful this place is, and spent several hours wandering through the huge church, mostly gaping at the sculptures and art and blown away by the sheer age of this place. This cathedral was begun in the year 1248, although it took 632 years to complete it. That is one of the amazing things about this. No generation of builders departed from the original master plan. Each builder was aware that they themselves would never see completion. During the second world war, Cologne was almost destroyed by the bombing. However the cathedral managed to withstand a lot of the shockwaves due to its construction. In addition, many artifacts inside the church were evacuated or protected in some way. So compared to the rest of Cologne, the cathedral came out pretty well.

After I left the Dom, I decided to do a little shopping and wandered through the streets. There were lots of fun shops and I picked up a few gifts for family members. It was fun to meander without any kind of destination. Street artists were all over. One young man was playing the piano in the middle of a pedestrian-only street (he was good!) and another guy was blowing huge bubbles with a large contraption made out of rope. Very ingenious and the kids loved it! After that, I headed back to the hotel for another early night.

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Day 17: I ate breakfast at the hotel this morning. It was a little pricier than others but very filling. They had a huge spread; definitely the largest of any hotel I’ve been in. My train to Aachen wasn’t scheduled to leave until 9:42 am, but I was ready to go so I wandered around outside a little bit. It’s so strange and exotic walking out of the hotel and seeing the huge cathedral right in front of me. After that I headed to the station and caught the train. I made it into Aachen in about 40 minutes and was able to quickly find a bus to the old part of town. And I didn’t have to buy a ticket - for only a few Euros more, I got local transport included in my train ticket

The first place I went to was Aachen Cathedral. It was really interesting on the outside, but nowhere as huge as the Cologne Dom. The inside, however, was a jeweled gem. And more importantly, this gem houses the final remains of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor. It was hard for me to believe that Aachen, a medium size city in Germany, was once the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne ruled here until his death in 814, and his remains are interred in the cathedral.

Aachen is one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe. Its construction began in 796 AD and is believed to have been finished by around 800 AD. For over 500 years, it witnessed the coronation of 43 German kings and queens. It was also one of the first items to be listed on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites, mostly because of its artistry, architecture, and importance in the history of the Holy Roman Empire.

After I finished visiting the cathedral, I decided to explore the rest of the Altstadt. It was very charming and I liked it a lot. The mix of stores and other services was diverse and there were a lot of interesting restaurants. I also found the Granus tower, which is next to the Rathaus (town hall) and is one of the few pieces remaining from Charlemagne’s palace. It dates back to the 8th century, making it over 1200 years old.

Soon it was time for Apfelstreuselkuchen and cappuccino at Café zum Mohren. Lonely Planet recommended it and it was very good. As much as I hated to leave, I had to get ready for my trip the next day so I grabbed another bus and made my way back to the train station, for an uneventful ride to Cologne. Since I didn’t have lunch (Apfelstreuselkuchen is not lunch), I had an early dinner at Brauhaus früh am Dom, which serves authentic German food and was close to the hotel. I opted for sauerbraten and beer, and it was very good!

This time tomorrow, I will be in Ostbevern, home of my ancestors.

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Day 18: I left Cologne this morning, boarded the train and was soon on my way to Münster. Once I got to Munster, I found the right bus and made my way to the airport, so I could pick up my rental car. From there, I am heading to Ostbevern, which is where my great-great-great-grandfather and his family immigrated from. I made contact with one man who has done a lot of history of the area and I’m scheduled to meet with him later today.

When I got to the airport, I headed to the Avis counter. I had ordered an economy car with manual transmission. I used to drive with a stick shift many years ago and I figured it was like riding a bicycle. But I have to admit that I was getting a little worried about dealing with strange streets in a strange country and using a transmission that I haven’t used in over 15 years. Luckily, the agent offered me an upgrade to a Volkswagen mini SUV hybrid with automatic transmission. The car was nice and easy to drive and I made my way down the country roads towards Ostbevern.

It was about 20 to 25 minutes outside of Münster and Google maps got me there very well. I pulled into the driveway of the apartment I rented in town. It was really nice, only €55 a night, and is a four room apartment, with full-size kitchen, dining room, living room and 3 large bedrooms (2 on an upper level). I have lots of space and can relax. The couple that rents it were very friendly and she showed me around (there’s a washer!). For the next four days, I will just be mostly working on family research and checking out the town and surrounding area to see what I can find out here.

My first stop after settling in was to head to the grocery store. Penny’s was close so I went there. I always like checking out grocery stores in different countries. I picked up some coffee, stuff for lunch and dinner, müesli, milk, bread, wine, and cheese. After that, I drove over to Sankt Ambrosius where my great-great-great grandfather was baptized in 1787 and married In 1815. I even saw the baptismal font where he and all of his children were baptized, which is over 500 years old.

After that, I went over to visit with Werner Schubert, who has been handling genealogy for the town. He and his wife invited me to their home to talk about my family history. They were the nicest couple. He spoke no English, and she spoke a little bit, but we managed to have a good conversation, even with my not-so-good German. He gave me tons of information and he and his wife are going to take me to the history museum tomorrow so that we can see what’s there. I had a wonderful time with them. And they had an incredibly lovely home.

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Day 19: Today was another relaxing day. The weather was beautiful so I decided to go for a walk. This village is really pretty. It doesn’t have the chocolate box appeal of some of the other places I’ve been in, but it also doesn’t have the tourists either. This is just a regular village with regular people and lots of well-kept houses and gardens.

After stopping for my obligatory pastry and cappuccino, I headed back to the apartment. I was scheduled to meet with Werner and Ute at 2 pm. When I got there, Werner said that we were going to visit the Heimathaus, aka Homeland House, so he got in his car and we drove off.

The museum is housed in an old farmhouse that dates from the late 1700s. I took a few pictures but mostly Werner and Ute showed me around the building. They told me the history of everything there. They are both so amazing. I can’t believe how much history they know. I also can’t believe how much I understand their German. Understanding spoken German has always been my weak point, so this has been really good for me. Ute was so funny - Werner would speak rather quickly sometimes and Ute would pat him on the arm, saying “Langsamer” (slower).

After that, they drove me to Schloss Loburg. This is a former castle now turned private Catholic boarding school that is quite beautiful. It was not built until the late 1800s, so my ancestors never knew about it but it was still fascinating to see. It actually sits on a moat. Our next stop was the land where my ancestors lived before they immigrated to the US in 1835. Unfortunately, the house is no longer in existence, but Werner gave me a copy of the deed/transfer document where they sold it to a neighboring farmer. And he showed me the place where the farmhouse once existed.

I also found out something interesting today from Werner. My great-great-great-grandfather’s surname was Sudhues. When he was in his early 20s, he married a woman whose last name was Schürmann. She was older than him and had been married before, but her husband died and she inherited the Schürmann farm.

My ancestor, in the custom of the time, took her name because she owned the land. So his last name became Schürmann. She bore him three children and then died in childbirth, along with one of the twins she had. My ancestor married again that same year and his second wife bore two children, one of which was my great-great-grandfather. So bottom line, we have a surname that has absolutely no relation to a blood relative. This is why I love history – so many twists and turns!

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Day 20: Today I plan to visit Münsterland. Münster is a medium-sized city about 30 minutes away. Since it’s Sunday, I figured I could sleep in a bit and then drive into the city by the time the sites are open. This is the first time I’ve driven any distance since I got the rental car. Everything went smoothly except I forgot to check where I could park once I got to Münster. I drove around by the cathedral – and around – and around – and finally saw one area that looked like parking might be available. There was a ticket machine near the entrance, but when I pushed the button, nothing came out. Regardless, I went ahead and parked anyway. As I got out of the car, I noticed a ticket booth nearby. It was closed but I read the sign and it looked like maybe on Sunday they weren’t enforcing it. It was a little unclear but I thought I would take a chance. And it worked – no ticket!

Mass was in session at the Münster cathedral, so I headed down to Saint Lambert Church. This gorgeous church was built in 1450 and has a number of beautiful parts to it. But the most intriguing part of this church are the three cages that are up on the steeple. These were used to house the bodies of Anabaptist Jan van Leiden and 2 of his followers after their torture and execution in 1534. The bodies were placed in the three iron baskets hung from the steeple of Saint Lambert’s Church and stayed there for 50 years.

After leaving the church, I headed over to the Rathaus. In the 1600s, the 30 years war had decimated Europe. A truce was finally declared and the peace treaty was signed in Münster and nearby Osnabrück. Osnabrock was very Protestant and Münster was very Catholic, so both sides were happy and felt that they could maintain some control over the process. The signing took place in 1648 in the Fiedenssalal, which I visited today.

My next stop was the Munster cathedral. I especially wanted to be there to see the Clock exhibit. They have an astronomical clock and at 12:30 on Sunday, there is a Carilion that puts on a show, so to speak. Mass was still going on when I entered so I decided to take part in the last 15 minutes of it. It was interesting hearing Mass said in German. However the Mass went on past 12:30 so I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to see the clock.

After everyone left, I was wandering around and taking some photos when I heard the first bells chime. Evidently the clock show is delayed until after Mass is over. I walked over quickly and managed to catch the entire thing. At the very top, there is a little circle of figures that come out of a little room and then go into another. The door shuts, and then they come back out, and so on. It was fun and very cute.

If it hadn’t been Sunday, I probably would have stayed longer and explored, but it was Sunday so most places were shut down. After I got back to Ostbevern, I went for a walk and did some genealogy research. It was nice being able to just relax and not have to worry about rushing all over to see the sites. That will come once I leave here on Tuesday, but for now I can enjoy it.

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Day 21: Today was my last full day in Ostbevern. Before I left Werner and Ute on Saturday, they had asked me to meet them at 10 am at the Heimat Haus, which is where the town keeps a lot of historical items. When I got there, Werner and Ute told me that they had arranged for me to meet a reporter from the town newspaper. Evidently, someone at the paper loved the idea of me coming here from the US to find out about my ancestry and wanted a story.

I was a little nervous; however, it was fun, low key and the reporter was very nice. She asked some questions and I answered them in my best German, which wasn’t that great, but she seemed to understand. Werner also talked about my family and mentioned the Moeller story, too. At one point, Ute mentioned that they had had other visitors from the US here for the same purpose; but she told the reporter that I was the very first person that knew German. So that made me feel good.

The reporter took a photo at the end and thanked me and then went on her way. Werner said he would send me a copy when it comes out. We said our goodbyes and I headed out. After that, I decided to stroll around town a bit more. I stopped for my pastry treat; this time a Kirschtorte (cherry cake) and cappuccino. It was SO delicious. The fruit pastries here are filled with real fruit and always taste indescribably good!

I made one last stop at the Altes Friedhof (old cemetery). I hoped to find some family graves there but I wasn’t counting on it. Germans are very efficient and only keep gravestones for 25 years. After that, they are removed (with rare exceptions) and used for road gravel. That was the case here – there were about a dozen or so graves but no family members. Soon it started to rain, so I made my way back to the apartment and began packing. I will be sad to leave here, but it’s exciting to move on to my next destination

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Day 22: In the morning, I drove my rental car to Münster, dropped it off at the Avis office near the train station, then caught a cab over to the train station. Today I was heading to Hamburg on FlixTrain, which is a very low cost alternative to DB. The ticket from Münster to Hamburg only cost €10 and the train ride went very quickly. Seat reservations are mandatory on FlixTrain but don’t cost extra, so everyone on board had a seat.

I was staying at the Hotel City House on Pulverteich, about a 5-10 minute walk from the train station. There were a lot of ethnic restaurants in the area (many Turkish, which I love). I got there around 11:30 am and my room was not ready so the clerk put my luggage in a locked room and left to do a little sightseeing while I waited for my room.

My first stop was the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum of Art and Design). This museum knocked my socks off. They had the most incredible pieces of art here. The age of some of the pieces was astounding, but also the beauty, detail and originality. I was amazed. I stayed here for hours, going from room to room with my mouth hanging open. Some of the pieces were historic, like the ancient Egyptian sculptures that dated back hundreds of years BC, and some were just so incredibly detailed that I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

I took a break at some point and ate lunch in the museum cafe. It was very nice – lots of fresh healthy foods and I was able to enjoy a nice glass of Riesling with my meal. I also decided to have my pastry and cappuccino here because they had a very interesting looking cheesecake. It was made with lemon and citron and quark, and tasted wonderful.

After lunch I continued with the exploration but finally headed back to the hotel, got checked in and went up to my room, which is on the first floor, so I only had one flight to go up. The single room was small but nice and clean and very elegant. I dropped off my bags, gotorganized and then headed out again.

First I went to Saint Nikolai, which was originally built in 1195 out of wood, then replaced by a brick church in the 14th century. It was destroyed by fire in the 1800’s and rebuilt in 1874. However, most of the church was destroyed when Hamburg was bombed during WWII. The only thing that remained was the tower and some of the walls. It was decided that these would remain standing as a memorial against the war. I have a bad fear of heights so chose not to go up in the glass elevator to the top (shudder).

After I left therei, I headed down towards the harbor. Along the way I passed some beautiful buildings that are along Diechstraße. This is a row of gabled houses that were the homes of 17th and 18th century merchants. Most of the houses in the Altstadt burned down in a terrible fire in 1842, which destroyed over 1700 homes and killed 51 people. This area was one of the few that was saved.

There are so many canals in the city. I’ve crossed at least three or four bridges. And I saw the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, which was completed a few years ago and is breathtaking. It is a futuristic tower of glass sitting on top of a brick industrial warehouse. It was gorgeous, although I don’t know that I would ever be able to go into it because it scares me a little due to my fear of heights. Just looking at it sitting there rising out of the water makes my heart race.

After that, I wandered around for a while, taking photos of the harbor and the boats and the bridges. I love water and seeing all this was just so much fun. But by 6 pm, I was getting hungry so I headed back towards my hotel and went to Ristorante La Famiglia for dinner, where I had some pasta and wine. There’s nothing like Italian food for comfort when you’re feeling tired and achy. After I ate, I headed back to the hotel which was a few blocks away and crashed for the evening.

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Day 23: I woke up early this morning for some reason, so I decided to go down and have some breakfast in the hotel dining room. It was a nice breakfast and it had this really good sausage. Not sausage like we would have but more of a flat salami type except it was thicker than salami. And softer. But it was good. I didn’t think to ask the attendant what kind it was, though. Rats.

After breakfast, I putzed around a bit then finally grabbed my bag and was ready to go. The first place I planned to see was the Rathouse. Luckily, I managed to find the correct bus right away, so I made my way down to Rathausplatz (town hall square). It is probably the largest town hall I have ever seen. The building is extremely ornate but very beautiful. It was built in the late 1800s and houses the government of Hamburg, including the mayor, parliament and the Senate. There are currently 647 rooms and counting (every once in a while they find a room that no one knows about).

I wandered around through the large central area, taking pictures, then followed a school group outside to an area with a beautiful fountain. I was taking photos of the fountain when one of the kids, probably about 9 or 10, tried to wade into the fountain. None of his teachers were around so I tried to grab him and pull him out. The fountain is not deep and there was no danger of him drowning, but I figured his teachers would not appreciate him spending the day in wet clothes. Luckily, the teachers heard me yelling and came running over and grabbed him and started yelling at him. One of them apologized to me, but I assured her it was no problem. I guess kids are the same all over the world when it comes to getting into trouble.

After that, I decided to go to Beatles Plaza. This is a square in the Reeperbahn area dedicated to the Beatles. I’m not sure how to describe the Reeperbahn area. It was vaguely like Amsterdam’s Red Light district but much seedier. Evidently it is the largest Red Light district in Europe. And unlike Amsterdam, women are not allowed in the Reeperbahn red light district. By this time, I was regretting my decision to come here, but I did want to see the plaza. When I got there, however, all I saw (besides some trash and a homeless guy sleeping in the corner) were metal silhouettes of the Fab Four.

I got out of Reeperbahn as quickly as I could via the U-Bahn, and made my way back to the Altstadt. Along the way, I stopped to take some photos of the harbor. It’s a very active port and there’s always something going on. Somehow I got sidetracked and found myself in the shopping district. I’ve pretty much done all the shopping I need to, but I wandered through the streets looking at shops like Rolex, Escada, Prada, Longchamp and so on. One shop even had a Porsche sitting in it and you could sign up to take it for a test drive.

Soon after that I headed back towards town. I hadn’t had lunch and I was hungry, so I decided to have an early dinner. There was a Turkish restaurant called Saray Köz near my hotel that had gotten good reviews on Google so I thought I’d try it. Google rocks - it was really good! My doner kebab was delicious, and I had Kunefe for dessert. After dinner, I went back to the hotel to pack up and be ready to leave in the morning. Tomorrow, I have a long train ride to Copenhagen.

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Day 24: Today was a very long train day. I got up early, ate breakfast and made my way to the train station for the trip to Copenhagen. When it pulled in, I walked down the length of it looking for my coach. Because it was a full train, I had reserved a seat in coach 82, seat 22. But either I was blind or the coach was missing, so I finally boarded and plopped myself down in first class, seat 22. No one else was sitting there, I was tired of looking and was getting frustrated.

I sat in first class for about 3 hours until the conductor came by to check tickets. I showed her the ticket on my phone and explained what happened. This is a Danish train by the way, so we were speaking English (although I did start off talking to her in German for some reason). She told me that there was a mixup with the train car numbering and my coach was all the way at the other end. I just looked at her, and said “So you want me to take my luggage all the way down to the end of the train”? She said “Yes.” Arrgh.

So I hauled all my stuff down there and found the right seat but someone was sitting in it. I politely showed her my ticket and she apologized and left. She probably didn’t have a seat reservation as the train was really full. There were quite a few people that were sitting on the floor because there weren’t enough seats for them. At least she got to spend 3 hours in a seat thanks to me.

At some point, we crossed the border and went through passport control. Finally we rolled into the Copenhagen central station, and everyone got out. And of course as soon as I started walking, it began to rain. I managed to dig out my umbrella from the depths of my backpack, then made my way to the Axel Guldsmeden, which was recommended in the Rick Steves guide. It was the worst hotel I’ve stayed in on this trip unfortunately. It was so crowded that there was barely any room to move.

After getting organized, I headed out to the National Museum, which was fairly close by. I paid my 110 DKK and made my way to the first floor for the prehistoric exhibits. This museum was just amazing. It had a prehistoric skeleton of an auroch, circa 8600 BC and a life-size hand-carved statue of St. George on his horse killing a dragon. It came complete with sound effects, which I didn’t realize until some guy pressed a button, the dragon roared, and I jumped out of my skin. He thought that was hilarious. Me, not so much. I spent several hours here enjoying all the beautiful and historic art, especially the hand-carved wooden sculptures and furniture. It is an amazing museum

By closing time, I was ready to head out. I took the scenic route back to the hotel. Copenhagen also has a lot of canals that are really beautiful. I walked across one and came to a little island called Slotsholmen Island, which is where Copenhagen was originally founded back in 1165 AD. Christiansborg Palace sits here as well. It has not been inhabited by royalty for over 200 years (Queen Margrethe II resides mostly at Amalienborg Palace), but it is quite impressive and is the seat of administrative power in Denmark.

As I neared the hotel, I realized I was starving because once again I had skipped lunch. There was a Thai place nearby called Poonchai Thai (I later realized it was in the RS guidebook recs) and I stopped in and grabbed some wonderful Thai and a beer. It was so good and I was so hungry. After that, I made my way back to the hotel and settled in for the evening.

Tomorrow I head for Roskilde to see the Cathedral and the Viking Museum and later on, Tivoli Gardens, which has been open since 1843 and is the 3rd oldest amusement park in the world.

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Day 25: Today I planned to go to Roskilde, which is an easy 30 minute train ride from Copenhagen. When I got to the station, I found out that some of the trains to Roskilde were being canceled, but I managed to find one that got me there around 10:20 am.

In Roskilde, I headed off to the cathedral on foot. For some reason, I did not have a good signal so Google maps was no help. However, Rick Steves gave a good description of the walk from the train station to the cathedral in his book, which I had on my Kindle app, so I just followed that. The town is very charming, and it was an easy walk to the cathedral.

The cathedral is huge, but it’s very different from some of the cathedrals I saw in Germany. This one is sturdier and looks more massive. I showed my Copenhagen card, which I had bought online that morning, and walked in. The card was really a good deal. It cost me 439 Danish kroner, but it paid for entrance fees for most major attractions, including the Roskilde sights, and public transportation. The train trip I took that morning would’ve cost 170 Danish kroner RT so I really saved money by buying it.

I love cathedrals. I’m not that religious, but I love going into cathedrals and churches and seeing the beautiful art and history there. And Roskilde Cathedral was drop-dead gorgeous on the inside. It was built in the late 1100’s, although there had been several previous churches on the same site. Just about every king and queen of Denmark is buried here. There were over 30 tombs in the cathedral. One of the crypts off to the side had eight tombs in it. Four of them contained the remains of more kings and queens, but there were four small ones that contained children. Three of them were for children, ages 4, 6 and 8, but the smallest one was for an unnamed infant.

In one room, I saw a very modern looking sculpture inside. Evidently, the monument for the current Queen Margrethe II lies under the sculpture. The monument is revealed after her death when her coffin will be placed in the crypt below the monument.

Next stop was the Viking museum. I hated to leave the cathedral but I know my limits and if I spend too long in one place, I get overwhelmed. So I headed out and following Rick’s book again, made my way downhill through a beautiful park. It was quite a pleasant walk and took about 10 minutes to get to the inlet where the Viking museum was.

This place was pretty impressive, too. I doubt that I got as much out of it as someone who really knows wood and carpentry, but seeing the history of the Vikings and the ships they built was really interesting. There were five huge Viking ships over 1000 years old that were discovered in the Roskilde fjord and then painstakingly excavated and pieced back together.

They also have working replicas of the five ships on display in the water, and that was really interesting to see. I really loved walking along the harbor and seeing the ships, and all the other things they have on display, like rope making, carpentry, etc. They try to use the same tools that the Vikings used 1000 years ago.

This time it was well after lunch, so I figured I would go into town, get something to eat there and then take the train back to Copenhagen. But when I got to the train station to check on the next train, there were more cancellations on the same line. I finally found one train that was leaving for Copenhagen shortly. Luckily, I had time to grab a sandwich to eat on the train.

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Day 26: Every guide book I’ve read has said that Tivoli Gardens is a must see, so I was really looking forward to my visit here. It is the third oldest amusement park in the world, dating back to 1843. It’s located in downtown Copenhagen right next to the train station. In fact it was only a few blocks from my hotel, which made it very convenient. It was founded by Georg Carstensen who obtained a charter to create it by telling King Christian VIII that “when the people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics.”

There are several entrances and I chose the one that was closest to me, using my Copenhagen card to enter. It was a lot of fun walking around and seeing people eating, chatting and riding rides. As I walked, I saw one food stand that looked interesting, so I ordered a Fransk hot dog, which is a hollowed baguette, filled with a mayo-based dressing or mustard (I opted for mustard) and stuffed with a ristet wienerpølse (a roasted Vienna sausage). The hot dog is about 3 inches longer than the baguette and sticks out the end (part of the appeal, I guess). The hot dog came with “pommes frites” aka french fries, which were hot and tasty. The Danish soda I got came in a heavy plastic cup. You pay an extra 5 DKK for the cup, but when you’re done with the cup, you find a recycling machine (they have them all over), insert the cup and it gives you back your 5 DKK. I love that they recycle these!

The lights came on soon after I got there around 6 pm, and the merry-go-round was sparkling. The park was covered with flowers, too. It was incredibly scenic. There were lilacs and Rhododendrons and wisteria everywhere. It truly was a place of whimsy and beauty. In one area, I saw three mannequins wearing dresses in the middle of a pond. The dresses were designed for Tivoli by a Danish designer and the “fabric” consisted of approximately 15,000 pieces of candy paper from various Danish candies.

As I looked at the dresses, I heard a rooster crowing nearby. That seemed unusual so I turned to look and found a chicken coop off to the side. I walked over and there was a rooster, several chickens and a couple of pheasants inside. This park certainly had quite a few unexpected surprises.

I continued walking and finding more and more things of beauty. The rides were not just utilitarian, but quite beautiful. Each of them had so much color and art and design incorporated into them. And all the buildings were also very whimsical. I saw one huge white domed building with sparkling lights all over it, although it’s hard to see in the photo. And it had a giant pseudo-birthday cake in front of it. Not sure what that was about but it was fun to see.

It was time for a break so I opted to have my pastry and cappuccino here at Tivoli. I saw a small place called Cakenhagen with pastries and coffees. They were all beautiful, but I finally picked one that looked exactly like an apricot. It looked absolutely perfect and when I cut into it and ate a piece, the flavor was to die for!

When I left, I heard music playing and saw a Chinese theater on the grass, with ballet dancers performing Commedia dell’Arte. I mean, seriously?? Commedia dell’Arte in an amusement park? I loved it!!! There was a crowd of people sitting out front who were obviously enraptured with the performance. As I watched, I noticed all the lights around me. They were all different colors – reds and yellows and oranges and hanging from the trees and curtaining the walkways. I really did not want to leave this fairyland.

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Day 27: Originally, I had thought about taking the train over to Malmo, Sweden today, since it is just about a 30 minute train ride away. But it would have taken an hour of travel plus waiting for the train and trying to figure out logistics. Sweden will have to wait. Instead I visited the Freedom Museum, which is a museum dedicated to the Danish resistance fighters during World War II. It’s a small museum but I enjoyed it a lot. It was a little difficult because there were quite a few people there and it was hard to maneuver. Plus I didn’t want to get too close to anyone since I have to take a Covid test in 3 days.

Regardless, I enjoyed hearing the stories of the fighters and how hard they fought against the Nazis. I think we all wonder what we would do in a situation like that. I like to think that I would be on the side of the resistance fighters but I doubt that anyone knows until you’re in that situation. Fear is a great motivator.

After that, I went to Amalienborg Palace, which is where the queen lives during the winter months. I wanted to see the changing of the guard at noon. Since the flag was not flying, Queen Margrethe must have moved to one of her other five residences for the summer. I got there about 11:15 am and didn’t feel like standing around for 45 minutes so I walked to a cafe about a block away called Original Coffee, where I ordered a cinnamon roll and cappuccino. The cinnamon roll was one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had.

After that, I made my way back to the Square and watched the changing of the guard. It was not as impressive (or as colorful) as the one at Buckingham Palace but it was still fun to see. The guards march from Rosenberg Palace every day starting at 11:30 am and reach Amalienborg Palace at noon. And they stop for all traffic signals!

Once the ceremony was done, I left. My next stop was Strøget, which is a huge pedestrian-only shopping street, and the longest one in Europe. So I walked from one end to the other, stopping at all the cool little shops, and some of the very expensive shops that run along the street. Somewhere along the way I realized I was getting hungry. So when I saw a street market up ahead, I went in and grabbed a Smørrebrød. This is an open faced sandwich that Denmark is known for. You basically get butter and sausage spread on rye bread with various meats and cheeses on top. It is really really good and tastes great with a beer.

That gave me a second wind and I kept going along Strøget until I got near the end. It’s interesting how the street changes. I started at the east end and it was filled with luxury shops like Tiffany’s and Royal Copenhagen, but at the west end is a Burger King and some tacky souvenir shops. By then, I was really starting to get tired – between walking and shopping, my body and brain were protesting loudly.

I had one more stop to make – City Hall. But sadly, it was closed by the time I got there. It’s a beautiful building, though, and directly to the right of it is a statue of Hans Christian Andersen. I was really tempted to climb up and sit next to him (his leg is very shiny from where people have sat on it over the years) but I’d probably fall off so I just took a photo.

After that, it was time to head back to the hotel and pack for my early train trip back to Berlin!

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Day 28: Not much happened today because I was on a train for almost 8 hours. I spent 5 hours traveling from Copenhagen to Hamburg, then transferred to another train and spent 2 more hours going from Hamburg to Berlin. Luckily the first leg was pretty relaxing – I had a table and 4 seats all to myself so I could spread out.

The second train got a bit crowded, so there were no empty seats near me. And there was a dog laying in the aisle who was traveling with a woman sitting across from me. He (it?) kept sniffing me and licking my hand. It’s been almost a month since I’ve been around dogs but maybe dogs can smell other dogs for a while? The dog was very sweet, although it was a pain to step over it on my way to the WC.

My train got into Berlin around 2:45 pm, and I headed over to the hotel. For the next two nights, I’m staying at Motel One, a hotel chain in Germany known for its modern design and low prices. I especially like that it is only a block from the train station. It’s quick, convenient, and relatively inexpensive.

Since I had not eaten since 6 am (I meant to bring food with me on the train but totally forgot), as soon as I checked in and dropped my bags I headed to a nearby Italian restaurant called L’Osteria Humboldthafen, grabbed an outdoor table and ordered pasta, Caesar salad and wine. No sightseeing today. Just relaxing after a long day and enjoying the view of the Spree river.

I think the server felt bad that I was by myself because he brought me a free cappuccino. Either that or he wanted a big tip. But it was a gorgeous evening and so nice to relax with some good food, wine and coffee and enjoy the view. I will miss this.

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Day 29: On my last full day in the city center of Berlin, I got up, showered, dressed, and went downstairs for breakfast. Motel One has a nice breakfast (and free if you sign up for their rewards program). It is a large hotel so there were a lot more people there, but I managed to find a table and enjoy it. They had coffee machines so that you could make yourself a cappuccino or latte, which was very nice!

I didn’t have any real plans for today but wanted to get outside. It was a beautiful day so I decided to walk. The route took me through the Tiergarten and I passed by the Bundestag again, with the cool glass dome on top. There were some nuns standing by looking at it. I think they may have been from Latin America, because I could hear them speaking Spanish.

Soon I came to the Memorial to the Victims of National Socialist (aka Nazi) Euthanasia Killings. This is a memorial dedicated to the 70,000+ people that were murdered between 1940 and 1945 because they were either physically or mentally disabled. This hit home for me since I have a young grandson with special needs. The children and adults here were treated despicably. Many were sterilized, experimented on, and murdered. It was very hard for me to read about all this but I did. The site was composed of a transparent long blue glass wall. Next to it as a long stone wall that provided information on the history of the euthanasia murders. The Nazis murdered these people because they were considered racially and socially undesirable, and “not worthy of life.“

After that, I headed to the German Resistance Museum. It took me a while to figure out how to get in. There was construction going on, so I avoided it and walked through a parking lot to get into the building. Suddenly I saw someone in a military uniform running towards me. It turned out the parking lot was not part of the museum but part of a military base and I had breached security. Oops! Luckily the guard was nice and directed me towards the correct entrance.

Once I got in, I wandered through the various floors of the museum. It was a little different from other resistance museums, since this focused on other countries as well as Germany. The German resistance was not as cohesive as other movements like the Dutch, Italian and French resistance. It consisted of smaller groups, some political like the Communists, and most were not able to mobilize widespread political opposition.

After I finished here I started looking for a place to have some lunch. There was a cute little deli a few blocks from the museum called “my deli love.” I stopped there and ordered a wrap filled with sweet potatoes, lettuce, some other veggies and wasabi. Yum! I ate it with jasmine ice tea at a picnic table outside and watched the people go by.

After that, I walked around for a bit but finally came to the train station and decided to head back to the hotel since I was getting pretty tired by this point. I wanted to get my stuff ready to leave the next day and I had to get up early and take my Covid test. That was one thing that I was nervous about since I know Covid numbers have been up. After watching BBC news for a bit, I went to bed

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Day 30: On Tuesday morning, I got up and went down to breakfast, although I didn’t eat a whole lot since I was a little nervous about the test. I’ve been careful but you never know. I caught a tram to the nearest Covid testing center on Friedrichstraße. Once there, I signed up, paid my €15 and took the test. They told me the results would be emailed in 15 minutes.

So for the next 15 minutes I paced back-and-forth, walking up and down the street. I finally got the email and the results were negative! I haven’t been this relieved since I got the results from the bar exam! I did a happy dance all the way back to the tram stop.

After getting back to the hotel, I finished my packing and checked out. I grabbed an FEX train at the station, which is the airport train and gets you there in about 30 minutes. Once there, I walked across the plaza and checked into the Steigenberger Airport Hotel. I hated paying this much for a hotel but my flight was leaving at 6:15 am and I did not want to deal with getting to the airport from the city center at that hour. After getting settled into my very nice comfy room, I had a celebration lunch, complete with wine, in the hotel restaurant. The meal was pricey but very good.

The next morning, I woke up at 2:30 am (after a night of little sleep - too much anxiety about making sure I left on time), grabbed my bags, walked out the door, took the elevator downstairs, walked through the plaza, and into the airport to check in with Air France by 3:15 am. It would have been perfect if the Air France agents were there but they didn’t show up until 3:45 am. So much for being there 3 hours before my flight.

Luckily all the flights went smoothly (including the transfer at CDG - more in a separate report in the Transportation forum). I made it home to Duluth at 4:30 pm Central and was so happy to be there.

I had a fantastic trip but there’s no place like home.

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2424 posts

Wow, what a great trip report and I read every word. You did it on your own and had so many adventures especially with trains being canceled. I read your descriptions of Roskilde Cathedral, the Viking Ships in Roskilde and Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen all places I visited in mid-May. Unfortunately I didn’t see Tivoli Gardens but now I know I must return!

I enjoyed your descriptions of Bamberg, Cologne and other small towns along the Rhine. Also your family research in …(I forget the town) with the married couple. It was a special trip for you and for me read about it. I was just musing this morning on my walk that I could do Germany on my own as their train system is so reliable. You went to many places that I want to see. I’ve been to Berlin and Dresden and I would return to both and add Leipzig along with some of your stops.

I chuckled all the way through when you had your cappuccinos wherever you went, that’s me to a “T”.

Again, thanks for sharing your experiences!

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791 posts

What a wonderful trip report! Makes me want to learn German and repeat your trip!

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3791 posts

I’m glad to hear that you had such a delightful trip and connected with people you’d found in your geology research. Well done and I read every word too.

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Wonderful trip report! I kind of felt like I was there with you. Everything was so descriptive and I read every word. Thank you for sharing.

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Thanks for a fantastic detailed report. Your narration reminds me of the those particular sites in Münster/Westf., Berlin and Hamburg which I've seen. On Reve: there is one in Berlin Hbf., a real handy place for a coffee. I went to Münster on my first trip over, famous university and cathedral, significant in German history because of 1648.

The Resistance Museum site is the actual building of OKH and was one of centers of the resistance in 1944. This one group of the Resistance remained undetected by the Gestapo and SD, even though it was located in Berlin, the other two main resistance groups the Gestapo knew about and had under surveillance but not this group under Stauffenberg , whose HQ for the Ersatzarmee (Replacement Army) was this very site, ie, the present day Resistance Museum, located on Stauffenbergstraße. Prior to WW2, that street was known as the Bendlerstaße am Koenigsplatz.

I'm sure you saw the memorial to Stauffenberg, where the wreaths displaying the site where he and three others were quickly shot by firing squad on the night of 20 July 1944. ....just poignant. Not just that , the whole place is.

Great that you took advantage of opportunities to pursue the conversations in German and sticking with it....Prima ! It helps at gaining proficiency and fluency. Übung macht den Meister...simple as that.

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Judy, I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And yes, you must make it back to Tivoli Gardens! Yes, Germany is easy to travel solo - I have not been to Dresden or Leipzig yet but I really want to go! Next time, I guess. :) Isn't that funny about the cappuccinos? I hardly ever have them at home but in Europe? Oh yes!

Eef, thanks! It's not the easiest language to learn but not the hardest either. :)

Mona, thanks so much!

Ginger, you're welcome - and thanks for reading!

Fred, I actually found the Reve Hbf - I had some time to kill before my train and my sister wanted me to pick up some coffee for her, so I headed in there. Much bigger than the one by my hotel! And I did not realize that about the Resistance Museum - interesting! Yes, I saw the memorial. All of those resistance museums are so sad and poignant. So many lives lost to protect freedom. And ja, ich stimme. Ich belege jetzt im Sommer einen Kurs, der mir beim Üben hilft. Vielen Dank!

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1358 posts

I really enjoyed your detailed journal of your trip! I am also a genealogist; I'm at least 30% Germanic. Some left in the 1700s for America and became Militia for the British. Others were from Saarland who came to New England in 1850 with building trades skill and moved further west each generation ending up in Spokane, WA with the railroads. My great grandfather Peter Lorsung was born in the US went to Yale and built Catholic Churches around Washington State before 1900...he took his wife and family with him and stayed in boarding rooms. The Muellers who married the Lorsung Family founded the town of Millerville, Minnesota and tried Farming. Most everyone left there except for those buried in the St Delores Catholic Cemetery. I'm a little older than you and can't carry suitcases anymore; but I loved living vicariously with you! I'm not suffering too much as I live on an island in the Salish Sea between Seattle and Vancouver.

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214 posts

Loved this report. You make me want to venture out on my own. My husband doesn’t consider a pastry and a coffee a real meal :(.
. I’ve been to Berlin and along the Rhine and the Mosel but you really made your other stops come alive. Guess I’ll have to head to Germany soon.
From a California gal, previously from northern Minnesota (and a year in Duluth).

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14022 posts

@ Mardee..... If you want further reading on the Resistance, I heartily recommend, "History of the German Resistance" by Peter Hoffmann, trans. from the German. (The original title in German is totally different from the English title). That movie with Tom Cruise as Stauffenberg is based on Hoffmann's book. Absolutely poignant.

Another such museum is in Neuhardenberg within the Greater Berlin area located on the von Hardenberg Estate, that photo gallery of those engaged in the Resistance , civilian and military, representing the Prussian-German elite really hits. No names or any other detail are given under each photo. The viewer doesn't know who perished or who survived the war. Oberst (colonel) Carl Graf von Hardenberg was also involved in 1944 in the Resistance, but managed to survive after the Gestapo arrested and then released him.

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4509 posts

AMann, ha! I tried to winnow it down some but 30 days covers a lot. :) Glad to know there are more European cappuccino aficionados out there!

Kathleen, very interesting! I looked up Millerville and saw that its population was 100 in the last census. I love genealogy - I have found so much information about my family!

Patty, tell your husband that pastries and coffee are a vital food group when traveling! And hello to a fellow Minnesotan!

Fred, thank you for that information and I will definitely check out the History of the German Resistance. And I did not make the connection between the street name and Stauffenberg. I wish I would have had time to do more specific research before going there, but I look forward to going back at some time.

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1899 posts

My husband doesn’t consider a pastry and a coffee a real meal :(.

It does if the pastry has fruit ;-)

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3400 posts

Just finished reading your very detailed report. What an experience. I am also book marking it for a future return trip to Germany.

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5142 posts

Wow! Thanks for taking the time to write up and for sharing your wonderful trip with us! You sure covered much ground!

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3670 posts

Great report! I have been to many -- but not all -- the places you have mentioned. I really enjoyed reading your experience of places I have been and places I have not been. Thanks again for putting so much time into this!

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4509 posts

Barbara, thanks - I'm glad you liked it!

Priscilla, thank you! And yes, my feet were protesting a lot! :)

Dave, thanks so much! I think one of my favorite parts of a trip is writing about it. I still have the journal (handwritten back then) from my first trip overseas to England and Wales back in the mid-90s. It brings back so many memories.

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985 posts

Lovely, lovely detailed report. I loved reading every bit (almost wrote bite - I must have been thinking about the wonderful pastries you got to enjoy) of your adventure!