Vacation in Germany, 2002

In moving photos from various places to Google Photos, I discovered I had written up our vacation to Germany in 2002, using the technology of the time. I’ve ported that information here, with some update for current content management, and photos hosted at Google instead of on the same hard drive.

Our Vacation, 2002

It turns out that weeding through all the photos we took and putting a
selection up for other people to see is a lot of work. So there are
some here, if you want to know more about something, just ask!

Sept 27-29,
Gloucester International Pipe and Tabor Festival, Gloucester,

It was just too convenient to cross the pond one time, with a “long layover” at Heathrow. That was a 3 day layover, letting us make a side trip to Gloucester, and a return to the Pipe and Tabor festival we had attended in 2001.

Part Two

1. Heidelberg, Germany

Monday, Sept. 30. We flew from London to Stuttgart, where our friend Peter met us at the airport, and whisked us off straight to Heidelberg, where we walked up and up and up a hill to the castle on top. (One of the disadvantages of touring castles is that they’re always up from wherever you start.) This castle is maintained as a romantic ruin, since it was destroyed in 1689 by the French.  Remember that date and those culprits — its a recurring theme.

  • DCP_0310_a: Heidelberg through a cannon port on the castle wall.
  • DCP_0312: A restored section of the castle, housing art gallery
    and feast hall.
  • DCP_0313: A “romantic” view of the castle. More romantic in the
    rain, probably, but the weather we had was much better for touristing.
  • DCP_0314_a: Laurie and Peter in the gardens above the castle, with
    the castle armory destroyed by the French visible behind them. The
    clear structure of the building is quite interesting.
  • DCP_0315: Heidelberg and the old bridge across the Neckar river, as
    seen from the top of the castle. There’s been a bridge in this
    location since the 12th century. This one was built in 1788, blown up
    in WWII, and rebuilt to the 1788 pattern (using original parts) right
    after the war.
  • DCP_0325_R: Laurie and Dennis under Elizabeth’s Arch, built by
    Frederick V as a birthday present overnight in 1615. We’d prefer gift
    certificates, if anyone is thinking of a similar construction project!

Then we went down something like 372 steps (each one with a painted number) to the bottom of the hill, which was still way above the river, and visited the library at the University of Heidelberg. They had an exhibit of rare books, some of which are famous. And we discovered the digital camera does really well in low light with no flash, if you can just hold it steady.

  • DCP_0325
  • DCP_0327
  • DCP_0331

And we returned from Heidelberg to Stuttgart in time to meet up with Peter’s wife Debbie, and go to the Stuttgart Oktoberfest (2nd largest in Germany) for dinner. We finally understand Oktoberfest — it’s like a state fair in the US, except with good beer. We rode the ferris wheel, and got a good picture of the Oktoberfest from the top.

  • DCP_0334: Stuttgart Oktoberfest

And then back to the apartment to sleep.

2. Rhine river cruise, Germany

Tuesday, Oct. 1, we went for a cruise on the Rhine. Debbie had to work, but Peter had taken the week off, so we got up really early to drive to Bingen for a Rhine river cruise. This is the same Bingen that Hildegaard was von, but there wasn’t much of anything there about here that we could find. There was a modern sculpture in a town square, but that’s about all.

The cruise ship wasn’t anything spectacular. Bar/restaurant on the lowest level, lots of windows, open seating on top. The Germans don’t seem to have the concept of non-smoking area, and there are a lot of smokers. So we spent a lot of time out in the wind. Our hosts tell us that they’ve seen improvement in the number of smoke free areas in the three years they’ve been in Germany, but it is still quite different from most of the USA.

But if the ship wasn’t interesting, the cruise was. Every bend in the river seemed to have another castle, in all different styles. Most of them had stories, announced over loudspeaker in German, Japanese, English, and a couple other languages, too. (and in that order). All of the castles do have some similarities in their story — built in the 12th-13th century, they were destroyed by the French in 1689. Unless they were destroyed by the Swedish in 1630, and then by the French in 1689.

  • DCP_0337: the Mouse Tower. There’s a story about a bishop who was
    hoarding grain in this tower… the populace was starving, he moved
    into the tower to protect his grain from the peasants, and the mice
    ate him and all his grain.
  • DCP_0339: very scenic. Vineyard in the background on the right.
  • DCP_0340: small towns nestled between the riverbank and the hills
    all up and down the river. They really look like model railroad
    layouts blown up large.
  • DCP_0343: this one is undergoing renovation — look for the
    scaffold behind the tower.
  • DCP_0346:
  • DCP_0347: I suspect the campground floods at some times of year.
    And I’m curious how many of the structures on the hill are really
  • DCP_0349: there must be a way up to it somewhere…
  • DCP_0358: more scenic, with vineyards down the hill
  • DCP_0363: they don’t build toll booths like they used to…
  • DCP_0369: how many modes of transportation can you count in this
    photo? The Rhine river valley is a hotbed of commercial travel.
  • DCP_0372: the Lorelei Rock.
  • DCP_0375: Burg Rheinfels (Rheinfels Castle), above the town of
    St. Goar. This was the furthest downriver we got (the Rhine flows
    south to north). We got off the boat here, ate lunch, and spent
    several hours in the castle.
  • DCP_0377: Laurie found a friend, who told her to look at the sign
    behind her for directions to the castle. It was a 19 percent grade up
    the hill.
  • DCP_0378: The castle wall on the uphill side.
  • DCP_0381: View down the river from the castle. Note the castle on
    the other side at the next bend. That seems to be the normal spacing
    between castles — every other bend on one side of the river, the
    other bends on the other side.
  • DCP_0385_R: The castle had a museum and shop, which included an
    early 14th century manuscript with a music notation I haven’t seen
  • DCP_0387: the castle from an interior courtyard. Note that
    although the Germans are unenlightened about smoking, they do allow
    people to take their dogs along just about everywhere.
  • DCP_0389: Peter on top of the castle’s clock tower.
  • DCP_0390: Laurie and Dennis on top of the castle’s clock tower.
  • DCP_0392: There were a lot of tunnels throughout the castle
    defenses, and they let us wander about anywhere we wanted to go.
    Peter and Laurie are wondering which way is out…
  • DCP_0394: Laurie says this way
  • DCP_0396: Guess it worked, there’s daylight out there. 🙂
  • DCP_0400_a: An attempt at artsy-fartsy photography. It kind of
    worked… This room was quite dark, light coming in only from arrow
    slits at floor level, to allow defenders to shoot down at the
    attackers. Laurie demonstrates.
  • DCP_0403: the stairway from the top of the clock tower. At least
    this one had a more or less modern handrail added. There were a lot
    of places in this ruin that if it were open to the public under US
    rules, we never would have been allowed to go, for fear we’d hurt
    ourselves and sue. I prefer the German approach.
  • DCP_0405: after the castle, it was time for a little snack. This
    bakery had a sense of humor about their treats.
  • DCP_0409: then we got back on the boat for the cruise back upriver
    to where we started. And with the sun on the other side, the scenery
    on the way back was different!
  • DCP_0413: interesting little town with huge church, and vineyards
  • DCP_0417: two level town along the river. Look at the channel
    marker in the foreground, and you can see that the Rhine moves along
    at a brisk clip.
  • DCP_0420: artsy fartsy castle in the sunset

And we went back to Stuttgart to sleep.

3. Nurnberg, Germany

Wednesday, Oct. 2, we first went to the Rittersport factory outlet store, where chocolate was cheap! Then off to Frankfurt to meet our friends David and Nadine, flying in from Maryland. Debbie had the rest of the week off, so the six of us went off touristing together. First stop Nurnberg, where we arrived and checked in to our hotel early enough to spend several hours in the National Museum.

  • DCP_0425: Laurie in front of a fountain of Hans Sachs characters.
    Hans Sachs was a cobbler who became mayor of Nurnberg in the 15th
    century. He also wrote plays and poetry — thousands of them. He was
    the model for the main character of the opera Der
    , and a favorite character of Laurie’s.
  • DCP_0426: David leading the way into the National Museum.
    Actually, this entrance was closed and we had to go around the
  • DCP_0432: One of the high points was the collection of musical
    instruments. This is just one of the hurdy-gurdys (drehleier in German) I
    took photos of. This one is unusual in being set up to play left handed.
  • DCP_0436: The Rottenburgh instruments — Moeck (a current maker of
    recorders) has an entire line based on these, extant from early in the
    17th century.
  • DCP_0441: Baroque recorders from the late 17th century. Most
    modern instruments are based on the design of these.

Thursday, Oct. 3. We spent the night in a hotel, then went off to tour Nurnberg. A friend of Peter and Debbie’s, a British transplant, acted as our tour guide. A great deal for us, since he’s done that
professionally, in English and in German, and knew Nurnberg and its history very well.

  • DCP_0503: Our guide giving an intro, and Peter, Nadine, and
  • DCP_0505: Nurnberg was essentially flattened in WWII. But much of
    it was rebuilt as it was before, using the original parts. Note how
    this church has a mottled look in the stone — that comes from the
    stones having aged in one place on the building, and being put
    somewhere else when it was rebuilt.
  • DCP_0506: Interestingly, the citizens of Nurnberg took down and
    saved some parts of some buildings before the bombing. So this is the
    original sculpted doorway to the church.
  • DCP_0510: David figures out how the fountains work. There’s a
    spout that tilts into the water flow, so you can hang your bucket at
    the end of it to take water home.
  • DCP_0515_R_a: the group under a statue of Hans Sachs. Peter,
    Dennis, Laurie, Debbie, Nadine, and David.
  • DCP_0521_a: There was a fashion in the 16th century for adding
    windows to buildings. Wives stayed in the house pretty much all the
    time except for going to church, and this was a way for them to be “in
    the house” but still see the street life.
  • DCP_0543: David and Nadine coming down the ramp from the Holy
    Roman Emporer’s castle in Nurnberg. This castle was the first thing
    rebuilt after the war.
  • DCP_0561: more of the ramp just outside the castle. It really is
    that steep.
  • DCP_0564_a: In the Albrecht Durer house. Durer lived and worked
    in Nurnberg, and his house (which contained his workshop) is still
    there. This chandelier was particularly exciting, because he drew
    several of similar designs, sculpted wood dragons attached to antlers.
  • DCP_0566_R_a: We took a guided tour of the castle, in German. Our
    friendly British transplant, and another local friend of Peter’s
    translated for us, although this tour guide was so fascinating, we
    almost didn’t need the translation.
  • DCP_0582: the oldest house in Nurnberg, 1338
  • DCP_0585_R: along the city wall
  • DCP_0586: a picturesque bridge.

The we hopped in the car (well, van — Peter drove their Ford Windstar. And the autobahn really does move at a high rate of speed between towns) and went off to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

4. Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Rothenburg is a medieval walled city, the most untouched in Germany. It was a successful trading center until the 17th century, when it was repeatedly taken by opposite sides in several wars. It then became a very poor city, that never could afford the updating the rest of Germany did. In WWII, it was only about 40% damaged, and that not in the oldest section of the city. Immediately after the war, it was rebuilt, and has become a tourist destination.

  • DCP_0592_a: We first checked in to our hotel, which had this
    interesting lounge area on the 2nd floor. Well, 1st floor if you use
    European numbering.
  • DCP_0595_a: Then out for a walk around town as the sun set.
  • DCP_0598_R_a: Laurie and Nadine looking at the poster for our
    planned Friday evening activity — seeing Hans Sachs (remember him?)
  • DCP_0599: Laurie and the Night Watchman. This guy’s got a great
    gig going. He gives two tours a night, for about an hour each, one in
    English, one in German. He has a lot of information to share about
    Rothenburg, life in a medieval town, the role of the night watchman —
    a very interesting tour.
  • DCP_0600: The animated clock tells the story of one of the town
    mayors, who saved the town during one of the wars by winning a bet by
    drinking a gallon of beer in one gulp. He’s in the right window.
  • DCP_0608_R: One of the gated entrances to the town.
  • DCP_0609_R: a really pretty building

And we went back to the guesthouse and to bed.

Friday, October 4. This was the day with the least pleasant weather of the vacation. There was a light rain all morning, although it cleared by late afternoon. We spent the entire day in Rothenburg.

  • DCP_0611_R: Walking the city wall. Rothenburg really is a walled
    city, completely surrounded. Much of the wall has a walkway, and we
    did accomplish circling the city on the wall. At least it kept us out
    of the rain. Mostly.
  • DCP_ 0614_R: Buildings come right up to the wall, and this one is
    an interesting example of how post-and-beam construction walls get
    filled in.
  • DCP_0626: The ground isn’t level — but that doesn’t stop the wall!
  • DCP_0628_R: Watchtowers are built into the city wall at strategic
  • DCP_0635: All the modern conveniences for the watchmen that circle
    the town!. The door was locked, so we couldn’t give it a try. The
    outflow went down the hill to the river.
  • DCP_0636: Rothenburg is built on a bend in the river Tauber, so it
    is sort of L shaped. So you can see the other leg of the city from
    the wall, looking over the river.
  • DCP_0647: The Shame Flute. One of the museums in Rothenburg is
    the Kriminalmuseum, with history of the criminal justice system. It
    had a lot of really interesting things in it. One of the justice
    concepts gone from the modern world is that of “shaming”. People who
    committed more minor infractions could be punished by shaming. For
    example, a couple that fought too much might be placed in a yoke that
    locked their heads and hands in, facing each other. This particular
    tool of justice is for bad musicians — fingers where locked to the
    instrument, and it was strapped around the neck, and the “convict”
    would have to walk around town, bearing the visible evidence that they
    played badly.
  • DCP_0654: Peter, Nadine, David, Laurie, and Debbie on a street in
    Rothenburg. No, this was not a pedestrian only walkway, although it
    was apparently a no parking zone.
  • DCP_0663: The country around Rothenburg, from the top of the
    tallest tower in town. We went through the town hall and up many,
    many steps to get this view.
  • DCP_0670: Rothenburg from above. In the foreground, right below,
    is the central square with the clock tower with beer drinker.
  • DCP_0674: So how do they keep all those tile roofs on? The answer
    is very simple, and should work perfectly well, as long as there are
    no hurricanes.
  • DCP_0706: The weather has cleared, and we’re at the other end of
    the L from where we first looked at the city from the city wall.
    There’s a hot air balloon passing by.
  • DCP_0710: Oh, and notice how steeply the terrain falls away from
    the city wall, down to the river. Back a few hundred years, those
    trees wouldn’t have been allowed to grow so tall, so close to the
  • DCP_0718_R: This is the city gate we first saw at night, on the
    Night Watchman tour. David and Nadine in the foreground.
  • DCP_0734_R: We kept going up to the walkway around the wall, and
    back down again. As Nadine says: “Stairs. It’s always stairs. Sigh.”
    And after a few hundred years and thousand feet, they get worn down.
  • DCP_0742: We made friends everywhere we went. 🙂 This nice lady
    was in the smaller window waving to us, but moved to the one with
    flowers when we asked if we could take a picture.
  • DCP_0747: View back along the wall after turning a corner. Note
    the auto at ground level — American SUV type vehicles would never
  • DCP_0758_R: When parents in Rothenburg say “go out and play” they
    don’t just mean out of the house, but out of the city. There were
    extensive playgrounds outside the city wall.
  • DCP_0775: more playground outside the wall
  • DCP_0780_R: One last view of a building photographed the night
    before, with one of the city gates in the background.

In fact, that’s the gate the van was parked on the other side of. But before we left, we had dinner, and went to the Hans Sachs plays (two one-acts) in the theater in the city hall. We were very pleased that we’d picked up enough German over the week to have no trouble understanding the actors, especially with the slapstick style of production.

And we drove back to Peter and Debbie’s place near Stuttgart to sleep.

Saturday, October 5. Well, we didn’t do anything particularly interesting, just back to the Rittersport outlet store to use up the rest of our Euros on chocolate, and flying home, crossing 7 time zones along the way.