Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Price of 21 Days in France and Germany

We spent 21 days exploring France and Germany. We visited Paris and the Alsace region of France before heading to Germany's Black Forest; the Bodensee (known as Lake Constance in Switzerland); the Bavarian city of Fussen and its castles; Reutte in Austria; Dachau, the former concentration camp; the Romantic Road villages; and the medieval walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousal
Along the way, we enjoyed at least eight museums and two castles, toured a winery, drove the autobahn and winding country roads, went for a gondola ride, powered a luge down a mountain, took some guided city tours, rode the rails, meandered through markets, devoured the best food each country had to offer, and enjoyed every moment except for the train strike in France.

So, what did it cost?   Before you guess, let me remind you that a similar length tour with either Women Traveling Together or Rick Steves would cost you $491 and $323 respectively per person/per day.  Even Untours, which simply rents an apartment and gives you the phone number of a contact person, charges $284 a day for a couple.  (Click here for the article explaining those tours and their prices.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Germans Do What?

...on a hilly street in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
We'll find out Sunday if Germany will win the 2014 World Cup, but Germans are already winners in so many ways.

Although they eat substantial food (Nothing light and airy about German dishes.) plentifully served in restaurants and tantalizingly displayed in bakeries, the population exercises away any excess calories.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Drive Germany's Autobahn and Live to Tell About It

Parking is indicated throughout Europe with a white "P" in a blue square.
I've easily driven in five countries in Europe with no problems except one--a flat tire in France (You can read about that mini-disaster here.)--but I was nervous about Germany.  For the most part David and I would be sticking to two-lane roads, but what about the autobahn?  There's no speed limit on many autobahns (Some do post a limit).  Cars would be whizzing past us at a hundred miles an hour!

Monday, July 7, 2014

How to Avoid Getting Lost Driving in Europe

Driving from southeastern Germany to the alps in Austria.  The motorcyclist is the only other traffic. 
I have driven in Ireland, England, France, Italy, Spain and Germany and gotten lost in every single country.  Except Germany.

There's only one thing that saved David and me from wandering back roads aimlessly this summer, and you will want to make sure you have it too.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Medieval Punishments

Shame was a potent punishment hundreds of years ago.  The man forced to wear this mask had stuck his nose into too many peoples' business; or the horns might indicate he'd been cuckolded by an unfaithful wife; or maybe the person simply had very bad thoughts as symbolized by the snake and the devil.

In tiny villages where people lived their entire lives within a few blocks of each other, one's reputation was important. Being mocked or shamed by all your neighbors was painful, so magistrates found imaginative ways to punish people by placing them in embarrassing contraptions.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How a Tourist Saved a Beautiful Medieval City

View of the valley from the old city walls that still encircle Rothenburg.
In the 1930s, John J. McCloy's mother visited one of the most beautiful medieval cities in the world, Rothenburg ob der Tauber* in Germany, where she walked the cobbled streets, strolled through the gardens, and sketched as many scenes as possible.  When she returned to the United States, she couldn't stop talking about this beautiful place where every turn revealed another setting that should be captured in an oil painting.  Her impressionable son hung on his mother's every word, studied the picture of the city that hung in the McCloy living room, and vowed to some day explore this magical place that conjured so many dreams.

City walls and guard towers.
Before he could visit it, though, he'd have to find a way to save it from being demolished during World War II. Hitler had told all his forces to let cities burn rather than surrender, but USA Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, was determined to try to save the city his mother had taught him to love.