Trip to Northern Europe
Mike and Judy Henderson
May 13 - June 5, 2013
Our friend, Dianne Rammon, put together a trip to Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic for a small group of friends. We were offered the chance to go and jumped at it.
Dianne and her husband, Philip, lived in Germany for many years. Dianne played violin in the Mainz Opera Orchestra, so she speaks German well and knows her way around the country.
We began the trip by flying from LAX to Frankfurt. Mainz is very close to Frankfurt so we took taxis to our hotel in Mainz.
One caveat: We didn't take pictures with the idea of doing a travelogue so we have a lot of activites missing from the pictures.
5/13/2013 Here's a picture of Judy in the LAX airport prior to departure.
5/14/2013 Here's a picture of Mike in the van on the way to Mainz after we arrived in Frankfurt (one day later than we left). Judy looks a lot better in a picture than I do.
In Mainz we stayed at the Hotel Ibis. Ibis is a chain of hotels across Europe. They're decent hotels along the line of Holiday Inn.
Hotel rooms in Europe are small. Or maybe it was that we stayed in the lower priced hotels. But even when we stayed in a higher priced hotel, the rooms were small. Also, notice the bed. It's actually two single beds pushed together. Makes it really uncomfortable if you're accoustomed to cuddling at night. One strange thing for Americans is that there's no top sheet beneath the comforter - the only cover is the comforter.
The evening of our arrival, we walked to the home of a family who were long time friends of Dianne and Philip. This picture also shows some of the other people who were with us on the trip.
5/15/2013 Bright and early the next day, we took a boat tour on the Rhine.
There were many castles along the river, both abandoned ones and ones that people still live in. Notice that they farm the steep hills leading down to the Rhine.
I was amazed at how steep some of the farm land was. I don't know how they work these fields.
You'd need a safety rope tied to you to tend this field. If you took a tumble, you could be seriously hurt.
There are many, many more castles along the Rhine but I'll bore you to tears if I put just the pictures we took of them. Here's a better picture - Judy on the river boat.
We got off the boat at Bingen. We could have caught a boat back to Mainz, but decided on the train, which ran mostly along the river. Here's Judy on the train.
5/16/2013 The next day, we caught a train out of Frankfurt to Rothenburg. Frankfurt has a very nice train station.
In Rothenburg we stayed at the Hotel-Gasthaus Schranne. It's a decent hotel, a bit old, but in line with the character of Rothenburg, which is an historic town.
Our friends, Peter and Angela, met us at the hotel and had dinner with us.
Here we are at dinner with Peter and Angela, Dianne and Philip.
Here's a picture of us in Rothenburg. Unfortunately, they caught me with my eyes closed.
But here's another of me - this time with a cat.
5/17/2013 In the early part of the day, we toured Rothenburg. It's a small city so you can see most of it in a day. Here are a few scenes around Rothenburg.
This picture is of the top of one of the gates to the city. If (perhaps "when") the city was attacked, defenders could pour hot oil through the mouth of the face over the gate.
This is an interesting little item. They call this a "baker's cage" - supposedly if a baker shorted a customer, he would be placed in the cage and dunked into a pond.
However, similar cages were used as punishment for more serious crimes. For a capital crime, the cage would be suspended over the wall (on the outside of the wall) which placed it fairly high up. The condemned person would eventually die of hunger, thirst, and/or exposure. Friends or relatives might provide food and water by lifting it to the cage on the end of a stick. But others, especially children, would throw rocks and otherwise torment the condemned. Insects, anminals and birds would eat the person's flesh. It always ended the same way, and they often did not remove the corpse for quite a while, feeling that the corpse was a lesson to others who might commit the same crime. The Middle Ages were a tough time.
That evening, we took the train to Dresden.
5/18/2013 We stayed at the Ibis hotel in Dresden. There's actually three IBIS hotels together and we were in the middle one. BTW, the pictures of the hotels are taken from the web. I didn't think to take pictures of the hotels while we were there.
Dresden was completely destroyed late in the war (WWII) by a fire storm. It was bombed with incendiaries from February 13 to 15, 1945 by RAF and USAAF bombers, and the resulting fire completely destroyed the city. Kurt Vonnegut was a POW in Dresden (captured in the Battle of the Bulge) and survived the fire because he and other prisoners were locked in an underground slaughterhouse meat locker, which the Gremans called "Schlachthof Fünf" (Slaughterhouse five). He and the other prisoners worked in the city after the fires burned themselves out, with many of the surviving citizens cursing and throwing rocks at them. His book "Slaughterhouse-Five" uses the firestorm as a central element of the story.
On a lighter note, here's the travel crew in Dresden with a tour guide (in the lime green jacket).
A couple of views of Dresden from across the river.
Just as an aside, let me comment on the breakfast spread in this area of Europe. Every hotel we stayed at had quite a spread for breakfast and it always included lots of bacon, sliced (processed) meats, cheese and bread. Other foods were available, including yogurt, eggs (hard boiled and scrambled), coffee, milk, fruit, tomatoes, crackers, muffins, and probably other food I can't remember right now. Breakfast is a BIG meal. I missed those breakfasts after we got home.
5/19/2013 We did a tour of the Volkswagen "Glass Factory" in Dresden. No, it doesn't make glass - but that's what I thought when I was first told of it. It makes a high end car that is sold mostly in Asia. It's called the "Glass Factory" because the building is mostly glass.
Later, Judy and I went to a cafe for lunch.
May 13 - Fly to Frankfurt, then taxi to Mainz
May 14-15 Mainz
May 16 - Rothenburg
May 17 18 19 - Dresden
May 20 21 22 Prague
May 23 24 25 Salzburg
May 26 27 28 Munich
May 29 train to Vienna
May 30 31 June 1 - Vienna
June 2 train to Budapest
June 3 4 Budapest
June 5 Fly from Budapest to Frankfurt then to LAX