S: Germany Vacation - Summer 2012
FC: Germany Vacation Summer 2012
1: Germany - Austria | Vacation 2012
3: We arrived in this quaint Mosel Valley town just in time for lunch. This area is dotted with romantic villages and a sprinkling of castles between steep vineyards and the Mosel River. After checking into our hotel, we ate at one of the outdoor cafés that lined the streets.
4: Hotel Haus Lipmann dates from 1727 when it was built by the Earl of Beilstein's family as a residence after the French destroyed his castle. The main dining hall was once the knights' hall. It has been in the Lipmann family for 200 years.
7: Breathtaking Scenery
8: Burg Eltz | This castle has been in the Eltz family for 850 years and is decorated and furnished throughout much as it was 500 years ago. We had an enjoyable tour through the armory and treasury, then we toured the interior of the castle.
9: Exploring | Castles
10: The Rhine | This is looking back at Backarach as our cruise begins. Stahleck Castle is in the background. | The Rhine Valley is storybook Germany; a fairy-tale world of legends and robber-baron castles. We boarded a boat for a cruise from Bacharach to St. Goar, then returned by train. We had dinner in Bacharach before heading back to our hotel. | Gutenfels Castle (now a hotel) and Pfalz Casle (built in the 1300's) worked to tax medieval river traffic.
11: The Loreley is a steep, slate rock with centuries of legend. Loreley is known to distract sailors by her beauty, leading to shipwreck and death. | We passed many castles and old Roman towns. Oberwesel was a Celtic town in 400 B.C. and boasts some of the best Roman-wall and medieval-tower remains on the Rhine. The commanding Schonburg Castle on the hill is now a posh hotel. Train tunnels have entrances designed like medieval turrets and were built in the romantic 19th century.
12: St. Goar | Bacharach
13: Altes Haus - this restaurant is run out of the oldest building in town which dates back to the 14th century. The first floor is made of stone, while the upper floors are half-timbered. Some of the windows still look medieval. | Altes Haus
14: German Countryside
15: We left the beautiful Mosel Valley on July 24 to head south to Baden-Baden. To our dismay, our Garmin navigation system kept us off the Autobahn and took us into the German countryside. Despite being frustrated with the out-of-the-way routes, we saw some beautiful towns and even a field of geese! Alexa took the night photos of the windmills the evening before as we drove home from Bacharach to our hotel in Beilstein. Their massive silhouettes against the setting sun was stunning! | Baden-Baden
16: Baden-Baden | We arrived in this resort town in the early afternoon. In German, the word Bad or Baden means bath or cure. Both are synonymous with spa and this town is a place to relax, soak and recover. After lunch, we strolled Lichtentaler Allee along a babbling brook, mansions, the casino and through a beautiful rose garden.
17: Rose Garden
19: Oberammergau sits in Bavaria with the Alps looming in the background. Every 10 years, the village hosts a famous Passion Play, which dates back to 1633. The art of woodcarving has been practiced in town since the 16th century. We had a great time shopping in the woodcarving shops and in a huge Christmas Store in the heart of town.
20: Shopping and Sightseeing in Oberammergau
21: We stayed in a spacious apartment in Oberammergau; Ferienhaus Fux Hotel Garni
22: Oberammergau Church
23: The town church is in typical Bavarian Baroque style. All the statures are made of wood, then stuccoed and gilded to look like marble or gold. The central dome is a painting showing Peter and Paul bidding each other farewell on the day of their execution.
24: Hohenschwangau | The most popular visitor destinations in Bavaria are the "King's Castles". This is the older of the two, built in the 12th century, but ruined by Napoleon. It was rebuilt in 1830 by King Maximilian the Second. The castle name means "high swanland" and was used as the family's summer hunting lodge until 1912. King Ludwig spent many childhood days here.
26: Neuschwanstein | This fairy-tale castle inspired Walt Disney to build the Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella castles in his theme parks. "Mad" King Ludwig inherited the throne at age 18 and began construction on this dream home. The castle was built from 1869 to 1886 and is the epitome of the Romanticism popular in the 19th century in Europe. Funds to the king were cut off and he was found drowned before his dream was completed. Before we hiked down to the castle, we stopped off at Mary's Bridge, pictured on this page, for a great castle view. We splurged on a horse and carriage ride back to the tourist center and our car.
28: Lake Plansee | As we were driving to the King's castles, we cut into Austria and came upon the most breathtaking scenery! We found out it was Lake Plansee. Coming back from the Zugspitze, we went by the lake again, but this time there were several people out enjoying the scenery and warm weather. We were ready to move here!
30: We ascended the tallest point in Germany from the Austrian side by cable car. Stephen climbed to the summit which is marked on the German side by a golden cross. We took hats and gloves as we expected it to be colder, but even though snow remained it was close to 60 degrees by noon. We enjoyed brats and strudel while taking in the view.
32: Salzburg | On my birthday, we crossed the border into Austria to spend a day in Salzburg and the surrounding area on a "Sound of Music" tour. Salzburg is full of charm with colorful gardens, Baroque churches and a large medieval fortress. We saw both Mozart's birthplace and later childhood residence. The locks on the bridge were an interesting symbolic tradition followed by newly engaged couples who put a lock with their names engraved on the bridge and then throw the key in the river.
33: We spent some time shopping in Old Town where Alexa found some Swarovski crystal earrings. Unfortunately, it started to rain in the late afternoon so we called it a day and headed back to our hotel. | Mozart
34: Mirabell Gardens | These gorgeous gardens have some of the finest views of Hohensalzburg Fortress and Salzburg Cathedral. This is where the "Do-Re-Mi" scene in the Sound of Music was filmed.
36: The Sound of Music | Above: Schloss Frohnburg used to film the front of the von Trapp residence. Shown when Maria stepped off the bus singing "I Have Confidence". Below: Schloss Leopoldskron used for back terrace scenes at the villa and the lake scene.
37: As we drove to Mondsee, we passed through the picturesque Salzkammergut Lake District. We stopped for photos of this unbelievably scenic area. In Mondsee, we had lunch and a quick tour of the cathedral used for the wedding scenes in the movie.
38: Berlin | Memorial to the Murdered Jews | Brandenburg Gate | Berlin Wall | Checkpoint Charlie | Checkpoint Charlie Museum | On July 29, we traveled six hours on an ICE train from Munich to Berlin arriving at our hotel in the early evening. We found a Waschsalon (laundromat), then had dinner at an outdoor café close by. On our first full day in Berlin, we took a hop-on hop-off bus around the city to get orientated. We walked to several tourist sites pictured on this page, then took a tour of the Reichstag Parliament Building.
40: Per Rick Steve's suggestion, we stayed in former East Berlin at Hotel Kastanienhof which is located in the lively, colorful neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg. There were several restaurants within walking distance where we saw graffiti covering many of the alley walls.
41: On our second full day in Berlin, Stephen took a train to the 1936 Olympic Stadium (above) with theMaifeld and Glockenturm (bell tower to the left). Stephen was last stationed in Germany at Smuts Barracks in Spandau and he was glad to see the base was still there, albeit deserted.
42: More of Berlin | While Stephen was off exploring, Alexa and I went shopping along Kurfurstendamm with a stop at a Starbucks, a trip through Urban Outfitters and purchases at the Ampelmann store, which features merchandise with the quirky East German stoplight symbols for walk and don't walk.
43: Entrance to Tiergarten Park | Museum Island | TV Tower | Siegessaeule Column
44: Berlin Cathedral | This century-old church towers over Museum Island. The dome was badly damaged in WWII, but has since been restored. We were lucky to hear part of an organized tour of the church, including some songs played on the organ. We took the 270-step climb to the outdoor dome gallery for the great views of both the city and the statues on the cathedral.
46: Deutsche Bahn | We took an ICE train from Munich to Berlin (6 hours) and then from Berlin to Hannover (about 2 hours). Stephen bought the tickets about two months in advance and received a great rate. We were in first class for both journeys so had large, reserved seats. It was fun to see the German countryside pass us by with the trains going as fast as 150 miles per hour.
47: Hohne Army Base | Stephen was based in Bergen-Hohne between 1978-1985. Although entry was not possible, it was a memorable opportunity to visit the barracks, local town and the tank wash down and ammo depot at Walsroder.
48: Celle, Germany | In Celle, we stayed at cozy Hotel St. George which opened to a courtyard and was within walking distance of the downtown shops and restaurants.
49: While Stephen was touring his old Army stamping grounds, Alexa and I took a relaxing walk through Celle and through the beautiful grounds surrounding the town castle.
50: Bergen-Belsen | We visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp which is close to Celle. We were lucky to arrive right before an English language tour was to begin. Most of the buildings were burned by the British when they discovered the camp at the end of the war, so signs were posted to show what it looked like when it was an active camp. Anne Frank and her sister Margot are believed to have died of typhoid here shortly before it was liberated by the British in 1945.
52: Hannover | Stephen has a lot of memories of Hannover from his army days. We spent some time in the main shopping area, then walked to the Maschsee Lake where there was a fair with food and drink stands. It clouded over and became cool for awhile, but once the clouds passed it was sunny and warm.
53: Maschsee Lake
54: Meeting Old Friends | Stephen's army buddy, Mel Robertson, is now a flight attendant for Lufthansa. He met us at the baggage claim area for a few photos before he had to catch his next flight. | We met up with Meike Wattjes, her husband Karl, and her daughter and daughter's friend at the Roter Jager (Red Hunter) restaurant in Berlin. This restaurant was featured on Christian Rach's TV show. | We enjoyed a delicious dinner at Loretta's in Hannover by the Maschsee with Anke Fiedler, her husband Siegfried, oldest son Kim and twins Felix and Moritz. Kim and Alexa walked around a festival by Lake Maschsee after we ate.
55: Stephen was able to pick up his speed on the Sunday morning we drove into Munich to catch a train. 160 kilometers per hour equals 100 miles per hour. It took a couple tries to get a good photo. | The ICE trains we rode on went even faster through the German countryside. 250 kilometers per hour equals 155 miles per hour!