A Travellerspoint blog

Cochem Germany & Burg Eltz Castle

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Hello from Cochem Germany,

Since we depart for Russia tomorrow and I wasn’t sure about the amount of internet access we may have there I thought I would do a quick journal entry on our stay in Cochem. We decided to come here to visit Berg Eltz which is probably the best preserved mid-evil castle in Germany. Rick Steves refers to it as his favorite castle in all of Europe. We chose Cochem as a base for our visit based only on its proximity to castle. We had no idea Cochem itself would be so lovely and have castle of its own! Cochem is a beautiful city on the banks of the Mosel River and seems to enjoy a lot of tourism from the surrounding German communities. Well let me show you what I mean………..

This is the view from our hotel balcony looking back into downtown Cochem and Cochem castle on the hill to the left.

I am not sure what this building is but the Mexican flag on the building made me somehow feel closer to home (I want a burrito!)

One of the ancient gates to downtown Cochem

The Cochem town square on a bustling Wednesday afternoon. Beautiful isn’t it?

To get to the Burg Eltz castle you need to drive about 30 minutes from Cochem and then park the car. Next is about a 45 minute walk through the forest on a fairly narrow path along a stream. It was a bit muddy since it had rained the night before so footing on the steep climbs and decents was a bit trickey but we both made it without bouncing. It is a beautiful walk but there is a good bit of climbing on the way to the castle (good exercise for us!).

Here is Susan on the trail to Burg Eltz.

This is the entrance gate to Burg Eltz Castle.

Inside the castle court yard.

Susan and I inside the castle courtyard.

When we took the castle tour they directed us into this first room where the armor and weapons were kept. They then told us that we could not take any photographs inside the castle. Here is one I took just before receiving those instructions (or maybe just a few seconds after).

Yet another shot from the castle courtyard.

Well that is about it for our day here in Cochem. We are SO happy that we decided to work in the castle tour on our trip. We had no idea these little cities on the river could be so picturesque. As I said before we drive back to Frankfurt tomorrow and catch a flight to St. Petersburg. We have just learned enough German to make an attempt at ordering food and wine and now we are off to another country. Not sure how much English we can expect in Russia but we will do the best we can. We are hoping that we have internet access from there but if not I will catch up with you when we can.
Until next time……………….

Posted by Trainwater 08:19 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Ettal & Rothenburg Germany

Beautiful city in the foothills of the Alps and a mid evil walled city

Hello from Ettal and Rothenburg Germany!

After leaving Munich we traveled South by train near the foothills of the Alps to a very small town named Ettal Germany. We had planned to attend the passion play in nearby Oberammergau the following day but wet weather and a bit of travelers revenge inspired us to just stay near the hotel and enjoy the small town charm that Ettal offers. I walked the entire length of the town in about 30 minutes to give you some idea how small it is. In the middle of town there in a monastery that was build in 1330 the domes of which can be seen in the pictures below. It was a very beautiful and restful city.

The entrance to Ettal from the South

A small café – restaurant just in front of the monastery. Note the ornate paintings around the windows and doors on the first floor that this area is known for.

A small house right next to the hotel we stayed at. Everyone has flower boxes and beautiful flowers growing in them.

A picture of me trying to stay warm at the train station as it had snowed in the mountains the night before. I just bought that hat at the gift shop that morning to keep my head warm.

We departed Ettal for a day’s journey North back through the Munich station then up to Nuremberg and Wurzburg before arriving in Rothenburg. What an amazingly well preserved city! The city is so well preserved because after it was finally conquered in the 1600’s by an army of 40,000 catholic crusaders during the 30 year's it was so looted of anything of value that there were no means to build or improve anything. The city basically went dormant for 200 years. In the early 1900’s writers and artist discovered this charming walled city and began to write about it in newspapers around the world. Every since then tourism has made it possible to maintain the charm of this city mostly as it was in the mid 1600’s.

Here is the gate with the high wall. This high wall was only needed on one side of the city as the other three sides are surrounded by very steep cliffs.

A typical street scene in beautiful Rothenburg

The main city hall building dating back to the 1500’s

Another street scene. Most of the women were interested in the Christmas ornament store to the right while most of the men were checking out the Carrera GT parked in front.

A beautiful fountain outside one the town churches.

Inside that same church (forgot the name)

This building houses an animated re-enactment in the small square windows on either side of the clock at noon each day of the mayor of Rothenburg drinking an entire stein of wine. The story goes that the catholic crusaders who overtook the city in the 1600’s would not destroy the city if there was a man in town who could drink an entire stein of wine without pausing. Apparently the mayor pulled it off. I have only been in Germany a little over a week but I believe if drinking were an Olympic sport they would be hard to beat 

Just another gorgeous city street in Rothenburg

This is the sign for an Apothecary (kind of like a pharmacy). Many merchants have ornate signs like this outside their buildings with symbols of what they are offering for sale.

This is where we stayed at the Markustrum Hotel. It was centrally located and the owners were very accommodating. We would highly recommend it!

Just one of hundreds of amazingly preserved buildings. It seemed almost like Disneyland except it is REAL!

This is Susan near the entrance to the Crime & Punishment Museum. This museum houses artifacts and history about how civilizations in Europe established laws and more importantly delivered punishments if rules and laws were broken. Unfortunately, just the suspicion of a crime was enough to put a person in a mid-evil torture device to see if you would confess.

The Iron Maden

Often times just a quick look at the interrogation room was enough to get someone talking...Heck! I would make something up if I had to :)

An illustrated procedure on now to put someone’s thumbs into a thumbscrew system. Ouch!

This instrument was used for quarreling women. Your head (in the large hole) and hands (in the two smallholes) would be bound while facing the person with whom you were quarreling until you resolved your problems. I’ll bet there was some kicking going on 

One of many public “shame” masks each designed for a different socially unacceptable behavior such as men who were overlly promiscuous or gambled. This one was for someone who talked or gossiped too much. On top was a bell what rang when you moved and the person had to wear this mask in public for some period of time.

A “Witch Catcher” it was believed that you did not want to take the chance of being touched by a witch so this spring loaded contraption was put on a long pole and snapped round the neck of a suspected witch. Those sharp barbs inside the ring seem a bit severe for a “suspected” witch.

A balancing cage designed to dip suspects into the river until they confessed to what they thought they might have done so they could only slightly prolong their lives until they decided to kill them in a more public forum. Yikes!

One of the more popular nightly events is the night watchmen’s tour which is kind of cheesy and touristy but also has some interesting history and is pretty well done. I would recommend it!

Well that’s about it for now. We have decided to cut out stay here in Rothenburg short by one day and trek into the forest just West of Frankfurt to see the castle at Burg Eltz. This is the best preserved castle in all of Europe with the building and its furnishings pretty much as they were in the 1500’s. After two days there we depart to St. Petersburg Russia where I hope to catch up on our travel blog again.
Until then………..Chow!

Posted by Trainwater 08:19 Comments (0)

Munich Germany

Oktoberfest & Great Food

sunny 63 °F
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Hello from Munich!
We have been here for 3 days now and are having a wonderful time. The weather has been PERFECT in the high 60’s during the days and low 50’s at night with sunny skies. The city is very beautiful and the clean and the people are very friendly. We are learning some german phrases (mostly realted to ordering beer). Maybe most important is that the food is GREAT at least for anyone that really enjoys good beer meat and potatoes (Like me!). There is a lot of history here and the city has done its best to restore the damage done during WWII by reconstructing buildings just as they were. We are staying close to the center of the city and are within walking distance of both the old city and Oktoberfest. Here are a very few select photos we have taken and a brief description.


The Glockenspiel is part of the new town hall erected in 1908 aside from being a beautiful building it also is famous for the life sized animated figures that twirl about on the hour three times a day and each performance draws quite a crowd. The scenes re-enact battles from the 16th century as well as the dance performed by the barrel makers to celebrate the end of the plague that consumed 1/3 of the city’s population.

Look closely you will see this business was established in 1440

This is a photo of the river Isar on the North side of the city

A beautiful park near the old city center

Part of the open market where you can enjoy food and GREAT sausages YUM!

These photos are of our Oktoberfest experience. We had a GREAT time thanks to some friends and by the end of the night we were standing on the tables and dancing along with everyone in the place. WHAT A PARTY!

This picture was taken at the Duetsches Museum or “German Museum” which is actually a museum of science and industry. It was amazing and huge. I really like aviation and mechanics but they have much more to offer.

This is inside St Peter’s cathedral. It was one of the most classically beautiful churches I have visited in Europe.

These last four pictures were taken at the “Residence” which was the former royal palace of several Bavarian Monarchs. It suffered serious damage during the war but has been restored and the tour is very impressive. Besides Versailles maybe the most opulent palace and collection of fine art and antiquities I have seen.

Well I need to sign off and start to re-pack :(
Tomorrow morning we catch a train for Oberrammergau where we are scheduled to see the passion play. It is only presented once every 10 years and this is the year so we felt compelled to experience it. After that we are off to Rothenburg Germany for 4 days. I will catch up with you all from there.

Auf Wiedersehen

Posted by Trainwater 13:56 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Pre-Depature Trip to Texas

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Well the trip to Texas has gone well overall although not without some challenges. Our passports were delivered to our friend’s house in Ft. Worth with our French visas inside so it looks like our last minute fire drill to secure our long term visas worked out and we can actually board our airplane to Europe. Our daughter’s wedding was very nice and it was great to see so many people we had not seen for such a long time. It only took about one day for our Springer spaniel to exhaust his welcome at our friend’s house after he refused to share his bone and attacked their alpha Yorkie resulting in a trip to the emergency animal hospital, large expenses and widely distributed frustration for all involved but I would guess mostly for the Yorkie. This unforeseen situation spawned a search for another place to keep the dog for the next 8 months. They say all’s well that ends well and I think we have found another couple that raises Springer spaniels who can provide a good home to our dog for the time we are out of the country. We enjoyed what I believe to be the best steak I have ever had (and I’ve had a few) at Del Frisco’s restaurant in downtown Ft. Worth which has been the culinary highlight of our stay here in Texas. No small statement given the amazing BBQ and Mexican food that we have enjoyed while in the state so far. We are preparing tonight for our flight to Munich tomorrow and are looking forward to beginning our European adventure. As it turns out, one of our friends from Qualcomm will be in Munich and has arranged with a vendor there to provide a box at one of the Octoberfest tents for Tuesday night which we are really looking forward to. I will sign off for now and will try to post some pictures from Munich in my next post.

Posted by Trainwater 15:35 Archived in USA Tagged texas Comments (0)

Pre-Travel Preparations

32 °F
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Welcome to Tom & Susan's Travel Blog,

We are preparing for an excursion to Europe and would like to invite you to follow along with us as we make our way through 14 countries in 8 months starting in September 2010.

Before we leave the US we will travel by car from San Diego to Texas where we will attend our daughter's wedding and drop off the dog before leaving on the 19th. We plan to spend the first 6 - 7 weeks traveling through Eastern Europe, Russia and Switzerland before arriving in Paris about November 1st. We will stay in an apartment in Paris through the Holidays. In February, we plan another excursion through Spain and Italy and then return to Paris for March and April before returning to Texas in May to pickup the dog and drive back to San Diego. There is a link to a map above this article to view most of the locations we plan to visit.

We have had quite a few challenges preparing for being away from home for so long. In addition to the challenges you might imagine in the area of bills and mail and prescriptions etc... we were also faced with a few unplanned activities such as two (yes two) automobile accidents within the last month in the vehicle we plan to drive to Texas as well as the last minute revelation that we actually DO need long term stay visa's from the French consulat for our trip...sigh

We plan to leave in just a few days to drive to Texas assuming our vehicle repairs are completed on time and we are hopeful our passports along with our French visa's will catch up with us in Texas before we leave..what could possibly go wrong? :)

We will try to be dillegent in our blog postings with pictures and descriptions of where we are and what we are doing. I have opened the comments section so please feel free to leave me any questions or suggestions you may have while we are on the road.

I hope you enjoy our blog and if you have any suggestions for improvements they are most welcome.

Until my next post.......Good Bye.

Posted by Trainwater 16:17 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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