Sunday, October 07, 2007

Life is back to normal!

As normal as it ever is, anyway :)

The in-laws bade us goodbye on Tuesday, and we had a day to recover before two friends of ours dropped in to visit for a couple of days after they visited Bamberg, Munich, Neuschwanstein, Liechtenstein, and Zurich. They left yesterday, and I have finally uploaded all the photos from our trips with the in-laws.

They arrived on a Friday evening, and we took off right away the next morning on our first adventure. First we stopped in Worms. Damon's mom is the ueberLutheran so she was very interested in going there. It was nice to have another chance to see it without being on a guided tour. I like the informative nature of tours but they usually make me feel a little cramped. Our visit was brief - just the cathedral and the statue of Martin Luther (currently under restoration).
Worms Sep 07

We then continued on to Freinsheim, site of a wine festival that was one of the first great things we did after we moved here just over a year ago. Damon's dad was with cane as he'd recently twisted his knee, but we still managed to drink our way through half of the vineyard trails, including a stop for the same Saumagen we enjoyed last year. We saw the Jesus Shovel again, but didn't make it as far as the giant head. It was, again, a really great time. We haven't found another festival quite like this one yet - if anyone knows of one, please let us know :)
Freinsheim Sep 07

Our plan was to continue on to reach Liechtenstein the following day, so after a short wine-recovery period we continued on in that general direction, passing by Stuttgart. No hotel rooms had been booked so we were in a rush to find something (I don't recommend this approach unless you are planning on travelling only in the boonies.) We thought of aiming for Tuebingen, a cute Neckar town we've been wanting to see, but didn't expect to find a room there. Instead we ended up pulling off in a Schwaebisch town called Herrenberg that none of us had ever heard of. We couldn't find it in any of our books, either. It had an unattractive main road that looped past a really cute old town center. We had dinner in the center at a pretty good restaurant in a huge old half-timber building. At the end, the waitress asked us if we were from England or Holland. Do people never guess US to avoid offending non-US people by calling them that? We told her we were from the US and she said our German was really good. (Come on, restaurants are easy! But it's still encouraging.) On our way out, a German guy with great English heard us, and stopped to chat us up with his whole professional history. It was strange. He worked up to name-dropping some famous cyclists, who, unfortunately for him, we had never heard of. We tried to act impressed. Then it was back to our hotel. The bathroom appeared to have been recently renovated, but had only a bathtub with a shower head, and no curtain!
Herrenberg Sep 07

The following morning we went back to the center to look around in the daylight, then continued on to Konstanz, where we checked out the cathedral (they were having service so we didn't get to look around the inside) and the lake and sat around the square drinking hot chocolate.
Konstanz Sep 07

We drove south from there through the Swiss border, where we weren't even stopped (this was a theme the whole time - never stopped at any border). We went on toward Sankt Gallen. The drive was beautiful, with apple trees, farms, and cows everywhere. Somehow it manages to look very different from driving through Germany, though I expected them to be the same.
We stopped for lunch at a little restaurant on the side of the road just past Sankt Gallen. There was a big family party going on and kids running everywhere. The food was amazing and we were entertained by cows with bells wandering closer and then further from the restaurant. After we ate we had the terrible realization that we had no clue how to tip in Switzerland.
Bell Cow Rest & Liechtenstein Sep 07

Finally we arrived in Liechtenstein and spent quite a lot of time trying to find an affordable hotel with availability. At this point it was decided that rooms would be booked for the next trip so we didn't eat up daylight driving around looking for hotels. We finally found something in Triesen, near Vaduz.
I'm not sure what we expected to find in Liechtenstein, being that it's main attraction is its novelty, being a tiny country with only 34,000 inhabitants. But, whatever we expected, we didn't find it. We walked out from our hotel looking for something to eat or an interesting place to check out. It felt like we'd walked for miles, and we never found a thing but construction sites, apartment buildings, and offices. There weren't people walking anywhere and there was nothing to see, as far as we went. We saw only one restaurant, a pizzeria, the whole time - and it was closed. There's a castle, but you can't go in because the royals still live there. Defeated, we went back to our hotel and ate there. The next morning, we made a final attempt to find anything nice to see, but didn't find it. The modern art museum might have been cool, but we had no time to try it. The in-laws just wanted to get out of there and it was the butt of jokes for the rest of the vacation.

We were to be in Basel by 1p so Damon and his dad could take a tour at one of the big companies there. They offered Damon a job in the Netherlands, but he wants to stay in academics, so alas, we may never find a way to keep ourselves in Europe. While they toured, his mom and I took a look around Basel. It was beautiful, though we found that service was even less friendly than Germany. That night we met up with Damon and his dad again, and a rep from the company, and they took us out to dinner.
Basel Sep 07

The next morning, we headed back to Heidelberg. I had to make it to work. On the way, I hoped to stop in Freiburg, another supposedly great place we haven't seen. I was, however, overriden, and instead we winded an hour into the Black Forest to a little town called Triberg. We only had about 20 minutes to check it out because we'd used so much time getting there and had to get back on the road. It's a cuckoo-clock town. Don't go there. Well, it does boast 'Germany's highest waterfall' - but we didn't have time to see it.
The next two days were spent in Heidelberg so Damon and I could get some work in - then it was off on leg two of the "with the in-laws" adventure, which is coming soon!


  1. Hi CN,

    thank you, thank you, thank you for a great blog. My husband and I are moving to a town near Frankfurt in the next month or so (when his work permit comes through) and your blog helps me through some initial culture shock fears.

    Keep up the great work and the picture taking. It really gets us soon to be expats motivated to go over there :-)

  2. Anon, I'm glad to help :) Before I moved I looked for a blog like this and couldn't find any, which is why I decided to start one when I got here. Of course now that I am here, I have found tons of blogs like this! Go figure. Good luck with your move!!


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