December 19, 2006
One of the great things about living in Ireland is the easy access it gives us to most of Europe. Flights to almost anywhere in western Europe can be had for less than $100, in many cases significantly less. Our first adventure to the continent to take advantage of this was a trip to Germany to visit an old friend of mine from Belmont. Jill grew up in the house next to me, and was always another big sister to me. We’d not seen much of each other since we both left home. At one point we ended up living just 2 blocks apart in Chicago and re-connected there, and she’s now living in Landstuhl, Germany, where her husband Steve works for the U.S. Department of Defense. When she heard through the grapevine (it doesn’t matter how far you move, the grapevine knows) that we were moving to Ireland, she emailed us an invitation to visit.
We flew into Frankfurt’s Hahn airport on Friday morning, November 10, and Steve and Jill picked us up. We headed for Bernkastel-Kues, a small town on the Mosel River in Germany’s wine country. While the day started with a little sun peeking through the fog, the fog eventually settled in for the day - just like Ireland! We had great day wandering the town though, and catching up with Jill and Steve. I even got to scarf down some delicious weinerschnitzel for lunch, something that brought back fond memories from my first trip to Germany when I was in college. Late in the day we headed for home and were treated to blue skies as the sun started to go down. We stopped at Burg Lichtenburg, a small castle near Kusel, and enjoyed the incredible view as the sun started to set.
Saturday morning we were up at the crack of 10:00 AM and headed for Heidelberg, a cool college town on the Neckar River. It was another foggy, dreary day, but that kind of suited the scenery of Heidelberg, which has a beautiful red-stone castle perched on the hill overlooking town. We wandered around and checked out the farmer’s market, then found a pub for lunch, where I sampled a delicious variety of German sausages. After lunch and a walk along the river, we hiked up the hill (and up, and up) to Heidelberg Castle. We wandered around the castle a bit on our own, then Steve and Jill were kind enough to kill some time, giving us some time to take the castle tour (which they highly recommended). The castle was just beautiful inside, my photos certainly don’t do it justice. When the tour guide asked where everyone was from, we learned we were on the tour with two other people from Wisconsin, a young lady going to school in Heidelberg and her visiting mother. That brought back another memory from my college trip to Germany - with such a large U.S. military presence in Germany it seems there are always Americans around. Castle tour completed, we headed back to Landstuhl for a delicious home-made meal of chili and cornbread, two of my favorites. Thanks Jill! After dinner we watched the movie “Waking Ned Devine,” which Jill and Steve recommended. If you’ve not seen it, it’s worth a rental. It takes place in Ireland, and really captures the scenery as well as the flavor of the locals.
Sunday morning we hit the road for Trier, Germany’s oldest city and a former Roman outpost. The city still features a number of Roman-era buildings and ruins, including the imposing Porta Nigra (Black Gate). After another great lunch (one last chance to have some schnitzel!), we enjoyed climbing the Black Gate for a great view of Trier. Then we wandered the streets and visited several churches, including the huge Dom St. Peter, Germany’s oldest church. Finally it was time to head for the airport and our return flight to Ireland.
Thanks so much to Jill and Steve for inviting us to Germany and treating us so wonderfully while we were there! The sightseeing was great, but it was worth the trip just to catch up with old friends from home.
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