Fall in Europe: Austria & Germany with Family & Friends (Part 2)   4 comments

 

Fall in Europe:  Austria & Germany with Family & Friends (Part 2)

Vienna, Austria; Fussen, Rothenburg, Braubach, Cochem & Frankfurt, Germany

Sept. 25 – Oct. 9, 2015

Part 2 begins with our good friends, Mark & Karen joining us in Vienna, Austria.  Very early that morning our first part of “Fall in Europe with Family” had come to a conclusion with Keith & Marilyn going to Italy by train, and Derick & Chelsea flying home after having already been in Europe for over two weeks.  Thus, it’s the beginning of more fun times.

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St. Stephens Cathedral:  It was originally built between 1369 & 1433.  Today, it is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria.  This is my favorite site in Vienna, so it was the first place that we took our friends. 

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The Weiner Neustadt Altarpiece:  (1447) It’s considered one of the greatest treasures.  Richly gilded & painted, it depicts the Virgin Mary in the center between St. Catherine & St. Barbara. 

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Vienna Wine Hiking Day:  Vienna’s wine mountains & vineyards can be discovered every year in the autumn on the wine hiking trail.  And….there was ample opportunity to sample wines.  Karen & I particularly enjoyed the Sturm (young wine) because it was very sweet.

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A rather pretty stroll on a fall day outside of Vienna.  We started out with a quickness to our step.  But later some of us weren’t as “quick”. 

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When you stop to sample the wine there is also the opportunity to buy a snack to go with the wine.  Karen may not be entirely thrilled with my selection of our snack.

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This is the map of our wine tour hike.  Supposedly we did the one that had more downhill than uphill.  I wouldn’t bet on that!

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Time for more refreshments!

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  After all of our walking we were really hungry.  Time for a pig roast in Austria!

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Hands down, this was the best Sturm of the day.  They had to pull Karen & I away…..so we could walk some more. 

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Are we there yet?  Jim B is showing off.  Trying to impress us with the “quickness of his step”!

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 Judenplatz Holocaust Memorial:  This is the central memorial for the Austrian victims of the Holocaust.  Thousands of inverted books, representing lives of the lost Austrian Jews, line the exterior.

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The Wiener Staatsoper (opera house), dates from 1869.  This was rather a “bust”.  I thought I had cheap tickets to a matinee.  But it turned out to be a round-table discussion (in German) of the upcoming performances.  This is what happens when you book on line and you don’t bother to translate everything.  Well, we got to sit in the expensive seats for cheap, and we got to see the beautiful opera house.

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The best part of the morning was the ice cream.

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A delicious dinner compliments of my favorite son-in-law.

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Augustinian Church:  Built into the Hofburg, this is the Gothic & Neo-Gothic church used by the Habsburgs as their court church and also for weddings.  This is where Emperor Franz Joseph I & Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) were married. 

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Imperial Crypt:  It’s located in Neuer Markt square near the Hofburg Palace.  Since 1633 it’s been the principal place of entombment for members of the House of Habsburg.  The bones of 145 Habsburg royalty (including 12 emperors & 18 empresses) are in this crypt. 

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The Imperial Treasury, Vienna:  It’s located in the Hofburg Palace and contains over a thousand years of European history.  The collection, housed in 21 rooms, contains rare treasures that were compiled by the Imperial House of Habsburg.  The collection includes the Imperial Crown, orb, and Sceptre of Austia and Imperial Regalia of the Emperors & Kings of the Holy Roman Empire. 

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Agate Bowl:  This is my favorite item in the museum.  The Agate bowl dates from the 4th century & is believed to have been created at the court of Constantine.  The Agate Bowl is the largest carved stone bowl in the world, (it is 30 inches wide, including the handles) and for centuries has been regarded as the greatest masterpiece in the museum.  In 1564, Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian II, declared it to be an inalienable heirloom. They saw the “natural miracle” in the stone with a mysterious inscription—the name XRISTO (Christ) at the bottom of the bowl within the grain.  It is now generally believed that the inscription inspired the legend that the bowl was the Holy Grail.  

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It’s always time for ice cream.  We are enjoying our ice cream & my Radler Citrus in the courtyard of the Hapsburg Palace. 

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Demel Eiscreme:  The famous bakery in Vienna that provided their specialties to the Habsburg Imperial & Royal Court.  Kellee bought a couple things & I didn’t think they were so great, but the shop was a beauty. 

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Suddenly it is time to bid farewell to Vienna & Jim & Kellee.  Our last evening in Vienna is spent in an Italian restaurant.  Our next adventure is Germany by train. 

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Germany by Train:  My handy google map shows the general route of our train adventure, which began in Vienna, Austria, to Munich, Germany, sight seeing in Germany & concluding in Frankfurt.   I will add right here & now that the German trains (DB Bahn) & we four Kansas people did very well & got along just fine.  In order to save money I had already purchased a few “saver fares” on line.  I was very proud of my early saver fare for first leg of our journey from Vienna to Munich on a direct four hour ride.

However, that didn’t come to pass.  Germany had closed its borders to more Syrian refugees and had also canceled that direct route between Vienna & Munich.  DB Bahn rerouted us indirectly with many train transfers.  As it turned out most of the train was full of Syrian refugees, and they all transferred trains with us until the transfer stop in Passau, Germany.  We Kansas people transferred to a train going to Munich, Germany, but security put the refugees behind a fence, I guess to be processed.  Still wonder where they all ended up.  The entire situation is very sad, and a challenge for all governments concerned. 

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Our Germany Itinerary of “Fairytale towns & Medieval Castles”:    We stayed two nights in (1)Fussen.  From there we went to (2)Rothenburg and also spent two nights.  After Rothenburg to the tiny Rhine town of (3)Braubach for one night.  Then to (4)Cochem where we spent four nights.  Our last stay was one night at an airport hotel in (5)Frankfurt.  My itinerary turned out to be pretty good.  At each town we stayed in a great location in the old town and ventured out from there. 

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We finally arrived in Munich, Germany and transferred to a train to Fussen, Germany.  With our changed train route we were finally in Fussen in the late afternoon, after having left Vienna at 8 that morning.  Now let the Germany fun begin!

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 Fussen, Germany:  The little medieval city in Bavaria is only a few miles from two famous castles, Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau.  We stayed right in this old market square and enjoyed the cute town.

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Karen & I just had to try the Schneeballen (snowballs).  They were featured items in the bakery windows both here & in Rothenburg.  We weren’t too crazy about these fried balls of pie crust, because they were very dry & not very sweet.

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We found a delightful place to eat, and the meal even came with bibs!  It was a bit cool in Fussen, so some of us ended up with new hats, gloves & jackets. 

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Hohenschwangau Castle:  This was the childhood residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria & was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.  The castle was built on a historic fortress site from 1832-1837.   After the death of King Maximilian in 1846, Ludwig lived in Hohenschwangau.  In 1869 he had his own castle, Neuschwanstein, built only a stone’s throw from his parental home. 

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Fog had really set in and we could barely see Neuschwanstein Castle. 

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No photos were allowed in the castle except in the first room & the last room.

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  Neuschwanstein Castle:  It may be the most famous & most photographed castle in the world.  It was built from 1869-1892 & was financed from King Ludwig’s own funds.  The castle was dedicated to the life & work of Ludwig’s dear friend, Richard Wagner, who died in 1883 before he had set foot in the building.  Ludwig only lived in the palace a short time before he died in 1886.  Ludwig died under mysterious circumstances in Lake Starnberg, together with the psychiatrist who had certified him as insane.  The castle had been built to be a private refuge, but seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public.  Every year 1.4 million people visit this castle.

We took a shuttle bus up the mountain, but still had a pretty fair walk getting on up to the castle. 

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It was a grey threatening day, but it never did rain.  It was a bit cool, but our extensive walking kept us warm. 

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No photos were allowed inside the castle except in this room with the castle replica.  It really puts into prospective how massive the Neuschwanstein Castle is.  Then we walked all the way down to the town.  We had a nice lunch before going back to Fussen. 

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 On DB Bahn: (German Train) One can purchase regional day tickets for a very reasonable price.  We bought Bavaria regional day tickets, boarded the train and away we went from Fussen to Rothenburg.  It was about 235 miles, took us 4.5 hours and we had 3 transfers to make. 

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany:   We absolutely loved this beautiful old medieval city.  Seeing the original buildings it was like a trip back in time to the Middle Ages.  It’s considered to be Germany’s best-preserved walled town and one of the most perfect walled cities in Europe.   It’s so perfect, so picturesque, so darling that it doesn’t seem possible.  It is a joy to stroll around Rothenburg, taking time to enjoy the the defensive towers, town gates, half-timbered medieval houses, the cobble stone streets, and the marketplace that seems to be right out of a fairy-tale.  

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Our favorite little hotel on our trip was the Hotel Restaurant Alter Keller, which I booked from booking.com. We loved the medieval building that came complete with creaking floors. 

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Looking out our window to the charming street.

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The Rothenburg Marktplatz:  This is where it all happens, both then and now. 

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Ratstrinkstube Town Hall on Marktplatz:  According to the story, in 1631, the mayor saved the town from destruction at the hands of troops of General Tilly by winning a wager by drinking 3 1/4 liters of Franconian wine.  So…every hour on the hour, the clockwork figures on the clock above the Ratstrinkstube entertain the public with the key scene from the legend of the Master Draught. 

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Town Hall & Tower:  At 200 feet it’s Rothenburg’s tallest spire.  The old town hall dates to the 13th-century. 

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Gasthof Goldener Greifen:  A delicious meal & a cheerful waitress at a restaurant recommended in the Rick Steves Germany 2015 book. 

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Tour with the Nightwatchman:  We followed the guy in the black cloak carrying a lantern.  The tour (7 Euro) started at 8 pm & it was informative & entertaining as we followed him through dark alleyways & across dimly lit squares.  We listened and found out how the people lived in the Middle Ages.  Highly recommend this tour. 

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Walking the Wall:  This 1.5 mile walk on the centuries old town wall was splendid.  From the wooden walkway on the 14th century city walls, the red roofs of the picturesque town and the steeples of the 14th century St. Jakob’s Church stretch below.  Our walk on the wall began at the end of this street.

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You can’t help but ask yourself if time has stood still, as you stroll past all of this beauty.  Wonderful, splendid Rothenburg, Germany!

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      Our next stop on our itinerary was Braubach, Germany.   From Rothenburg to Braubach, it was about 185 miles, 4.5 hours and we had to make three transfers.   We needed to leave our Alter Keller Hotel before breakfast was served, but the kind proprietor volunteered to pack us this huge breakfast to eat on the train. 

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We transferred at the big train station in Frankfurt, where we got on a train to Koblenz, then in Koblenz & transferred to a local train to Braubach.

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Braubach, Germany:  It’s a small town along the Rhine River with a population of approximately 3,000.  It is a cute little town with medieval architecture intact, including half-timbered buildings, portions of the town wall and the Marksburg Castle on the hill above.  Braubach dates back to the early 1200’s.  During my research I discovered that Braubach would be celebrating “Winzerfest Braubach am Rhein” on the exact date that we would be along the Rhine.  With an open day/night, my love of small towns, a unique festival, and finding a zimmer with two available rooms….it was “let’s do it!” (This photo is compliments of Jurgen.)   

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Privatzimmer Metz:  We have new German friends in Jurgen & Brigitte.  We stayed at their zimmer and they were a delight.  Through google translator I emailed Jergen to make the arrangements.  Nothing to do but they meet us at the train station to walk us to the zimmer. I told him to just watch for four old Americans, and he said “we are two old Germans”.  That was just the beginning of their sweet hospitality.  Late that night we even all got to watch the fireworks together on the upstairs balcony.  www.metz-braubach.de

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Loved the little town and all the merriment with the Winterzest.  From our zimmer it was literally out the door and you are in the town center.  Our first merriment was the oom-pah band that was playing in this tiny building.  Later that evening we joined the festivities with the locals & oom-pah.

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Right around the corner & more fun.

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Braubach is located right beside the Rhine River.  We walked across the street & the parking lot to take a look at the river and also got some pictures of Marksburg Castle that sits above the town.  We visited the castle the next morning. 

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Later that evening was a parade that made it’s way along the tiny medieval streets.  The last event of the night was a big fireworks display, which we watched with our friends, Jurgen & Brigitte.

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Marksburg Castle:  It is one of the main sites that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Rhine Gorge.  This castle was built around 1117 to protect the town of Braubach & to reinforce the customs facilities on the Rhine.  This is the only castle on the Rhine that has never been destroyed.  We had planned to ride up to the castle on the little tourist train, but it didn’t seem to be in operation.  So, don’t tell anyone, but we took a taxi to the castle.  It actually turned out to be cheaper than the tourist train would have cost, and we felt we had been getting plenty of exercise.  

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We entered Markburgs Castle through a covered entrance with roughed in steps carved right the slate floor. 

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The Great Battery:  Houses the cannons that aim out over the lower Rhine protecting the castle & the town of Braubach. 

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   This is looking from the castle down at Braubach & the Rhine River.

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Giant wine barrels are located in the cellar. 

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  The residential apartments included furniture of what it was like back in the day.  They also had indoor toilets.

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Back to Braubach & one more eating opportunity at the festival.  We had so much fun in Braubach & Jurgen & Briditte are our new friends.

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Here comes the train, let’s get on it & head to our next destination, Cochem.  Cochem was only about 35 miles away with one transfer in Koblenz, and we were there in about an hour. 

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 Cochem, Germany:  Located on the Moselle river in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.  It has a population of about 5,000.  As early as Celtic & Roman times, Cochem was settled.  In 1232 it was granted town rights.  Shortly after that, the town fortifications were built and they still stand today.  Cochem sits on both side of the river.  This is the historical side & we stayed on this side. The Reichsburg Castle overlooks the town of Cochem. 

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Market Square in Cochem.

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 Reichsburg Castle:  The original castle from the 12th century was destroyed in 1689.  It remained a ruin until a wealthy Berlin businessman bought it and rebuild the castle in 1868.  He created a neo-Gothic castle that could serve as a summer residence for his family. (No photos were allowed inside.) 

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Overlooking Cochem from Reichburg Castle.

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Burg Eltz:  We used the home base of Cochem to explore areas along the Moselle.  In “Rick Steves, Germany 2015”, Steves declares that his favorite castle in all of Europe is Burg Eltz.  He also mentions that the scenic 1.5 hour walk up the Elz Valley to the castle makes a great half-day outing.  Burg Eltz is located outside the town of Moselkern and Moselkern is a short train ride from Cochem.  So off we went!   First we walked from the train station to the base of the mountain trail, stopped to eat delicious onion soup, then on up to the castle.  It may have taken us a little longer, but Rick Steves, we did it, we are quite the hikers you know!

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Finally after what seemed to be much longer than Rick Steves mentioned, we caught a glimpse of the castle….and that gave us hope. 

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Then down & back up again.

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We are here!  And all in the same day!

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Burg Eltz:  The first record of Burg Eltz is from 1157.  By about 1490, the castle looked like it does today.  It was the homes of three big landlord families gathered around a tiny courtyard and all within the fortification.  We did a 45-minute tour of the castle.  It has 80 rooms, 40 fireplaces, & 20 toilets flashed by a rain drain.  It was decorated & furnished much as it was 500 years ago.  (Photos were not allowed inside.) 

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Now it’s time to head back down the mountain, so we can get there before dark. LOL

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   As per “Rick Steves, Germany 2015” Beilstein is the quaintest of all Mosel towns.  So Beilstein here comes the four from Kansas.  We chose to cruise from Cochem to Beilstein and thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the vineyards located along the River Moselle. 

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Going through the lock between Cochem & Beilstein.

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Beilstein, Germany:    It is a beauty!  Beilstein was granted town privileges in 1309.  The town has approximately 180 residents, about 30 guesthouses & eateries, one bus stop and no train station.  Beilstein is so well-preserved because it was essentially inaccessible by road until about 1900.  It was absolutely delightful!

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Lunch in a wine cellar.

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More of the fairy-tale town. 

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Metternich Castle:  The castle, now in ruins, is located above Beilstein.  The history of the castle goes back to 1268, and some historians think as early as 1129.  In the 1600’s, the Earl of Beilstein ruled from this castle above town.  He built the Altes Zollhaus in 1634 to levy tolls from river traffic.  In 1689, during the Nine Years War, the castle was destroyed by French troops. 

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Great fun.  Great family.  Great friends.  Great everything!  Keep on traveling!



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Posted November 2, 2015 by marilynfarmer in Travel

4 responses to “Fall in Europe: Austria & Germany with Family & Friends (Part 2)

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  1. Thanks as usual….fun to follow friends.

  2. Thank You as always, so enjoy your wonderful trips.
    Lenore Walker

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