Thursday, August 3, 2006

June 22, 2006

Day 1
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Las Vegas / Philadelphia / Wilmington & Dover, DE

Well, the day has finally arrived!  We’ll see if all of the months of planning and preparation pay off.

We were dropped off at the airport by our friend Joyce.  Hopefully she’ll be able to pick us up in 6 or 7 weeks when our travels are over.

We had to pay additional fees for having overweight baggage.  The limit is 50 pounds per bags with Southwest.  Also, Pat’s Swiss army knife was confiscated by TSA.  Not a pretty sight.

We were able to connect with good friends, Bob & Stephanie Lerch, for dinner in Wilmington, DE at Ruby Tuesdays.  Seven years of catching up to do.

We are now in our hotel room at Dover AFB and will check with the terminal tomorrow about getting a flight to Germany.

Hopefully I can figure out how to connect to the Intranet via wireless connection.  It works at home but not on the road yet.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

June 23, 2006

Day 2
Friday, June 23, 2006
Dover, DE / Mildenhall, England

We woke up at base lodging on Dover AFB.  After having breakfast and checking with the terminal and finding out that our show time for a flight to Ramstein was 2040, we went into town, saw a movie (The Breakup), had dinner at TGIFridays, and returned our rental car.  We were driven back to the base by an employee of Enterprise who was also a reservist.  Back at the terminal we found out that the flight to Ramstein wasn’t taking any passengers.  But we were extremely lucky to be manifested on a flight to Mildenhall which continues onto Ramstein after a 27 hour layover.  We met a nice retired Army Colonel and his wife (Dan & Kathy Clark).
Space A Trip Report:

We flew from Las Vegas, Nevada to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania International Airport, rented a car with a one-way drop off through Enterprise and drove to Dover, Delaware.  We checked in at the passenger terminal the evening of the 22nd and the terminal was empty except for the staff.  The passenger services staff was very friendly and helpful.  We were informed that tomorrow (June 23rd) was going to be one of the best Space A days they had seen in a long time, with two flights to Rota, Spain; two flights to Mildenhall, England; and one to Ramstein, Germany.  With a total of almost 100 seats.  We were advised to check in in the morning – our hopes were up.  One June 23rd, we arrived, expecting an easy connection to Germany.  Then things began to change.  We were informed that the first Rota flight was unable to take passengers as was the Ramstein flight due to hazardous cargo (not an unusual happening).  Then one Mildenhall flight fell victim to the hazardous cargo problem and could not take passengers.  That left one Rota flight and one Mildenhall flight.  Then a passenger service announcement stated that the Mildenhall flight was going to continue to Ramstein, which we were delighted to hear.  The roll call started and we weren’t sure whether we would get seats because of so many families traveling and were delighted to hear our name called. 

The flight departed Dover at 2300 and 6 hours, 45 minutes later, we landed at Mildenhall.  all very comfortable with pillows, blankets, snacks, and earplugs.  Upon landing, we were given special treatment as “through” passengers and were able to avoid Customs.  The passenger terminal personnel were very helpful and gave us information so that we could obtain lodging and transportation.  The base lodging was full however we were able to obtain lodging at a hotel just off base, the Smoke Hotel, which was built in the 17th century.  The cab transportation was excellent.  We were able to use the ATM at the passenger terminal to obtain pounds.  Reservation phones worked fine, everything went smoothly.  We then walked out of the terminal into the fresh air and sunshine after a morning rain, and it was wonderful.   

This was our first Space A flight on a C-5 Galaxy and except for a 40 minute maintenance delay prior to takeoff, everything went beautifully. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

June 24, 2006

Day 3
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Mildenhall, England

Smoke House Hotel
After flying all night from Dover to Mildenhall, we woke up on the C-5 and realized that we lost 5 hours due to the time difference.  We landed at 1100 Mildenhall time.  We checked into a hotel just outside of the base (Smoke House Hotel) as all base lodging was full.

We had a fish ‘n chips dinner at the Smoke House lounge with our new friends, Dan & Kathy Clark.  Looking forward to going to Germany tomorrow.

Checking in at the Smoke House Hotel (Mildenhall, England)

Brass doorknocker collection at Smoke House Hotel (Mildenhall, England)

Enjoying the sunshine in Mildenhall, England

Monday, July 31, 2006

June 25, 2006

Day 4
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Mildenhall, England / Ramstein & Vogelweh, Germany

After waking up and having breakfast at the Smoke House Hotel in Mildenhall, England, we caught a cab back to the passenger terminal at RAF Mildenhall.  We boarded the same C-5 and took the 90 minute flight to Ramstein AB.  On the flight we met an American living in Germany (April) who offered to drive us from Ramstein to Vogelweh where we had lodging.  Also riding with us were Dan & Kathy Clark.  April dropped us off at the lodging office and took the Clarks to the train station.  We checked into our room, had dinner, watched some TV, and then went to bed.  Tomorrow we’ll check out, get a rental car and drive to Rothenburg, one of the cities on the Romantic Road.


We had a breakfast consisting of bangers (English sausages), eggs, ham, and baked beans at the Smoke House Hotel.  After breakfast we took a short stroll on the beautiful grounds and enjoyed the fresh air and English rose gardens.  After calling a taxi we checked out, and the taxi arrived within about five minutes.  It was a short ride to the base which cost 10 pounds and we arrived at 0915. 

Passenger Terminal:  The passenger terminal at Mildenhall was very clean and new, featuring all the facilities travelers need including both commercial and DSN phones and internet cafĂ©.  We were able to call ahead using the DSN network to make our lodging reservation at Vogelweh.

Our flight from Mildenhall to Ramstein flight time was 1 hour 5 minutes.  We traveled with approximately 20 passengers and since the flight was so short we didn’t have in-flight meals but snacks instead.  Arriving at Ramstein, we were able to get a ride to Vogelweh lodging where we were able to rent a guest suite for $46 a night.

Pat and I had our first German meal.  It consisted of two microwave dinners provided in the in-room ready meal selection.  Pat’s dinner consisted of German sausage, sauerkraut, and mashed potatoes.  Mike’s dinner consisted of pork, red cabbage, and mashed potatoes.  They were both delicious.  We were then able to do our laundry using the free washers and dryers on our floor.

Weather:  When we arrived at Ramstein, we were greeted with very warm temperatures and sunshine, probably near 90 degrees.  However about 5PM, clouds built up and thunderstorms started which lasted all night and cooled everything off. 

Sunday, July 30, 2006

June 26, 2006

Day 5
Monday, June 26, 2006
Vogelweh to Rothenburg, Germany

View of Rothenburg ob der Tauber from the south gate
Today we woke up at the Vogelweh AFB lodging (which was a nice suite).  We were given a ride to the rental car location by a very nice American (Leonard Miller) who had been living all through Europe on his own for the past twenty years.  He was very friendly and talkative.  We picked up our rental car (an Opel Astra) and proceeded to drive the 4 hour drive from Vogelweh to Rothenburg.  We took our time, stopped at McDonalds for lunch and ate with the locals.  Our car is a stick shift and Mike is doing a good job driving it.  

We finally arrived at Rothenburg, which is a walled city on the Romantic Road, and found our hotel, the Hotel Gerberhaus.  We will be staying here for three nights.  For dinner tonight we ate at the Eisenhut Hotel.  The food was excellent as was the service and scenery.  We ate outside overlooking the beautiful garden.  Prior to dinner, Inge (our host at Hotel Gerberhaus) gave us a map and showed us a wonderful walk outside the walls of the city where you pass by parks and vineyards on the way back inside the walls.  We took this walk on our way to dinner.

Scenes from Rothenburg, Germany (walled city)

Our 3 night stay at Cafe Gerberhaus
View from our room
Patty relaxing in the biergarten

One of the entrances to the walled city
Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store

Night scene of Rothenburg town square

Vineyards outside of the walled city

Saturday, July 29, 2006

June 27, 2006

 Day 6
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Rothenburg, Germany

Breakfast in Germany
This is our first whole day in Rothenburg.  We got a late start today, partly due to jet lag but also because of the thunderstorms.  Now I see why it is so beautiful here because it rains quite a bit --  it reminds me of Knoxville, TN.

After having our complimentary breakfast at the Hotel Gerberhaus which consisted of ham, cheese, fresh fruit, homemade rolls, and cereal, we took off on foot for the Kriminalmuseum, which is a medieval crime museum.  Rothenburg is a medieval village, with the oldest building in town dating back to 900 AD (which is where we’ll eat dinner tonight).  Touring the crime museum, I can imagine that there wouldn’t have been too much crime here as the criminals were dealt with swiftly and severely.  If they were convicted of their crimes (which they usually were due to the confessions made while being tortured), the criminals’ sentence is carried out that very day, with all of the town folks in attendance.

While at the Kriminalmuseum, it started to rain again so we waited for a break in the weather.  Once the sun came out again, we started our walking tour of the town and found the restaurant recommended by Inge where we would eat dinner tonight.  It has an unusual name Zur Holl, which translates “To Hell”. 

We continued on our tour to the Reichsstadtmuseum.  This is a medieval museum that used to be a convent.  It has a large collection of armour and weapons used during the middle ages.  Every sort of weapon is represented:  swords, daggers, halberds, pistols, crossbows, and rifles.  Armour is on display from the “Maximilian period (c. 1520) as well as from the Thirty-Years War (1618-1648).  I don’t know how the men were able to move let alone battle when they were wearing the full body armour – it looks so heavy.

The doorway to hell (Zur Holl)
After our museum tours, it was getting to be dinner time so we made our way back to the restaurant Zur Holl (“To Hell”) for dinner.  We ate outside and we both had Teufelsspiess mit Salat und Brot (skewer of steak, pork and roasted veggies with salad and bread).  It was delicious.  After dinner, we joined up with the Night Watchman and followed him throughout the town as he told stories of the history of Rothenburg. 

This was a long and wonderful day and we were looking forward to sleeping in our king-size bed which had no top sheet, but individual down comforters and pillows.

Friday, July 28, 2006

June 28, 2006

Day 7
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Rothenburg, Germany

Tilmann Riemenschneider Hotel
It’s hard to believe that we left home almost a week ago!

After a good night’s sleep, we wake up to a beautiful sunny morning.  As we get ready and decide what we’re going to do, the thunderstorms start and last most of the morning.  It starts to breakup around noon, so we borrow the hotel’s umbrellas and take off on foot to walk the wall of the city.  There are gun turrets all along the wall and towers in strategic locations.  One can only imagine the battles fought atop the wall to save the city from outside forces.

After descending the wall, we walk more around the city:  going to a bank to exchange pounds for euros; printing our photos; getting a light snack at one of the cafes; and then walking back to our hotel via the outside walkway along the vineyards.  It’s time now to get ready for dinner which we decide to have at our own hotel tonight.  Tomorrow we’ll check out and leave Rothenburg behind on our way to Bavaria and Salzburg.

Scenes from Rothenburg, Germany (walled city)

Thursday, July 27, 2006

June 29, 2006

Day 8
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Rothenburg, Germany to Salzburg, Austria

This was our last morning in Rothenburg.  After we packed and ate breakfast, we checked out and were on our way to Austria.  It took about 4 hours for the trip and it was cloudy most of the way with an occasional shower.  It’s surprising how fast the cars travel on the autobahn --  you have to make sure you’re not slowing them down!

We checked into our room at the Cordial Theatrehotel.  Everything is similar to where we were.  In fact, you would think we were still in Germany.  After unpacking and resting for awhile, we ate dinner downstairs in the hotel restaurant. 

We plan on seeing the sights in Salzburg, Austria and also in Berchtesgaden, Germany, among other places.  We have tickets for the Sound of Salzburg dinner show for tomorrow night; and for Sunday night, we’re going to the Mozart dinner concert.  Salzburg is celebrating Mozart’s 250th birthday all this year.

Looking forward to seeing it all and hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

June 30, 2006

Day 9
Friday, June 30, 2006
Salzburg, Austria

We didn’t sleep very good last night as our hotel room was too hot.  Opening the window to let the night air in helped to make the room a little cooler (although we still needed a fan).  However, we still couldn’t sleep because we heard all of the road noise since our room faced a busy street.  As soon as we could, we switched rooms for one that overlooked a grassy area instead of a street.  Hopefully, we’ll sleep better tonight.

It rained most of the day, so we decided to drive to Berchtesgaden to check things out.  We found the Salt Mine and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.  We’ll go back tomorrow to tour these sights when the weather is better.

Tonight we have tickets to see the Sound of Salzburg Dinner Show.  Music will include the best songs from the Sound of Music; songs and dances depicting the true story of the Trapp family; a medley of well known Salzburg operettas; and Mozart’s classical tunes in historical costumes.  It should be fun.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July 1, 2006

Day 10
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Salzburg, Austria

Pat in the salt mines!
We slept much better last night.  It really helped to change rooms.  Also the weather is better today.  We drove back to Berchtesgaden (about a 30 minute drive).  Berchtesgaden is a German village at the foot of the Alps.  It is absolutely beautiful.  We toured the Saltzbergwerk salt mine.  It was fun and educational.  The slide down the rail was great but you sure can’t be claustrophobic and work in a mine. 

After the salt mine tour, we went into the marketplace at Berchtesgaden.  Pat wanted to buy a purse she saw yesterday.  Then we went to see Mount Jenner and Lake Konigssee (about 15 minutes away).  We wanted to take a cable car up to the top of Mount Jenner but due to the heavy fog, there wasn’t enough visibility.  So instead we took a boat ride on Lake Konigssee (Royal Lake), which allowed us to see beautiful scenery.  The lake is a deep glacier-carved lake with steep mountain walls going straight down into the lake.

After the boat ride, we drove over to the area where you sign up to tour the Kehlsteinhaus (The Eagle’s Nest), which was about 15 minutes away.  The Eagle’s Nest was one of Hitler’s retreats during WWII.  We missed the last tour so we’ll come back tomorrow morning to see The Eagle’s Nest.  

Scenes from Berchtesgaden, Germany

Ready to tour the Salzbergwerk Salt Mine

Boat ride on the Konigssee Lake

Views from the lake

July mountain snow
St. Bartholomew Church
Konigssee street scene

Monday, July 24, 2006

July 2, 2006

Day 11
Sunday, July 02, 2006
Salzburg, Austria

Giant chess game (Salzburg, Austria)
This is our last full day in Salzburg, Austria.  What a beautiful city.  The weather is sunny and clear today so we went back to Berchtesgaden to see the Eagle’s Nest.  We’re so lucky to have sunny skies and good visibility on our bus ride up to the Eagle’s Nest.  After the bus drops us off, we walk through a 407 foot tunnel which leads to an elevator that goes up 407 feet to the summit.  What a beautiful view from “on top of the world”.  There are various restaurants to eat at with unbelievable views.  We walk the remaining incline where we stop and take our pictures of Berchtesgaden and Konigssee Lake. 

It was sad to leave Berchtesgaden.  It is such a lovely town.  We drive back to Salzburg and find our way to the Hohenzollern Fortress (looks like a castle overlooking the city).  We take a funicular up to the fortress and spend several hours sightseeing.  We’ve done a lot of walking today, but decide to walk down the mountain instead of taking the funicular down (Pat in her sandals).  With tired feet, we go back to our hotel room to rest before going to our Mozart dinner concert.

The Mozart dinner concert is a highlight of our trip so far.  We take a taxi from our hotel to the restaurant, the Stiftskeller St. Peter, which has the distinction of being the oldest restaurant in Salzburg, dating back to 803 AD.  Our dinner, which is prepared according to 18th century recipes, is served during the intermissions.  The Amadeus Consort is an ensemble consisting of two opera singers and five musicians, all dressed in period costume.  The three-part program comprises the most popular arias and duets from the operas The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, and the Marriage of Figaro, as well as movements from Mozart’s Divertmenti and A Little Night Music.  The night was enchanting.  We sat at a table with 5 other people who were part of a tour from England.  Mike was trying to converse with a man from northern England who sounded more like he was from Scotland and was difficult to understand.

Scenes of Obersalzburg, Germany

407 foot tunnel leading to the Eagle Nest elevator

Hitler's Eagle Nest
Looking north toward Salzburg, Austria from the Eagle's Nest

View of Berchtesgaden, Germany from the Eagle's Nest
View of Konigssee Lake from the Eagle's Nest

Scenes of Salzburg, Austria

Salzach River running through Salzburg with Hohenzollern Fortress (background)
View from Hohenzollern Fortress
View of Salzburg from the Hohenzollern Fortress

Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 3, 2006

Day 12
Monday, July 03, 2006
Salzburg, Austria to Garmisch, Germany

Mike is in hog heaven!
We checked out of our hotel in Salzburg and leave Austria as we head toward the Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany.  Along the way, the scenery is beautiful as we get closer to the Alps.  We stopped for lunch in the town of Mittenwald, Germany, which was recommended by Rick Steves.  After about 4 hours of driving, we finally arrive at the Edelweiss and are not disappointed by the resort and our room.  The Edelweiss is one of four military resorts in the world, and it is beautiful. 

There is so much to do here and the Edelweiss has information and tours which we are considering.  Tomorrow we’ll take our own tour of the Zugspitze, which is Germany’s highest mountain peak.  We’ll also take a boat ride on Eibsee Lake which is at the foot of the Zugspitze.

Pictures of the beautiful town of Mittenwald, Germany

Where we ate lunch in Mittenwald, Germany

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 4, 2006

Day 13
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Garmisch, Germany

Cable car to Zugspitze (Garmisch, Germany)
After breakfast at the hotel buffet, we drive fifteen minutes to take a cable car ride up to the Zugspitze.  The webcam shows it has a thick cloud cover over it but we hope that it will clear up as the sun burns through.  After our ten minute cable car ride up to the top of the Zugspitze which is 10,000 feet high, we are pleased to see some sun shining through the clouds.  We stay up on the mountain peak for about 90 minutes and the sun breaks through.  Mike has coffee and Pat has hot chocolate, perfect to warm us up since it is chilly at 10,000 feet. 

After our cable car ride down, we walk over to Lake Eibsee to take a motorboat cruise.  The man renting the boats is from Scotland.  His name is Mark and he is very friendly.  After our boat ride, we have lunch outside at the Pavilion Restaurant.

On our way a back to the Edelweiss Lodge, we decide to take a luge ride.  We find one about 15 minutes away at the site of the 1936 winter Olympics in ski jumping.  It was a lot of fun.

Since this is the 4th of July, we are going to a barbecue and we'll see fireworks tonight at our lodge.

Scenes from atop the Zugspitze, 10,000 feet above Garmisch

Mike on top of the Zugspitze

View of Eibsee Lake (where we later took a boat ride)

Outdoor cafe

Ah, I love my morning coffee!

Bratwurst man

Treacherous climb to reach the highest point!

We're descending in the cable car . . .

. . . hope these cables hold!

Photos of Eibsee Lake, and surrounding area of Garmisch, Germany

Our boat on Eibsee Lake

View from Eibsee Lake on our boat ride

Eibsee Hotel and Restaurant as seen from the lake

Eibsee Hotel

Diningroom of the hotel

Outdoor cafe
Jacqueline, our waitress

Luge Ride in Garmisch (site of the 1936 Winter Olympics)

View from my bobsled

Made it all the way down!