One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Month: May 2017

Mannheim, Bretten, Miltenberg and small towns

Sorry for the almost two week delay. Technical difficulties uploading pictures on the blog, but I found a work around so here we go!

On Sunday, we were ending up at Tiffany and Mike’s house, so we just drove by a couple places we wanted to see on the first day. The city of Bonn- the home of Beethoven- was nothing much to see other than being a city on a beautiful river. Sort of like the riverfront in Louisville… and I’m sure the Beethoven museum would have been fun…but maybe not with a 4 year old. 🙂

We also drove to the town of Remagen, which is where the Ludendorff bridge was located- the final barrier in WWII for Allied troops crossing the Rhine river during Hitler’s retreat. The bridgehead today isn’t much to look at…and you’d look right over it without knowing the history, but during WWII, as the Germans retreated, they destroyed all bridges across the Rhine to buy themselves time to establish their positions inside Germany. The Nazis had placed over 6000 lbs of charges on the bridge by the time the US troops arrived… and the bridge was heavily damaged but still standing as most of the charges didn’t detonate, so unexpectedly, the US Army had a bridge and began conversion works to allow for truck and tank crossing since it was currently used as a train bridge. This changed Eisenhower’s entire attack plan and he diverted 5 battalions to the bridge to enter Germany and engage German troops about two weeks ahead of schedule, definitely shortening the war and the casualties involved for the Allied side.

But…the German army didn’t leave the bridge without a fight. They dive-bombed the bridge with planes, firing rounds at the bridge, fired V2 missiles at the bridge- that killed troops-but didn’t take out the bridge. They even sent soldiers underwater using breathing apparatus to place charges on the bridge, but the Army was ready and the soldiers were captured or killed.

The Army Corp of Engineers continued working on the bridge endlessly and when military vehicles crossed that bridge, it was the first time troops had successfully crossed the Rhine since Napoleon did it in 1805.

Sadly, after a few days, the bridge finally gave way…while engineers were on the bridge making repairs and many men died or were injured…but by this time, the floating bridges were complete and the bridge did its job, allowing the Allieds to progress, shortening the war and keeping Germany from digging into position.

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The Remagen bridge as it was in 1945

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There is a short 4 minute YouTube clip of of old Army footage that shows the area and the Remagen bridgework pretty well

And if this is your thing, there is even a movie made about the Battle of Remagen:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064110/

We drove through the town of Bitburg-famous for Bitburger beer. They have a fountain dedicated to beer brewing in front of the brewery

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We passed a lot of greenway bridges in Germany. I think they are an awesome idea! Not quite sure how you direct the animals to the bridge… but I guess they just use what feels like the safest place.

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We ended at Tiffany and Mike’s and spent some time with them for Sunday evening and Monday. We had some good German food and spent some time with baby Elliott who is just such a good baby and sooo adorable. Norah really enjoyed a baby being around. She wants a baby sister.  I hate to break it to her….but I’m not sure I’m up for that. ha

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On Tuesday, we headed out towards Mannheim, Heidelberg and Stuttsgart. Just did some driving and touring as it was rainy. I really, REALLY wanted to find construction work going on in Mannheim… (Mannheim Steamroller) but not luck. haha

We drove up the hillside in Heidelberg to the castle. We didn’t get to tour it, but maybe one day 🙂

We ended at a Radisson Blu that was just a chain hotel and had dinner at restaurant that just belonged in a chain hotel. haha Nothing too crazy but this time of year and this area is known for its white asparagus, so I had that.

Wednesday, we drove through some small villages. Found an adorable town called Bretten where we walked a marketplace and found deli meats and sausages, pretzels, a cheese shop and some ice cream.

We made the best spread of pretzels, cheese and meats!

We drove around for a few hours winding through lots of little villages, some of which I don’t even know the names of….

So much of the countryside in this area is covered in Rapeseed (used for Canola oil…as Rapeseed oil sounds..well…terrible lol) Its such a bright yellow, it’s just beautiful.

We drove to Amorbach which has the most fabulous and beautiful Baroque cathedral.

Ended in the most adorable town of Miltenberg

Kegan and Norah went exploring and some older lady ran inside and washed an apple and came back to give it to Norah. haha


We stayed in a suite right on the town square and it was soooo nice.

Ate dinner at a little German cafe, Kegan had some legit Saurbraten

The last day was a short day- buffet breakfast at the hotel and more gifts for Norah. The waitress gave her a little bottle of kid fingernail polish. Haha Norah loved it.

We just drove through a bunch of small villages in the Rhine-Neckar region. Wonderful half-timber houses, cute markets… found a playground along the way and then headed to the airport.

We had a great trip. Loved seeing Germany for the first time. Back to the home remodeling for a couple weeks and then we’ll be headed to Spain for 11 days. I’ll be back shortly with some more sightseeing! 🙂

Trier and Luxembourg

A day of walking today. Walked two cities. Wowza. I am exhausted. Ha Even Kegan’s legs are a little sore, so I feel vindicated. Haha 

Leaving our hotel, the guy had a surprise for Norah. An entire bag of candy. I could write a blog focusing only on all the free gifts this child gets. Haha


We started off the morning with a geology nerd alert. I found an 8 foot wide lava bomb in a little village not far out the way from our route, so a late birthday surprise for the scientist. 

This area of Germany used to have an active volcano about 10,000 years ago… and there are still lots of volcano related features around. In the village of Strohn lies this beast of a lava bomb- lava that flys out of the volcano into the air- cools as it falls and then crashes into the Earth as a solid boulder. I like to imagine there’s a crushed dinosaur under this guy. Lol


We continued on to Trier. Romans!! 

I have to be honest- I didn’t really know about all of the Roman history in this town until I started planning my trip. This town is on par with Parts of Italy! And I found out it was the capital of the Western  Empire. Constantine lived and ruled from here for many years, which explains the extravagant and high class amenities of the city. 

We started our tour at the City gate- Porta Nigra, the only gate still standing of the old city wall system. Absolutely massive and in such great condition. 

What is even cooler though is the fact that it’s all still STANDING 1600 years later. But… this is only due to a couple of things historically. In the 1200s, they used this and turned it into a church, using the side you see in the photos as a side wall…and using the tall tower part as the base of their steeple. It stayed that way until Napoleon bludgeoned through and he demanded they tear the whole thing down. Rumor has it that locals told him of its Roman origins, so he changed his mind and ordered them to return it to its original form. As it stands today is as close as they came. It’s gets its present name- Black Gate from the decades of auto pollution that is turning the stone black. 



We walked on through town through a marketplace to the Trier Cathedral or Dom Du Trier. The oldest cathedral in Germany. In fact, Constantine’s mother gave up her palace so that there could be a cathedral constructed here. Supposedly there is a holy nail from the crucifix somewhere here but I didn’t see it. 


Bought local chocolates at a shop right outside. Oh, and Norah got free chocolates. Haha


Next we headed for the Constantine Throne Room- where Emporer Constantine ruled his empire. But…it was closed. Ha which actually is fine- because it was modified multiple times up through the 1800s, remade “roman” in the 1890s and then burned down in WWII and finally reconstructed… so now, it’s just a building. None of the original stuff- so while cool- kinda just doesn’t do anything for me. 

We continued along through townHad some fun in the very Rococo palace gardens 
Walked along some of the four miles of city walls.

 Norah: “Take my picture with this foot!” HahaThe Roman baths in Trier were meant to be the greatest in the empire- but the empire fell before  they were finished. The ruins of the half constructed baths are still impressive.

We trekked it back to our car on the other end of town, passing the big town market square where we found Norah a “real life Snapchat filter!!!” (There is a filter in Snapchat that gives you a flower crown- it was for Coachella I think… but I couldn’t not get it for her. Haha) 


We headed towards Luxembourg. Crossing the border was nothing- just a sign. 


After checking into our hotel, it started raining so we waited that out a bit then decided we best get on with it and put on the rain gear. We walked to city center where the main attraction is definitely La Chemin de la Corniche – or the most beautiful balcony in Europe. A promenade runs on top of the old city walls that protected the city for hundreds of years. I’m a sucker for some medieval city walls…. but these? These are WALLS. 


Then we went down under the promonade into the Casemates du Bock. The areas used for defense of the city. 

After all of this walking, we deserved more chocolate. 🙂 

We found Chocolate House right across from the Ducal Palace where you select a chocolate spoon from over 50 varieties and make your own hot chocolate. 


After that we wandered on around town.

We walked through the shopping district and I picked out my new glasses from a case by window shopping. 2nd frames back. (Ordering online- definitely didn’t buy them here at this price ha) 

Ended our tour at a little Japanese restaurant across from our hotel because the one item we can’t get in Ireland is sushi… and the restaurants we tried to stop at didn’t open until 7pm and we weren’t going to make it another hour. Ha


I might not post again for another couple days because tomorrow we get to Tiffany and Mike’s and hang out with them until Tuesday morning. Then we have a couple more days of sites before heading back home. 

Zell, Cochem, Koblentz and Adenau

Today was a good first day! I hit snooze a few more times than I should have for someone who had to have all of her sightseeing done by 3pm..but who’s counting. haha

We headed out from Frankfurt Hahn airport around 8:30am towards the town of Zell. It’s a wine town, like most of these little towns all along the winding Moselle River Valley. Mostly Riesling grapes but the vineyards are crazy. They have planted the hills so some of the vineyards are nearly vertical. They had to cut in steps so that the workers could climb the hills to pick the grapes. Some of them even have little rail systems built to transport the grapes down.

Zell has this black cat statue in the middle of traffic circle that made me giggle. I made Kegan make a loop around the circle before exiting so I could get a good photo. haha

Wikipedia tells me its made out of Basalt and was installed in 1936.

Our next town was Cochem. As soon as we came around a river bend, that castle just stands out…. wow.. what a vantage point… and what a status. Towering over an entire town.


We crossed over the Moselle and headed East. We had plans to go to this huge hanging rope bridge… but we could see it from the car where we were driving…and it was like 2 miles away… we didn’t have time today (or the desire really…) so here’s what we missed. Kinda cool, huh?


We continued on to Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz). We knew we weren’t going to tour the castle but I really wanted to see it in person and see just how massive it really was. It was HUGE. So amazing. Norah really liked that one. So much so that when we got back on the shuttle bus to take us back up to our cars, she yelled, “What the hell? We’re LEAVING??” yep. proud parent moment right now. haha




We found a rest area of the highway and Norah was starving so we got her a cheeseburger. It was the size of her face. Literally. Haha

Then we drove through a house. Haha I don’t know what the building was, but it was neat.

We continued on to the town of Koblenz. A strategic town with a lengthy history. It is where the Rhine river and the Moselle River merge together. There was a Roman fort established right where we stood in 9BC (but historians think there were settlements here at least one thousand years prior). Julius Caesar conquered the area in 55AD. It was destroyed by the Franks in 259, held under Charlemagne until the 800s when it was raided by Viking pillagers. Ran by the church through the 1200s as part of the Holy Roman Empire. Occupied by the Swedes in the 1600s, the French through basically Napoleon-when it was held by Russia (**remember this one for down the page just a bit). Granted to Prussia in 1815, then Germany after World War I, then heavily damaged during World War II.
…and now? Now it’s got a 60 foot tall statue of a guy on a horse, an accordian player (that Norah loved and danced around to), and cable cars. haha  All of that fighting over a piece of land and now we park tour buses on it and sell keychains. What a great time to be alive.


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There is one historic building right here at what is called German Corner. St. Kastor’s Church. It’s the oldest surviving church in Koblentz- dating from the 800s. It has a historically humorous fountain in front of it. 


The French, a little prematurely, fully expecting a victory by Napoleon against the Russians in 1812, had the following inscribed in the fountain:

1812 

To commemorate the Russian campaign under the prefecture of Jules Doazan

However, the Russians crushed Napoleon and ended up capturing the town of Koblentz when the French retreated. The Russian commander found humor in the fountain and added the following inscription:

Seen and approved by us, the Russian commander of the city of Koblenz

A Russian officer with a sense of humor. Ha

I only had 1-2 more items planned for today that we didn’t get to do due to my snooziness and my “long-cut” we took on a 3/4 mile walk through the woods to Burg Eltz instead of the shuttle bus. (ggrrr. If you call it a footpath, I will assume it’s just a little shortcut to the attraction, not a 3/4 mile walk through deep forest. This, you call a TRAIL. and I will avoid it entirely like the plague. haha) We’re maybe gonna loop back up this direction in the morning before heading on to see a very important bridge from WWII.

We drove the 40 minutes over to the town of Adenau. Apparently famous for racing… as it is attached to a Formula 1 racetrack. In hindsight, the hotel is called Hotel an der Nordschleife…but I didnt know that Nordschleife was a world famous track, nicknamed Green Hell for its tricky and demanding features….so I guess it’s my own fault. ha

http://www.nuerburgring.de/en/fans-info/race-tracks/nordschleife.html

Right now, they are practicing and testing sports cars. Then they rent out time on the track in the evenings to tourists and locals…200 feet away from where I also have to work for 8 hours. Doh. hahah It wasn’t that bad, and could have been a LOT worse. Kegan and Norah enjoyed the track. They went over and watched some cars making laps. Then they sat out on the patio and enjoyed some sunshine while I made some calls. We had Italian food for dinner that was nothing to write home about, so no pictures taken.


Overall a pretty good first day. It was Kegan’s birthday…and I hate that we didn’t get to do anything fancy or find any amazing food…and that he got to do what he does everyday basically, which is chase Norah around threatening to end her life if she doesn’t stop yelling, singing or running where should shouldn’t. haha Oh well. Such is the case when you turn 31- a birthday is just a normal day in the life. Even in Germany.

Let’s Go to Germany, shall we?

What good is living in Ireland if we don’t hop around Europe every chance we get? 

Today we are headed off to the airport to hop a quick flight to Frankfurt, Germany for a week of sightseeing in the west of Germany and Luxembourg. 

Kegan’s cousin Tiffany and her husband Mike just had a squishy little baby and they live in Germany right now because MAJOR Keys (solid work on the promotion!) is currently stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base. 

Tiffany and I talked about planning a trip to see them before they potentially were moved…and what better time than when I get to cuddle with a supersquishy baby?

So, after verifying that this was a good time, we booked our tickets. Then I started a new hospital consultant role full time…. and life just kinda got busy! Haha

So, after testing and trialing out various sprinkler settings to keep our plants alive while we’re gone…and verifying that I can do everything for work I need to next week from a hotel, and packing at 2am… 🙈… I just now had time to write this on the way to the airport. Haha Life. 

So, anyway- stay tuned for some castles, some nature, some city- definitely some Roman ruins (because you know I am a total sucker for anything Roman) and some food pics (obviously a highlight of travel). Haha

Since I have to work every evening 3pm-11pm with a dinner break, there might not be as much to blog about and we aren’t covering our usual distance- keeping it close geographically. Seriously, the whole week fits in this circle 😂 but there is PLENTY to enjoy.