After leaving Heidelberg, Justine and I had an awesome time visiting several amazing cities. We headed off to Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage City north of Nuremberg and one that I had just stumbled upon through my internet search of Germany. We underestimated the time
it would take to get to Bamberg so we didn't arrive until about 8 PM. As we were clueless about how to get to our hotel, we phoned them and the wonderful lady there came and actually jumped in our car to direct us to the hotel. We'd unfortunately lost our reservation (in Germany, apparently if you don't check in by 6:30, they give away your reservation?!?!) but she was so helpful and took us to a charming guest house just down the street in the Old Town. Bamberg is a medieval town that went completely unscathed in World War II and Justine and I instantly fell in love.
The winding little streets are filled with colorful half-timbered houses and the full spectrum of architecture. Separated by a river, the Old Town is on a slight hill and
the top Cathedral offers a wonderful perspective of this great town. On our walking tour, we vsited the Rathaus, the old town hall, which the clever founders of the town had put on an island so that neither side of the river could collect taxes from them! Charmed as we were, Justine and I decided to forgo our planned hasty visit to Berlin in favor of staying another day in Bamberg and then not feeling rushed to get to our next destination in the Harz Mountains. We toured around and then found a charming restaurant along the river and adjacent to the Rathaus where we sat outside in the sun (still pretty chilly but we were bundled and joined all the other locals). The local "specialty" is smoked beer, which we tried. It was interesting...kind of tasted like drinking smoked Gouda. Interesting. Later we found a patisserie on the other side of the river and read our books for a few hours...it was very relaxing! If you are in Germany in the future, we both would highly recommend visiting this awesome city!!!
We even picked out our "houses" where we would live in the city...mine's awesome and I'm sure you could stay in the spare room!
The next morning after another great run along the river and through the old town, we departed for the Harz Mountains, which are in the Saxony-Ahlstat region of Germany, once part of what was East Germany. Our destination was Goslar, another UNESCO city, and we'd planned a stop in Quedlinburg en route. One aside on UNESCO declarations...in Ghana we visited several castles and forts that were designated UNESCO world heritage sites; I'm intrigued to investigate what this really means as we were quite disappointed in the maintenance of some of the sites in Africa and would have hoped their historical importance warranted more attention.
One note about traveling in Germany...I referenced the Autobahn in my last e-mail. I've been on it before but never as the driver. I'm sold. There is a "suggested" speed which is 120 KM per hour, approximately 75-80 mph. Justine and I in our little Ibiza were trucking along at 160 KM/HR feeling pretty good and making great time. We were going quickly but still in line with other "fast" drivers on the road...for those of you who have driven with me, you know I appreciate getting places quickly! hehe. Anyway...out of the blue, a streak of light would zoom past on our left (you only drive in the left lane to pass people...another amazing concept that GREATLY frustrated me in my drive home last night from LA!)...and then another streak of light....it was an Audi, a Mercedes, a BMW...we could only speculate at their speed but they kicked our butts! We were feeling pretty "dangerous" at 100 MPH but they were barely visible as they passed us. Apparently the Spanish cars (Ibiza Seat) are as far behind in their automotive technology as they are historically! We were humbled.
Quedlinburg and Goslar (again UNESCO cities), the final stops on our whirlwind trip were another bright spot on our trip. We departed the autobahn in favor of the county roads, traveling through many small burgs and along surrounded by vast valleys of green farms. So picturesque! Quedlinburg offers the most half-timbered homes in one city and was a nice pit stop on our way to Goslar, our favorite stop of the day. Another medieval city, Goslar is at the base of
the mountain and offers another enjoyable walking experience through the winding streets admiring the fantastic homes with their engraved and painted facades and a charming stream that ran through the old town. In the Markplatz (market square), there was a really unique orange building with sculptures along the second story of the building. One had a woman, the goddess of abundance. Apparently the sculptor had a sense of humor and had a smaller sculpture below of a little man that had coins emanating from his derriere! We wandered around and found a fun dinner spot in the Ratskeller (cellar of the old town hall) and had our last German meal. It was a bittersweet moment...sweet with the apple strudel and apple beignets served for dessert! So good!
We were so fortunate with the weather while in Germany. It was dry and mostly sunny throughout our visit, in the 30's-50's most of the time. Our last night the winds blew about 20 MPH and the rain started to pour. We got a quick run in the morning we left but were almost blown off the road when the winds caught us! Our 3 hour drive back to Frankfurt was a bit stressful - I was sure our little car was going to be taken away by the wind. But we made it. The trip was fantastic and JW and I had an awesome experience. Having the juxtaposition of Africa and Germany made the singularities that much more apparent and helped us appreciate even more the way we've grown up. I have several hundred photos (obviously) and videos so I'll compile them this weekend and send them out. I've attached just a few to give you a snapshot of our trip. I hope you are all doing well and I can't wait to talk to you all on the phone! (But not having my crackberry was fantastic too!)