May 5, 2012 Althengstett and Frankfurt

It is the penultimate day of our vacation and we have a lot to do. We wake up in Althengstett to a wonderful breakfast that Maryam has prepared. In addition to what is on the table there is also bacon, eggs and mushrooms. Maryam always gets the pretzel rolls that she knows I love.

Breakfast at Maryam and Waldemar's

Our visit is way too short. John and Waldemar probably could have discussed technology issues for the rest of the day. We try to get a promise that they will come to the U.S. for a visit. We certainly would love to reciprocate all the hospitality that they have shown us.

John and Waldemar

We arrive at the Frankfurt airport hotel and find Mark waiting for us. It is so good to see him. Since he left for a job in Amsterdam last June, he has been sorely missed.

Sarah and Mark

Sarah and Mark leave for the afternoon to visit various places in Frankfurt. John and I putter around getting everything in order for the trip home. Later we all meet for dinner. Once again I try to choose something reasonable to eat.

White dinner on a white plate

In the morning Mark walks us to security and we all hug goodbye. It is a little sad.

Now only 11 hours and we’ll be home!

May 4, 2012 Ulm and Althengstett

This morning we arise early and get on the road. Our plan is to drive to Ulm, visit the Ulm Minster, have lunch, and then go the rest of the way to Althengstett to visit our friends, arriving there at 2:30.

The giant Ulm Minster is the tallest church in the world. It was begun in 1377 (so it was a Catholic Cathedral then.) Ulm converted to Protestantism in 1531 and the church became a minster. It was finally completed in 1890. The soaring Gothic interior is pretty fabulous.

Ulm Minster, the world's tallest church


Ulm Minster interior

Due to a slow lunch, we are behind schedule! We would have made it to Althengstett just a little late if it had not been for a monumental traffic jam outside Stuttgart. I am, of course, worried that our friends will be concerned that we have gotten lost or have had a mishap. We arrive an hour late.

Althengstett which translates as the old hanging place, is a picturesque village about 45 minutes outside of Stuttgart. The view out of Maryam and Waldemar’s dining room window shows red tile rooftops and green and gold fields.

View in Althengstett

Maryam and Waldemar always make us feel so welcome. We sit in the garden and have tea and cake while we wait for Waldemar to arrive home from Munich.

Sarah, Mary and Maryam


John and Sarah in the garden

Maryam cooks a delicious dinner and we sit at the table for hours discussing local and world events. Hearing a different perspective on various topics is always interesting. We are sorry that our visit is so whirlwind. We must leave in the morning by 10 in order to meet Sarah’s friend, Mark, who is flying in from Amsterdam.

May 3, 2012 Munich

Not much time for writing this morning as we need to get on the road. I will have to stick the pictures in later. The upload speed here is glacial.

All the sightseeing with various purses, cameras and audio tours hanging off my neck has taken its toll so I am hurting today and had a bad night’s sleep. I cannot do another museum today. We opt for walking around Munich and visiting various churches. Sarah has become the expert on identifying saints. I think I will give her the job of updating our saint list with a more modern approach than a piece of paper.

First church, St. Michael’s. This church built between 1583 and 1597 is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. Mostly all these churches are decorated in a Baroque or Roccoco style. Most of them received significant damage during World War II and needed to be refurbished with new plastering, windows and paintings.

St. Michael's Church, Munich

Next we visit a Convent Church.

Convent Church, Munich

And finally we go to the Asam Church which is quite small and jam-packed with decoration. It was originally built as a private church for the Asam brothers between 1733 and 1746.

Asam Church, Munich

Back out onto Marienplatz, we look at the stalls selling spargel. The Germans seem to really enjoy white asparagus.

Spargelfest!

Time out to look at the clock on the city hall. The glockenspiel plays and the figures move around.

Marienplatz Glockenspiel

Sarah would like to go back to Schneider’s. She feels I didn’t get the right beer last time. My pants are getting tight. I order a vegetarian platter which is quite good.

My attempt at healthier eating


John eats a formidable looking plate of innards.

Yum! Innards with a giant matzoh ball thing


Sarah has the sausage bonanza.

Sausagepalooza

The rest of the day is spent quietly. I am aching and take some ibuprofen and go to sleep. John works on his notes. Sarah goes out and buys nail polish. Italian for dinner and we call it a night fairly early. Tomorrow we visit and stay with our friends in Althengstett (the old hanging place.)

May 2, 2012 Munich

We start off the day with a trip to the Alte Pinakothek. This museum has a collection of art from the 14th to the 18th centuries. Sarah goes her separate way and we all decide to meet again in two hours. Audio guides are provided and although the audio selections are fairly limited, we enjoy a wide variety of art. Such as…

Albrecht Durer's "Self-portrait with Fur Trimmed Robe" Is he portraying the artist as savior?


Raphael's Holy Family


A very oldie but goodie, Saint Barbara

After lunch at the cafe, we decide to continue for another two hours. Whew, am I worn out. My back hurts and my feet are beginning to protest. Now if we were in the U.S. we would go out to the parking garage and hop in our car and drive home. Here, though, we still have to walk several blocks and take the U-bahn followed by the S-bahn and then walk to our hotel. We decide to have a little chilling out time when we get back and meet later.

Tonight we continue increasing our physical stamina. First we walk to the Munich Hofbrau. Then we do a little aerobic exercise.

Bavarian band at the Hofbrau

This is followed by some weight lifting.

The silver and bronze medals in weight-lifting go to Sarah and Mary


John wins the gold!

Now we are hungry from all this energy expenditure. A little traditional food should take care of that!

Wiener schnitzel


Ox cheek, potato and root vegetable pancake and gravy

We are sitting at a communal table and John makes a new friend, Harald from Pforzheim!

Harald und John

Finally I need the perfect picture of Sarah at the Hofbrau. What an enjoyable evening we had!

Good, but you're using two hands to lift your stein!


Better, but your're elbow is still on the table


Best!

May 1, 2012 Salzburg and Munich

Today is check-out day in Salzburg and check-in day in Munich. Before leaving Salzburg, though, we make a brief visit to St. Peter’s Abbey founded in 699. The church has gone through many remodelings since then and now has a rococco interior from its 1760-1782 makeover. So needless to say, it is highly decorated. We identify as many of the gilded saints as possible and once again find that our database (my poor tattered piece of paper) is woefully inadequate.

St. Peter's Abbey

The ride to Munich is lovely. The rolling countryside is dotted with yellow flowers and the snow-capped Alps are a background to the farms and little villages. We find our hotel with no problem. Our room is lovely and the hotel is in a very convenient location to the various churches and museums we want to see. But first a pilgrimage to Schneider’s for wurst, kraut, kartoffln und bier. Sarah has heard the story of our eating here years ago when we stumbled into it on one of our first days in Germany. Jetlagged and hungry, we had a breakfast of the aforementioned wurst, kraut, kartoffln und bier. We hope it lives up to her expectations.

Yum, pretzels and beer at Schneider's

It’s May Day here in Germany. Since it is a bank holiday mostly everything is closed. There is a big festival on Marienplatz with lots of entertainment, food and beer. Luckily for us, though, the churches are open and we tour the Church of St. Peter and the Frauenkirche doing our usual saint thing.

May Day on Marienplatz


Church of St. Peter, Munich


Frauenkirche, Munich

Tonight is a special night. We are meeting our friend, Waldemar, for dinner. John and Waldemar have been colleagues and friends for years. When John set up the Cooperative Technology Center in Stuttgart, Waldemar was his counterpart from HP. We always visit Maryam and Waldemar when we are in Germany. Waldemar is doing contract work in Munich so we see him today and then again on Friday at their home near Stuttgart.

John and Waldemar

The dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant is superb. The conversation is great. We spend a leisurely three and a half hours talking, eating and drinking. The only downside is that after ordering wine,desserts and after-dinner drinks assuming we would pay, Waldemar hijacks the bill and we are feeling very uncomfortable.

The dinner was superb from beginning....

to end!