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 European Vacation - 6/22/04 - 7/9/04

Italy | Switzerland | Germany | The Netherlands | Belgium | France

Rothenburg - Saturday 7/3/04:

We got up pretty early again this morning in order to follow Joe down to the Criminal museum. So after a quick breakfast we were off down the cobblestone streets to see how the people of Rothenburg used to punish the people of their town (all the way into the late 1800's).

For 3 Euro's each we got to take a picture in the stocks (sp?) and access downstairs to the basement where most of the torture took place. This place was crazy… basically if they thought you did something you were screwed. They would torture you until you confessed (well, of course this way they could get anyone to confess anything). The majority of the people who were tortured and punished were women. Also many women were considered to be witches. Witches were usually burned or drowned. If they were thrown into a lake and they floated, then they were a witch and were killed. If they were thrown into the lake and were "accepted" they of course died anyways but were then considered not to be witches.

After the criminal museum Terry and I decided to take a walk out to the gardens and then around the wall of the town. We had to walk a little ways around the outside of the wall before we could get on, but once on the wall it was wonderful. The walkway was skinny and covered and there were many stone plaques from people who donated money in order to help restore the wall. About half way around we paid a Euro each to hike up 4 flights of stairs to the top of the only working tower in the town. The tower was very high and from the top we could see the entire town. All of the roof tops were very similar which made for a great view.

After we got down from the wall we went to a small café for a bite to eat. Though we were in Germany I still ordered a Pizza. This pizza had lots of chopped vegi's on top and was good, but not nearly as good as the pizza's in Italy. The view from here was gorgeous because we were looking out from the top of the wall out to the forest, however, the windows on this patio were closed so it was smoky and there were a lot of flies. For dessert I ordered an espresso and an ice cream drink which was chocolate milk with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it and whipped cream on top. Terry got half of a Schneeballen (a snowball) with ice cream and some kind of liquor on top. The Schneeballen seemed to be the pastry of Rothenburg as they were in every single pastry shop. It was covered in chocolate but the pastry itself was somewhat dry and not all that flavorful. All in all though I thought they were pretty good.

After the lunch we took a walk into the main square to do a little shopping. We visited Kathy Woulfahrt's Xmas shop. It was beautiful but everything was very expensive. We ended up purchasing a print (hand colored) from a wonderful woman who gave us Sherry to sip on while we were browsing.

The weather outside was rainy, which is not typical of the times, but we thought it was great. It would get rainy and then just after it dumped it would get sunny again. The sky was very blue and the clouds were white and fluffy.

When we got back to the hotel from our walk I had a huge hefeweisen and played cards with Terry, mom, dad, Anson and Rachel (two of the younger kids on our tour). We played until dinner time. Dinner tonight was lovely. The tables were decorated in yellow and orange, with floating candles. For dinner tonight we again had some vegitable and noodle soup and some kind of beef with gravy and a potato dumpling. The dumpling was very sticky and heavy. For dessert we had a bunch of different kinds of berries in their own sugary juices with a bunch of whipped cream. I think this has been my favorite desert so far! That night we were going to hear an organ concert or take a nighttime tour, but instead we went straight back to the room, washed some socks and went to sleep!

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Rothenburg to Koblenz - Sunday 7/4/04:

This morning we woke up early, had another great breakfast and head out (a bit late) for our cruise along the Rhein. We were down to the minute, but somehow still made it onto the boat before it left! We headed up to the top floor and tried to order some drinks. I was trying to order a hot chocolate for the cold ride up the river. Instead I ended up with "gassy" water - which I don't like at all! So dad went down stairs and got me some hot "cocao". It was pretty good! For lunch I ordered two sausages that came with sliced bread and French fries. The sausages looked and tasted much like long skinny hot dogs.

The boat ride was nice but got very windy and chilly. After we got off of the boat ride we continued on to Koblenz. Once we got there we quickly freshened up and then got back on the bus to take a trip to Marksburg Castle. This castle was the best preserved castle in Germany. Our guide was this little plump man with white hair and specs. The castle was very interesting, but the guide was rather bland (besides his looks of course).

After the castle we went to take a short walk along the river. Terry stayed back to play some chess, and when we got back I had a wheat beer and played rummy with mom, Patti and Al. Dinner tonight was a buffet - which I wasn't all that fond of, but Carla decorated the table with American flag napkins, toothpicks and ribbons. The salad bar didn't have much more than lettuce. The main course had pig knuckles, white salmon (which I didn't think there was such thing as white salmon) brussel sprouts, spinach and mashed potatoes. For dessert there was vanilla, strawberry and chocolate pudding.

And I can't forget that Mom, Patti and I almost died laughing. You had to be there, but it involved Patti's pregnant belly button, some finger work, and mom making a fart noise. Ohhhh my. After dinner we just went back to the room and crashed out.

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Koln (Germany) and Amsterdam (The Netherlands) - Monday 7/5/04:

It's day 14 and sleep deprivation has begun to set in. Wake up was at 5:30am again but breakfast was pretty good. I believe I had a bowl of chocolate cereal, a chocolate croissant and some fruit. After breakfast we headed out to the Netherlands.

Before we got there we made a quick stop in Koln, Germany, to see the amazing cathedral. The entire city was pretty much destroyed in WWII, but they tried not to bomb the cathedral. Unfortunately the cathedral was partially destroyed because it sits right next to the train station which was one of the targets. They have rebuilt everything but the cathedral is still covered in coal dust from the war. During the day it is black, but at night it glows green. Currently they are debating on whether or not they should clean it. I think they will eventually clean it because they have begun to restore parts of it (so there were some bright white stones among the dark stones).

The weather was fantastic when we arrived in Amsterdam. Cool outside but again with fluffy white clouds and a bright blue sky. Terry and I first took a walk around the city and bought a print from a local artist. After that we met with Joe for a tour of the Reich's Museum to see some Rembrant paintings. We were going to visit the Van Gogh museum but it apparently was extremely crowded and was 12.50 Euro's per person!

After the museums we jumped back in the coach and headed over to our hotel. After using the facilities and freshening up we were on our way to a canal tour. We got to take a nice little walk through the city were we saw two guys hanging out in the street stoned out of their minds. They were laughing so hard at themselves and practically rolling on the ground! HA! Then we saw a wall of silver sparkle in the distance.

The boat was near the train station - here there were thousands of bikes parked! There are about 800,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, so the bike riders almost always have the right of way. The canal tour was okay, but I happened to be sitting facing the back - which was also facing the sun - so I constantly had to turn my neck to see what he was talking about.

After the tour of the canals we headed back to the hotel where Terry and I wanted to play some cards before dinner. Unfortunately though we were kicked out of the bar because we didn't buy anything. The guy was so rude! Ohhhh well… the restaurant was very nice but we had some fried fish (which happened to be what I grabbed for lunch at one of the stops). For dinner we also had some little potato balls (which seemed to be a popular side dish) and some salad. Oh yes, and our first course was a huge amount of proscuitto… very salty! Dessert was pretty good though… it was some kind of a puffed pastry with vanilla ice cream.

Again we passed on the night time tour of the red light district. We had already seen a few "coffee shops" on our walk to the canals, so we thought this was sufficient. At this point sleep seemed a little more important then seeing women in the windows.

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