Friday, June 11, 2010

(A lot of) Long and Winding Roads

Feeling much better today! Went to bed last night around 10:30 (no clock in the room, so had to guess off my watch which is tiny and dark-faced). I got caught up watching the finale of Germany’s Next Top Model, hosted by Heidi Klum, LIVE from a stadium the size of Madison Square Garden – I was amazed at the public participation/interested in a TV show that, in the States/Canada, is barely seen/spoken about (but I love ANTM, don’t get me wrong). I didn’t watch it through to the end – I decided that, since I had no clue who the models were, nor do I speak German, it was probably a better idea to get some sleep.

Woke up today around 7:30, then had a light breakfast in the hotel’s dining room. It was either a prochuto and cheese and role or granola and yogurt kind of breakfast. I had yogurt since my stomach is still adjusting to the long flight and being back on normal person time. Around 8:30 Dad and I headed out in the Golf for a drive around the small town that surround Lahr. We switched over driving at the first small town we came to and I was really glad to find out that driving stick is like driving a bike – I picked back up on it right away and didn’t stall out, not once! We drove through a bunch of the little villages in the valley that Lahr sits in, and even took a gravel road that went along one of the Rhine tributaries and then a dyke. The water was quite high and moving really quick and that can probably be attributed to the massive thunderstorms that rolled through the valley here last night.

Around 11 we pulled into Gengenback, a touristy-town in the hills around here. We got out and walked a bit and that’s when I realized that I was going to have to make sure I wasn’t sitting so cramped when driving – the VW Golf is a little car and my right knee was all cramped from having to be close enough to hit the clutch. It might be a long vacation! Either way, Gengenback was a nice little stop. We popped into a coffee shop for a mid-morning snack. When Dad asked the waitress what kind of pastries she had, we were told to follow her and she took us next-door into the bakery where we picked out what we wanted. Dad had a struddle and I had a millefeuille. TrĂ©s yummy.

We wandered around the town, picked up some postcards, then headed back to the car. Only to realize we should have paid to park where we had. Thinking it would be pricey to have illegally parked in such a tourist district, I was shocked to see it was only 5 Euros. Since I’ve paid more than $300 on one ticket once, I’m gonna say 5 Euros isn’t the end of the world. From Gengenback we headed out to the hills to drive around some more – the roads are so narrow at some points that you wonder how 2 cars are supposed to pass at the same time. Coupled with the winding nature, going up one side of a hill/mountain in a zig-zag, you become even more confused as to why anyone would allow passing on those roads, but they do – most of them have broken dividing lines. Creepy.

Our last big stop of the day was at Hohengeroldseck – a castle that sits at the very top of one of the highest hills around that was built by the local noble to control trade/travel in the region. We were able to drive most of the way up (on a tiny little road that definitely fit only one car at a time) but had to walk up to the very top. Very steep – very long – very worth it. Once we got to the top, we realized that we were the only ones there; there wasn’t even a tourism official/caretaker on the site. This worked to our advantage, since I was able to drop my purse on some benches and not have to schlep it through the castle. We were able to climb up to the very top (which was 4 stories) and get some amazing views of the hills and valleys around us. Considering the original building started up there in the 1200s, it’s pretty amazing that it’s still standing. But, I will admit, I wasn’t getting all that close to the guard rails that had been put up in the 60’s since they don’t have centuries of guaranteed stability behind them like the rest of the building did.

Coming down from the castle and walking around the outer bailey area, there was finally another soul to be see – just one other dude had wandered into the precincts. We were leaving at that point, so started the steep walk back down to where we had parked the car. After we reached the valley floor we headed across the street to the longest running gastoff (restaurant/inn/home buildings that are everywhere here) for lunch. The menu made mention of something being operational on that site since 799, and I take it they’ve been serving food and drink ever since. I finally had some of my appetite back, so ordered a chopped salad which was delicious (it came with a vinaigrette-based potato salad and a marinated carrot salad) while Dad had some long hot-dog looking things and a beer.

It having been a very long day, we headed back to the Lahr so I could change (because of the clouds I started the day in jeans, but was regretting that by the time we left Hehengeroldseck). We were going to stop at the Statpark here in Lahr, but since it was so hot, I vetoed paying the 2 Euro a piece entry fee. We headed back to the hotel so I could change, them back out to the hills for a bit more driving. We didn’t last to long at that – Dad wanted a chance to relax so we came back to he hotel before dinner and I decided to update the ol’ blog and upload some pictures. Unfortunately, the wireless internet in the hotel here is really slow, so I'll have to upload those photos later! Man, I was born for a digital age - I've got almost 300 to put up!

We'll leave Lahr tomorrow for.... okay, I'll admit it, I don't know. Dad's got this whole vacation planned out, but I'm not up to speed on everything we're doing. More tomorrow though!

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