Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Europe Day 13: Rothenburg to Harz region

Tuesday, July 3, 2018
  • After a mediocre breakfast in our hotel, went and shopped for gifts and Christmas decorations - Rothenburg is home to the biggest Kathe Wolfhart store.
  • Afterward, we went to the torture museum. Not as tortuous as anticipated but had an iron maiden, many neck violins, and other torture devices. Was interesting to see how common torture used to be for very minor infractions (bread not weighing enough, small dishonesties in business practices, not playing music well, etc)
  • Went on a long drive north to the Harz region and Stecklenberg, where our next hotel is located (Olivers and Nadeaus went a different route to stay the night in Dresden)
    • Hugo slept for a lot of the journey because he had gotten so little sleep the night before
    • Ate lunch at Subway because it was convenient. Liz did not approve of the workers, and there was no free water
  • We had few traffic issues, but this time it was Dale G's car's turn to get stuck in a stau
  • Our hotel is a castle, and we got the suite room. Much more comfortable and spacious than our lodging the night before.
  • Went out for Hungarian food with everyone who went to Stecklenberg - we got a sampler platter that was a lot of meat and not much else. The sausage and pork were good, the poultry was tough.
    • Mark unwittingly tried liver and didn't hate it (but didn't love it either)
    • We were the only ones in the restaurant - a pretty sleepy town
  • Hugo again was difficult to put to sleep but at least our suite was spacious.
  • Heard an air raid siren close to 10:00 and then heard emergency vehicles. It was eerie. 

  • We spent the night here. Sorry can't get this one in the right order.
  • Outside the torture museum

This well at our castle hotel had a frog inside and a golden ball on the outside like the fairy tale.

Hugo enjoyed the expansive grassy lawn at our castle hotel.

Our Hungarian dinner sampler

Monday, July 2, 2018

Europe Day 12: Strasbourg and Rothenburg

Monday, July 2, 2018
  • Woke up in Strasbourg with a mission to go to the cathedral and eat crepes
  • Had hotel breakfast - Hugo ate 2 croissants!
  • Walked to cathedral and explored the inside, then ascended to the top
    • Mark climbed to the top of the same cathedral when he was about 11, and wanted to do it again
    • Cathedral is high gothic. Ridiculously ornate.
  • After returning to earth, we ate crepes: a sweet one (salted caramel and nuts with whipped cream and ice cream) and a savory one (ham, onion, white cheese and Ementaler cheese)
    • Violinist was playing the whole time, and he could also be heard at our dinner last night. We tipped him. He just kept playing, rarely stopping
  • Started driving to Rothenburg, but we got caught in an epic traffic jam. 
    • First part was by a brush fire, but we were still moving
    • Later, we came to a complete stop and were stuck for an hour. Many got out of their vehicles including us.
    • Opened a lane in the middle so that emergency vehicles could pass. 9 vehicles of various types went through, including an oil spill cleanup crew
    • Eventually got moving again. All we saw of the incident was a semi trailer that looked a bit charred.
  • Made it to Rothenburg much later than anticipated. We had dinner with the Olivers and Nadeaus. Mark had Flammkuche, Liz had some disappointing potato pillows that were basically hash browns with some cream and chives in the middle
    • Liz did, however, enjoy her Schneeball, which is basically a ball of pie crust with cinnamon sugar sprinkled on it. Everyone said not to bother but Liz was glad she did!
  • Rothenburg is a totally walled city and the wall is still intact.
  • Went on a night watch tour that evening with a fun character dressed up as an old night watchman. There was a huge group and it was difficult to hear him. Hugo stared making noise so Liz took him back to the hotel and Mark finished the tour. 
  • Our hotel room was problematic and Hugo didn't help much - we had to put him to sleep in his portable tent/bed, and he wouldn't go to sleep until 9:45
    • Lots of noise from cars passing by on the street
    • A single fly entered the room and buzzed in our ears all night. Mark even dreamed about it.
Check out the detail on the outside of the cathedral.

This is one of MANY stained glass windows.

Starting our ascent to the top 
There were lots of swirling staircases

View from the top

Heading back down. The handrails were very important because Hugo was blocking my view of the stairs.
I told you there was a lot of stained glass.

Detail, detail, detail!

Crepes with a view
Brush fire just before the traffic jam


Mark chatted it up with the Brits in front of us

Hugo remained in good spirits

This is the view on a lot of postcards in Rothenburg
Schneeball. This could be a fun challenge on the Great British Baking Show.

Night watchman. Fun tour but too popular and thus overcrowded.
View from Rothenburg's wall

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Europe Day 11: Solothurn, Colmar and Strasbourg

Sunday July 1, 2018
  • First traveled to Solothurn to attend church in Mark's dad's old ward as a missionary
    • He had served here for a long time over 50 years ago
    • Ward is pretty big, but most people don't know him - however, Herman (a person he taught and helped convert) is still active with his wife Anita and recognized him
    • Our family was welcomed by name in the ward and Herman and Mark's dad both shared their testimonies
    • Ward is surprisingly big
    • Couple in front of us gave us some annoyed looks whenever Hugo made noise so he spent most of sacrament meeting with Liz in the nursery.
  • Next, we drove into France to visit Colmar. It was a very hot day but we enjoyed a few hours there
    • Found a bakery and ate some sandwiches and a magnificent coconut passionfruit eclair, we also bought some macarons for later. Best eclair ever.
    • Colmar is a lovely city, with a canal district nicknamed "Little Venice"
    • Our visit was cut short by some bird poop landing on Hugo's shirt while we were changing his diaper. Plus it was HOT and a lot was closed since it was Sunday
  • On our way to Strasbourg, we visited the Le Linge world war I memorial. The trenches are still intact and we were able to explore them
    • German trenches in better condition, probably because they held the area for longer
    • We walked a path right in between the German and French trenches
    • Many bodies exhumed (and memorialized) in the late 60's and early 70's, but found one memorial dated in the year 2010
    • Still some areas unsafe due to potential explosives leftover from the war
  • Finally entered Strasbourg
    • Went into the central city to find dinner - took us a long time to decide (we wanted to make sure we got it right since it was our only night in France!), but we finally found a place
    • Liz had cordon bleu and I had some kind of salad with beef on top
    • Our waiter was a friendly old frenchman with a gravelly voice
  • Hotel room was probably the most comfortable we've had thus far, since it had AC and blackout curtains. Thanks, Holiday Inn!
Colmar fountain

Colmar was so cute. So is the guy in this picture.

Mark booked the hotel behind him several times at work for testing purposes.
Baguette in France!
Best. Eclair. Ever. The macarons were pretty good, too.

Mark let Hugo try Fanta.

The pigeons thought Hugo looked like a good target.

Trenches at Le Linge

It would be awkward to smile in these photos. Hugo didn't know any better.

Each cross marks a spot where a body was exhumed.

French dinner

Too excited about my cordon bleu to look at the camera properly.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Europe Day 10: More Berner Oberland

Saturday, June 30, 2018
  • We took a ride up a cogwheel train to Wengen with Leslie and Dixon to Wengen, on the opposite side of the valley from Murren and Gimmelwald
  • Wengen is a more recreation-oriented town but isn't as culturally interesting as Gimmelwald. We picked up some sandwiches and blackberries at the local Coop store.
  • After an aerial tram ride up to Männlichen, we began hiking, first to a nearby peak with a crown-shaped viewing platform
  • The area we hiked at is a ski area in the winter. Mark skiied here in the early 90's.
  • Weather was clear and beautiful, but we had to keep Hugo in the backpack because there was no suitable area for him to crawl in - he just wanted to eat the rocks
  • Hike from Mannlichen to Kleine Scheidegg was about 2.5 miles, or 1.5 hours
  • LOTS of wildflowers but no Edelweiss
  • Great views of the 3 mountains
  • Still snow in some places
  • It was sunny and now we're burned
  • We found Leslie and Dixon at Kleine Scheidegg, they decided to go down to Grindelwald
  • Returned to Wengen and let Hugo play in the grass for a bit
  • We returned to Interlaken on our own and relaxed for a bit
  • We ate cheese fondue for dinner since we were in Switzerland which was tasty but probably not worth writing home about. Our waiter was very nice however and played with Hugo a lot.
  • We went to the world cup viewing area to find a way to spend the last of our Francs. We ended up buying a Hong Kong waffle filled with ice cream, Kinder chocolate, chocolate sauce, strawberries and sprinkles. It was a bit of overkill.
Peak at Mannlichen

"The hills are alive...!"


A cow we found on our hike

Wearing Hugo is a sweaty job

Killer view

Hugo loved the big windows on the train

Fondue dinner

Overpriced and over-decorated bubble waffle