Thursday, June 5, 2014

France and Germany… a send off from the Army-- Part 10

I felt like a new person after our first night in Landstuhl.  We got up and had breakfast in Hotel Goldinger's pretty dining area.  Besides being a small hotel, this place is also a "konditorei", which means they make pastries there.  I loved their dining room, which had the look of a garden or a solarium.  The breakfast spread they offer to guests is also very nice, with smoked salmon, smoked trout, breads, cheeses, vegetables, juices, cereals, and fruits.  They'll even cook eggs and bacon if you want.  Bill and I had a nice breakfast, overhearing a couple of professors from the University of Maryland who were apparently concerned about keeping their jobs because virtual education is taking over so much.  Bill joined their conversation while I sat there thinking about what we'd do on our last real day of vacation.

I told Bill I wanted to visit Bacharach, which is an adorable town on the Rhein.  I went there in 1997.  In fact, it was the very first town I visited after my Peace Corps tour in Armenia, so it kind of holds a special place in my heart.  I had to figure out trains in order to get there and that's been a skill that has served me well.


Charming sign at the Landstuhl train station.

We bought tickets to Bacharach.  Since it was a holiday, the tickets were pretty cheap, but it would take a long time to get there.  First, we had to get to Kaiserslautern.  Then, we had to take a train to Bingen.  Finally, from Bingen, we would take a train to Bacharach.  It would take about two hours.


Pretty castle in view of the Bingen train station...

The ride was pleasant, since there's a lot of pretty scenery as you get close to Rhein country.  It was a bit cloudy, but there were no major rain storms.  It was a little chilly outside, but not so chilly that you'd need a jacket.

Bacharach is as adorable as I remembered it.  It's a well-preserved town with lots of medieval looking buildings and cobblestoned streets.  There's a beautiful castle on a hillside that now serves as a youth hostel.  It's an uphill hike to get there, so we opted not to go.  Instead, we enjoyed the castle from afar.



Just off the train… you can see the youth hostel in the distance.


Adorable Bacharach...

We ate lunch at a cute little gasthaus.  Bill had sauerbraten and I had roasted chicken.  The lady who ran the restaurant was funny when she noticed Bill didn't eat the beets in his salad.  She gave me a postcard of the restaurant and said, "Here's a souvenir for you."  Then she gave Bill the bill and said, "And here's a souvenir for you…"





Lunch!

There's not a whole lot to Bacharach, but it still managed to be a very special stop during our trip on account of the biergarten we visited.

Bacharach has a theater that also serves their own beer.  The garten is under a bright tent that looks like it was once part of a carousel.  Unbeknownst to us, on the day we visited, it was father's day.  In Germany, a lot of fathers and sons go hiking and then drink for awhile.  A huge group of men were there and they had obviously been there awhile by the time we showed up.  The cheerful waitresses brought out round after round of beer and schnapps.  Occasionally, the men would toast or break into drunken singing.  I happened to get some clips of their performances.  Some of the guys singing were pretty good!



A video I made of our afternoon...

The beer was pretty good, too.  I made our server beam when I ordered a mas krug-- one full liter of beer.  We spent several hours just hanging out and observing these guys who were obviously having a great time.  At one point, Bill went to the men's room and one of the guys in the German group started speaking to Bill.  Bill told him in German that he doesn't really speak the language very well.  The guy switched to English and struck up a conversation.  The guy was surprised we'd visit Bacharach and Bill told him that I had visited years ago and loved the town.  I wanted Bill to see it.

Bill explained that he was about to retire from the Army and this trip was sort of our last hurrah.  So then the man told Bill that he had been drafted to the German Army and ended up staying for about thirty years.  He said his family had come from the East and the Americans helped them relocated to the West.  Bill said the guy got choked up as he said he'd never forgotten what the Americans did for his family.  I have to say, in these days when so many people have negative things to say about Americans and the military, it was really nice to hear something positive.

Another man had heard we were Americans living in Texas and he came over to talk to Bill while I was in the ladies room.  It turned out the guy had spent a lot of time in Odessa and Midland, which is where the oil is/was.

Our trip to tiny Bacharach was yet another incidence in which we went to a small town that presumably  has little to it and ended up having sort of a special day.  The last time we took a hop to Germany-- back in May 2012-- we ended up visiting Rodange, Luxembourg, a seemingly boring suburb of Luxembourg City.  We were annoyed about being there because we'd actually meant to go to France.  But then it turned out to be one of the most memorable days of our trip because we had a great and cheap lunch at a little restaurant run by a Portuguese family.  Then we ran into a "hen party", where we saw a group of people dressed in drag and a diaper wearing woman with a rubber penis on her nose…  I may have to repost my trip report from that hop, since I didn't have my travel blog in 2012.

The trip back to Landstuhl was kind of long.  First, we took the train from Bacharach to Bingen and were joined by a number of guys who had been at the biergarten with us.  Then, when we got to Bingen, we were delayed for about 50 minutes because the train wasn't scheduled to leave until 7:55 and we got there at about 7:00.  The trip to Kaiserslautern also included a 20 minute cigarette break in Bad Kreuznach.  By the time we got to Kaiserslautern, it was well after 9:00 and the next train to Landstuhl wasn't for another 45 minutes.

I told Bill I wanted to take a cab back to the hotel.  He balked, because he knew it would be a pricey trip.  I finally won out, though, because it was kind of cold outside and getting late.  The cab ride to Landstuhl was interesting, because I got to see just how much the massive number of Americans has affected both Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl.  We even passed a placed that served American style fried chicken!

I kind of wish we'd stayed in Bacharach and explored the Rhein more.  Maybe if we get back to Germany, Bill and I will be able to do that.  I also still have yet to see the famous Medieval town of Rothenburg, so that may be reason to take another hop to visit Germany if we don't end up moving back there someday.















 






















This was in the foyer of the theater where the restrooms were located…  From a distance, they looked like real people!














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