My Trip To Germany And Spain

New Car

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Dear Friends,
Here is a short report of my trip to Germany and Spain, which lasted from September 13th to October 13th.
When I planned the trip, I made a huge mistake by not booking a direct flight to Cologne. The original plan was to fly to Munich, rent a car there and travel in style and comfort with a rented Beamer to Cologne, while visiting friends along the way. Well, it did not go that way………
The first company I booked with tried to scam me out of $450, which took about a week to sort out. Eventually, I got my money back but still did not have a car one week before my trip started.
I then booked another car with another company. Renting a car with automatic transmission and a/c proved to be much more expensive than anticipated, but eventually, I found a great deal for another Beamer for $850 for one month. The only problem – if you want to be 100% insured for all eventualities, the additional insurance for one month runs nearly $1700, so that the total would have been about $2500 for one month. I know that one is supposed to NOT buy the additional insurance since one has coverage with one’s credit card. But I did not want to take the risk to be liable for thousands of $’s in damages if something major would have happened, so the risk was greater than I was willing to accept. Instead, I decided that it would make more sense to buy a car once I get there, since I want to move to Germany anyway next year.
I was not able to find a flight from Munich to Cologne (my main-stop on this trip), so I decided to take the train instead.
I left Ft Lauderdale for my first stop, Philly (2 hours), where I had a 3-hour layover. Then on to Munich (8 hours), where I took the Lufthansa bus to the train station (1 hour). 3 hours later, my train left for the 5 hour trip to Cologne. (Total travel time – 22 hours !)
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Arrival……..

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I arrived beaten, tired and hungry, but to a very warm welcome by my friends Gaby and Ralf, who had a lovely apartment waiting for me to use free of charge during my stay.
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first dinner in Cologne – schnitzel and spaezle- what else….

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The next day, Gaby asked me if I want to join her and Ralf for a short trip to Spain, where they own a beautiful villa by the sea. Of course, I said yes, so off we went for a long weekend in Mallorca. Spain is everything I remembered from trips I took there many years ago – wonderful people, great food, perfect weather; everything is just beautiful. We had great bbq’s at home and superb dinners by the beach, paella, seafood, wine, company………ahhhh 🙂
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Gaby and Ralf, breakfast

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do as the tourists do…….

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view from my bedroom

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my bedroom – handmade lace – what else…….

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Ralf and I…..

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YEP……

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ham-paradise

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where I want to spend eternity…..

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the very best Morcilla in the whole wide world……

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sorry – forgot to take the pic when the paella arrived……

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Life is Good……..

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Two day’s after returning to Cologne, I bought myself a car and was now ready to visit friends I had not seen in many years.
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First I went to the town of “Adenau” in the “Eifel”, a beautiful mountainous area about 45 minutes from Cologne, where I stayed at the lovely home of my friends Heiner and his charming wife Sigrid. Heiner and I are friends since the early 80’s. We met in Manila in the Philippines, so our memories of that time and place are plentiful, happy and exciting 🙂 .
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Heiner and Sigrid

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Heiner and Sigrid’s home

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view from Heiner and Sigrid’s home of the “Eifel”

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view from Heiner and Sigrid’s home of the “Eifel”

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view from Heiner and Sigrid’s home of the “Eifel”

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old buddies……

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cheers !

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Sigrid and I

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My next stop was Bietigheim-Bissingen, where my friends Albrecht and Heide own a lovely restaurant for 30 years, the very cozy “Kueferstueble”. Albrecht and I worked together about 40 years ago, first on the “Royal Viking Sky”, then at the “Restaurant Ratskeller” in Ludwigsburg.
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Albrecht and Heide

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Heide in front of the “Kueferstueble”

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happy times……

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schweinehaxe mit sauerkraut und kartoffelknoedel

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bier und wein, so soll es sein……..

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After spending 3 nights full of great food, many bottles of tasty wine, and many happy memories, I went on to visit “Gechingen”, the little village in the “Black Forrest where I grew up. There I visited Gisela, the widow of my childhood friend Roland, who left us way too early 10 years ago.
Not much has changed in the 50 years since I left. If anything, Gechingen has become even prettier than I remembered.
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my old school on the left, the old town hall in the center

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the old town hall with my old church in the background

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the church I went to as a kid….

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view from the church….

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my old school

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From Gechingen I took the scenic route through the heart of the “Black Forrest. Starting in “Freudenstadt”, the “Schwarzwaldhochstrasse” stretches about 65 kilometers to its end in Baden Baden”. I took my good time, stopping many times to take in the beautiful views and enjoy the typical specialties in small Inn’s, such as “Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte:, “Schwarzwald Becher”, and for lunch, “Schwaebischer Rostbraten mit Hausgemachten Spaetzle”.
Once I reached Baden Baden, I splurged and spend a night at the “Brenners Parkhotel”. At $600.00 a night, not exactly budget-friendly, but what the heck…… 🙂 .
Next morning, I traveled back up the “Schwarzwaldhochstrasse” to the “Kurhaus Sand”, where I took a right turn down the steep and hairpin-rich road towards “Buehlertal”. This took me past the “Hotel Wiedenfelsen”, where I did my Apprenticeship 50 years earlier.
In Buehlertal I visited my former boss, “Ersatz Father”, and nowadays great friend, Karl Mueller and his lovely wife Uschi.
I did not have their address nor phone number, but I remembered the general area where they live and where I visited them many years ago on my last trip to Germany, when I was accompanied by my wife Maria, who has since passed away.
After asking a few people on the street, I got directed to the house of Karl and Uschi. I rang the bell, which was answered by a man I judged to be my age, so I assumed him to be Karl’s son Markus. I asked him if Karl Mueller lives there. He asked me what I want. I told him my name at which time he remembered me and happily hugged me. Turns out, it was Karl, 82 years old, but looking not a day over 65 🙂 Uschi remembered me right away, and from that moment on, we had a great time remembering times past, a million small things long forgotten but now easily recalled.
That evening we had a great dinner, followed the next day by a wonderful afternoon of conversation, coffee and sweets in a typical “Black Forrest Inn” on the “Scwarzwaldhochstrasse”.
I stayed another day in the “Rebstock” in “Buehlertal”, then took the “Autobahn” from “Baden Baden” back to “Cologne”.
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Karl and Uschi

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“Hotel Rebstock”, Buehlertal

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Karl and I

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Karls’ “Bettflaschen” collection

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a small Inn on the “Schwartzwald Hochstrasse”

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Love those two………..

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one of the restaurants at “Hotel Rebstock”

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maultaschen mit pfifferlingen und kartoffelsalat at the “Rebstock”

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krevetten in oliven oel und knoblauch at the “Rebstock”

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Death-strip – road from/to the house where Karl and Uschi live – two people can walk side by side – with the car, it’s like having a death wish……but, unless you want to walk…..

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view from Karl’s and Uschie’s balcony over “Buehlertal”

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After another week with Gaby and Ralf, filled with huge amounts of food and wine, on October the 13th I took the same horrible journey of 22 hours back to Fort Lauderdale.
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dinner at Gaby’s and Ralf’s home

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daily breakfast spread

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best breakfast dish ever – “Mett” (raw pork)

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And here are a couple of great things you’ll find while traveling on the Autobahn:
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curry wurst mit kartoffelsalat

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the cleanest public bathrooms in the World (you pay 75 cents to get in, when you leave you’ll get back 50 cents. The toilets clean and sanitize themselves mechanically

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Click here to watch the video of the self-cleaning toilet !!!  🙂

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And finally – the craziest thing I encountered during this month :

 

believe it or not – this is an actual schnapps you can buy in bars

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mixdrink- lemonade and “Ficken”

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Yep…..

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and yes, you can smoke in some bars…

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I bet you have not seen one of these for some time in a public space………..

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Conclusion:
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1) Real friends are the best thing in life !
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2) Germany is the best place to retire, assuming you love cold and rainy weather (Which I do) 🙂
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3) In Germany, if you want to eat real Italian food, don’t go to an Italian Restaurant. (It seems that most “Italian” Restaurants in Germany are now run by folks of other  ethnic backgrounds)
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4) Food, in general, is still far better in Germany, especially in traditional German restaurants.
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5) Ethnic restaurants in Germany don’t serve ethnic food 😦 . Just like in most other countries, “Ethnic” food has been adapted to local taste, but in Germany much more so than anywhere else, to the point of being unrecognizable (see # 3)
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6) Everybody should visit Europe at least once, to get a better perspective of life and circumstances in places with strong traditions and immense History.
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7) Life is Good !
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11 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your memories of your trip! But I am sorry to hear of the terrible ordeal you and Bella experienced. Hope you are both well. I also have a Bella – a cross fox terrier/jack russell. Give her a big hug. Maureen from South Africa

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good Saturday morning Chef Susser,

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your epic visit to Germany and Spain……sorry about the car rental and Cologne connection problems upon arrival and of course the situation with your great friend, Bella.
    But, nonetheless, you forged onward and upward which is what life is all about.
    We ride high in April and we’re shot down in May…..life is a roller coaster ride but the views from the top can be most mesmerizing for sure.
    You said it all with your capsule conclusion:
    Surround yourself with good, positive people and never take friendship for granted.
    Eat, drink, enjoy, converse, learn, discover, love and LIVE LIFE TO THE BEST DEGREE while we have it….because one day it ends….sadly for all of us.
    Enjoy your new ride and welcome home to Ft. Lauderdale but happier retirement plans for your future return to Germany when that decision comes to fruition.

    If I may be so bold as to invite you over for an amateur prepared dinner with wine some night….we’d be delighted to have you here in Delray.
    You’ve seen some of my dishes and yes they are ALWAYS PREPARED WITH LOVE.

    Send my a pvt Facebook message if you have some time for a Saturday or Sunday night dinner…. I’d be thrilled to meet you my Facebook not that far away neighbor friend!!!
    Bobby Delray
    Angela (Anyi) pronounced Angie
    And Juan Camilo (my stepson)……

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If it’s more comfortable for you and your darling Bella then please feel comfortable to bring her with you.
        I’m actually planning some wonderful surprises for the evening.
        Do stay in touch chef…
        Life is short.
        Play hard and fair.
        When appropriate….I truly appreciate your affection and concern for Ms. Bella..
        Warm regards,
        Bob Wieder

        Liked by 1 person

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