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Shelby in St. Goar with gigantic Steiff bear.

Kevin and Shelby Go To Germany

(Click on any picture for a larger version of that image.)

In August, I returned to Hamburg to spend a couple of weeks working more closely with my German colleagues. At the end of my stay, Shelby came out to meet me, and we spent the next nine days touring through Germany.
Shelby with her "Ich Liebe Dich" (I Love You) heart.


We started the night of Shelby's arrival in Hamburg by going to the Hamburger DOM, a "fun fair" that's been going on yearly for (about) 670 years. Think county fair, only less inhibited and more fun.

Mouse Circus! Mouse Circus!
After moping around the DOM for the past two years without a lady love, I finally get to participate in the mysterious custom of buying an "Ich Liebe Dich" gingerbread heart to hang on the neck of my girl. The proprietors of the DOM spend millions of Marks on breathtaking (and portable!) carnival rides, games, and beer halls for our amusement, and our favorite entertainment turns out to be the "Mouse Circus" — basically a trailer with a big cage full of mice.
Adobe Hamburg, exterior. Adobe Hamburg, interior.
The next day, we stop by Adobe Hamburg's beautiful new digs on the River Elbe to say goodbye to my co-workers and show Shelby the office. The new office is really only on the other end of the building from where I worked last year, but it has myriad little things that make it so much nicer, like balconies that provide dramatic views of the harbor and downtown to the east.
Panoramic of Hamburg harbor from an office balcony.
Bundestag, Berlin.


We take the morning express train in a daytrip over from Hamburg. Our first stop is the Bundestag (parliament) building with its funky transparent dome/vista point — for me, a source of endless photographic fascination.

Bundestag dome
Shelby in front of processional gate at Pergamon Museum. After the Bundestag, we visited the Pergamon Museum, home to all kinds of gigantic structures hauled in pieces from the Near and Middle East (back in the days of Indiana Jones-style archaeology) and reconstructed in Berlin — like this processional gate from the city of Babylon, behind Shelby. Shelby standing under reproduction sign at Checkpoint Charlie. Shelby at "Checkpoint Charlie". Adjacent is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie museum, which documents some of the many ingenious ways people escaped over the Berlin Wall.

We happened to be there on August 13th — the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Wall! Accordingly, there was a huge crowd of people and a portable stage from which various politicians were making speeches.

Trabant busting out of the Berlin Wall.

After seeing where the wall used to be, we visited the East Side Gallery, the longest remaining stretch of the wall. It was converted into a 1.3-km "open air art gallery" after the fall of the wall.

On the Road — Köln

The next day, we set out from Hamburg for the Rhine Valley. On the way, we stopped at Köln (Cologne), and visited its cathedral — 750 years old and the largest cathedral in Germany.

Can you find Shelby standing at the base of the cathedral?

On the Rhine — St. Goar

Dinner at the Hotel Landsknecht.
That night, we arrived in St. Goar, where we stayed at the Hotel Landsknecht, the first of a number of wonderful little hotels. They had a dining terrace on the Rhine, and our room faced out onto the river.
Burg Rheinfels. The next morning, we went into St. Goar and visited Burg Rhinefels, the ruined castle above the village. It was the largest castle on the Rhine until 1797, when it was destroyed by the French.

Underneath the castle was a network of tunnels; you could buy a couple of candles and a box of matches from the castle's museum shop and go exploring. Shelby enjoyed it even more than the Mouse Circus, but a couple of twists and turns were enough for my six-foot frame.

Picture taken just before Kevin dies of claustrophobia and bad air.


The next day we stayed in Baden-Baden, where we followed the lead of thousands of years worth of travellers and hedonistically "took the baths" at the Roman-Irish Bath. No pictures, sorry.

Our hotel experience here was lousy, mostly because the hotel was also playing host to a tour bus full of people on their Rick Steves tour of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland (getting that authentic spontaneous and in-touch-with-the-locals R.S. "Through the Back Door" experience that only comes by stuffing yourself into a tour bus full of other Americans and following a carefully-scripted itinerary), so we were shoved into a tiny remaining room somewhere up in the rafters.

Building at Schwarzwald Freilicht Museum, Gutach. On the Road — Schwarzwald Freilicht Museum

On the way to our next night's stop, Füssen, we stopped in Gutach at the Schwarzwald Freilicht Museum, an open-air "living history"-type museum that was created after a university professor saw that traditional rural buildings were vanishing and started gathering them together in one place.

Carpenter Jesus, Gutach.

Neuschwanstein Castle

After Baden-Baden, we stayed the night in Füssen (at Suzanne's, another highly recommended place) and the next morning drove the short distance to Schloß Neuschwanstein.

Neuschwanstein is incomplete, the last of the fairy-tale castles built by "Mad King Ludwig" (Shelby didn't think he was mad, just self-absorbed); its construction almost bankrupted Barvaria and led to his being deposed.

Now, of course, it's an incredible money raiser for the state, as thousands of tourists wait for hours to get a look inside.

Looking from the castle to the Marienbrucke, the bridge where my castle picture was taken.

It's said that Ludwig would turn on all the lights in the castle and then go out to this bridge in the dark to gaze upon his creation.

A few hundred of our closest friends who also get the idea "hey, why don't we go out onto that bridge and get a picture?"
Gate through which prisoners entered the camp.



Coming into Munich, we started with a somber visit to the Dachau concentration camp site, in a suburb outside the city. Dachau was Germany's first concentration camp, built to house political prisoners after the Nazis filled all the prisons. Appropriately, during our visit the skies got gray and cloudy, the temperature dropped precipitously, and it started raining heavily, adding to the aura of gloom and misery.

Memorial in front of the camp's main building.
The next day, we lightened the mood considerably by going to the Deutsches Museum — at eight stories, it's the largest science museum in the world, a geek's paradise. (Here Shelby's trying out a driving simulator; paradoxically, she does much better at real-world driving than simulated driving.)

Unfortunately, the weather stayed miserable throughout most of our stay in Munich, so we missed seeing some of the city's more famous outdoor landmarks.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We spent our last night in Germany at Rothenburg ob der Tauber (staying at our last unbelievable hotel, the incredibly cute Hotel Kloster-Stüble). Rothenburg is Germany at both its most charming and its most kitschy. It's a well-preserved (and in many places, reconstructed) walled medieval town that's packed absolutely full of shops selling "traditional" German souvenirs — Hummel figurines, beer steins, Steiff teddy bears, cuckoo clocks, Christmas knick-knacks. Many of the shops in town were tentacles of the same company, Käthe Wohlfahrt's Christmas stores (and no, we didn't escape the octopus).

On the Way Home

Early, early, early the next morning, we left Rothenburg and made a mad dash to Frankfurt (of course, we got there hours ahead of time, so all that mad dash wasn't strictly necessary). Here I am filling up our trusty putt-putt, a powerful Mercedes A170 Diesel, for one last time before we return it to the rental agency.

One of the many compelling reasons to return to Germany — Haribo Happy Cola, one of the best (in my humble opinion) forms of candy ever made.

This page last revised Wednesday, March 27, 2002
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