It's good to be back
(October 5 - October 30, 1998)

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We arrived in Stuttgart on Monday, October 5, at 8:30 AM after a very uneventful, smooth, on-time flight, unlike our trip to Buenos Aires in July.  I can honestly say that IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK in Europe.  None of us on the team were greeted by any 'mustard people', at least not yet.  This team is composed of Sue Ann Hoke, Art Bustria, Sergio ? (from Rio de Janeiro), Lacey Bostick, and me.  We got settled into the Ramada Hotel in Sindelfingen and have already had some great meals.  Diane loves spatzle and has had it a few times, including one meal that was all based on spatzle - kasespatzle (with cheese).  As for me, I'm still into the meats and I've had a great Schwabian rostbraten with fried onions and pan fried potatoes.  Of course, it goes without saying that the meals include a good bottle of red wine or German beer.

The weather the first few days was cool and even raw, along with rain a couple of days.  Then the sun finally made an appearance and we had nice, cool fall days, temperatures from 40s to mid-50s or low-60s.

I have to tell you about these new coffee machines they have installed here at the work location.  You almost need to take a few courses, and maybe even get a diploma or degree, to work these machines.  Our hosts showed us how to work the machine on the first day, but none of us took notes so it became pretty funny when we tried to get coffee on our own one morning.  You see, the process for getting a cup of coffee goes something like this:

"Jochen, this is going to sound like a strange request, but we probably need a little help sometime with the coffee machine.  I guess we haven't figured out the process to get coffee with, or without, a cup.  We sure had a lot of laughs this morning as I ended up with FOUR...4...cups, only one of which ended up with coffee in it.  Sergio ended up with 2 cups and Art with 2 cups.  If we keep going this way, we'll be able to take a box of cups home with us.  ;-)   If you and/or Eberhard go for coffee sometime this morning, can you let us know so we can take notes on how to work the machine this time?  We really did have some fun this morning.  I don't know if you know the TV show in the USA called Candid Camera, but we felt like maybe there was a hidden camera and we would be on TV sometime.  :-)  Danke."

Diane and I went off on Saturday morning for the weekend.  I tried to talk two of my 'first time to Germany' colleagues to go on a trip that would take us through Bavaria, but no takers.  They stayed in town, each of them having friends in Germany with whom they wanted to visit.  We had a plan that would take us to Munich and Salzburg (two places we hadn't yet visited) and then drive back the long way through Bavarian towns.  The first stop on the trip was to Dachau, which is about 12 miles from Munich.  It was a much bigger place than I expected.  Dachau was the first of the concentration camps and was built in 1933.  From 1933 to 1945, some 206,000+ people spent time in Dachau.  They did a fine job with the museum, which had a pictorial history of the Nazi regime and use of the concentration camps.  The photos got harder to take (more than 300 of them) as one progressed through the museum, as you can imagine.  We missed the English version of the short documentary film by about 15 minutes and the next one wasn't starting for about 45 minutes, so we figured we wouldn't see it since we wanted to hit the road for Munich and then on towards Salzburg to find a place to sleep.  It turned out that Dachau is so big that we ended up spending another 45 minutes just to walk out to the far end of the camp to see the crematorium.  That was pretty hard to take.  We got back to the museum just in time to see the film and then we headed for Munich (or Munchen as it is said in German).  Our visit to Dachau was a very moving experience for both of us.  It is quite different being in a place that was the scene of such horrible inhumanity than it is just reading about it or watching a documentary.

Munich was marvelous and I could easily spend a month in the city.  We arrived in Munich around 1 PM and figured about three hours would be fine to just see the old town.  That turned out to be correct and we did it on foot as opposed to a tour.  I'm sure we missed some things the tour lets you see, but the timing wasn't right with a 2:30 tour that would go until 5 PM.  The day was sunny and cool so walking around the old town was perfect.  We followed the route in Fodor's tour #1 and we were not disappointed.  We enjoy looking at the churches in Europe, as well as architecture of other buildings in the area we are visiting.  We probably checked out four churches, some of which were done in Baroque, which can be seem gaudy to some people.  It sure is interesting to see where the church spent its money in those days - lots of gold ornamentation and statues.  We also got to see the old and new rathauses (town halls), did some shopping for souvenirs and gifts, and made sure we got a brat mit brot mit senf (did I say that right Tom?).  We certainly would have liked much more time in Munich, but this was a sort of 'see it, enjoy it, move on' kind of weekend.

We left Munich about 4 PM and headed out on the autobahn towards Salzburg because I wanted to get to the area before dark to find a place to spend the night.  We saw a town on the map, Bad Reichenhall, not far from Salzburg, but in Germany and we decided to check it out.  Fodor's had a few hotels listed and the first one we checked out wanted DM 200 (marks) for a room and that was too much for a night.  So we scouted out another place, the Tivoli which was nearly deserted because it is off season.  They wanted DM 130 (about $80) for two people and that included breakfast.  Done deal.  This is not uncommon in Germany.  You can travel around this country and stay at nice places for anywhere from $60-90 per night, which includes breakfast.  The room at the Tivoli was actually a good sized room, with bath (not all places have baths in all rooms, so you need to watch for that).  The town was very nice.  After settling into the room, we walked a long block to the pedestrian walkway and found a place to eat and then took a nice, slow walk back to the hotel.  All the shops were closed, but we did some window shopping.  I have to tell you that I really enjoy being able to walk around late (10-11 PM) and not fear for my life.  I'm sure there are places in European big cities, and maybe even in small towns (although I tend to doubt that), where one shouldn't go, but we feel safe here.

Breakfast was from 7:30 AM to 10 AM and we made it there around 8:30 AM.  After breakfast, we checked out and headed to Salzburg.  It wasn't very hard to find the middle of town (just follow the 'mitte', or 'aldtstat' or 'zentrum' signs).  We parked in front of some store near the cathedral.  It was almost 10 AM and the bells starting ringing so we knew mass was about to start.  Some churches and cathedrals in Europe are very touchy about taking pictures or video.  Some say 'not at all', some say 'not during services'.  This cathedral was the loosest I've ever  been in, that is, NO restrictions. 

We have had a highlight that made each of our trips to Germany.  In 95 it was Neuschwanstein and in May it was being in Rothenberg-au-der-Tauber during a festival (Pentecost).  This time it just may be this trip to Salzburg and the 10 AM mass at the cathedral (yeah yeah, I know, and I haven't forgotten my geography, Salzburg is in AUSTRIA.  But it is still Germany I am working in.).  ;-)   It turned out to be a high mass (maybe that is High Mass?  Tom?).  First, let me say that this cathedral is not the biggest one I have visited in Europe, but it is one of the most beautiful.  European cathedrals were built in the shape of a cross, with the alter being in the short part above the crossbeam.  It was not overstated, as are some of the Baroque styled churches.  There was a choir, but not some ordinary, small choir.  No sir, this was at least 125 people, maybe upwards of 150, with a full orchestra in front.  There were FOUR organs up on a balcony (although they weren't used much during this mass), one on each of the four corners where the crossbeam meets the staff of the cross.  On one balcony were four soloists, two women and two men.  Their voices were magnificent, the choir was both soft and powerful, and to witness this inside a great cathedral with marvelous acoustics was an incredible experience for me.  It took me all the way back to my childhood when I sang in a boy's choir in NYC (yes, I DID have a singing voice as a child, but then puberty came and that was that).  Mind you that it is fall and a bit chilly, yet the cathedral was full to standing room only.  I can only imagine in summer it must be almost impossible to get into the cathedral for this mass.  We were standing in the back and I told Diane I wanted to move down the side to see what was there.  WELL, it turned out that there weren't all that many people standing on the right side of the 'crossbeam' and, guess what, the choir was DIRECTLY across on the other side.  PERFECT for taking some video of them singing.  It was great to watch the people watching the choir.

The mass took a long time and it was 11:15 by the time we got outside.  I had wanted to start back to Stuttgart by noon, but we ended up spending another hour touring the old town, buying more stuff, getting some good pastry-like pretzels, touring the catacombs built into the rock face, and then heading back to the car, on which was a little gift from the local gendarmes (I didn't notice it until after we started driving).  Apparently, we weren't allowed to park where we parked.  Oh well, I can put that with the 'souvenir' I got while parked in Delft in the Netherlands back in 1995.  ;-) 

Salzburg is another place that deserves much more time than the three hours we spent there.  However, we needed to hit the road.  The short way back would have been the autobahn (yes, I continue to love cruising at 100 mph for long stretches of road), about 3 1/2 hours, but our plan was to drive towards Innsbruck and then, based on a recommendation from a colleague who worked with me here in May, drive up over the mountain to Garmish-Partenksirchen and on up through Bavaria towards Stuttgart.  I had guessed it might take us about six hours and, sure enough, we left at 1 PM and got back to the hotel just before 7 PM.  It would have probably been sooner, but there was a lot of slow moving traffic going over the mountain.  I love to drive, except in bad traffic or in bad weather.  This drive was great, except for the last 1 1/2 hours in the rain as dark approached.  The old night vision ain't what it used to be, so I minimize my night time driving.  It was great to go through some of the towns we visited back in 1995, especially Ettal with it's beautiful Benedictine Monastery and Oberammagau, which is home to a huge Passion Play put on every 10 years.

All in all, a short, quick, but great weekend.  Next weekend is a trip to Wollerau, near Zurich, to visit our friends Peter and Yoko and their new daughter whom we have yet to meet. 

Until next time.

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