Travels in Europe: Germany

After our month long visit to Albania, it was time for the next visit, a week long stay in Germany with longtime friends, Katie and Kirby, and their boys, Austin and Evan. They had only lived in Germany a short time in the suburban city of Rodenbach, and we were lucky enough to be their first guests!

We landed in Frankfurt after a short flight from Tirana, and took the train to the main Frankfurt station, waited for our train to Bad Kreuznach, where we would catch another train to Kaiserslautern, the largest city nearest to Rodenbach, in southwest Germany. Our train from Frankfurt was late, so we missed our connection, and had to wait another hour for the next train to Kaiserslautern. There was not much happening near the station in Bad Kreuznach; unfortunately, and oddly, there were no bathrooms, and the station manager locked the station (at 9pm) so we had to stand on the platform and wait for our next train, as there were few seats on the platform. I wandered around near the station, but it was nearly deserted, though I did see the below church nearby.

Heilig Kreuz Church

We caught our connecting train and our friend Katie picked us up at the Kaiserslautern train station. We returned to the house and took over Evan’s room for the time of our stay (thanks Evan!). We slept in the next day, and spent the afternoon walking around Rodenbach, a sleepy, suburban town, which was just what we needed after all the hustle and bustle of Tirana. We saw the local clock-tower, a couple churches,

a Celtic Prince’s grave dating back to the 4th century BC, along with some weapons and items found there;

and lots of forest trees. It was wonderful to be back in nature, and enjoy the quiet and feeling of being the only people around that the forest can provide.

We went to a meat vending machine (with encased, uncooked cuts of beef and chicken), where Kirby and I chose steaks that were prepackaged excellence from the butcher shop right behind them. There were multiple machines with multiple cuts, and we picked up a bunch, Kirby grilled them to perfection, and we ate like kings.

The next day, after a trip to the nearby Air Force base for some feelings of being back in the US (they have an American mall, with food court, on base, so we felt at home), Katie dropped us off in Kaiserslautern so we could check out the town for the afternoon. We started at the Museum Pfalzgalerie Kaiserslautern, which is located in a huge building and has a nice permanent gallery collection as well as a couple temporary galleries. Here is a picture of Jesse in front of it:

The permanent collection features paintings and sculptures from the modern era to present, and here are a few of my favorites:

“Kirche am See” Johann Christian von Mannlich (1821)

The temporary exhibits were by provocative Afghani Artist Kubra Khademi and the other was by German Artist Hans Hofmann. Here is Jesse in the Hans Hofmann exhibit:

If you are yearning for art in Kaiserslautern this is the place to visit. Afterward we went to the old town, for a lunch of Schnitzel, fries, and dark German beer. After lunch we were off to the Theodor-Zink-Museum, which houses the history of Kaiserslautern.

There was so much information presented here, from ancient times to modern, and we learned a lot about the history of Kaiserslautern.

A short walk away from the museum is the Kaiserbrunnen, or Emperor’s Fountain, which is strange and large and full of interesting pieces to look at. Below, which is the front, or the back?

Set at the top is Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa with fish in hand, on the opposite side is King Rudolf von Habsburg. You can see a monkey couple, immigrant ship, owl, armored horse, massive fish, donkey couple, mouse, elephant, and a sewing machine, among other odd things on this one-of-a-kind fountain.

Kaiserslautern also has a peaceful and lush Japanese Garden, with many benches and paths for wandering and relaxing, as well as a waterfall and two large koi ponds.

Kaiserslautern was a really enjoyable place to spend a day, and after our walk in the Garden we found a taxi and took it back to Katie and Kirby’s house. The next day Jesse and Katie took a ladies trip to the Black Forest and Strasbourg in France, so I hung out with Kirby and the boys. We visited Eltz Castle, a 12th century castle with towers, turrets, two eateries, and a museum. Truly impressive.

We parked the car and took a couple kilometer trail to the castle, under cloudy skies. It was a Sunday in August, and thus busy at the castle, but we had fun walking through the museum and looking at all the gold and silver crosses, plates along with various guns and axes, and even a full suit of armor (that could have fit the kids, but not any normal sized adult from today). Being inside the castle walls gave the feel of being transported back to the times when the castle was actually in use.

We lastly walked down to the water level, where a shallow stream remained with perfect rocks for skipping stones; and saw the castle from below, where it must have been an intimidating sight for wannabe invaders.

After a climb back up to the castle entrance, we hiked back to the car, and my first castle visit was complete. Jesse and Katie returned later that evening. Jesse and I had made plans to return to Frankfurt the next day so we could explore, before our very early morning flight the following day to Budapest.

Katie dropped us off at the train station in Kaiserslautern and we took the same trip back as we had the week before. Once we arrived in Frankfurt, we dropped off our bags at the hotel and went walking. We walked along the Main River toward the Römerberg and the Frankfurt Cathedral.

When we reached Römerberg we heard singing and waving of large German flags. We sat at an outside table, ordered a couple beers, and found out the German Women’s Soccer team had finished second the day before in the Women’s European Cup, and this was a celebration. It was festive and fun to watch.

We were getting hungry and found a German restaurant that served authentic food from the region, and made haste, arriving at Zu den 12 Aposteln after a twenty minute walk. They also brew their own beer here, so we had beers and the Frankfurt dinner, which came with two different types of sausages, schnitzel, meatloaf with sunny side up egg, crispy knuckle of pork with sauerkraut and potatoes. It was a feast, and we did our best to finish it all.

After we finished we were in a bit of a food coma, but needed to walk. We wandered the streets of Frankfurt, taking pictures of what we found interesting, until we wound up back at the hotel. Here are some of my favorite pictures of Frankfurt.

The next morning we woke up early, hopped the train to the Frankfurt Airport, and were off to our next stop, Budapest, Hungary!

*This is blog post 100! I am happy that I started this blog (with a push from a friend and Jesse), as its been so fun to document all the places we have been lucky enough to visit on our year-and-a-half in Europe. There have been so many highlights that it is hard to even determine a top ten experiences, much less a favorite. As we are still in the middle of our last month as I write this, the feelings are all over the place. I am happy to be back home in the US, but also will miss Europe so much, and don’t want to feel I am wasting time not experiencing everything in every place we visit. But Jesse and I have been telling ourselves a few things. #1, We don’t have to see everything. #2 Some things are not meant to be, but enjoy what are. #3 We don’t have time to waste, but we do have time to enjoy. #4 Stop and smell all the Roses (literally). Anyway, I have enjoyed writing this blog so much, and I hope you have enjoyed reading it.

Published by Phil Barrington

Currently living in Spain, Accountant by Day, Writer by Night. Lover of baseball, travel ,and spreadsheets. Check out my blog: https://waypastcool.org/

2 thoughts on “Travels in Europe: Germany

  1. I’ve enjoyed watching y’all’s journey through the blogs! (I went to elementary/middle school with Jesse)

    Thank you for the journey over the last year and a half – it’s been fun!

    Liked by 2 people

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