Sunday, April 12, 2009

Friday--Goodbye, Munich

Friday April 10--We got up today and packed all our things. It was the day to say goodbye to Munich. Karl walked to the train station to get the rental car and the girls and I checked out of the hotel and carried our belongings outside to wait for Karl.

The drive from Munich to Ulm was very busy and stressful. Today was the beginning of the long Easter weekend. A 3 hour trip took us 4 hours. Lots of start/stop driving and jammed roads.

Our stop for the day was a little town on the Neckar River called Bad Wimpfen. It's a beautiful old town that the tourist buses bypass. There were a good number of tourists there, but it wasn't a tourist town. Our first stop there was the train station which was located on the right just as we entered the town. It also serves as the Tourist Information center. We picked up a map with a walking tour suggested and went only a short distance to the first site--the Roter Turm (red tower). It was built around 1200 as part of the Imperial Palace of the Staufen kings. We climbed to the top to see a nice view of the town. Then we walked around the narrow, winding cobblestone streets looking at medieval homes and buildings. Bad Wimpfen has several half-timbered Fachwerk buildings--very cool! We ate lunch at a restaurant next to the "Blue Tower", then continued on our walk around town. We saw the church and a gate to the old town that allowed access from the south.

We left Bad Wimpfen around 3:30 p.m. The Autobahn was less crowded and we made good time. Easy to do at 150 km/hr (95 mph). On the way to Jana's house in Saarland we passed Ramstein Air Base. Our first clue was the huge, slow American military cargo planes landing and taking off. Jana's parents said that sometimes the planes fly over the house every 5 minutes. We arrived at Jana's house in Saarland around 6 p.m. We relaxed a while then enjoyed a tasty dinner of potato soup and apple pancakes.

While sitting outside we heard a funny noise--a clacking, chattering, ratcheting noise, and noisy children. In Germany it is a tradition that church bells not ring on Friday and Saturday of Easter weekend. Instead, whenever the bells are supposed to ring, the children go up and down the streets of the town with a special noisemaker. Sometimes they visit houses, where candy and money are given. A photo of this noise maker can be found here.

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