The European adventure begins! We were off on our longest trip ever – and one we planned for over a year! This started out as a trip to the Alsace region of France, then we thought “it’s so close to Switzerland let’s go there too”. Then we thought “Switzerland is so close to the Neuschwanstein Castle let’s go there too”. Then we added in Munich, then we added in Nuremberg, then we added in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Before we knew it we were planning a two week, eight plus city tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Eastern France!
Finally, after a year of planning we were off! All was going smoothly until we were sitting in the Charlotte airport and we received an email from National, our car rental company. They were looking forward to seeing us in Munich. Munich? We were flying into Frankfurt! We quickly called and got the reservation rearranged and a new confirmation number.
After landing in Frankfurt we walked to the rental car desk, and guess what? No reservation. We showed them the Munich reservation and the confirmation email we received that it was changed. Still no reservation. We insisted there was a reservation in their system somewhere since we had a confirmation number. After some time in the mysterious back room guess what…we had a reservation. That’s a blog post for another day – what happens in all of these mysterious back rooms in life from when you are buying a car to renting a car and checking in to a hotel room?
We had our VW – they insisted we had a German car in Germany, we found out later the car is actually Polish, but hey, the brand was born in Germany. We were off on the first leg of our trip. The drive to Nuremberg felt longer than it was because we were exhausted and drained.
We pulled up at the Hampton Inn in Nuremberg to find it shares a 20 spot parking lot with a Holiday Inn. Are you kidding me? Two hotels that are likely to draw driving and American guests share a 20 spot parking lot? We have Starbucks at home that have larger parking lots. We nabbed a spot and checked in.
After a shower and some much needed coffee we were off to explore Nuremberg – more on that later. Back to the parking, we moved the car the following day, and never parked in the parking lot again. We had to use a city parking garage that was about three blocks from the hotel. Not too convenient when you are dragging two weeks’ worth of luggage behind you.
We had a few other calamites and episodes “While We Were Wandering” that I will be sharing over the next few weeks. And yes, there is another parking related calamity. I still laugh when I think of it! Wait until you read about that!
No, this was nowhere near the trip we started planning, but it turned out to be an amazing trip that included seeing old and new Germany, scenic Switzerland, remembering and learning about WWI and WWII in these countries, and for me, reliving some of my travels as a kid with my family. It is interesting to return to places you visited as a kid. Sometimes I remember things exactly as they are, sometimes things are bigger, and more times the visits, especially to European war sites are so much more heartbreaking and poignant than they were when I was 11.
Come along with me as I remember this trip where we laughed, cried, learned, explored, tried to speak German (unsuccessfully) and French (successfully), stopped in more McDonalds than we have been in in the US, and had a few adventures.