The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Rudesheim, Germany
November 2004
"Schnitzel and Dressing!"

We had just about decided to stop doing the Europe trips with the children.  We weren’t sure that they were really interested so we thought we might just let the tradition drop. But, when we were helping my sister and her family move to their new house in October, my niece, Lauren, cornered me and asked where we were going for Thanksgiving.  I said I hadn’t thought about it and asked her if she wanted to go somewhere.  She pointed out that it wasn’t her turn; it was her brother Jared’s turn.  My sister then chimed in and said that Jared really wanted to go back to Rome, where we had taken him when he was 10.  We looked at the Rome flights, but they didn’t look too promising.  We learned that our usual Thanksgiving travel companions were planning to go to Germany for the holiday so we started talking about tagging along with them.  Soon, we were talked into going and taking not one but TWO children to Germany.  Technically, I guess I should not call them children since they are both teenagers, Lauren 14 and Jared 17.  I called my sister to see if they were both available for the trip and asked her to make sure she could find their passports.  She found them, but they were not valid, so she had to pay the costly fee to expedite their renewals. 

We made some loose plans to fly to Frankfurt and take the train to Rudesheim but I wanted to wait until we were sure the kids had passports to make a hotel reservation.  We discovered that many of the hotels were closed for the winter but a couple of days before we were to leave; we finally got a response from a hotel where we had stayed before, the Zum Grunen Kranz. 

Very honoured family morris first thank you for your friendly inquiry. Gladly I would make the following offer to you:
Journey: 23 November 2004
25 november 2004
Persons: 4 allocation in 1 double room/next doubel in one big size Room”

We were happy with this and the kids had received their passports so we quickly confirmed the reservation.  We also discovered that the Rudesheim Christmas Market was to begin on Wednesday after we arrived!

Our friends Sandy and Scott didn’t want their kids to miss school so they planned to leave Atlanta on Tuesday.  Nancy, Tony and I preferred to leave on Monday, so we agreed to meet Sandy and Scott in Rudesheim on Wednesday.

Nancy, David, Tony, Jared, Lauren and I got to the airport Monday in plenty of time.  We stopped into the bar nearest the gate and had a beverage while the kids had a snack.  As we were getting ready to leave the bar, an inebriated man at the bar seemed to take a fancy to my nephew.  (And I had been worried about the men being after my niece!).

The flight had looked pretty available but the rain moved in Monday afternoon causing some delays and passenger reroutes so we weren’t sure how this might affect the availability of our flight.   We discussed what our game plan would be if we didn’t all get on.  We decided Nancy and David should go ahead and we would try for the next flight.  Nancy and David were cleared early and Tony and I were called to the counter, but when we told them we were traveling with Jared and Lauren, they weren’t sure we would all get on.  We waited until the VERY LAST minute, but they finally cleared all four of us in Business Class!  I think Jared and Lauren got the last two seats on the plane!

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We watched “Cinderella Story”, dined on Ravioli, Salmon and Thai Chicken Soup followed by an Ice Cream Sundae and then napped until shortly before landing in Frankfurt.

After changing clothes and hitting the ATM machine, we hurried to the train station only to barely miss the 10:29 train to Rudesheim. 

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With thirty minutes to waste, we decided to have our first beer of the trip (soft drinks for the kids) at the Schwartzwald Stubchen.  We caught the 10:59 train and arrived in Rudesheim around 12:30. 

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Tony waited in line to get the schedule for the return train while Nancy, David, Jared, Lauren and I headed for the hotel just up the hill.  We were delighted with our rooms.  Nancy and David had a large room with four beds while Tony, Jared, Lauren and I had a small apartment with a kitchenette and three bedrooms!

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The bathroom was the only drawback to our otherwise perfect apartment.  The slanted roof over the tub made bathing a bit awkward.

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We dumped our luggage and then set out to explore the town.  Preparations were being made for the Christmas Market.  It didn’t seem possible that they would be ready for the noon opening the next day.

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We had lunch of Gulaschsuppe, Tomatencremesuppe, Lasagne, Bratkartoffeln, Bratwurst and Pomme Frittes at the Bit-Stubchen at Markstrasse 31.  After lunch, we walked to the ferry dock to check the schedule.  We had hoped to take the cable car up to the statue at the top of the hill overlooking Rudesheim, but it seemed to be “kaput”.  We found a walking path called the Brahmsweg and started walking through the vineyards. 

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Up and up and up we went, winding our way through the vines that were sleeping for the winter.  Only a few vines still bore some fruit but no leaves. 

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The walking path offered some beautiful views of Rudesheim and Bingen.

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We soon came to some stairs (about 10 flights – or so it seemed) that led us to the Rebenhaus where we were greeted by a LARGE dog. 

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We stopped in for a beverage and to rest from the strenuous climb before continuing up to the statue at the top of the hill. 

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The children wanted to know the history of the statue so, not wanting to disappoint them with our lack of information, we made up some history.  We told them that the statue was Sacagawea and was placed there to commemorate the freeing of the slaves.  After we got home and did some research, we learned that the statue is really designed to symbolize the re-establishment of the German Empire and Germany’s unity and was erected between 1877 and 1883.  The monument is over 132 feet high and about 120 feet wide.  The main figure on the monument is Germania, bearing the Imperial sword and the German Emperor’s crown.  32 tons of bronze were required for the casting of the lady.  We’ll have to clear that up for the kids before they give their report on “What I did on my Thanksgiving break.”

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Darkness overtook us (at 4PM) before we could make it back down the path to town.  We stopped by the hotel to freshen up before going to dinner at the restaurant Pizza Bei Toni.   We had wonderful pizza, lasagna and pasta gorgonzola with spinach.   The boys just couldn’t stay awake while Tony, Nancy and I finished our wine but they weren’t too sleepy to go on a Kinderegg hunt and to watch a soccer game on TV in Nancy & David’s room.

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Wednesday morning, we could tell from the frost on the surrounding roofs that it was going to be a brisk day.

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Breakfast was the traditional German breakfast of rolls and cold cuts.  We decided that we had just enough time to purchase Kindereggs and take another walk through the vineyards before meeting the Harrises at the hotel.  The morning sun gave us some beautiful views of the Rhine.

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Back at the hotel, we broke out the cards for a rousing game of “BS” while we waited for the Harrises.  Once they arrived and settled into their rooms, we went around the corner to the Café-Restaurant Stadt Frankfurt at Markstrasse 30 for lunch.  We had a variety of German specialties including schnitzel & pig knuckle. 

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We gave the kids walkie-talkies and told them that they could enjoy the Christmas Market on their own.   The adults wandered around for a bit before finding a cute little outdoor garden with heaters where we could enjoy a glass of wine.  

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Dinner was at the Reisling-Stuben where we had eaten before.  We had Spaghetti, Muscheln,  Pizza Mista, Pizza Apulia, Pizza Aetna, and Franzosische Zwiebelsuppe. 

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My nephew, the pyromaniac, was very excited about being allowed to have a the local treat of Rudesheimer Kaffee, coffee flambé with Asbach Uralt brandy and whipped cream, served in original Biedermeier cups.  After the flaming demonstration, he was happy to relinquish the coffee to me & Nancy to drink.  The waiter brought some complimentary flaming shots of a different German liqueur (not recommended) for the adults. 

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After our Kindereggs everyone settled into Nancy and David’s room to watch soccer (sleep).

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Thursday, after our Thanksgiving breakfast, we picked up bicycles across the street from the hotel.  The three speed bicycles were adequate for the level paths along the Rhein, but wouldn’t be my choice for a long distance hilly ride.

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We caught the 10:30 ferry across to Bingen.  From the ferry, we had a great view of the walk we had done up to the statue on Tuesday.

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The beginning of the bike path was unpaved (and as we realized later, left our shoes and pants speckled with mud).  We rode past the pleasant little garden spots that looked like summer havens for their owners.

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We soon came upon the castle Ehrenfels Mauseturm (mouse tower).  Legend has it that Hatto; the archbishop of Mayence had this tower built so that he could extort tolls from all ships passing through the narrow passage.  The story goes that soon after the building of this customhouse a very bad harvest in the country round Mayence was caused by drought. Supposedly, the bishop had bought up all the stores of corn that were left from the year before, and had stored them up safely in his granaries.  A terrible famine threatened the land and the unhappy people begged the cruel bishop to lower the price of the corn in his store-house.  The cruel bishop lured a troop of hungry beggars to a barn and then had the doors locked and the barn set afire.  When Hatto heard the screams of the poor, he called out scornfully to his advisors, "Listen! How the mice are squeaking among the corn. This eternal begging is at an end at last. May the mice bite me if it is not true!"  The legend says that thousands of mice came out of the burning barn and followed the bishop to his tower, devouring him.

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Our first stop was at the Burg Rheinstein which rises above the Rhein on a 270 foot high rocky ridge.   It was built around 900AD as a customs post for the German Empire.  We were disappointed to find it closed after our hike up the steep hill.

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We continued our ride until we came upon a soccer field just below the Schloss Reichenstein.  We let the kids burn off some steam while we explored the town.  

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After enjoying some treats from the local bakery, we rode up to the Reichenstein Castle.  To our delight, it was open and we were able to take a tour.

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Ready for lunch, we stopped in several small towns only to be disappointed to find none of the restaurants open. 

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The group decided to ride on to Bacharach where the only place we could find was the German equivalent of a fast food restaurant.  We had a variety of burgers, pizzas and wursts.  We found an artist’s shop where several of the group bought hand made wooden souvenirs. 

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We discussed trying to get a train back to Bingen, but decided that we should be able to make the 10 mile trek back before the 5PM ferry.  We did make the ferry, but by the skin of our teeth.

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Tony had opted out of the bike ride and was waiting for us back in Rudesheim.  He had made reservations at Restaurant Pizzeria Da De Vita for dinner.   The restaurant delighted the kids by offering them champagne before dinner. 

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They again enjoyed pizza and a couple of the boys even had their first “legal” beer.  In Germany, the legal age for drinking beer and wine is 16.  After dinner, it was back to the hotel for the last of the Kindereggs.  The kids watched soccer in Nancy and David’s room while the adults visited in our room.  It was soon time to go to sleep so that we could get up in time for our 7:11 train back to Frankfurt.

We grabbed a few rolls from the breakfast buffet Friday morning and hurried to the train station.   The kids slept most of the way back to the airport. 

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The trip home was less stressful than the trip over, but there were a few interesting incidents nonetheless.  David was almost denied a Business Class seat because he was wearing Birkenstock clogs.  Tony had an extra pair of shoes (2 sizes too small) that David was able to squeeze into to satisfy the check-in agent.  The next obstacle was a bag measurer at the security checkpoint.  Jared and Lauren’s suitcases would only fit through the measurer after I almost sat on them and pushed them through.  At X-Ray, we discovered that Lauren had a Hole-Punch in her luggage.   Apparently this was determined not to be a threat because she was allowed to keep it.  We had to go through a second X-Ray before we got through the gate.  They found the Hole-Punch there as well (they didn’t find it at either of the X-Ray points in Atlanta).

As soon as we checked in at the gate, we were given seats and allowed to board.  We had a very enjoyable flight back.

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Everyone had a great time again this year.  Maybe we’ll keep the Thanksgiving tradition alive after all.  There’s always Christmas for Turkey & Dressing.

BJ Morris