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Last City Visits

November 18-20
written November 19, and later

Dear Friends and Families,

We have been doing so well getting ready to move (knock on wood!) that we decided we could take one more German vacation.  However, when we started looking at relatively distant destinations, such as the coast along the North or East Seas, it just didn't seem to warrant such a drive.  We have definitely gotten conservative on long drives.  Instead, we will simply go back to two or three of our most local favorites.

Our first goal was a one-night stand in Bamberg, 20-minutes from home and a UNESCO World Heritage city we have been to many, many times.  It remains our favorite German destination and this time we booked a room at the Residenzschloss Hotel, a large facility on the north edge of downtown.  Somehow, we managed to see parts of town that were new to us.
The Residenzschloss hotel is built in part of the original Bamberg hospital.  As a hospital, it was originally built in 1886 through 1889 and was, reportedly, one of the most modern hospitals in Europe, up until when it was moved to the Bruderwald south of town.  (This was the hospital Marianne checked into ten days ago.)  The ornate building next to the hotel, another part of the original hospital, now holds city records.  Axel Treuner, our house rebuild architect, worked on this rebuild at the beginning of his career in the mid-1980s.
From the hotel, we walked along the river into one of the oldest parts of town.  It was easy to see why Axel fell in love with the city, although his story is that he fell in love with the beer first, the city second, and his wife third.
The old town sidewalks also include bronze medallions commemorating a darker period, when residents were pulled from their houses and sent to work and to death camps. 
Evening comes early this time of year.  We passed on a bakery snack in favor of a glass of wine, while we looked out the window at locals enjoying their city in the shadow of the old city hall.   It is no wonder we love this place.
We walked back to the hotel via Sandstrasse, the home of several breweries and restaurants and normally brimming with locals and tourists.  This evening, it was quiet and romantic.

d131118_40_AxelandM.jpgBack at the hotel, we met up with Axel and reminisced about our house project and our seven-year friendship.  He has been more than  an architect for us and now we expect him to visit us in our new life, in Fresno.  He said he would, in 2015 if not earlier.  We will hold him to the promise.

On Wednesday morning I did my regular travel routine: looking at yesterday's pictures and trying to dash off a diary.  Since we have just a 25-minute drive to get home, we can easily afford a slow start, so we managed yet another walkabout.
Our wander path.  House sizes grew with prosperity. 
This station of the cross, dating from 1500, is the oldest in Germany.  The mural is much newer.
Bamberg may always be our German favorite.

On Wednesday we headed to Rothenburg ob der Tauber for another last visit.  Whereas Bamberg is a darling Bavarian town, populated by regular people, Rothenburg is the quintessential German tourist town, often overflowing with thousands and thousands of people from around the world.  We like them both, but we do prefer Rothenburg visits in the off season, such as on cold and wet November days.

For our 24-hour visit, we checked into the Hotel Herrnschlösschen, probably one of the nicest and most accommodating hotels we have ever used.  From there we enjoyed and afternoon walk, a dinner in Höll  (pronounced "hell" to the delight of English-speakers) and after a full meal, I tried my hand at night photography, with mixed results. 

I'll tell the whole story with photos.
Hotel Herrnschlösschen -- Great place.  We were shown two rooms, but opted for #8, a two-level suite looking out above the town.
An Afternoon Walk -- Outside, we had quiet streets, bizaar medieval statues, and "Schneeballs", the local pastry that looks tasty -- but is NOT.
Dinner in Hell -- The restaurant zur Höll is in the oldest building in Rothenburg and is a tourist favorite.  Our meal included a nice pumpkin soup and, for me, two rounds of meat, Klöse, and Wirsing (Savoy cabbage).  I'm not sure of the English for the last two, but they were tasty.
Night Photography -- After dinner, I wandered for almost two hours, enjoying the foggy and damp street scenes.  Capturing any of this was tricky, because the night lights of the city are very bright yellow.  I resorted to "HDR" techniques to handle the high contrast between light and dark, but the coloring remained odd.  No matter, it was fun to take pictures and I probably learned something: Don't count on street lighting to be flattering.
Some shots with more of the "natural" yellow light of sodium-vapor street lights.
Thursday morning was our normal multi-hour hotel breakfast.  I do enjoy the quiet time to work on pictures, diaries, news-reading, and just talking with my favorite travel partner.

Now it's back to home and the final week of move preparations.


John and Marianne (the partner)


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