Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oct. 30 -- The Longest Day: Home Again

It feels good coming home, but it sure makes for a long day. We got up before 4am Munich time (8 hours ahead of San Francisco) and landed about 1pm PDT. Sort of like having a 32 hour day. The two most challenging parts, up til arrival (not including getting out of bed) were finding ways to spend our last euros (I have 0.57 left -- less than $1) and managing to sit on the plane for 10+ hours. It was the best kind of long flight: uneventful and on time. Even passport control and customs were fast.

Of course, the bigger challenges are re-integrating into our real life, starting with going through 6 weeks of mail, unpacking and putting it all away, fixing things that went kafluey while we were gone (like our fancy 'garage' tarp and our satellite receiver), and restocking the kitchen so I can cook again.

We had a blast!  We didn't do a lot in depth anywhere, except maybe Vienna, but got a lovely taste of nine countries we had not seen before and got to know more about the three we had been in. Driving fast in Germany is such a hoot. Now going 65 seems like a snail's pace. The old car feels huge and slow, too.

On the plus side, it's good to be back where the toilet paper is soft, where a double bed means one big bed, not two twins smashed together, the bed comes with one blanket big enough for the whole bed instead of two little ones that never quite do the job, and the rooms aren't overheated. 

Our next 'little' trip will be a jaunt to the Chicago area for Thanksgiving, but we're still debating our next big trip. Australia? African Safari? Morocco? Bali? So many intriguing choices!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct. 29 -- In Munich, Prepping to Go Home

We had a brief English/German conversation with our Chinese hotel host this morning. Based on his pronunciation of German and English, I didn't think he was China-born, but I was wrong. He grew up in Beijing and went to college in Berlin (presumably East Berlin based on his apparent age) and went to work there. After his corporate life, he opened the hotel and a restaurant on the bottom floor (where we had breakfast) but he had to close the restaurant this year when there just weren't enough customers. He had visited the US for six months a long time ago and traveled all over, including San Francisco and our Chinatown. I told him I was a tour guide there.

Pretty church on the way to lunch
Then we headed to our hotel in Munich, about 150 miles away. We arrived before noon, and were able to check in and unload the car in preparation for giving it back to BMW. The front desk clerk gave us a lunch recommendation about 10K away and we had a pleasant drive through a couple small burgs on our way there. The recommended place was closed and we scouted out the choices and ended up at a buffet with four options, all listed in German, none of which were in my dictionaries, and a waitress who spoke no English. I thought I was getting noodles based on the work "Knodel", but noodles are nudeln and I got a baseball-sized dumpling instead. Jim got kind of a pork hamburger and mashed potatoes, and I got about an 8-10 ounce slab of roast pork. The shop also had pastries and we picked up a couple for dessert to go with our last salami/ham/cheese sandwich for dinner. I am hoping it will be the last sandwich of that type for a while - it's been easy and often has been breakfast, but I've had about six month's worth in the last 6 weeks.

Last moments with our car....

Then it was off to replace the winter tires (which we never needed, but it was the law) with our real tires, wash the car, and turn it back in. Back at the hotel, we are working on re-packing to try to eliminate one bag despite having bought stuff. So far, so good. We'll see what tomorrow brings when dirty clothes and toiletries have to go somewhere!
The view from our hotel window -- near the airport,
under the flight path, but quiet with the window closed.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Oct. 28 – Second Travel Day to Munich: Stuttgart

When we went to breakfast in our minimalist hotel this morning, we noticed the old woodwork in the dining room. There was also a lot of stained glass in the public areas, so we asked at the front desk if this was an old building. I was thinking a couple hundred years old, but the receptionist said it was built in the 1200 or 1300s and functioned initially as a brewery. Before it became today’s hotel, it had also been a bordello. Quite a transition: brewery to bordello to college-dorm style hotel!

Road to Heidelberg Castle
We headed south towards Stuttgart in a light rain, but soon drove out of it. It was very windy however, so when Jim got the car up to 125, he decided it took too much effort to control it in the wind. I added the Heidelberg Castle to our route since the Streckenbach ancestors came from Heidelberg and I figured a drive into the old town might be fun. Liesel’s directions were a challenge again, we missed a turn and drove up to the castle the back way on roads that were a lot like those at home: Steep, twisty, and narrow. The bad part came when she directed us to turn into a parking area that she also announced was restricted. Oh yippee! It was for buses only, and so we parked along the street (probably illegally) and I hiked back towards the castle to take a few photos while Jim guarded the car. Back in the 80’s, Kristen and I had come here and I distinctly remember having to hike all the way up, so at least back then, the parking lot was down below. On our way out of town, we stopped at a little park for our packed lunch and made it to Stuttgart before 2pm.
Heidelberg Castle -- mostly missing
Old town Heidelberg and the Neckar River

Modern Heidelberg in the distance
 After lunch, I drove and eased the car up to 105 before I had to slow down for yet another construction project. It is hard to believe how many little projects the Germans have in progress on their fast roads. I also noticed a couple signs that said “Take your time” and “Don’t drive so fast” and wondered if maybe the predilection for speeds well over 100 is causing problems (though to be fair, we have only see one accident in Germany). Maybe all the spread out little construction projects where you have to slow to 50 or even 38 mph is a subtle way of getting them used to slower speeds. We only have one more day to try driving fast, and I was pleased to see that 105 was not a strain for me. I think it helps that we have been driving over 90 regularly, unlike 12 years ago, when we drove only a bit in Germany and hadn’t really gotten a chance to adapt to 90 as a starting point. Sad to say, 75 and even 80 now feel very poky.

Cruise ship on the Neckar River in Stuttgart
Tonight we have another minimalist hotel, run by a Chinese gentleman and a young woman who may be his daughter. Neither of them speak a lot of English and in a week away from Germany, my German has declined from unexceptional to worse than that. When I asked for help locating a self-service laundry, our host volunteered to do it on site and have it ready in the morning. Then we tried to ask where there was a bank to cash in some dollars and resolve our ‘down to our last 20 euros’ problem. He gave us directions to walk about 10 minutes away from the downtown, and when we were totally unsuccessful with that plan, we decided to hike into downtown instead, about 1.5 to 2 miles away. I thought we could take Liesel and make her tell us where there are banks AND give directions (she finds gas stations on the fly quite well) but Jim pointed out that we had a primo neighborhood parking spot and it was unlikely it would still be available when we returned.
Stuttgart fountain. We think the city may be heated
by hot water from a central source and this is a vent.
There were several on little hills,mostly inactive.
Mercedes Tower at the Main Train Station.
This is a major center for both Mercedes and Porsche.
So we hiked. And hiked. And stopped for directions at a Marriott a lot closer to the city center where the staff spoke very good English. And hiked some more through the main train station to get to the promised pedestrian area. The exchange rate and commission were nearly as bad as the exchange house we had seen earlier, but better than the $5 Bank of America takes for each ATM transaction. Then we looked for a battery for my pedometer. It had died while we were in Transylvania and I got another in Brasov that should have lasted me at least 3 months, and here I am 3 weeks later and its dead. Not fair. I did find one at an exorbitant cost. I’ll have to add spares of this lithium battery type to my packing list for future trips. Then we wanted to eat. Our lunch sandwich was starting to wear off, but we discovered that most of the nice restaurants are closed on Mondays. We found a food court at a mall in the pedestrian area, and the only thing that really looked good was the ice cream. When we got back outside, the sky had darkened, the wind had picked up and we thought we might get wet on the way home and hustled back in record time and settled in for the night. Our power walk did save us from getting rained on, and added enough calorie credit to my daily exercise that we had a half a chocolate bar each for dessert.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Oct. 27 -- Start the Drive to Munich: Cologne

When I took German classes in college, one thing I learned about was the "Kolner Dom" -- the Cologne Cathedral, the largest in Europe. When we started to plan where we would drive during our two weeks with our new car, and decided to head north in October instead of south (which would have meant Alps and snow), trying to fit in the Kolner Dom (the real spelling uses an umlaut on the o in Koln) was on my list of to-dos.

But first things first. We had purchased a double museum ticket yesterday and learned about chocolate, and today we had to use the french fry part of the ticket. The museum format was quite similar to the Choco-Story Museum -- lots of plaques in 3 languages, a movie, historical information and samples of 20th century containers. I did learn a few things: the original potatoes in Peru were very small -- ranging in size from peas to crab apples -- and were probably investigated by the natives when they saw their domesticated llamas and alpacas digging for them. Fast forward a couple centuries or more and the Spanish connection to/rule of Belgium that gave them early access to chocolate also gave them potatoes. In theory, some Belgium person did the first French fry which got called that because an American in WWI (or was it WWII?) got some from a French-speaking Belgian and was too hungry to notice that he was not talking to a Frenchman. So when Congress castigated French Fries several years ago, they were castigating the wrong people/rejecting the wrong food. But then who would intentionally refuse to eat hollandaise or Bearnaise sauce. I mean, really.

Our next mission was to  finalize our chocolate decisions AND to buy the day's ration of heavenly eclairs. The eclair shop was nearby -- and very busy -- but we had to retrace our steps to re-locate the chocolate shop. Once there, we verified they took credit cards, and then starting working toward their minimum credit purchase. Let's just say this was not that difficult.  Loaded up with chocolates and eclairs, we departed Brugge on our way to Koln (Cologne). As we headed east, the countryside gradually developed hills, but still the freeways were passing through largely pastoral scenery -- lots of cows, horses, and sheep.

I got a really cheap rate at a 'basic' but 3-star Koln hotel near the Kolner Dom, and started to worry that maybe I had booked in the equivalent of San Francisco's Tenderloin -- close to downtown but terminally seedy. It didn't look TOO bad, except for the Gay Sex Center next door. The interior looks really old and interesting with lots of stained glass, but I was prepared to cancel and head back to the freeway to locate an alternative. We had to park on the street when we checked in and Jim went back to get the luggage. Based on the folks he saw on the street, he was totally okay with it, so we paid and headed to our room in one of the smallest elevators I've seen. The back wall is mirrored and I about busted my nose on the mirror before I clued in on how small it was: just barely room for the bags and us, rated for 3 people or 660 lbs -- and all three would be close personal friends by the top. We were lucky to be no higher than floor 3 -- there were 2 more floors above, but the elevator stops at 3.

Cologne Catheral (Kolner Dom) front
Cathedral side view
Old City Hall (Rathaus) Tower
The next challenge was finding the public overnight parking lot. The hotel had a map and we had Liesel, so we set off. We have found a couple situations where Liesel appears to get confused and tell you to turn in 200 yards when she really means RIGHT NOW or vice versa. Looking at the map, I contradicted Liesel's instructions and goofed big time. We finally found our way in, but it was more of an adventure than anticipated. At the hotel, we washed a couple shirts for tomorrow (still haven't found a laundromat that's actually open) and then headed out to find the Dom and dinner. The cathedral is totally massive. The travel guide I have says that 20,000 people a day visit, and based on the number there this afternoon, I think they're right. We are basically in the middle of a major tourist area.

Finding dinner was another challenge: one restaurant with a very interesting menu didn't take credit cards. We found a Subway, Maggiano's, and a Chicago Steakhouse. Lots of places were offering local specialities: black pudding and potatoes, sauerbraten, or schnitzel --- no no no! We were close to choosing Italian (the guide book called Koln the 'northernmost Italian city') but found something German that was interesting and didn't involve pudding or schnitzel or sauerbraten. Yay!

The Rhine as sunset approached

Oct. 26 -- Drive to Belgium, Explore Brugge

Today we taught Liesel a new trick -- two destinations at once! I wanted to stay away from the big highways she would prefer and decided to tell her we were going to Den Haag (The Hague) first, then to Brugge -- worked like a charm except for a spot where what I thought was a bridge with a big water view turned out to be a LONG tunnel with no view what so ever.

The scenery throughout the drive was much like we've seen before -- very flat, pastoral, wide spread farms, still very green, but most of the corn has been harvested. I was surprised that there were so many 4-lane highways though Holland and Belgium too, although I began to appreciate them when we got to the Belgian version of a country road: a single wide-ish lane for two way traffic. Sort of like home without the hills and curves, but still scary when a full-sized bus came the other way. Luckily, there were no deep gullies next to the road, just more flat land with trees.

Belfry in Markt Square
Brugge (also spelled Bruges -- the French version, not favored here) is a beautiful old town that even on an October Saturday was filled to the gills with other tourists. There were an astounding number of places to buy genuine Belgian chocolate or to get a Belgian waffle. The hotel staff was very helpful in providing a walking route through the best parts of the old town, much of which was built in the 1300s. The weather, despite forecasts to the contrary, was glorious and sunny with barely a need for a light jacket. We set off with a goal of buying chocolate and exploring the town. After two chocolate stops, we started to get the idea that this would be overwhelming. We went into at least a dozen shops with a variety of price ranges from ridiculously expensive to almost reasonable, places that made all their own chocolate on site to places that were like chocolate supermarkets for other people's chocolates. We saw chocolates in all kinds of shapes --- even high-heeled shoes!
Shoes of Chocolate -- full-sized!

Brugge Alley

We found a chocolate museum and bought a dual ticket for that and for the french fry museum (really!) at a discount for being seniors. The Choco-Story Museum told how chocolate evolved from an unsweetened drink of the Central Americans to the major industry that it is today. Belgium got into chocolate early because it was controlled by Spain about the time that the Spanish brought chocolate back from America, and their design strategy was quality, not cost.

Burg square church
From there, we proceeded on our map tour, and saw a pastry shop near one of the old buildings we were supposed to find. They had skinny little eclairs and we decided to see how they compared to the eclairs from heaven that we had found in the Marais in Paris 12 years ago. They were not quite as good, but the best we have had since Paris, and tomorrow we'll go back for seconds.

Wok musician
In our wandering around, across canals with boats and birds and between beautiful old buildings, we encountered an unusual musician. He was creating lovely bell-toned music on what looked like upside down woks with several big dimples in them. We arrived just as he was finishing one lovely song, and I hung around a bit hoping he would play again so that I could make a short movie of the music. An organ grinder started playing nearby, and when he did start up again, I didn't get a chance to film much because he saw me and said something that didn't sound friendly.

By the time we finished the walking route, it was getting late, so we went back to the hotel to relax a bit before setting out for dinner. We got advice about dining from the hotel staff (there are TONS of places to go, but we really didn't want to just fall into one of the touristy places). When we got there, we found it didn't take credit cards and it looked like dinner would cost more than we had left in euros. Nearby, we found two more options and settled on the one that did not specialize in oysters. We each chose a prix fixe menu. Mine started with a soup that looked and sort of tasted like pea soup. I am a big fan of peas but have never liked pea soup. I think it is the texture and the bacon that put me off. This was lighter, and actually tasty and I concluded that it must have broccoli in it too. The staff concurred -- a pea/broccoli combination that was easily the best pea soup I've ever tried. Dessert was a tiny dark chocolate mousse -- enough chocolate kick to take care of me for a couple days,  I think. Unfortunately, although they did take credit cards, they could only handle the European kind with a chip, which meant it was lucky we had enough euros to cover, but just barely. We don't want to buy a lot more with the trip coming to an end, and won't be able to go to a bank til Monday (its Saturday now) and don't want to take the ATM hit of fees for a $100 withdrawal. Let's hope we can make our last 25 euros last til Monday!

After that, it was back the hotel. Tonight is the end of daylight savings time in Europe. I set my travel alarm back an hour, but left my watch and phone alone, figuring the results in the morning might help me determine what time it really is.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oct 25 -- Explore Amsterdam a Second Day

Anne Frank House outside
no photos allowed inside
We got up early and out the door to arrive at the Anne Frank House before 9am. I had thought I could order tickets online, but they were sold out of advance tickets until next Monday (oops!!) and the fastest way to get in is to get there before they open at 9am. This was complicated by my clock alarm totally resetting itself inside my suitcase and me not verifying before crashing last night. Luckily, we awoke by 7 and were in line by 8:30. This was facilitated by having a breakfast of the raspberry danish we got in  Ribe and an orange. The room has a nespresso machine but  no directions, and I was unable to decode coffee or tea. So much for my tech cred!

By 8:30 there were already 30-40 people ahead of us. Jim is not good at lines, and we were lucky that a charming local woman and her 10-year old son were right behind us and we somehow got engaged in conversation. We learned that all the museum traffic we saw yesterday was due to a school holiday, so people are taking their kids everywhere. The house itself was larger than I imagined from reading the book and on 2 primary levels plus an attic. Of course, I haven't read the book in a few years, but being inside with the blackout windows and imagining me or worse, kids, cooped up here for a couple years was quite a moving experience. After we went thru the hiding place, we exiting into an area that presented real life current moral questions and gave the viewers a chance to vote and then displayed the results. One situation was about headscarves being banned from public schools because they are religious symbols and it presented a very even discussion of the reasons for and against before asking for a vote. The second was on the use of neo-Nazi symbolism and whether, in a democracy, it was okay for it to be banned.  Very thought provoking!

We had used our travel book to identify things we might like to walk to in the city center and set off to find the older parts of town before trying to get into the Van Gogh Museum. In wandering along some of the narrow streets, we came across an actual breakfast place. All the other open eating places we had encountered so far were bars!! (I like wine, but not so much before noon.) This was a pancake place and it was nearly empty, but we apparently just beat the 10am rush -- within 15 minutes after we sat down, it was loaded with college students, many carrying backpacks. We split a hearty breakfast, described as 3 eggs sunny-side up with cheese and bacon or ham. It was a very interesting presentation with bacon layered on the bottom and cheese melted over the top of the eggs. It was also very effective. One order kept both of us full til we got back to the hotel around 4:30!

Ould Kerk
Then it was back on the streets to wander around. We found the red light district sort of accidentally (I was trying to skirt it), and it made me wonder what kind of a life it is for an attractive young woman to hang out in front of a window in a bikini and hope for a visitor before noon. We located the Ould Kerk (old church from the 14th century) that was the start of the Dutch Reformation and overheard a tour guide tell his group that the saints in niches on the church were removed during this time. We found Den Waag,  a building that was part of the original city fortifications, and in search of a larger waterway than a canal, came across a sort of Chinatown (our local friend said there was an area of Chinese concentration, but no real Chinatown, and we definitely found it). We went into one of the stores to bring back Chinatown gifts for a few special people but couldn't find anything worth spending the euros on. It had a lot of the same stuff you see in San Francisco's Chinatown, including a preponderance of Japanese 'Hello Kitty' souvenirs.
Den Waag -- was part of old fortifications

Amsterdam houseboats -- puts Sausalito to shame

We wandered by the new market on the way to one of the fanciest homes in the area, built in the 1660s. Most homes are three windows wide, and some are only two. This one had seven windows across the front with more space between than usual, so probably 3 normal-sized lots. It's now a business place. A lot of these old homes are very tilty -- some lean forward across the street, others lean left or right or some combination. I wonder what it it like to live in a place with no really flat floors!
Leaning homes

More leaning homes

Homes leaning over the street

First of the seven cute bridges
Our  next objective was an area with a narrow canal and a series of seven steep bridges across it. Then we headed toward what was supposed to be a department store with a cafe at the top with the best view of the town. It apparently died since the guide book was written a year or so ago, and it now an Abercrombie and Fitch with a long line of teenie-boppers and their parents waiting to get in to spend their cash. On our way to the museum plaza, we came across a shoe store with reddish boots and went in. Ever since I saw some red boots in Prague, Jim has been trying to find more for me to buy. This time I struck pay dirt. They are not bright red, but more of a dark cranberry and they were more on sale than I thought, so I saved us about 50 Euros!

One of many Van Goghs at the museum
Back across a major canal, we took a short break at a park, sort like Central Park or Golden Gate Park, then set out for our last formal objective, the Van Gogh Museum. I had tried to buy tickets online last night, but they were timed, and it wasn't clear from the site that the 1pm tickets could be used between 1pm and 3pm. It said if you missed your time slot, tough luck. We decided to take a chance on the line and were willing to blow it off if the line was nasty, but we really lucked out. We got there a bit before 2pm and were inside 15 minutes later. I was concerned about ABP (see yesterday), but this museum was fantastic --it was educational, helping you see the progression of Van Gogh's skills and his influences, and had relatively few of other people's work. We probably saw more art in 1.5 hours at the Rijksmuseum yesterday, but our hour and a half here was much more enjoyable and educational. It reminded me of the Monet Museum on the outskirts of central Paris that we saw/loved in 2002.

By the time we were done, however, we were really done. Our original plan with the brunch was to have a late lunch/early supper, and after the museum, we set out toward another area of the city in search of restaurants. Neither of us was dying of hunger, and we came across a nearby cafe with a reasonably priced onion soup that was also close to the tram, but their kitchen was closing in 5 minutes, and we saw our tram arriving, so we caught it and came back to the hotel instead. Dinner tonight will be some of the snacks we have been accumulating.

Oct. 24 - Discover Amsterdam

Farm along the main road to Amsterdam
We headed out early today, hoping to get to Amsterdam by noon so we would have lots of time to explore today and still have all day tomorrow for more fun here. I had been interested in getting off the main highways and mapquest had found a route only a few minutes slower than the highway, but Liesel went WAY into the backroads and added an hour to the trip, so we switched back to the highway. Unfortunately, we probably would have been better off on the backroads as we encountered a major traffic tie up resulting from a crash and car fire involving 4 cars. It added 45 minutes to the trip. The frustrating thing was there was no point to tuning to a radio station for information, because there is no way we would have understood more than a word or two of Dutch.

The hotel staff was very helpful when we arrived and showed us how to take public transit to the museum area AND how to get back. We unpacked, relaxed a bit, and set off for the Rijksmuseum. We had bought tickets in advance, but there was still a long line of people waiting to get in with their tickets. I had read that crowds were worse on Friday and the weekends as well as between 11 am and 3pm, so we timed our arrival to 2:30ish Thursday -- and it was still packed. Here it is late October! Apparently no one read the memo about not being here or they are all trying our dodge.

Vermeer Painting
I found the museum very confusing. The guide to what is on each floor is completely wrong and the floors have a warren of galleries. It is tough to be sure you have seen them all without some level of backtracking. My primary interest was the Rembrandts and the Vermeers. There are lots more of the former than the latter, but eventually we did find them both along with Van Gogh. We should have just looked for the REALLY big crowds. Friends had warned me about the ABC syndrome in Europe -- "Another Boring Castle/Cathedral/Church". I very quickly got ABP -- another boring painting. You have to remember, we saw everything we wanted to in the Louvre in two hours. The Rijksmuseum took about an hour and a half. Amazingly, we were allowed to take photos (no flash) and I actually got to see three Vermeers and three Van Goghs, at least of one which was new to me. And more fun to see the real thing than a photo. You, on the other hand, will only get to see my photos.

Van Gogh Painting

Homes along a canal
Out of the museum, we decided to walk along the canal area of the city -- there are lots more than I realized -- both concentric and intersecting canals. My thought was to amble toward the Anne Frank house, where we plan to start tomorrow, and see about how long it takes to walk back the the Museum Square, because I was planning on visiting the Van Gogh Museum. We never did find the house, but we located the area and caught the combination of trams back to the hotel.

Narrow houses on the canals

A REALLY tiny car -- smaller than a smartcar
Bird near our hotel -- I was about 10 ft away and he
was patient, posing while I prepped my camera.
Our hotel is quite nice, but in a totally residential area that has VERY few restaurants -- both the ones we found are Asian and only one appeared to be open for dinner. There were no visible grocery stores or self-service laundries or coffee shops or bars. We wondered where people shop! We opted for the hotel's buffet dinner, which was ok, but does not bear repeating, so we will have to get more creative tomorrow night or have a big lunch. Dinner did include a number of Chinese options, so I broke my 'no Chinese food in Europe' rule and had egg rolls, sweet & sour chicken, and spare ribs, all of which were reasonably good.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oct 23 -- Drive Halfway to Amsterdam

These are the windblown trees we saw before, but this photo
illustrates the wind effect better.
Today we left Denmark and drove about halfway to Amsterdam, stopping outside Bremen, Germany in an out-of-the-way hotel called "Peaceful Forest". We have a small balcony and a woods outside our window. Quite the contrast to being in the middle of the old city last night. Before we left Ribe, we stopped at the bakery and spend our last $10 in Danish currency on two luscious raspberry danish and a small bag of coconut macaroons. With as little walking as we did today, this will not be good for our waistlines, but definitely yummy.

At my daughter's urging, we settled on a more German name for our guidance system, and are trying out "Liesel" instead of Alice, even tho she doesn't speak with a German accent. We'll see how it goes -- I keep thinking of her as Alice, so the new name may not stick.

Either the Danish or Schleswig-Holstein countryside -- FLAT!
The drive was uneventful except when there was a major speed reduction on the highway and single file, everyone drove past a large police presence at about 25 mph. The car behind us got stopped, but we apparently looked pretty innocent. We took photos of the scenery -- pretty much what we have posted before. Lots of flat farmland. I wanted a photo of the Schleswig-Holstein sign, but was too slow. I did get to read it carefully though: it said "Land of Horizons".

Interesting building on the way to the hotel
After checking into the hotel, we drove to the nearby town to see if there were dining choices besides at the hotel, but zip there, so we went back to the bigger village we had skirted on the way in. Most of the dining choices there are lunch places or cafes with coffee and bakery. We did spy the top of an old-style windmill however, and searched it out. It looks like it is the bottom of a feed store today, and there was an old grinding stone leaning against the building. Probably in the old days, it was a wind-driven grist mill.

Store in Harpstedt called Arizona, selling southwest US goodies

The old windmill in Harpstedt
One of several lovely stained glass displays in a Harpstedt church
Dinner was at the hotel, where not too many guests speak English. Our waitress knew about as much English as I know German. With a dictionary and a phrase book, Jim and I managed to select dishes we both enjoyed and it only took about 30 minutes to figure it out! If we lived here, we might become competent in a year or two.