Monday, October 10, 2011

Arriving in Frankfurt
Our first overseas travel involved us talking our first exploratory trip to Europe. This involved a plane flight from moline Illinois, to Chicago and from Chicago, to Frankfurt Germany... Better known as Dauchland. Arriving in Frankfurt we found our rental car and began our venture to Mannheim where we were to meet my fathers friend Sven. We arrived in the afternoon after a adventurous trip down the autobahn. Wow do cars drive fast. You can pull into the fast lane only to be overtaken by a Mercedes m5 in a matter of seconds going 285km an hour or translated 185mph... think about that. One second you are trying to overtake a car with your rental and the next sec you are being tailed by a car having to slam on the brakes... Ours maxed out at 105 mph.

We arrived at Mannheim and checked in to the Steingenberger hotel. At first thought I wanted to just collapse on the bed... Next thought, I was in a new place/country/ world and wanted to explore. We went to the nearest Starbucks and got wi fi.

What next? Exploring! We head in to the city and try cheeses, and neueva wine, and bread.. We window shop and check out the latest european styles and look at all the German specialities. 

By this time we are too meet up for dinner with Sven.

We arrive and dinner is being prepared, cutting the onion, baking the bread, and cooking the meat. I loved that it gave us time to chat and get to know one another. Maybe an hour and a half passed as we chatted about our travels and dinner was finally ready! It looked amazing...tomato sauce with onions peppers, and zucchini, Pork medallions, and cheeses...and it was! Sven and his wife were so hospitable they chatted with us until 10:30 or so about our plans. We had a nice time and after the night we were ready to head to bed and get a good nights sleep. Jet lag was setting in.

The next morning we got up and headed to see another friend, Gunter. We arrive at his home and we are greeted with warm welcomes and delicious food. 

After lunch we headed into the town of Speyer. We saw an amazing cathedral, which the Germans call "the dome", it's 950 years old and still standing strong. Gunter was such a great guide, he showed us the history of the town as well as some German specialities. We had a crepe, (nutella, banana, and grand marnei), he showed us what neueva wine is, and got us Italian ice (my new favorite) I had pistachio, and Brandon had orange. That night we headed to the brewery for dinner- a German traditional restaurant. Not sure what to order because the menu was in German, I followed Gunter's recommendation on a traditional German plate, and Brandon went with another recommendation. Surprisingly, I liked what I got... A Liver meatball, a bratwarst, and something  I still can pronounce, but still delicious, and what other than sourkatut to go with it. Brandon enjoyed spatzel and mushrooms with pork medallions. And we both enjoyed some good German beer.

Third day in Europe 

Today we wake up... "it's 9:30" Brandon says. How did we sleep so late?! We won't admit it but we are still jet lagged. On our third day we have so much  planned. We're not exactly sure what we are doing but we know for sure Gunter won't do us wrong.

We head up stairs for breakfast and are treated with fresh brewed kaffee. and asked to sit at the table. We proceed to eat nutella, a delectable breakfast spread, popular among Germans, and cold meats with toast. Completely satisfied already, we are then served eggs with bacon. Delicious. Heika, Gunter's wife (who says she is not a cook) has already cooked us two wonderful meals, what a treat. 

We leave for heidleburg and head to the castle. What a Magnificent sight. Gunter, took very "gut"care of us. We went up into the castle and took a tour, learned about the history, and saw some amazing architecture. 

After the tour, we head to wine country. To Germans, this means business... A half liter is the norm, however Gunter bought us a glass for 15 euros which meant we could essentially taste 70 different wines.... And a taste in Germany is more like an entire glass... (see picture) what a great tradition! And even better Gunter had us try a speciality dish from each winery.. (pictures coming soon)  some of the best foods I have tried. They were nothing I have ever seen in the states, but DELICIOUS!!!

After many wines and good traditions we head back to Gunter's house for a glass of wine and to plan the next weeks. He has been so hospitable we couldn't ask for more. We are just about to head to bed and we are enjoying the wonderful accommodations (and German beer). DANKA GUNTER!!!

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