After leaving Austria, we drove into beautiful Germany. First we stopped briefly in Oberammergau. Charming little town…the houses are painted with various scenes. We also walked into the village church to find an amazing Baroque cathedral. Wonderfully unexpected.

We picked our oldest daughter Caitlyn up from the airport Wednesday afternoon uneventfully and continued our drive across Germany to Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber. An exceedingly quaint town still entirely surrounded by its medieval 14th century wall. All the structures inside the wall were built by 1400. We enjoyed the next day or so walking around on cobblestones, eating pastries, walking atop the wall, and taking the very entertaining Nightwatchman’s Tour around the town. We ate and slept in 600 year old buildings…which were never designed for people over 6 feet. And Nathan bought a sword which we shipped back to Texas.  Rothenburg was one of my favorite stops of our entire European vacation.

Friday, after buying some fruit and pastries in Market Square for our drive, we left Rothenburg and headed west. Soon we exited the Autobahn and snaked through the Mosul Valley. Beautiful scenery, winding roads. Roads that only hint at being two lanes and never have shoulders. We all enjoyed the winding roads and endless roundabouts of the small villages immensely and dreaded having to get back on the Autobahn which is like driving in the States…only much faster. (:  We stopped at Burg Eltz, a castle that has been in the same family for its 850 years. Very nice. Then on to our guesthouse on the Mosul River.

We had a bit of an adventure trying to find the guesthouse that night. We couldn’t find it in the small village, and the couple time I got German directions didn’t help. We finally found it, but it was a private building and the owner wasn’t there and I couldn’t get him on the phone. We gave up and began our adventure of stopping at every “Zimmer Frei” sign we saw, which means room available and is in most windows. There are no hotels in these small villages, just old houses that people turn into guestrooms. We finally scored at a cute yellow house that had a restaurant in the cellar and patio. I asked, she said she could give me two rooms. Without even asking our names, she just said its upstairs, rooms 3 and 4, the keys are in the doors, and went back to her restaurant. So un-American…so wonderful. The rooms each consisted of two rooms with 3 beds, a table and bathroom. The old wood floors wonderfully creaky. We dropped our bags and went down to the restaurant. The menu was only in German, unlike some of the touristy places we had been, and we had fun (with my German phrase book) figuring out what the menu items were. Perhaps our best meal yet. Finally on our last night in Austria/German we learned some German. Along the river there was a festival going on, and after dinner we walked around. The kids rode some old timey bumper cars, and we saw a German band play music. Very nice evening in the end. After a fabulous breakfast at the guesthouse we paid the lady without ever even exchanging names.

Austria and Germany were splendid. We spent most of our time in small towns and villages which we loved. It was our favorite leg of our European vacation! We drove to Paris next, which proved to be quite different from the relaxed atmosphere we had grown to love.

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