Thursday, October 24, 2013

European Adventure- Part 1

At my house just before leaving
As I mentioned in my last post, I had made a trip to the Netherlands and Germany. I traveled with a friend with whom I had taught at East High in Waterloo. Steve Moravec was also in the history department there and is an experienced traveler to Europe. He is working on his family’s genealogy and had always been after me to make the journey and visit some of my ancestral “homes”. He finally convinced me to go when he offered to be a “travel guide”. That sold me on the idea!

We left from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on September 3 and arrived in Amsterdam about 9 hours later.
Bikes, bikes, bikes and more bikes!
We stayed in Amsterdam for three days. What a city it is! I simply could not believe the number of bicycles! They are everywhere and at all hours. The picture above is a three-level parking area for bikes. My favorite pastime  was walking along the canals. I did not realize how many they have. You can find so many quaint little shops and cafes along them.

On Saturday, September 7 it was time to use our first Eurail pass trip to go to Stuttgart. Our Eurail pass was good for five trips and we used every one of them. What a system! On all five of our trips, we got to our destination on the minute we were supposed to have arrived! I got my first introduction to German food at an outdoor restaurant in Stuttgart. It was time to experiment, so I chose an entree called schweinebraten and it was simply delicious. It was so good that I looked for a recipe and made it when I returned home! It was terrific again if I may say so!

On Monday, September 9, we headed out to an old medieval town called Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For a couple of old history teachers, this was quite the place. As you can see in these pictures, it has maintained its medieval charm quite well. Being medieval, the town was surrounded by a high protective wall. You can walk atop it nearly the entire length around the town- it’s about a 2-mile walk and this picture below shows the covered walkway on
Atop the wall
 top of the wall. More good food here-- I chose some schnitzel this time!

When Wednesday rolled around, it was time to board the train to Nürnberg, or Nuremberg as we know it. After finding a hotel, we took a stroll around the old part of town and came upon a Pizza Hut. That really sounded good so we ducked in and had some Italian for a change. The next day we toured the Nazi Documentation Center; they have done an excellent job in telling the story of the rise of the Nazi Party without pushing any agenda. The stories and displays pretty much lead you to the obvious conclusions. It’s good to have this kind of place lest we forget; as a matter of fact, there were several German army personnel taking the tour at the time we were there. I wonder if it is a requirement? We were able to walk
Zeppelin Field
over to Zeppelin Field where the large Nazi rallies were held and you can actually walk up to the reviewing platform that Hitler would have stood upon while reviewing the thousands of troops lined up before him. It was really a somewhat eerie feeling to be there. Again, a couple of old history teachers just really ate it up! We also visited the Albrecht Dürer museum which happens to be the home in which he lived in Nürnberg. He was a famous artist.
Dürer home

On Friday, September 13, we left for Stuttgart on our third Eurail trip-- two to go! I’ll continue the trip in the next post. If you happen to follow my other blog “Happekotte Happenings”, you will find this exact same posting there.


  1. Steve..each and every photo could be a postcard. Hard to believe such simple beauty and character filled spaces exist! The trip to Northern Germany is a must for me, and I hope to find treasured and treasures that YOU were able to find and experience. Thanks for allowing me a peek into your journey and getting to share in the excitement and fun through your story telling. What fun!!~Julie (your bus driver) ;)

  2. Thanks, Julie, for your comments. I really appreciate that. I truly hope you get a chance to experience your own ancestry in northern Germany. It will not disappoint! I hope you did see that there were Parts 2,3,and 4 in addition to this post!