September 16, 2009 0900 We woke up in Stuttgart at the Army hotel, had breakfast (Henry forgot to check on his ice, which was for the best) and headed down to Ulm to see the famous Gothic Cathedral. The trouble with GPS units in old towns is that they try their darndest to take you right to the place you’re looking for which became a problem as we were driving down a 10 foot wide “street” shared by lots of pedestrians. Luckily a nice german man did his best to explain where the parking garage was. We drove very slowly out of the pedestrian zone and walked to the Cathedral’s square where there was a farmers market filling the square with produce, cheese, honey and other farm goods filling the square. For some reason there were also two gentlemen surrounded by 6 secret-service looking guys with suits and earbuds. Seems kind of like overkill just to get some fresh produce, but to each his own.
The cathedral was Gothically beautiful and were were lucky to catch part of a service with lovely organ music and a sonorous female voice echoing back and forth the 450 feet from nave to rose window. Henry’s not a huge fan of old churches, Lizzy doesn’t mind them…maybe he’ll like the Rococco one tomorrow. Lunch was bratwurst on a roll for the boys and bakery pizza for Anna.
After some dithering on what to do the rest of the day we headed further South, driving at times near 100mph and still getting passed, towards the Alps and the Austrian town of Reutte. We drove through so many picturesque towns—tight clusters of red-roofed, white-walled houses surrounded by lush green farms, pastures and pines, and framed in front of towering granite peaks. Near Reutte we visited a “hands-on” medieval museum at the foot of hiking trails up to several ruined castles. The museum was perfect for kids and the young at heart. They provided a game for Henry where he had to answer a question for each room to get a letter that made up a secret word and if he got the word he would be knighted and given a certificate. My favorite room was the armor room where you actually get to try on different helmets and body armor. The plague room scared Henry too much so we didn’t see much of that. We’re usually not ones to make obligatory purchases at gift shops, but this time Henry walked out with a little wooden sword.
The hike to the castle ruins in a light drizzle took about 30-40 minutes and we spent another 45 minutes playing knights and princesses around the ruins and taking pictures.
Garmisch, where we are staying the night was only a short, but amazing drive away past the Zugspitze, Germany’s tallest mountain. We got settled into our “rustic cabin” at the Edelweiss military resort—bedroom with double bed and bunkbed set, loft with two sleeping mats, small living room, electricity, heat, but shared bathhouse a short walk away for just $57USD a night We spent almost that much for our German dinner…hearty, lots of cheese. In the free marketplace of ethnic foods, there’s a reason German cuisine hasn’t taken over the world. (The rest of the Edelweiss resort is pretty fancy and still reasonably priced for what and where it is).