Castles and Casinos and Churches – Oh My!

We were off to an early start this morning and eager to get going. After a 6:00 wake-up call, breakfast was at 6:30 in the hotel’s restaurant. There were many choices and our day was off to a great start. As we began our drive we passed many scenic towns in the German wine country although it would have been nice to have had a little time to stop and visit them along the way there just wasn’t enough time in the day for that and all of the other planned activities so we had to keep moving. Although it sprinkled off and on all day, the weather didn’t get in the way of enjoying all the day had to offer.

After a short drive we arrived at our first destination, a Rhine River cruise. The cruise was wonderful and we were enthralled with the small villages set alongside the river, beautiful hillside scenery, and castles everywhere the eye stopped. Another highlight was seeing the famous Lorelei Rock which is well known for the siren Lorelei who sang her beautiful song, attracting unfortunate sailors to their death on the dangerous rock formation. Our boat captain managed to stay clear of danger and our boat cruise ended safely. Thank goodness for digital cameras and large storage cards, after this first stop of our day we know that we will be using them often!

Next, we traveled to Heidelberg and had some free time to explore the old town. Heidelberg is charming and a wonderful place to walk and explore. One of our best finds was a little pastry shop selling some type of pastry balls. The balls were in different flavors, our choice was chocolate. There isn’t anything much better than strolling through a charming village with a wonderful chocolate confection in hand! Also in Heidelberg we visited Heidelberg Castle. The castle has a magnificent view overlooking the river and old town. This was a very short stop, but we enjoyed visiting the castle including the very large wine barrels in the cellar – one barrel is so large it has a dance floor on top of it and a spiral staircase leading away from it. Heidelberg was a wonderful surprise for us, one of those hidden treasures you love to find!

Our last stop before arriving at our Black Forest hotel for the evening was the mineral spa town of Baden Baden – wow! This is a very elegant and stately place, many people were dressed to the nines, it wasn’t your typical tourist schlepping around in shorts and flip flops! The town is famous for the mineral spa and the casino (reported to be incredibly luxurious,we didn’t go in to verify this – maybe next time when we bring the tux and long gown). However, we did stop by the mineral spa for a quick drink of mineral water which is reported to have healing powers – still waiting for the healing powers to start kicking in! As for the taste…just check out Lance’s picture for his reaction….

Last stop of the day was our hotel that is set just inside the Black Forest. Although it is a Best Western, it is very quaint and typical of the Black Forest style. It is said that Marie Antoinette stayed here on her way to France before becoming queen! Behind the hotel are scenic trails and they are gorgeous. Along another trail is a church that was built to house bones found from an old graveyard.

Tomorrow we will see a demonstration of how to make a cuckoo clock before leaving the hotel then we will ride through the Black Forest to the Rhine Gorge.

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