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Town square in old town, Rotherburg ob der Tauber. Image by Bonnie Fink

Town square in old town, Rotherburg ob der Tauber. Image by Bonnie Fink

Rothenburg over the Tauber is a medieval city in Germany, southeast of Frankfurt, and west of Nuremberg. At one time, it was the third largest city in Germany and the largest completely walled city. It dates back over 1,000  years and today is one of Germany's treasures. The name Rothenburg ob der Tauber means "Red fortress over the Tauber". Rot is the German word for red, referring to the red tiles on the roofs while burg refers to a fortification. Ob der means "over the", and of course Tauber is the name of the river that runs by. (read more...)

Medieval Castle on top of a hill with a village below. Image by Donald Fink.

Medieval Castle on top of a hill with a village below. Image by Donald Fink.

On the way to Rothenburg we stopped in a little village called Harburg. It's a classic medieval village with a castle on the hill and narrow streets, barely wide enough to drive through. Probably those medieval city planners weren't up to speed on the size of our 21st century cars when they layed out the city.

There was road construction in several spots in and around the town which made navigating our way through the village and up to the Castle difficult. The GPS was completely confused about how to get there, and we finally resorted to using the maps and GPS in our phone to navigate the village. Once at the top of the hill we found ample free parking with less than a minute's walk to the castle. Admission to the Castle without the inside tour was only 3.00 Euros, and the ticket was redeemable for 1.00 Euro off our lunch bill. (read more...)

Like many towns we visited in Germany, Baden-Baden has an Old Town that's designed for tourists and locals to visit on foot. Image by Bonnie Fink.

Like many towns we visited in Germany, Baden-Baden has an Old Town that's designed for tourists and locals to visit on foot. Image by Bonnie Fink.

We stayed in Baden-Baden for only a couple of nights while we were visiting the Schloss Lichtenstein and the Black Forest. There really isn’t much we can report about this town, other than we were within walking distance to their old town, which is where we went each night to find some dinner.

Here we stayed at the local Holiday Inn Express. It was the only thing Bonnie could find that was within easy walking to the old town, but still had on-site parking for our rental car. Parking seems to be an issue with many hotels in Europe. Makes sense since many of them were built long before there were cars, and many folks travel around Europe without a car. (read more...)

nestled at the base of the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany, Hohenschwangau is the place to be if you want to see castles. Image by Bonnie Fink.

Nestled at the base of the Bavarian Alps in southern Germany, Hohenschwangau is the place to be if you want to see castles. Image by Bonnie Fink.

Hohen schwan gau - in german means high (hohen) schwan (swan) gau (country, district). The community of Schwangau was originally nothing more than a couple of farm houses until King Maximilian II of Bavaria discovered the ruins of an old castle in the early 19th century. The castle, called fortress Schwangau was thought to have been originally built in the 12th century, and was the fortress of a group of knights.

King Maximilian II (then Prince Maximilian) discovered the ruins in 1829 and was so taken by the ruins and their location that he purchased them, later building them into the Schloss Hohenschwangau as it stands today. (read more...)

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A view of Heidelberg Old Town from high above at the Heidelberg Castle. Image by Donald Fink.

Heidelberg goes down as one of those places that warrant a return trip at some point. While we weren't totally blown away with the adventure, it was nevertheless a decent town to visit. We spent a couple of nights at a downtown Holiday Inn Express  that was within easy walking distance to Old Town and the Heidelberg Castle. We spent one even strolling Old Town, and one day at the Castle and again at Old Town. (read more...)

 

View of Cochem Germany from the Cochem Castle, 100 meters above the River Mozel. Image by Bonnie Fink

View of Cochem Germany from the Cochem Castle, 100 meters above the River Mozel. Image by Bonnie Fink

When we arrived in Cochem, there were probably 1,000 bikers in town, plus a compliment of other tourists from tour companies, boat excursions, and folks like us, who just drove in for the day or weekend. It apparently was a German holiday, and the Germans were out in full force.

There were bikes, boats, old cars, new cars, just about every kind of recreational vehicle you would expect to see in the US, but in German style. Bikes, for example, are overwhelmingly Harley Davidson at a typical US motorcycle rally. In Cochem, there were a few Harleys, but the bikes were a mixture of other brands. Many European brands including BMW and Triumph, but many Japanese bikes too. (read more...)


Deck 15 is where the outdoor action is aboard the Allure of the Seas. There are two pools with an open canyon looking down into Central park on Deck 8. Image by Donald Fink

Deck 15 is where the outdoor action is aboard the Allure of the Seas. There are two pools in this area with an open canyon looking down into Central park on Deck 8. Image by Donald Fink

We’re in the Caribbean aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. This is the biggest ship we’ve sailed, and probably the largest cruise ship afloat. This week, we’re traveling from the Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades, to Haiti, jamaica, Cozumel, and back. We’ll have three “sea days”.

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, and we’ve almost forgotten how different it is compared to some of the other cruise lines we’ve tried. The service is great and the ship is full of Wow factor.

Join us again in the next few days and we’ll have a complete description of this great ship with as many pictures as we think you can stand.

There are four pools aboard the Caribbean Princess. All are on Deck Fifteen, as are most of the outdoor activities.

There are four pools aboard the Caribbean Princess. All are on Deck Fifteen, as are most of the outdoor activities.

Last week we made a quick five day Caribbean cruise on the Princess's "Caribbean Princess". We left Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, November 29th and sailed to Nassau in the Bahamas. From there we made a stop at Princess Cays located about fifty miles east of Nassau, then back to Fort Lauderdale. There were two "at sea" days on this cruise. (read more...)

Norwegian Epic docked in St. Marten. Image by Donald Fink

Norwegian Epic docked in St. Marten. Image by Donald Fink

Over the years, we've made eleven cruises on various ships and cruise lines. From that experience we've always maintained that “we never met a cruise ship we didn't like”. We've been on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, and lately our last three cruises were on various Norwegian Cruise Line ships, the latest being the Norwegian Epic. The Epic is the largest ship we've sailed on, but it's a far cry from the best, at least in our estimation.

This last adventure was an Atlantic crossing. As you may know, many of the ships will switch from a European base to a Caribbean base throughout the year. They typically cruise the Mediterranean or Baltic in the summer, for example, then switch to the Caribbean in the winter. Cruise lines, of course, don't like to drive around in empty ships, so they sell crossings when these ships leave one market for another. This year we caught the Epic as it left Barcelona and made its way to Miami to begin the winter season in the Caribbean. (read more...)

The front of the Continental Hotel in Barcelona is unassuming. You might miss it as you walk by.

The front of the Continental Hotel in Barcelona is unassuming. You might miss it as you walk by.

We're a Holiday Inn Express kinda folk. We like to know what to expect when we book a hotel, and we like to have a good feeling for the value we're about to get for our money. It makes sense, then, that we were a little on the skeptical side when we booked our recent two night stay at the Hotel Continental in Barcelona, Spain.

We were flying in from Florida, planning to catch a ship in Barcelona for an Atlantic crossing voyage back to Florida and wanted to spend a day in Barcelona first, just looking the city over. We wanted to stay downtown somewhere and all the reviews suggested that the Hotel Continental might be a good choice.

When we landed at the airport in Barcelona, we were greeted by a driver that was previously booked and paid for. Our previous experience with folks in Barcelona was that not everyone spoke English, and we wanted to have an easy trip to the hotel after traveling all night. We were tired and severely jet lagged. The driver was a good call. He spoke absolutely no English, but already knew where he was taking us, so there was no problem getting to the hotel.

Our arrival on Las Rambles Street was at about 8:00 PM on a Friday night. The lights were just starting to come on and people were definitely out and about starting to enjoy their evening; a true lively and vibrant part of the city. (read more...)

The center of Las Rambles Street in Barcelona is set aside for pedestrians and street venders.

The center of Las Rambles Street in Barcelona is set aside for pedestrians and street venders.

Not long ago, we had the fortunate occasion to spend the day in Barcelona, Spain. We were traveling from Orlando, Florida and catching a cruise ship in Barcelona back to Florida. We've grown fond of Atlantic crossings in the last couple of years and found a great price on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship, the Epic.

The last time we were in Barcelona for just a day we were seeing it from the comfort of a cruise ship shore excursion and decided that if we ever returned, we'd make some time to explore it on our own.

This visit was again a short one, but we were determined to see a bit of the city in the short time we had. We left Orlando on a Thursday afternoon at about 3:00 PM. We flew on a red-eye through Philadelphia, Heathrow, and finally arrived at our hotel in Barcelona at about 8:30 in the evening on Friday. (read more...)