Bamberg, Germany, March 25, 2012.
There was a time when getting on an airplane to travel somewhere was exciting and a thrill. I got that out of my system over 30 years ago. Today, my idea of travel is throwing my camera gear in the truck, then driving somewhere in the great American southwest. I dislike flying. It forces you into a somewhat uncomfortable position and expects you to deal with it. On the plus side it gets you to far away places quickly.
I used to be able to fall asleep on planes, which was a very useful thing. Hopefully I will learn to do that again. Its not that I don’t get any practice. I travel on jets up to 50 times a year, but falling asleep on demand on an airplane is a skill I seem to have lost.
That being said, once I get somewhere on an airplane the travel is over and I enjoy myself at my destination. This trip to Germany is no exception. I flew from Santa Ana to Atlanta early morning March 24. I got the last first class upgrade. Despite being placed against a bulkhead it was still first class, it still gave a free meal, and there is always lots of elbowroom.
My next hop was from Atlanta to Frankfurt, Germany. In Atlanta we were two extra hours at the gate fixing a balky toilet. We finally got in the air sometime after 6pm for a 10 hour flight. I had a first class upgrade here also. We got a dinner and a breakfast which were both very good, I watched two movies, but only got about 1 hour of sleep.
The flight was routine, with a spectacular sunrise over Great Britain. Somewhere over France a jet threatened to fly across our path almost at a right angle to us. First I saw the contrail in the clear air. Then my eye followed the contrail to what was making it. Fortunately it was above us, but almost close enough to see the fuselage numbers. Fascinated, I watched through the window as our paths began to intersect. He crossed just behind us. There was nothing to worry about, but the ballet of the jets and contrails was a thing to see.
Landing in Frankfurt was also routine, and clearing customs was very quick. I presented my passport, the official asked me why I was in Germany (work), how long I was going to be in Germany (13 days), stamped my passport and let me through.
Clearing customs is a bit more formal than it used to be. When Francie and I vacationed in France in 1976 we showed our passports to the French custom’s officer, he looked at them, then waved us through. It never got stamped, folded or wrinkled. Later that week we toured in Italy. Going into Italy the tour guide told the official we were a bus load of Americans and off we went into the Italian countryside. Going back into France later that day the French custom’s officer came onto the bus and everyone waved their passports in the air. He was surprised to see a bus load of Americans, but turned around, got off the bus, and let us through. Only upon coming back into the U.S. was our passport stamped showing we had been anywhere.
In 2000 when Francie and I vacationed in Bermuda the routine was the same. There was no entry point to speak of, we just got off of the boat, and walked around town. Our second day there we found the customs office and asked for our passports to be stamped so we could show we were in the country. Back in the U.S. our passports were stamped to show entry.
Things have changed. It is a tougher world. It used to be very easy to travel to and from Canada. There were only a few questions and no documents. Now their border crossings have high speed cameras. The official takes your passport and scans it. Then he asks lots of questions about your visit. Their entry procedure is more rigorous than that of the U.S.
Back to Germany. We quickly took a wrong turn getting out of the airport. We knew where we were and knew how to get back, but this required a little backtracking because there were very few ways off the Autobahn and once off it all we found were one way roads leading the wrong way. This wasted maybe 15 minutes.
Once we were going in the right direction my navigator suggested a different route into Bamberg that was more direct than the route the computer had given me. We all agreed to it and off we went. Suddenly 4 Dodge Challengers colored red, blue, green, & brown blew right by us travelling in a tight single line formation. They must have been doing 200 KPH (124.25 MPH). Challengers are rare in Germany so this road show was definitely an act of advertising.
It wasn’t just the Challengers blowing the doors off of us. I was cruising around 150 KPH (about 92 MPH) and constantly staying in the slow lane weaving into the fast lane only to avoid slower cars. Meanwhile BMWs, Mercedes, Renaults, VWs, Fords, Hondas, you name it are doing 200 KPH or faster blowing our doors off. The day was real sunny so vision was no issue. You always had to be looking in your rear view and side view mirrors to watch these guys. At that speed they approach so quickly it seems they are on you before you can get out of their way.
After 2 or 2 ½ hours we got to Bamberg easily enough, but we had to find our hotel. My map was no longer good as it had us coming in from a totally different direction. We eventually intersected our street and found the hotel, only a little worse for the wear.
After we checked in I got myself situated and laid down on the bed to watch TV. Almost everything was in German. I got through a few channels before I fell asleep. It was late afternoon before I finally awoke. I got out the camera and took a few shots.
This is the Welcome Hotel Residenzschloss, Bamberg, Germany. It is a part of the Welcome Hotel chain. It used to be a mental hospital, was shut for years, then made into a hotel. Every morning they serve an excellent buffet breakfast with over 100 items to choose from. You can also squeeze fresh orange juice as part of the buffet.
The buffet has smoked salmon so that is usually my choice. Tuesday morning I cut a slice of hearth baked dark bread and put some lox and creamed horseradish on it. When I bit into it I found a rock in the bread. It seems to have split one of my teeth. The pain is down, but I still can’t chew food on my left side. I recommend the buffet, but I no longer put the lox on any bread.
Immediately across from the hotel is the Stadtarchiv which I interpret as the cities’ Hall of Records.
There are some rooms in the original building, but a newer building has been erected behind it with more rooms. This is the bell tower of the original building from my room on the 2nd floor. Germans seem to number their floors digitally. The ground floor has a name, but no number. The second floor becomes floor 1, and the third floor (where I’m at) is the 2nd floor.
Francie likes to see my accommodations so here are a few shots of my room. The hotel is rated 4 stars out of 5. I would agree.
The next post will show some of the sights in the old city center of Bamberg.