Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 36

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Monday June 16, 2008 (diary, travel)

Wall and moat of Dinkelsbühl I am surprised by the landscape here in Bavaria. It is far less hilly than I expected. It is mostly rather flat with only gentle undulations. Interest of it varies from rather boring to rather nice.
It is only 30 km from Nördlingen to Dinkelsbühl. I arrive there at about 11 am, park the car in the center of the old town and find the Dinkelsbühler Kunststuben. The place is run by a couple of which the man, a former engineer, like me changed to art in his 50s. A painter now and quite successful by the look of it. They have a couple of houses converted into Pensions, quite good and comfortable. I also take one of their lock up garages. Cars are only allowed to park for 1 hour in the old town.

Dinkelsbühl has prospered since the 11th Century, as its location on the intersection of two important trade routes attracted many trades and craft people to settle there. It still looks magnificent with larger and richer houses than in Nördlingen (clearly its much poorer cousin). All houses are impeccably restored and freshly painted. The entire surrounding city wall with numerous towers is also fully intact. The moat is partly filled with water, party dry forming a lovely park to wander through. Despite this all I strangely feel more at home in Nördlingen. It is all a bit too nice and therefore somewhat unreal to me here. But the recommended walk I do around the town in the afternoon is most enjoyable, despite a brief shower.

I am a bit off the standard German dinner food (I love their sausages etc. at lunch, but had enough of all the pork steaks), so have lunch in a Chinese and dinner in an Italian restaurant : escargots (15 of them !) in a herb butter and white wine sauce, consumed like a soup.
The soccer match in the evening is quite boring. Germany beats Austria quite unconvincingly 1-0 thanks to a good free kick by Ballak. For the rest it were the Austrians who played soccer and the Germans watching on. Germany is through to the Quarter final (meeting Portugal next), but they won't get much further if they keep playing like this.

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Tuesday June 17, 2008 (diary, travel)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Dinkelsbühl to Rothenburg ob der Tauber is only 40 km and the countryside is decidedly more hilly than farther South. One gets the impression that these fortified Medieval towns are spaced at a good day's march away from each other.
I arrive at about 11 am in town and have no trouble finding Hotel Rädel. They have only a single room without shower and toilet left available, but I can live with that for one night.
I agree with the LPG, Rothenburg is an "impossibly attractive" town, the more so as it feels much more "lived in" (despite all the tourists) than its neighbour Dinkelsbühl. The surrounding city wall is fully intact, all houses in the old town are in prime condition and there are green climbers and flowers literally everywhere.

I do my usual walk around town, have lunch in a small Pub (Nürenberger Bratwurstchen with Sauerkraut), then look around for a place I can watch the soccer tonight as there is not TV either in my room (but for only € 24 including breakfast who is complaining ?). I finally find a nice Italian restaurant near the central market place and book a table there for the night. It will be crowded as Italy faces France with at stake entry to the Quarter finals.

The meal in the restaurant is good and there is a pleasant atmosphere. After 20 minutes play the top French player is stretchered off with a bad leg injury. Another one is sent off for an offence which also attracts a penalty. Game over, Italy wins 2-0 and is through to the Quarter finals. I felt the French were the better team.
It is lovely quiet in town as I walk back to my Hotel, soft light everywhere. But tomorrow I will be off again, perhaps to Freudenstadt.

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Wedesday June 18, 2008 (diary, travel)

Oos River, Baden Baden In the morning I decide to check out Baden Baden. As I leave Rhotenburg an early morning haze lies over the countryside and is this gradually lifts reveals the sun and a lovely blue sky.   The road is easy and follows three autobahns, A7, A6, A5, and Heidi has little problems guiding me around the daily "Umleitung". The A6, running Westwards from München, especially has its outside lane covered almost "wall to wall" with trucks. I overtake 100 of them (I did count them !) within the span of only 15 minutes !

Baden Baden is a surprise and a delight, so different from where I have been this last week. It is a city in the North of the Black Forest. Unlike Freiburg which is in the flat Rhine valley, Baden Baden is built on and around the Black Forest foothills. It has great elegance with beautiful buildings, quality shops, and a great range of Cafes and Restaurants, my favourite being Wallstreet im Hamilton Cafe right on the Oos River. This tiny river meanders along and through the beautiful city park with its original Kurhaus and Casino.
There are three enormous Spa centers, trees, flowers, climbers and elegantly dressed women everywhere (many of them single and on the lookout for a man), which too adds to the overall character of the town. Concerts, operas, plays, ballets etc. are performed daily.

Heidi finds without any trouble the LPG recommended Hotel am Markt which is right in the centre of the old town and within 200 meters of the three large Spa bath complexes. I can only get a double room, but what the heck. I would have taken it for a couple of nights if I could, but the Hotel is booked out. (I will surely come back to this place).

View from the Kurhaus Gardens, Baden Baden After a quick look around, I purchase a Spa card ("pay €12 for 2 hours get 3"), and spend over 2 hours in the Caracalla-Therme Spa baths, beautifully laid out with large pools both inside and outdoors in a lovely park setting. There are saunas, solariums, and also an "Aromatischedampfbath" (Aromatic steam room, smelling predominantly of mint) which I quite enjoy. The various pools range in temperature from 31° to 38° C plus of course the icy cold plunge pool to cool off in.
In the evening I stroll from the old town across the 20 meters wide idyllic Oos river into the with its Open air concert shell and two rows of expensive mini shops of clothes, ties, shoes, chocolates and jewelry (including jewelry from Niessing, one of the suppliers of our former family business Martinshof).

Back at the Hotel I watch the last group soccer match, where Russia comfortably beats Sweden 2-0. Guus Hiddink, the "Global coach" (as they call him now), has now guided four National teams into the Quarter finals of either the World- or European- championships : Holland, Korea, Australia and now the young Russia team. Unfortunately they face Holland next which will be difficult to get past.
The teams into the Quarter finals are

Group winners : Portugal - Croatia - Holland - Spain

Group 2nds : Turkey - Germany - Italy - Russia
I will upload all full size photos from the last week's trip this weekend.

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Thursday & Friday June 19 & 20, 2008 (diary, travel)

Nice weather has finally returned to the South of Germany it appears. It is only 120 km back to Sankt Peter, all autobahn, but halfway I get into a huge Stau. After a while I manage to get off the A5, reinstruct Heidi to avoid freeways and drive home on the lovely B3 which hugs the foothills of the Black Forest all the way South.
It is good to be back, to rest up a bit and start to sort out the photos I took during the past week. In the evening I go to the Zähringer Eck and watch the Germans beat Portugal 3-2. The Portuguese are much better individual players but don't seem to have a good tactical plan. The Germans are fair winners of the match. The whole Cafe is of course in happy uproar.

On Friday Wivica and I drive into Freiburg where I buy a Lonely Planet Guide for Holland, just in case I need it. Also a couple of books on the German card game Skat (I finally get the spelling right) I want to study up. We lunch again at the Mai-Wok Cafe.
I am invited to stay with several friends in Holland next week and look forward to see all of them after so many years. I also start to feel much more relaxed now about the developments when returning to Australia. I can see a very positive outcome emerging, although I barely trust myself to be too hopeful.

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