Germany from Hamburg to Berlin

Me on the pedestrian Marienbrucke (Queen Mary Bridge) built over a cliff in 1845 provides a simply spectacular view of Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany. May 25, 2018

Before we left Copenhagen, Tammy gave Alice and I the run down of foods we need to eat while in Hamburg, Germany, and first on the list were hamburgers. Hamburgers?

Yes, Hamburg is supposedly why we use the term “hamburger,” for our fried or grilled ground beef, served in a bread roll and garnished with various condiments. According to various research accounts, the term “hamburger” comes from Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg.

Hamburger historians…okay, I just made that up…have provided a whole host of claims as to who invented the first hamburger, but the actual word or term may have come about because the people of Hamburg, Germany, brought their Hamburg steaks into the U.S. when they immigrated. As to which hamburger sandwich chain or person is to be ordained as the creator of the edible hamburger sandwich…well it seems a number of people would like a ‘steak’ in that claim.

I don’t know if any of this Hamburger history is true or not, but today, we climbed down the nine sets of stairs from our Copenhagen apartment; walked the 10 minutes to the train station, which took us to the airport in less than 15 minutes; boarded the SAS airplane and in less than an hour made it to Hamburg to begin the “Hamburger” quest.

One things’ for sure, the quest will be done in a lot less sunny and warmer temperatures because when we arrived, Hamburg was rather chilly and overcast.

Here we are, Tammy, myself and Alice, at Copenhagen’s train station saying good-bye, with bags in toe, for Hamburg, Germany. May 18, 2018
Tammy and I enjoying our first meal in Hamburg, Germany. We may not have found an actual hamburger but the restaurant we ate at carries the name: Hamburger Stadtkrug, and they seem to specialize in potatoes because just about every meal on the menu comes with pan fried potatoes. Alice wasn’t into the potatoes and instead had a Vietnamese soup of tofu noodles with bean sprouts at another restaurant. May 18, 2017
This is my meal, a German style steak and potatoes extravaganza….Rumpsteak with onions, herb butter and pan fried potatoes at Hamburger Stadtkrug in Hamburg, Germany. It was delicious. Tammy had the pork loin with onions, fresh mushrooms and topped with melted cheese…also served with pan fried potatoes. May 18, 2018
These are the pan fried potatoes at Hamburger Stadtkrug in Hamburg, Germany…they come in a skillet with onions and bacon bits. They were pretty yummy too. May 18, 2018
A glimpse of Hamburg, Germany’s, Old Town center during this overcast, chilly and dreary day. We don’t meet our Rick Steves guide and tour group for our “Best of Germany in 13 days” tour until tomorrow at 5:00 pm. Depending on the weather, we may either take it easy before then or get out and explore a little on our own. May 18, 2018
Another another Hamburg, Germany, glimpse from the other side of the above canal. May 18, 2018

While Meghan and Harry were tying the knot yesterday, I was out exploring Hamburg, on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour. I did get to see highlights of the wedding on German television with German newscasters speaking in German, so I just put the television on mute and enjoyed the pomp and circumstance re-runs. She made for a beautiful bride and he made for a handsome groom. I wish them many years of love and happiness.

Yesterday was also Day One of our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” 13-day tour. Alice, Tammy and I met our tour guide, Carlos Meissner, and the 19 other travelers we’ll be hanging out with during the tour.

Hamburg, first and foremost is a major port city in northern Germany and is connected to the North Sea by the Elbe River. The history of Hamburg begins with its foundation as a mission settlement to convert the Saxons into Christians in the 9th century. Since the Middle Ages Hamburg was an important trading center in Europe.

In 1842, a great fire destroyed about one third of the buildings in the old town area including 1,700 residences and several important public buildings. Then in 1943, during World War II, the city of Hamburg was virtually destroyed during Operation Gomorrah and more than 40,000 people were killed.

Today, we walked through the remains of the Church of St. Nicholas long after the World War II bombings; walked and took a boat ride through the canals and harbour and saw the city from the observation deck of it’s wavy roof line concert hall.

Tomorrow we leave Hamburg and head to Munden in the Lower Saxony area of Germany for just one night.

Here is just a snippet of Hamburg.

The Rick Steves “Best of Germany” in 13 days tour map. Next stop, one night in Munden in the Lower Saxony area. May 18, 2018
We did a little exploring on our own yesterday before we met with our Rick Steves guide and tour group. And, one of the things we did, as recommended by Anne is the Currywurst. We didn’t make it to the Reeperbahn but we did sample the local Hamburg cuisine at MoGrill. Currywurst is basically a sausage with the Hamburg version of curry sauce. (Tammy, me and Alice) May 19, 2018
Currywurst from MoGrill in Hamburg is cut up sausage with a local curry sauce and topped with sprinkled with some curry powder. Not one of my favorites, but happy to try the local cuisine…Tammy and I Alice enjoyed it. May 19, 2018
The Bucket Man artwork or Hans Hummel, the legendary end of the line water-carrier in Hamburg can be seen at the Central Train Station. Before the local water system was introduced in Hamburg in 1848, Wassertragen (lit. carrying water) was a popular profession. One of these ‘Wasserträger’ became a famous symbolic figure for the city. He was originally born as Johann Heinrich Bentz on January 21st, 1787, but people called him Hans Hummel instead. Nobody’s exactly sure, but historians assume that Bentz got his nickname by moving into the apartment of soldier Daniel Christian Hummel after his death. The real Hummel was much-loved by the kids in the streets for his adventurous war stories.May 19, 2018
Just thought these two were great. She’s flowing carrying two baskets of fish and he’s straining trying to carry his one box. This is Hamburg’s fish market (Fischmarkt) at Hamburg’s harbor where our Rick Steves tour group gathered for dinner. May 19, 2018
Part of our Rick Steves tour group gathered outside the restaurant at Hamburg’s harbour and fish market. May 19, 2018
A group walk over the bridge at Hamburg’s harbour and fish market to catch a ferry back to the hotel after our first group dinner together. May 19, 2018
A night view of Hamburg’s harbour and Fish Market Hall that glows several different colors. May 19, 2018
We began our walking tour with local guide, Jenny, and our group guide, Carlos, at 8:15 this morning and a beautiful morning it was. This gorgeous structure is Hamburg’s Town Hall and it was constructed from 1886 to 1897. It still the home of its government including the office of the First Mayor of Hamburg. After the old city hall was destroyed in the great fire of 1842, it took almost 44 years to build a new one. Most of the city of Hamburg was destroyed during the last week of July 1943, Operation Gomorrah, during World War II, which killed more than 40,000 citizens. But the Town Hall survived. May 20, 2018
Along our walk toward the remains of the Church of St. Nicholas is this statue of Saint Ansgar on Trostbrucke bridge in Hamburg. In 831 AD Hamburg was elevated as a mission to bring Christianity to Northern Europe and in 834 AD, the Benedictine monk Ansgar was elected as the first archbishop. May 20, 2018
The remains of the Church of St. Nicholas in Hamburg is the result of the bombing of Hamburg in World War II. More than 40,000 people were killed during the last week of July 1943 in what was called Operation Gomorrah which virtually destroyed most of the city. The removal of the church’s walls and rubble took place in 1951 and restoration work to the tower in the 1990s and 2012. This great tower was left standing, in all of its 450 feet, as a visual reminder of the destruction of war. May 20, 2018
The remains of the Church of St. Nicholas in Hamburg, Germany. May 20, 2018
What remains of the Church of St. Nicholas walls in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
The bronze sculpture in what use to be the interior of the Church of St. Nicholas in Hamburg is called “The ordeal” by Edith Breckwoldt. “No man in the whole world can change the truth. One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it. The truth is in all places,” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, inscribed on the sculpture’s plaque. May 20, 2018
This bronze sculpture “Angel on Earth” is by Edith Breckwoldt is located inside the remains of the Church of St. Nicholas in Hamburg. The plaque near the sculpture reads: “Take my hand and let me lead you back to yourself.” May 20, 2018
A walk through a canal area in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
A walk through Hamburg’s port area. May 20, 2018
Me on a walking bridge overlooking the canals of the the Speicherstadt or ‘City of Warehouses’ in Hamburg’s port area. May 20, 2018
The Speicherstadt or ‘City of Warehouses’ in Hamburg’s port district is considered to be the largest warehouse district in the world. These buildings have a timber-pile foundation of oak logs and were built from 1883 to 1927. May 20, 2018
The Speicherstadt or ‘City of Warehouses’ in Hamburg’s port district is considered to be the largest warehouse district in the world. These buildings have a timber-pile foundation of oak logs and were built from 1883 to 1927. May 20, 2018
We continued our tour group walk through Hamburg’s harbor on our way to the wavy blue building to the left, the Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall in Hamburg’s HafenCity quarter. May 20, 2018
The canal in Hamburg’s HafenCity quarter as our tour group makes its way to the Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall in Hamburg’s HafenCity quarter. The new glassy construction resembles a hoisted sail, water wave or quartz crystal; it sits on top of an old warehouse building. May 20, 2018
Inside the Elbphilharmonie, a concert hall in Hamburg’s HafenCity quarter. May 20, 2018
Inside the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg at a glass wall reflecting the observation deck. May 20, 2018
A view of Hamburg’s harbor from the Elbphilharmonie observation deck. May 20, 2018
A view of the Speicherstadt or City of Warehouses from the Elbphilharmonie observation deck in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
On the group boat tour through Hamburg’s canals and harbour. May 20, 2018
Gliding through the City of Warehouses canal during our group boat tour in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
Gliding through the City of Warehouses canal during our group boat tour in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
The Port of Hamburg is a sea port on the river Elbe in Hamburg and is Germany’s largest port. This mammoth vessel has a number of containers loaded onto it for transport. May 20, 2018
Hamburg is a major cruise destination and one of Europe’s largest ports of call for cruise passengers. This MSC Meraviglia cruise ship can hold up to 4500 passengers. May 20, 2018
The Elbphilharmonie with its glass and wavy roof structure, is a gorgeous site during our Hamburg canal and harbor boat tour. The concert hall is located in Hamburg’s HafenCity quarter. The new glassy construction resembles a hoisted sail, water wave or quartz crystal; it sits on top of an old warehouse building. May 20, 2018
After the group walking tour and boat ride, the three of us were starving. Since we were in Hamburg’s Portuguese quarter, we decided to have a Portuguese lunch at Ola Lisboa in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
Tammy and Alice taking their food photos at Ola Lisboa, a Portuguese restaurant in the Portuguese quarter in Hamburg. May 20, 2018
St. Michael’s Church 433 feet high Baroque spire covered with copper is a prominent feature of Hamburg’s skyline and has always been a landfall mark for ships sailing up the river Elbe. Dedicated to the Archangel Michael, a large bronze statue, standing above the portal of the church shows the archangel conquering the devil. May 20, 2018
This large bronze statue, above the portal of St. Michael’s Church in Hamburg, is the Archangel Michael conquering the devil. May 20, 2018
Inside St. Michael’s Church in Hamburg where a service is being held. May 20, 2018
Our selfie at the Elbie…as Alice, Tammy and I ride up the escalator to the Elbphilharmonie observation deck. Elbie, as the locals call her, is the grand glassy exterior with a wavy roof line along Hamburg’s harbor. May 20, 2018

Sometimes riding in a bus, even a luxury coach with room for the group to spread out, can be more tiring than a vigorous walk, but our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” tour group left Hamburg on Monday toward Hannoversch Münden where we will spend one night. Along the way we had the opportunity to pay our respects to the more than 50,000 Jews, Czechs, Poles, anti-Nazi Christians, homosexuals, Roma and more, including Ann Frank and her sister Margot Frank, who lost their lives at the former Nazi concentration camp, now memorial site of Bergen-Belsen. And, concluded our day with a walk through the historical town of Hannoversch Münden, in Lower Saxony, Germany, our home base for one night. On Tuesday, we get up early to make our way to Bacharach with a stop in Cologne.

Alice getting on our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” coach bus in Hamburg that will take our group, in comfort, through Germany over the coming days as we continue our journey. Today we make our way to the Lower Saxony area and the town of Münden for the night. May 21, 2018
On our way to Münden, we stopped to pay our respect at the Bergen-Belsen Memorial site. Bergen Belsen, was a Nazi concentration camp. Originally established as a prisoner of war camp in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. Initially this was an “exchange camp”, where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas. The camp was later expanded to accommodate Jews from other concentration camps. This stone sign at the entrance to the Memorial site denotes the dates that this area was used as a prison camp from 1940 to 1945. May 21, 2018
This is one of several mass grave sites at the Bergen-Belsen Memorial site, which was a Nazi concentration camps from 1940 to 1945. There were no gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen because the mass killings took place in the camps further east. Nevertheless, estimates put the number of deaths at Belsen to be more than 50,000 Jews, Czechs, Poles, anti-Nazi Christians, homosexuals, Roma and more. The sign simply reads: Here lie 1,000 dead…April 1945. May 21, 2018
This symbolic headstone is in memory of Margot Frank and Anne Frank who died at the former Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before the liberation. The sisters were transferred to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on October 30, where both contracted typhus in the winter of 1944. Margot Frank died sometime in February 1945 at the age of 19 due to typhus. A few days later, Anne died due to the same illness. The sisters are buried in one of the mass graves and no one knows exactly which one. May 21, 2018
Our Rick Steves Germany tour guide, Carlos Meissner, explaining the Jewish Memorial at Bergen-Belsen Memorial a former concentration camp, explains that the stone monument is is dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The Jewish Monument was erected on the first anniversary of the camp liberation, April 15, 1946. The memorial consists of a central memorial stone and a number of symbolic headstones, similar to the headstone of Margo Frank and Anne Frank, scattered around it. May 21, 2018
This obelisk and inscription wall at the Bergen-Belsen memorial, a former concentration camp, began in early 1947 on the orders of the British military. The wall bears multiple inscriptions in various languages commemorating the victims of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. May 21, 2018
Me getting back on our luxury tour bus as we make our departure from the Bergen-Belsen memorial. May 21, 2018
To the woods of Sababurg we go in honor of the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, German authors who collected and published German folklore during the 19th century. These folklore tails include “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Hansel and Gretal” and “Rapunzel.” So much of German culture is deeply rooted in the forest (wald) as are the Brothers Grimm folklore tales. The forest, scene as a dark dangerous place to be avoided, but Little Red Riding Hood’s mother sent her daughter to deliver food to grandmother’s house anyway. May 21, 2018
A brief walk…a good way to stretch our legs from the bus ride…through the German forest of Sababurg. May 21, 2018
Our Rick Steves tour guide Carlos Meissner passing out cake in the German forest of Sababurg in celebration of two members birthdays. May 21, 2018
Our tour group members walking a short distance across the covered wooden bridge in Hannoversch Münden a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. The city is located in the district of Göttingen at the confluence of the Fulda and Werra rivers, which join to form the river Weser. It has about 24,000 inhabitants is famous for its well-preserved half-timbered medieval houses, some more than 600 years old. May 21, 2018
The 14th century Town Hall (right) in Hannoversch Münden, a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. The facade had a bit of a facelift between 1603 and 1618. May 21, 2018
The town of Hannoversch Münden, in Lower Saxony, Germany, is known for its well-preserved half-timbered medieval houses some of which are more than 600 years old. May 21, 2018
The town of Hannoversch Münden, in Lower Saxony, Germany, is known for its well-preserved half-timbered medieval houses some of which are more than 600 years old. May 21, 2018
The doors of well-preserved half-timbered medieval houses in Hannoversch Münden, a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. May 21, 2018
The name of this statue is Mundenia by the sculptor Heinz-Detlef Wüpper who was born in Hannoversch Münden, a town in Lower Saxony, Germany, in 1911 and died in 1995. The statue can be found where the Fulda and Werra rivers join to form the river Weser in Hannoversch Münden. May 21, 2018
Mundenia by the sculptor Heinz Wüpper can be found where the Fulda and Werra rivers join to form the river Weser in Hannoversch Münden, a town in Lower Saxony, Germany. May 21, 2018

This morning we left the half-timbered medieval houses of Hannoversch Münden to make our way to Bacharach with a stop in Cologne. Carlos, our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” tour guide, said it would be a long driving day, and it was. But the stops along the way, especially the opportunity to visit the Cologne Cathedral, a massive Gothic church…with a quick side trip to the Romano-Germanic Museum just next door to the cathedral…made the lengthy bus ride manageable. Plus Carlos provided needed history lessons and the always welcomed…treats of the chocolate and salty kind.

By late afternoon we arrived at our two-night home base in Bacharach. Another charming town but this one lies along the Rhine River.

Come check out the UNESCO World Heritage cathedral, an altar to Diana…not me, but the goddess of the hunt and my stunning Rhine River penthouse view.

Another early morning start. I’m on the tour bus and ready to go to our next adventure. Leaving Munden and heading to Bacharach where we’ll spend two nights, but along the way, we stop in Cologne. May 22, 2018
This morning we left the half-timbered medieval houses of Hannoversch Münden to make our way to Bacharach with a stop in Cologne. Carlos, our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” tour guide, said it would be a long driving day, and it was. But the stops along the way, especially the opportunity to visit the Cologne Cathedral, a massive Gothic church…with a quick side trip to the Romano-Germanic Museum just next door to the cathedral…made the lengthy bus ride manageable. Plus Carlos provided needed history lessons and the always welcomed…treats of the chocolate and salty kind.
By late afternoon we arrived at our two-night home base in Bacharach. Another charming town but this one lies along the Rhine River.
Come check out the UNESCO World Heritage cathedral, an altar to Diana…not me, but the goddess of the hunt and my stunning Rhine River penthouse view. May 22, 2018
View of the main nave and choir of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. The interior of the cathedral stands out in comparison to other High Gothic cathedrals because of the unique vertical emphasis of its nave. May 22, 2018
A closer view of the stairs leading to the main nave of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. May 22, 2018
At the high altar of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is this gold container, the Shrine of the Three Kings. It is said to contain the bones of the Biblical Magi, also known as the Three Kings or the Three Wise Men, a group of distinguished foreigners who visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. May 22, 2018
Located next to the Agilolphus Altarpiece at the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is this shrine made by Cologne-based goldsmith Josef Kleefisch in 1914 and contains the remains of St. Agilolphus, the Bishop of Cologne who died in the year 750. May 22, 2018
“Altarpiece of the Patron Saints of Cologne,” by Stefan Lochner, can be scene in the west side of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. The triptych altarpiece was painted in the 1440s for the chapel of the Cologne town council. At the centre is the Virgin Mary and the patron saints of the city of Cologne grouped symmetrically around her. They are saints whose history or relics connected them particularly closely with Cologne, where they were regarded as protectors.
St. Ursula stands in the left-hand panel with her virgins and the right panel contains St. Gereon with his companions. May 22, 2018
A close-up of the center panel of the “Altarpiece of the Patron Saints of Cologne,” by Stefan Lochner, at the west side of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, shows the Virgin Mary and the patron saints of the city of Cologne grouped symmetrically around her. They are saints whose history or relics connected them particularly closely with Cologne, where they were regarded as protectors. May 22, 2018
The Shrine of the Jeweled Madonna, at the north transept of the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is where many come to pray and light candles because it is said to work miracles. In the glowing case is a statue of the Virgin and Child dressed in a long white gown covered with jewelry. May 22, 2018
The Altar of the Cross with the Gero Cross from around 965 to 9750 AD, at the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany, is an important medieval art piece because of the way it uniquely depicts Jesus Christ on the Cross. The slumped head, twisted body, sideways bent knees and hands nailed in different heights shows an image on the cross that is not as familiar. This is considered one of the oldest large sculpture of the crucified Christ and has always been displayed in the cathedral. It was commissioned by Gero, Archbishop of Cologne, who died in 976 AD. May 22, 2018
The south transept modern stained glass window inside the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany was designed by Gerhard Richter. The window, inaugurated in 2007, features 11,263 squares made of blown glass. May 22, 2018
The Adoration of the Shepherds and the Three Magi are two biblical accounts compressed into one stained glass inside the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. May 22, 2018
A close-up of the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Three Magi stained glass inside the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. May 22, 2018
The portal entryway to the Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. May 22, 2018
The Cologne Cathedral in Cologne, Germany. In 1996, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites. May 22, 2018
A visit to the Romano-Germanic Museum, next to the Cologne Cathedral, exhibited the life and death of Roman citizens in Cologne, Germany. Death and the afterlife were ever-present in Roman Cologne. It has a large collection of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, on which modern Cologne exists. May 22, 2018
I’m sitting at an altar dedicated to Diana the Huntress at the Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne, Germany. From what I understand Restitutus was sent to catch wild animals for the Cologne arena or amphitheater and set up this altar in honor of Diana. After all, Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature in Roman mythology. She was also associated with wild animals and had the power to talk to and control animals. May 22, 2018
These small figures at the Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne, Germany, are also associated with Diana the Huntress, number 4 is a bust and number 5 is Diana with a donation bowl. May 22, 2018
This is a bowl with Apollo and Diana at the Romano-Germanic Museum in Cologne, Germany. Diana was the goddess of the hunt, the moon, and nature in Roman mythology and Apollo, her twin brother, who is disciplined, militaristic, and warlike. May 22, 2018
Here’s a snippet of Bacharach, Germany, with its medieval half-timbered buildings. May 22, 2018
My room at Hotel am Markt in Bacharach, Germany. Very alpine looking but has a big comfy bed and was quite roomy even though this penthouse beauty was at the very tippy top of the building with a few steps shy of 100 to climb. May 22, 2018
Another view of my room at Hotel am Markt in Bacharach, Germany. May 22, 2018
My bathroom at Hotel am Markt in Bacharach, Germany. May 22, 2018
And, here’s an evening view from my penthouse Hotel am Markt room in Bacharach, Germany. …with no elevator and a little less than 100 stairs to reach. But the view of the Rhine River? Huffing and puffing, but gorgeous. May 22, 2018

The Rhine River, at least the part between St. Goar and Bacharach, both in Germany, was the star attraction of today’s outings. The massive European river actually flows from Switzerland, through Germany onto the Netherlands and eventually empties into the North Sea.

Bacharach, our home base, is a picturesque and delightful town that has a touch of beauty, mainly because of its half-timbered buildings that in some cases appear crooked but full of character and its cobblestone walkways, throughout every turn.

Although I had to lug myself up some 96 stairs to get to my room at the top of the Hotel am Market, it felt like I was in my own fairytale castle chamber. My views of the Rhine River and the town were stunning, even through the two small-sized windows. And, the trains that pass through Bacharach, seemingly hundreds all day and all night just whizzed by with a rushing roar that calmed to a rush of wind once I closed the windows.

We spent the morning taking a quick bus ride to nearby St. Goar, Germany, where most of the group walked up the steep hill and a couple of tour members…including myself…hitched a ride up to tour the medieval remains of the 770-something plus years-old ruins Rheinfels Castle. The overcast skies, the rain and the theatrics of our castle guide, made the visit all that more enchanting. And, the views of the Rhine River and valley below were breath-taking.

Seeing the Rhine from the height of the Rheinfels Castle and its huge presence in the valley was pretty dang spectacular but actually cruising the Rhine through its picturesque villages, hillside castles and sloping vineyards was also quite the treat.

After returning to Bacharach, though late in the afternoon, the sun decided to make a welcomed appearance as our tour group took a walking tour through the town with local guide Thomas. Then Tammy, Alice and I sampled the local cuisine of pork knuckle and sauerkraut.

Tomorrow, we move on to Rothenburg…another charming medieval German town. See you there.

A view of the Rhine River a top the ruins of Rheinfels Castle in Germany in the town of St. Goar along the west bank of the river. May 23, 2018
Rheinfels is a castle ruin located above the Rhine in St. Goar, Germany and has held ground here since It was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. It was a cloudy, drizzling and cool morning for a walk through the ruins of 773 year old castle that has lived a variety of lives and seen its fair share of battles. It withstood a siege of 28,000 French troops in 1692, but in 1797 the French Revolutionary army destroyed it. May 23, 2018
Built in 1245, parts of Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar, Germany, still survives…with many stories of battles won. May 23, 2018
Built in 1245, parts of Rheinfels Castle still stand — tattered but proud — in the 21st century. May 23, 2018
Built in 1245, parts of Rheinfels Castle still stand — tattered but proud — in the 21st century. May 23, 2018
The view of the Rhine River from a top Rheinfels Castle at St. Goar, Germany, along the west bank of the Rhine River. May 23, 2018
Views along the walk down from the Rheinfels Castle down to the town of St. Goar along the Rhine river in St. Goar, Germany. May 23, 2018
Views along the walk down from the Rheinfels Castle down to the town of St. Goar along the Rhine river in St. Goar, Germany. May 23, 2018
The view of the town of St. Goar while walking down from Rheinfels Castle in Germany. May 23, 2018
The town of St. Goar, Germany, located along the west bank of the Rhine River. May 23, 2018
The Cuckoo-Clock-Center, a store in the town of St. Goar, Germany, that specializes in…well, cuckoo clocks, displays this huge cuckoo clock outside its door. May 23, 2018
The town of St. Goar, Germany, along the west bank of the Rhine River, is home to the ruins of Rheinfels Castle. May 23, 2018
Monument of Saint Goal of Aquitaine, the town’s namesake was a priest and hermit of the 7th century. Born around 585, St. Goar was offered the position of Bishop of Trier, but prayed to be excused from the position. Goar is noted for his piety and is revered as a miracle-worker. He is a patron saint of innkeepers, potters, and vine growers. May 23, 2018
The town of St. Goar, Germany, along the west bank of the Rhine River, is home to the ruins of Rheinfels Castle. May 23, 2018
The town of St. Goar, Germany, along the west bank of the Rhine River, is home to the ruins of Rheinfels Castle. May 23, 2018
The town of St. Goar, Germany, along the west bank of the Rhine River, is home to the ruins of Rheinfels Castle. May 23, 2018
Our tour group boarding the ferry at St. Goar to cruise down the Germany’s portion of the Rhine River to our home base in Bacharach. The ferry ride back to Bacharach was a calm ride that took a little more than an hour and saw us through both rain and sun within that hour. May 23, 2018
Tammy and Alice geared up and enjoying our ferry ride down the Rhine River from St. Goar to our home base in Bacharach. It was a cool day with light rain but the sun did make an appearance for a few minutes. May 23, 2018
Sites along the Rhine River from St. Goar to Bacharach, Germany, where you can see the remains of castles along the hillsides, towers, wine vineyards and small villages. May 23, 2018
On the ferry enjoying the villages along the Rhine River from St. Goar to Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
On the ferry enjoying the villages along the Rhine River from St. Goar to Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
At one time, along Germany’s Rhine River, passing boats were required to pay tools. This Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a toll castle on a small island in the middle of the Rhine. May 23, 2018
Me and Tammy on the ferry down the Rhine River from St. Goar to Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
Approaching our home base of Bacharach, Germany, from the ferry on the Rhine River. Bacharach, considered one of Germany’s best preserved medieval towns, first came to light around the year 923 and its name can be traced back to its Celtic, colonization. May 23, 2018
Our home base of Bacharach, Germany, from the ferry on the Rhine River. Bacharach, located in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, is known for its half-timbered buildings and winding cobblestone streets. May 23, 2018
The old postal station building in the town of Bacharach, Germany. Author Victor Hugo described Bacharach as one of the “world’s prettiest towns.” May 23, 2018
Saint Peter’s church in Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
The half-timbered buildings and cobblestones streets, which can be found throughout the town of Bacharach, Germany, add charm and whimsy to the place. May 23, 2018
This picturesque area of Bacharach, Germany, with its gardens, flowing stream and half-timbered buildings is called “painter’s corner.” May 23, 2018
The Altes Haus, which means Old House, is said to be just that, the oldest building in Bacharach, Germany. Built in 1368, this medieval half-timbered building retains its historic characteristic charms with its turrets, gables and sheer ambiance. It now houses a restaurant. May 23, 2018
The beautiful architecture of the town of Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
The beautiful architecture of the town of Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
The beautiful architecture of the town of Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
The beautiful architecture of the town of Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
The railway literally runs right through the town of Bacharach, Germany. May 23, 2018
Alice, Tammy and I enjoying our last night in Bacharach, Germany, with a dinner of pork knuckle, sauerkraut, a salad, fries and smiles. May 23, 2018
Grilled pork knuckle with sauerkraut and fries. May 23, 2018
Feet…not the most attractive thing to see after dinner, but this is what my right ankle looked like after a day of being on it. I’ve worn a support sock everyday and it did help. But the swelling isn’t painful. It does get a bit uncomfortable especially towards the end of the day. But I’m here and I’m moving. May 23, 2018.

Thursday turned out to be one of those jam packed days with so much to see and do. Let me break it down.

In the morning, we left the charming medieval Bacharach, Germany, to ultimately make our way to the charming medieval town of Rothenburg with a stop in…yes, you guessed it, another charming medieval town…Speyer.

Speyer turned out to be a lovely town with a remarkable cathedral. Founded by the Romans, Speyer is actually one of Germany’s oldest cities.

And, if being in Speyer were not exciting enough, our Rick Steves tour group met up with the Rick Steves 21 days Europe group to hang out in Speyer together. That turned out to be a blessing because our bus had some mechanical issues and our Germany group had to hitch a ride to Rothenburg with the Europe group. Thank goodness the buses are large and accommodating.

I spent a couple of hours in Rothenburg two years ago when I did my two month turning 60 and retirement travel celebration, so getting to spend the night in the medieval town was something I looked forward to. We may have escaped the rain in Speyer, but we didn’t escape it in Rothenburg. Thankfully, it didn’t last too long because we packed in quite a bit in a few short hours…a visit to St. Jakobs Lutheran church, strolling around Rothenburg, our group dinner, a walk with the Night Watchman and more strolling around Rothenburg…because it’s made for strolling.

On Friday, we get another early start with Munich as our ultimate two night stop and along the way, we will visit the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle.

Alice, me and Tammy taking our selfie with the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany, behind us. The Speyer Cathedral dominates the town of Speyer, which is one of Germany’s oldest cities. Emperor Conrad II started construction of the cathedral in 1030. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site as “a major monument of Romanesque art in the German Empire.” May 24, 2018
Speyer Cathedral, in Speyer, Germany, with its four towers and two domes, was founded by Conrad II in 1030 and remodelled at the end of the 11th century. It is one of the most important Romanesque monuments from the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The cathedral was the burial place of the German emperors for almost 300 years. May 24, 2018
The facade of the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany, is simple and beautiful with meaning behind its architectural designs. The five figures represent the martyrs of Christianity and patron saint of the cathedral. And, the circular rose window symbolizes the divine. It’s four corners are marked by the emblems of the four Evangelists (eagle, winged man, lion and ox). These are the worldly heralds who have brought the divine message to us through the four gospels. May 24, 2018
Above the central portal facade or entrance to the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany, are five figures that represent the first martyrs of Christianity and the patron saint of the cathedral. From left to right: St. Stephen; the archangel Michael, patron of Germany; Mary, the Mother of God, the main patroness of the cathedral; St. John the Baptist, as this is the first baptistery of the diocese; and Bernard of Clairvaux, the most renowned visitor of the cathedral in the Middle Ages of 1146. May 23, 2018
Alice and Tammy standing opening the huge bronze door main entrance to the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany. The bronze door depicts Christ as Good Shepherd with scenes illustrating events in Christ’s life. May 24, 2018
The interior of the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany, has 12 arches that span the mighty pillars. The number, 12, is significant because the cathedral was founded on the teachings of the 12 apostles. May 24, 2018
Along the sides of the nave through the pillars is the chronology of the six days of Creation at the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany, that depicts the scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary along the nave. May 24, 2018
Mary’s presence is ubiquitous in the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, Germany. This large statue of Mary is at the entrance to the choir at the altar of the cathedral. May 24, 2018
Me standing by the bronze statue of a pilgrim walking the Way of St. James….the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The statue, with the Speyer Cathedral in the background, is located on Maximilianstraße in Speyer, Germany. May 24, 2018
The city of Speyer, dominated by the Speyer Cathedra, is one of Germany’s oldest cities. May 24, 2018
The city of Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities. May 24, 2018
Statue of a pilgrim walking to Santiago de Compostela in front of the the Trinity Church in Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities. May 24, 2018
The city of Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities. May 24, 2018
Fountain with the statue of St. George, the dragon slayer, in Speyer, Germany. May 24, 2018
The city of Speyer, one of Germany’s oldest cities. May 24, 2018
During the early Middle Ages, Speyer, Germany, was one of the most important Jewish communities north of the Alps. Our Rick Steves Germany tour group and the Rick Steves European tour group standing outside the Judenhof which contains the medieval synagogue, the ritual bath and the ShPIRA Museum in Speyer. May 24, 2018
In 1084, the first Jewish community in Speyer, Germany was established. These headstones, part of the Judenhof’s ShPIRA Museum, were from the Jewish cemetery to the north of Speyer. Jewish cemeteries are intended to last forever; however in Speyer, the sacred rest of the dead was destroyed after some 400 years. After the decline and extinction of the Jewish community around 1500, the cemetery was broken up. About 50 gravestones dating between 1112 and 1443 were recovered. Their Hebrew inscriptions tells the story of that individual’s life. May 24, 2018
The remains of the ritual bath at the Judenhof (the Jews’ courtyard) from the first Jewish community in Speyer, Germany. The dJewish ritual bath of Speyer, which was built around 1120, is the oldest of its kind north of the Alps. The Hebrew word “Mikva” means something like “a collecting place for water.” Ritual cleansing after periods of impurity requires “living” water, for instance river or spring water, ground water or rain water. May 24, 2018
Entering the remains of the ritual bath, requires descending a set of stone stairs at the Judenhof (the Jews courtyard) from the first Jewish community in Speyer, German. May 24, 2018
After descending the first set of stairs, there’s a antechamber and a set of semi-circular stairs that leads down into this immersion pool at the Judenhof (the Jews courtyard) from the first Jewish community in Speyer, German. May 24, 2018
Our Rick Steves tour crew landing in medieval town of Rothenburg, Germany, as we head to our hotel…the Hotel Goldener Hirsch, in the heart of the medieval city. May 24, 2018
The picturesque and medieval Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
The picturesque and medieval Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
Walking along Untersee Schmiedgasse street, the main drag in Rothenburg, Germany, where our hotel was located, are a number of shops that sell everything from shoes to bread. This particular shop had a window full of breads and pretzel breads. May 24, 2018
The Schneeball (snowball) which is the size of an average snowball is a sweet mainstay in Rothenburg, Germany. It is made of short crust pastry strips that are deep-fried and then coated with icing sugar. Yum! May 24, 2018
St. Jacobs Lutheran Church in Rothenburg, Germany, is dedicated to the apostle St. James. It is one of the churches on the pilgrimage route to St. James’ grave in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. That’s the statue of St. James by the entryway of the church. St. James became the patron saint of the pilgrims and merchants. He can be recognized by his pilgrims-staff and the St. James-scallop on his hat. A few symbolic scallops can be found on the ground in Rothenburg. May 24, 2018
My feet selfie with one of the scallops, in Rothenburg, Germany, which represent the St. James Way, or more specifically, pilgrims walking the route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to pay their respects to the shrine of the Apostle St. James where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. Yes, I’m reduced to wearing socks with my sandals, especially a compression sock for my right leg. I wish I could say it helps to keep the swelling down around my ankle, but it really doesn’t. May 24, 2018
A view of the high altar inside St. Jacobs Lutheran Church in Rothenburg, Germany. The high altar which dates back to 1466 is also called the Twelve Apostles Altar and is considered to be one of the finest high altars in Germany. The three sets of stained glass, to the rear of the high altar, dates to 1350 for the center panes and 1400 for the left and right panes. May 24, 2018
A close-up of the high altar inside St. Jacobs Lutheran Church in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
This haunting painting of Jesus Christ was on the back of the high altar at the St. Jacobs Lutheran Church in Rothenburg, Germany.
Stained glass at the St. Jakob Lutheran church in Rothenburg, Germany, features the reformation and a portrait of Martin Luther. May 24, 2018
A portrait of Martin Luther featured on stained glass at the St. Jakob Luther church in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
This Last Supper from the Holy Blood Altar in St. Jakobs Lutheran church in Rothenburg, Germany, was carved in wood by German sculptor and woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider (c. 1460 – 7 July 1531). He worked on this altar from 1501 to 1504. May 24, 2018
A detailed close-up of the Last Supper from the Holy Blood Altar in St. Jakobs Lutheran church in Rothenburg, Germany. This wood art was carved by German sculptor and woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider. May 24, 2018
A detailed close-up of the Last Supper from the Holy Blood Altar in St. Jakobs Lutheran church in Rothenburg, Germany. This wood art was carved by German sculptor and woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider. May 24, 2018
Getting ready to chow down with our tour group for dinner at the Hotel Klosterstüble’s restaurant in Rothenburg, Germany. On the menu was schnitzel made of a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet and fried potatoes. May 24, 2018
Our Rothenburg, Germany, group dinner of schnitzel, made of a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet and fried potatoes. I’ve had schnitzel before but it was dried out…not this time. May 24, 2018
And, for dessert was a small, but just right portion of a banana split after our tour group dinner at the Hotel Klosterstüble’s restaurant in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
After dinner, we topped off the evening with a Night Watchman walk beginning at the Town Hall through Rothenburg and its history…with a side dose of humor. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
Came across these ceramic coffee containers in the window of a shop in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
More views of the storybook, picturesque and charming Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
The Town Hall with its splendid renaissance facade dominates the Market Square in Rothenburg, Germany. Local master-builder Leonhard Weidmann designed and built this most imposing example of renaissance architecture north of the Alps between 1572 and 1578. May 24, 2018
Our hotel, the Goldener Hirsch, on the main drag in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
My room at the Goldener Hirsch hotel in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018
The beautiful view of Rothenburg from my room at the Goldener Hirsch hotel in Rothenburg, Germany. May 24, 2018

Today, Friday, could not have been a more beautiful day to enjoy the Bavarian likes of two castles Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau….difficult names to pronounce but both are glistening jewels to the eyes, especially with a blue sky sunlit day.

I had seen the interior of Neuschwanstein Castle two years ago and even walked up and down the steep, curvy walkway. But today, instead of seeing Ludwig II of Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle, I got to see his father, Maximilian II of Bavaria’s summer home of Hohenschwangau Castle…where Ludwig II got the inspiration to build his version of a castle on a hill. Unfortunately, photos are not allowed inside either of the castles. But you don’t need to go in, even though I did, to be impressed.

We’re in Munich for two nights, Friday and Saturday, so there will be more on Munich. But for now, it’s all about the castles.

Me on the pedestrian Marienbrucke (Queen Mary Bridge) built over a cliff in 1845 provides a simply spectacular view of Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany. May 25, 2018
Although Hohenschwangau Castle was on its perch long before Neuschwanstein Castle, people by the droves…myself included…come to see this splendid fairytale castle high up on the hillside. The splendor of Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany, was the brainchild of Prince Ludwig II who became King Ludwig II at the age of 19 in 1864. Born in 1845, Ludwig and his brother Otto were strictly brought up by their parents Maximilian II of Bavaria and Marie of Prussia. Ludwig II died in 1886 when construction of Neuschwanstein was still incomplete. Six weeks after his untimely and conspiracy driven death, the castle was opened to paying visitors in an effort to recoup the financial loss from the building expenses. May 25, 2018
This is the pedestrian Marienbrucke (Queen Mary Bridge) built over a cliff in 1845 that provides a spectacular view of Neuschwanstein Castle. There’s a line on each end of the bridge with people wanting to get on it. I stood close enough to the entry/exit spot to see the castle, get a few photos and get off. Now a shuttle bus can take you to the point where you can see the bridge first and then walk down and see Neuschwanstein Castle. In my case, I had to take the shuttle back to the beginning of the shuttle bus service and walk to Hohenschwangau Caste…which really was not difficult. May 25, 2018
The Alpsee Lake, which can be seen especially from Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
Crown Prince Maximilian II of Bavaria, Ludwig II’s father, had the ruined castle of Schwanstein rebuilt in the “Gothic style,” for Hohenschwangau Castle. Reconstruction began on the ruined castle continuing until 1837, with additions up to 1855. Hohenschwangau was the official summer and hunting residence of Maximilian, his wife Marie of Prussia, and their two sons Ludwig (the later King Ludwig II of Bavaria) and Otto (the later King Otto I of Bavaria). The young Ludwig was influenced by the romantic mountain scenery and the summer castle became one of his favourite places to stay. Neuschwanstein Castle can be seen from Hohenschwangau Castle, Schwangau, Bavaria, Germany. May 25, 2018
Hohenschwangau Castle’s inner courtyard is a 19th-century palace located in the German village of Hohenschwangau near the town of Füssen in southwestern Bavaria, Germany. May 25, 2018
Tower and gate of Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
The towers of Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
Art…on the inner courtyard of Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
View from Hohenschwangau Castle up to Neuschwanstein Castle. May 25, 2018
More art and stealthy guards by the windows of the Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
Walkway views around Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
Artwork on the exterior of Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
The stairway leading visitors to the entrance of Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
The views of the hillside from Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
The Goose Man fountain at Hohenschwangau Castle. May 25, 2018
And, me, happy to have seen Hohenschwangau Castle. The climb up to this castle was much shorter, still steep and with a lot of stairs, but so worth seeing and doing. May 25, 2018

It feels good to be back in Munich again. I was here two years ago as a solo traveler. Walking through the open-air Viktualienmarkt felt comfortable and familiar because I stayed very close to the market and picked up goodies to eat and snack on especially after a long day of site seeing and walking.

Our “Best of Germany” Rick Steves tour group arrived in Munich late Friday afternoon and spent the morning part of today, Saturday, on a walking tour with a local Munich guide.

Although Munich is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and its beer halls, I like the feel of how it mixes its old with its new. It’s a modern, thriving city that feels rooted in history. Plus, I so appreciate its pedestrian zoned areas.

Tomorrow, we make our way to “Luther Country,” in Erfurt for two nights. That’s Martin Luther, the German priest who set the stage for the Protestant Reformation. And, there’s always a stop along the way, and that stop is Nurnberg. But for now, here’s a taste of Munich.

This colorful Maypole is located in the lively Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany. Munich has been a market town since its earliest days as a stop on the salt trade crossroads. Traditionally, the maypole is painted in the colors of the coat of arms, blue and white, and the treetop is decorated with a green wreath. However, the maypole may look different in other regions. May 25, 2018
A close-up of the colorful Maypole located in the lively Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany. May 25, 2018
A close-up of the colorful Maypole located in the lively Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany. May 25, 2018
The Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany, contains a variety of stalls, pavilions and vendors but its a great place to sample the local cuisine, especially the beer, and have a seat on the community tables with the hundreds of others who hang out at the Viktualienmarkt. May 25, 2018
The flower and plant stall at the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, Germany, is one of many merchants. May 25, 2018
The community tables in the Viktualienmarkt in Munich, where you can eat, drink and socialize. May 25, 2018
Leaving the Viktualienmarkt and making our way past St. Peter’s Cathedral onto the Marienplatz. Munich’s main square and lively pedestrian zone. May 25, 2018
The Catholic St. Peter’s Church is the oldest church in Munich dating back to 1368. May 26, 2018
The headstones from the former graveyard are attached to the the sides of St. Peter’s Church in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
The headstones from the former graveyard are attached to the the sides of St. Peter’s Church in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
The looming New Town Hall in Marienplatz, the main square in Munich, has hosted the city government including the city council, offices of the mayors and part of the administration since leaving the Old Town Hall in 1874. May 26, 2018
The glockenspiel on the tower of the New Town Hall in Munich’s Marienplatz square, chimes several times during the day with spinning and dancing that tells the story of a noble wedding that actually took place on the market square in 1568. May 25, 2018
The courtyard of the New Town Hall on the Marienplatz square in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
The courtyard of the New Town Hall on the Marienplatz square in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
Marienplatz, the main pedestrian zoned square, is dominated by the New Town Hall in Munich, Germany, and is normally packed with people hanging out in the square, eating at the surrounding cafes or shopping in the various stores. Much of Munich, including the Marienplatz square, was bombed during World War II and most of the buildings had to be rebuilt. May 25, 2018
From the Marienplatz square in Munich, you can see the Old Town Hall with its bell tower. May 26, 2018
The city is known for its annual Oktoberfest celebration and its beer halls, including the famed Hofbräuhaus beef hall, to the left, which was founded in 1589. This is also where in 1920 Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists held their first meeting. May 26, 2018
In 1919, the Munich Communist government set up headquarters in the Hofbräuhaus beer hall in Munich and in February 1920 Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists held their first meeting in the Festsaal, the Festival Room, on the third floor. May 26, 2018
The brewery complex of Munich where a number of beer halls, including the Hofbräuhaus. May 26, 2018
The Isator gate is one of four main gates of Munich’s medieval city wall. Built in 1337, served as a defense fortification. May 25, 2018
The frescos on the Isator gate in Munich were created in 1835 by Bernhard von Neher and depict the victorious return of Emperor Louis after the Battle of Mühldorf in 1322. May 26, 2018
Our tour group learning about the Isator gate in Munich as we make our way through the archway into Munich’s old city. May 26, 2018
Our tour group learning about the Isator gate in Munich as we make our way through the archway into Munich’s old city. May 26, 2018
A 1493 map of Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
St. Michael’s Church in Munich, Germany, is considered to be one of the first great Renaissance buildings north of the Alps, was built in the late 1500s. May 26, 2018
St. Michael’s Church in Munich, Germany, is considered to be one of the first great Renaissance buildings north of the Alps, was built in the late 1500s. May 26, 2018
Our group walking tour of Munich ended here at the arched logia in Munich’s Odeonplatz, which also includes The Theatine Church or yellow church. May 26, 2018
The Theatine Church of St. Cajetan and the logia both located in Munich’s Odeonplaz square. The Theatine Church of St. Cajetan is a Catholic church that was built from 1663 to 1690. May 26, 2018
The Munich Residence served as the seat of government and residence for the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings from 1508 to 1918. Over the centuries, the rulers gradually transformed what had begun as a castle into a magnificent palace. This side of the palace is the visitor entryway and faces onto the same square as the New Opera House. May 26, 2018
The Grotto Courtyard inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. Built of tufa, several sections are adorned with stalactite and stalagmite shapes and set with colorful shells and crystals. May 26, 2018
A close-up of the Grotto Courtyard inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. Built of tufa, several sections are adorned with stalactite and stalagmite shapes and set with colorful shells and crystals. May 26, 2018
The Antiquarium inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. This exhibition room, built between 1568 and 1571 contains the antique collections of Duke Albrecht V who ruled between 1550 and 1579. May 26, 2018
The painted ceilings of the Antiquarium room inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
A bedroom inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. The bed, chairs and console tables were commission by Duke Karl II, around 1781 from workshops in Paris. May 26, 2018
One of a set of receptions rooms inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
The State Bedroom inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. This bedroom was reserved exclusively for representative purposes only. May 26, 2018
The Court Chapel inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. It was built around 1600 under Duke Maximillian I and was reserved for members of the court. May 26, 2018
The carved ceilings of the Court Chapel inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany. May 26, 2018
The Ornate Chapel inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany, was the private oratory of Duke Maximilian I and his consort. Dedicated in 1607, the chapel contains a collection of precious relics. May 26, 2018
The decorative floors of the Ornate Chapel inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany, made for a nice feet selfie. Didn’t wear my compression sock today, and my foot, especially both sides of my ankle were swollen. May 26, 2018
The Ancestral Gallery of the House of Wittelsbach inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany, was created originally a 16th century garden hall but was converted between 1726 and 1730 as a gallery. The portraits show more than 100 members of the House of Wittelsbach and their consorts. May 26, 2018
The Ancestral Gallery of the House of Wittelsbach inside the Munich Residence palace in Munich, Germany, with more than 100 portraits of the House of Wittelsbach members and their consorts. May 26, 2018
Last night our tour group had dinner at the Donisl, known for its traditional Bavarian food, in Munich’s Marienplatz and enjoyed the local musical talents of the four young men of the Eurumer Banditen. May 25, 2018
Thanks Marjie Feil, a Rick Steves tour mate, for taking this photo of me, Alice and Tammy with one of the Eurumer Banditen musician/singer at the Donisl restaurant in Munich, Germany. It really was a fun evening. May 25, 2018
And, the fun evening began with a pretzel bread and salad at the Donisl restaurant in Munich, Germany. Where else does your salad come with a very delicious pretzel bread? May 25, 2018
And, the main course…well pork knuckle of course with a potato soufflé at the Donisl restaurant in Munich. May 25, 2018
This is what my leg looked like after a full day of walking especially in the heat of Munich, Germany. My leg has just never looked so huge and ugly. May 26, 2018

On our way to Erfurt, Germany, our Rick Steves tour group stopped in Nuremberg to visit the Documentation Center of the Nazi Party. From 1933 to 1938, the National Socialists held their Party Rallies in Nuremberg. The building that the documentation center is housed in is called Congress Hall, which was never completed but was meant to hold an audience of 50,000. The center’s permanent exhibition contains a collection of photos and documents that provides a comprehensive picture of the National Socialist dictatorship and Nuremberg’s role as the “City of the Nazi Party Rallies.”

We didn’t get a chance to spend any time in the city of Nuremberg

What does all this have to do with Erfurt, Germany, where my Rick Steves tour group landed yesterday and explored today…well nothing that I’m aware of…it’s just where I find my emotional self within the confines of a rather busy town-like city that feels as if it is stretching to keep one foot in its Medieval roots…and historical link to the great Reformer Martin Luther…while embracing the need to stay relevant to the tourists who flock here. I guess that can be said for most of the Medieval towns in Germany and elsewhere. Maybe that can even be said for me, wanting to leave the confines of my familiar to feed the wonderluster in me while still needing the comfort of that familiar. Confused? Welcome to my world.

Well, enough about my travel notions or ramblings…let’s get to the main event, Erfurt and its charm, plus its indistinguishable connection to Martin Luther.

Our next and last stop on the Rick Steves “Best of Germany” tour is Berlin. But Alice, Tammy and I still have Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to do on our own.

On our way to Erfurt, our Rick Steves tour group spent a couple of hours at the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nurnberg. This is the ornate entrance to the center. May 27, 2018
An interior area of the Documentation Center in Nuremberg, which houses photos, documents and exhibits, was left in its unfinished state of the raw, unplastered brick masonry. May 27, 2018
Since the beginnings of National Socialism, Adolf Hitler rose from the party’s “drummer boy” to its unconditional “Fuhrer,” or “leader,” respected and even adored by millions. A carefully orchestrated myth, behind which Hitler the man increasingly vanishes, elevates him from a failure in everyday life into a figure chosen by providence to save the people and the nation. May 27, 2018
Propaganda items on display at the Documentation Center in Nuremberg, Germany. May 27, 2018
The smooth granite exterior of the incomplete Congress Hall was designed to resemble the Colosseum in Rome. May 27, 2018.
The view of old town Erfurt, Germany, from the 4th floor of my room at Hotel Am Kaisersaal. May 27, 2018
The Wenigemarkt in Erfurt, Germany with the medieval arch of St. Ägidien’s Church the Krämerbrücke or Merchants’ bridge. May 27, 2018
The Krämerbrücke or Merchants’ bridge in Erfurt, Germany, is a medieval arch bridge which is lined with half timbered shops and houses on both sides of a cobblestone street. May 28, 2018
The ending footbridge at Benediktsplatz of the Krämerbrücke or Merchants’ medieval arched bridge in Erfurt, Germany, which is lined with half timbered shops and houses on both sides of a cobblestone street. May 27, 2018
The Krämerbrücke or Merchants’ bridge is a medieval paved bridge over the Gera River in Erfurt, Germany. The bridge, accessed on the Wenigemarkt end under a church tunnel, is lined with half timbered buildings, shops on the bottom and housing on the top, on both sides. The footbridge ends at Benediktsplatz. May 28, 2018
A potted plant with art work of the merchants bridge, located in front of a shop that’s on the merchant bridge in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
The other side of the Krämerbrücke or Merchants Bridge are these half-timbered home along the bridge over the Gera River in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
The Fischmarkt or Fish Market square where fish were bought and sold in the Middle Ages by the impressively designed façades in Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
The Haus Zum Roten Ochsen or Red Ox House in the Erfurt, Germany, Fischmarkt is one of a considerable number of historical buildings in the square. The Red Ox House was built in 1562 by wine merchant Jakob Naffzer and now features an art gallery. May 28, 2018
More historical buildings in the Fischmarkt or Fish Market square in Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
The Town Hall building in the Fischmarkt or Fish Market square in Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
A close-up of the exterior of the Town Hall in Erfurt, Germany. The statues on the exterior are St. Boniface to the left and Martin Luther to the right. St. Boniface founded Erfurt Cathedral and Martin Luther is the Protestant Reformer who went to the university and lived in Erfurt. May 27, 2018
The architecture of Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
The architecture of Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
The architecture of Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
The architecture of Erfurt, Germany. May 27, 2018
The architecture of Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
The architecture of Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
St. Augustine’s Monastery in Erfurt, Germany, is a former church and monastery complex dating from the 13th century. Built by Augustinian monks, an order of the Catholic Church, it is most well known as the former home of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the father of the Reformation. In 1501 Martin Luther moved to Erfurt and began his studies at the university. After 1505, he lived at St. Augustine’s Monastery as a friar. In 1507 he was ordained as a priest in Erfurt Cathedral. He moved permanently to Wittenberg in 1511. May 28, 2018
The interior of St. Augustine’s Monastery church in Erfurt, Germany, is a former church and monastery complex dating from the 13th century. It is most well known as the former home of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the father of the Reformation, who lived there as a monk from 1505 until 1511. May 28, 2018
The stained glass windows inside the church of St. Augustine’s Monastery in Erfurt, Germany, date between 1310 and 1340. May 28, 2018
St. Augustine’s Monastery in Erfurt, Germany, is a former church and monastery complex dating from the 13th century and was the former home of Martin Luther (1483-1546), the father of the Reformation, who lived here as a monk from 1505 until 1511. May 28, 2018
Erfurt Cathedral (left) and St. Severus Church (right). The site of the present Cathedral has been the location of many other Christian buildings, for example a Romanesque basilica and a church hall. In 742, Saint Boniface erected a church on the mound which the Erfurt Cathedral now sits. In 1507, Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, was ordained as a priest in Erfurt Cathedral. St. Severus began around 1278 and is identifiable by its three bronze bell towers. May 28, 2018
The long climb up to Erfurt Cathedral and St. Severus Church in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
A woman with her cup asking for money in front of the massive entrance doors of the Catholic Erfurt Cathedral, also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral, in Erfurt, Germany. Founded by St. Boniface, the 1200 year old church, was built on a hill in the west of the ancient city known then as Erphesfurt. May 28, 2018
The high choir interior and altar of the high choir with the brightly colored glass windows on the east side of Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
The nave of the Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. In 1455, the Romanesque nave in the west of the cathedral was in danger of collapsing and was replaced by this late-Gothic architectural style nave. May 28, 2018
The Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany, is home to a number of relics including this “Throne of Wisdom” stucco statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary seated on her throne, which recalls a town…the heavenly Jerusalem. Mary herself is also a throne…the throne for her son Jesus, who bares of the Wisdom of God. May 28, 2018
This wooden Pieta, of the Mother of our Savior weeping over the loss of her son, hangs on the wall of the Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
This is one of three Gothic wood-carved mural reliefs from around 1470 that hangs on a wall inside the Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. This one depicts the Birth of Christ or Christmas. May 28, 2018
The second of three Gothic wood-carved mural reliefs from around 1470 hangs on a wall inside the Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. This one depicts the Adoration by the three Magi or Epiphany. May 28, 2018
The third of three Gothic wood-carved mural reliefs from around 1470 hangs on a wall inside the Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. This one depicts the Descent of the Holy Spirit or Pentecost. May 28, 2018
The passageway between Erfurt Cathedral to the left and St. Severus Church to the right in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
The entrance to the Church of Severus in Erfurt, Germany. Construction of the Catholic Church began around 1278. From a distance the church is identified by its three bronze bell towers. May 28, 2018
The organ on the west side of the Church of Severus in Erfurt, Germany. May 28, 2018
The early baroque high altar of the St. Severus Church in Erfurt, Germany, was built around 1670. May 28, 2018
The Altar of Mary inside the St. Severus Church in Erfurt, Germany, from 1510 depicts mother and child seated between St. Catherine, with her sword, and St. Barbara, with her chalice, in the center of this triptych altar. The side wings of the triptych altarpiece are Mary Magdalene, with an anointing vessel and St. Ursula with her book and arrow. May 28, 2018
The stone sarcophagus of St. Severus inside the church baring his name, St. Severus Church in Erfurt, Germany, was between 1360 to 1370. The story of Severus, the wool weaver, is depicted on the surfaces of the sarcophagus. May 28, 2018
Taking a quick break at the top of the stairs in front of Erfurt Cathedral in Erfurt, Germany. From left: Alice, me and Tammy. May 28, 2018

Dresden stole my heart on Tuesday. Reborn from the ashes of World War II and Communist rule, this jewel glistens in its Baroque-ness. From our very first introduction of the Zwinger Palace grandness to the resurrection of its Frauenkirche, Lutheran church….Dresden gets my vote, at least from the cities/towns I’ve seen, for the city with the come back award on a sumptuous and classy scale.

Abbreviated history as background: Once called the “Florence of the Elbe,” Dresden was largely destroyed by a massive bombing raid during World War II. After that, Germany became occupied by the victorious Allied powers of the United States, United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union.

With the advent of the Cold War, two German states were formed in 1949: the western Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the eastern German Democratic Republic (GDR).
East Germany, which Dresden fell under, came to an end with the Cold War and the German reunification in 1990. Since then, Germany has expended considerable funds to bring its country together.

Dresden was our tour group’s stop along the way to Berlin and the end of our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” tour. But the focus for this post is the pulled together and classy Dresden…more on Berlin later.

Me in front of the statue of the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther and behind his statue, the Frauenkirche, Church of our Lady in Dresden, Germany. The bronze statue of the reformer and theologian, from 1885, survived the bombings but was also restored. May 29, 2018
Our local Dresden guide, Liane, showing our tour group a photo of the rubbled remains of the Frauenkirche, Church of our Lady and theMartin Luther memorial, after the end of World War II. But that was not the end of the church whose history goes back a 1,000 years. In the 1990s a rebuilding project began that garnered support world wide. Following decisions by local East German leaders, the church ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial. , following decisions of local East German leaders. The church was rebuilt after the reunification of Germany, starting in 1994. May 29, 2018
The historic square of the Neumarkt in Dresden where the statue of Martin Luther (left) is featured, was almost completely wiped out during the Allied bomb attack during the Second World War. After the war Dresden fell under Soviet occupation and later the communist German Democratic Republic who rebuilt the Neumarkt area in socialist realist style and partially with historic buildings. After the fall of Communism and German reunification the decision was made to restore the Neumarkt to its pre-war look. May 29, 2018
The Dresden Frauenkirche, Church of Our Lady) is a Lutheran church made from local sandstone in Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony. The rebuilt church, in the historic square of Neumarkt where the statue of Martin Luther is located, is a monument reminding people of its history and a symbol of hope and reconciliation. May 29, 2018
The baroque interior of the Frauenkirch, Church of our Lady, in Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
A close-up of the Frauenkirch, Church of Our Lady, altar in Dresden, Germany. The baroque altar depicts a biblical scene: Christ is praying alone in the Garden of Gethsemane while his disciples are asleep and soldiers are already approaching from the town gate to arrest him. About two thousand fragments of the original altar were rescued and makes up around 80 percent of the present altar. May 29, 2018
The side pews of the Frauenkirch, Church of Our Lady, in Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
Paintings inside the inner dome of the Frauenkirch, Church of Our Lady, in Dresden, Germany. The figures were painted by the Italian theatre painter Johann Baptist Grone. The four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and allegories of the Christian virtues of belief, love, hope and mercy with their associated symbols are depicted. May 29, 2018
A close-up of the paintings inside the inner dome of the Frauenkirch, Church of Our Lady in Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
The bent and melted tower cross that once crowned the Frauenkirch’s, Church of Our Lady, in Dresden, Germany, is now displayed inside the church as a reminder of the war’s destruction. May 29, 2018
The Zwinger palace in Dresden, built in Baroque style and designed by court architect Matthäus Daniel Pöppelmann. It served as the orangery, exhibition gallery and festival arena of the Dresden Court. The Crown Gate, the most photographed part of the Zwinger, is decorated with gods from Greek mythology. May 29, 2018
The Crown Gate, of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany, is decorated with gods from Greek mythology. May 29, 2018
The Crown Gate, of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany, is decorated with gods from Greek mythology. May 29, 2018
Dresden’s Zwinger Palace is famous around the world for its beautiful baroque architecture. It was built in 1709 during the reign of Augustus the Strong. T The complex was built in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong. May 29, 2018
The Zwinger Palace courtyard in Dresden, Germany, features a number of pavilions, gates and columned structures. Designed and built between 1710 and 1728, today the reconstructed buildings house the Old Masters Picture Gallery, the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments and the Porcelain Collection. May 29, 2018
Our local guide, Liane, showing us a photo of the ruined wall pavilion of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany. The buildings of the Palace was mostly destroyed during the World War II bombings in February 1945. Reconstruction, supported by the Soviet military administration, began in 1945; parts of the restored complex were opened to the public in 1951. By 1963 the Zwinger had largely been restored to its pre-war state. May 29, 2018
The clock tower of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
A close-up of the carvings along the clock tower of the Zwinger Palace in Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
The former Dresden Castle or Royal Palace is one of the oldest buildings in Dresden, Germany. For almost 400 years, it was the residence of the electors and kings of Saxony. It is known for the different architectural styles from Baroque to Neo-renaissance. Most of the castle was reduced to a roofless shell during the 1945 World War II bombings, but today the residential castle is a reconstructed museum complex. May 29, 2018
Horse and carriage ride on the cobblestone streets of Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
The Dresden Stable Yard, built between 1586 and 1591, in Dresden, Germany, was used as the venue for courtly amusement, such as tournaments and jousting. The stables, built east of the old town walls, were used for keeping the coaches and horses on the ground floor and accommodating noble guests upstairs. After major reconstruction the stable yard is now the Johanneum and Transport Museum. May 29, 2018
The Fürstenzug or Procession of Princes on Augustusstraße. In Dresden, Germany, is a large mural of a mounted procession of the rulers of Saxony. It was originally painted between 1871 and 1876 to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Wettin Dynasty, Saxony’s ruling family. In order to make the work weatherproof, it was replaced with approximately 23,000 Meissen porcelain tiles between 1904 and 1907. With a length of 335 feet, it is known as the largest porcelain artwork in the world. The mural displays the ancestral portraits of the 35 margraves, electors, dukes and kings of the House of Wettin between 1127 and 1904. May 29, 2018
The Fürstenzug or Procession of Princes on Augustusstraße in Dresden, Germany, is a 335 foot porcelain mural displaying the ancestral portraits of the 35 margraves, electors, dukes and kings of the House of Wettin between 1127 and 1904. Only minimal damage to the tiles resulted from the Feb. 13, 1945 World War II bombings. May 29, 2018
A close-up of the Fürstenzug or Procession of Princes on Augustusstraße in Dresden, Germany. May 29, 2018
One of two tunnels between the Process of Princes mural and the Dresden Cathedral in Dresden, Germany, with dramatic carved figures guarding its entryway. May 29, 2018
A close-up of one of the dramatic carved figures guarding the tunnel entryway in Dresden, Germany. The two tunnels are between the Procession of Princes and the Dresden Cathedral. May 29, 2018
The Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden began took 12 years to construction…from 1739 to 1751. The 1945 World War II bombings destroyed the roof, vault and part of the exterior walls. May 29, 2018
A photo of the badly damaged Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden from the February 1945 bombing of Dresden during World War II. It was initially restored during the mid-1980s by the East German government. It was further restored following the 1990 reunification, including the rebuilding of the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ to the castle. May 29, 2018
The High altar Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden. May 29, 2018
A photo of the damaged high altar of the Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden after the 1945 World War II bombings. May 29, 2018
The Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden features a carefully restored organ, the last work of the renowned organ builder Gottfried Silbermann. May 29, 2018
A close-up of the Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden which features a carefully restored organ, the last work of the renowned organ builder Gottfried Silbermann. May 29, 2018
The Bridge of Sighs’ covered archway connects the Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden to the former Dresden Castle or Royal Palace. May 29, 2018
The Bridge of Sighs’ covered archway connects the Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden to the former Dresden Castle or Royal Palace. May 29, 2018
Bridge of Sighs’ covered archway connects the Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden to the former Dresden Castle or Royal Palace. May 29, 2018
Okay, so I find the Bridge of Sighs’ interesting…and here is the view of the bridge from underneath. It connects the Dresden Cathedral or the Catholic Court Church of Dresden to the former Dresden Castle or Royal Palace. May 29, 2018
The Semper Opera House in Dresden, Germany, was originally built by the architect Gottfried Semper. It opened April 13, 1841 but in 1869 was hit by a devastating fire and was rebuilt immediately by the Dresden citizens. Then in 1945, during the last months of World War II, the building was largely destroyed again. Some 40 years later on Feb. 13, 1985, the opera’s reconstruction was completed to be almost identical to its appearance before the war. May 29, 2018

My stay in Germany is coming to an end. Although I visited Munich and Berlin on my own just two years ago, seeing these cities and more through the eyes of a knowledgeable guide whose roots are German has given me a deeper and more diverse view of this country’s history and its growing, inclusive present.

I don’t think anyone can think of Germany without acknowledging the deportation and murder of six million Jews…and neither can Germany. This country does not hide from its past. The atrocities committed by the Nazis are not condoned and no Nazi statues are erected to its leaders. There’s nothing to commemorate. But, efforts are made to acknowledge the damage caused, honor the pain and suffering of its victims and educate anyone who will listen that the atrocities of the past must never be repeated.

This is also a country that didn’t become Germany until 1990 when the East and the West came together to form the reunited nation of Germany and when East Berlin and West Berlin became the single city of Berlin. The Wall that separated this country and its people took time to finally come down but its the people whose demand for freedom and oneness is what brought it crashing down.

Although Thursday morning was the last official day of our Rick Steves “Best of Germany” group tour, Alice, Tammy and I gave ourselves a couple extra days in Berlin to see Wittenberg (the home of Martin Luther…more in my next post) and rest up for the next leg of our journey… Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Here are my Berlin highlights…..

Me on my way up the spiral walkway of the Reichstag’s large glass roof-terraced dome with its 360-degree view of the Berlin cityscape. The Reichstag building was originally built from 1884 to 1894 but through a 1933 fire, the air raids of 1945, the years of Nazi rule and the Berlin Wall between East and West, it took until after the 1990 reunification for the Reichstag to be brought back to life again. The reconstruction and reopening was completed in 1999 and now the Reichstag functions as the seat of the federal German parliament, the Bundestag. Thanks Carlos for arranging this tour of the Reichstag…so worth getting up early for this. May 30, 2018
The Reichstag building functions as the seat of the federal German parliament, the Bundestag. Originally built from 1884 to 1894, the Reichstag has been through a 1933 fire, the air raids of 1945, the years of Nazi rule and the Berlin Wall between East and West. It took until after the 1990 reunification of Germany to be reconstructed and completed in 1999. May 30, 2018
A close-up of the entryway into the Reichstag in Berlin. May 30, 2018
The rooftop glass dome of the Reichstag in Berlin. May 30, 2018
Inside the rooftop glass dome of the Reichstag in Berlin. The debating chamber of the Bundestag, the German parliament, can be seen below. May 30, 2018
The Brandenburg Gate is a true Berlin landmark built between 1788 and 1791. Because it was situated inside the wide area of the Berlin Wall, the so-called “Death Strip,” it became symbolic of the city’s separation. After the “Fall of the Wall,” the gate was reopened Dec. 22, 1989. The gate consists of twelve Doric columns, six on each side, forming five passageways with carved reliefs in between. Atop the gate is a Quadriga, with the goddess of Victory and a chariot drawn by four horses.May 30, 2018
The carved reliefs of the inner surfaces between the columns of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin show, among other things, the deeds of Hercules. May 30, 2018
The Brandenburg Gate bronze statue, Quadriga, at the top of the gate in Berlin, features the goddess of Victory and a four horse drawn chariot. May 30, 2018
Along the road from the Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag is the remains of the Berlin Wall, a concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin in two from 1961 to 1989. May 30, 2018
People come into view for a second and then just disappear. Will I be able to find them? Will I ever see them again? For the brief moments I walked through the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe also known as the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, I felt separated, lost and hurt that as humans we seek to diminish one another based on true superficialities…race, gender, religious beliefs, sexual orientations…when we are all human beings. The pain we’ve inflicted and continue to inflict on one another has ended a multitude of lives and continues to do so. Walking through this memorial makes me wonder if we will ever, as humans, be able to see deep enough into the souls of our fellow human beings to find the connection between us all. May 30, 2018
Only steps away from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe also known as the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, is basically a residential parking lot where Adolf Hitler’s life came to an end at his underground bunker. Our Berlin city guide, Jessica, (in the middle with white shirt and black shorts) letting our tour group know that under the parking lot was the entrance to Hitler’s former bunker, the so-called Führerbunker or leader’s bunker where he basically hid out during the last months of his life and the war. Hitler learned about the Germany army failing and Heinrich Himmler’s attempts to negotiate with the Western allies, so he chose, on April 30th, 1945, to end his life along with that of girlfriend turned wife, Eva Braun, and cremated. May 30,2018
The former Air Ministry Building in Berlin, completed in 1936, was the first large government structure built for the Nazi regime and one of the few Nazi public buildings to escape serious damage during the Allied bombings of 1945. Built in the typical gigantic intimidation style, this is where Hermann Göring, one of the most powerful Nazis, was commander-in-chief of the German air force (Luftwaffe). Today, it houses the Federal German Ministry of Finance. May 30, 2018
The Topography of Terror’s outdoor history museum in Berlin, is where you can find the preserved remains of the Berlin Wall along Niederkirchnerstrasse, formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. This wall marked the boarder between the Berlin districts of Mitte (East) and Kreuzberg (West). On the other side of this wall is an open air exhibit revealing the excavated cellar wall segments of the Gestapo headquarters. May 30, 2018
The Topography of Terror’s open-air exhibition, detailing the history of repression under the Nazis, is on the other side of the preserved section of the Berlin Wall along Niederkirchnerstraße (formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Straße) in Berlin. A part of that outdoor exhibit is a trench revealing the excavated cellar wall segments of the Gestapo headquarters present from 1933 to 1945 before being destroyed by Allied bombings during World War II. The cellar wall remains, sheltered by a steal and glass canopy, is where many political prisoners were tortured and executed. May 30, 2018
The Topography of Terror’s open-air exhibition, detailing the history of repression under the Nazis, is on the other side of the preserved section of the Berlin Wall along Niederkirchnerstraße (formerly Prinz-Albrecht-Straße) in Berlin. May 30, 2018
Our local Berlin guide, Jessica, sharing with our group the history of the wall and the consequences of its presence in the lives of Berliners and Germans alike. On Aug. 13, 1961 construction of the Berlin Wall started on the orders of the communist leaders of East German. Until 1989, the Berlin Wall is the visible expression of the division of Germany. It consisted of a barrier system of more than 90 miles in length in order to stop the people of the East from escaping to the West. May 30, 2018
This plaque in the street shows where the wall separating East Berlin from West Berlin was located from 1961 to 1989. May 30, 2018
Checkpoint Charlie was the legendary checkpoint between the American and Soviet sections of Berlin that was once barricaded with barbed wire, barriers and a watchtower. Although nothing original remains of the checkpoint, this once dangerous checkpoint is now a tourist attraction where photos can be taken with actors. May 30, 2018
The legendary checkpoint, known as Checkpoint Charlie, between the American and Soviet sections of Berlin that was once barricaded with barbed wire, barriers and a watchtower is now a congested tourist attraction. May 30, 2018
A photo of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, at the turning point of the Cold War, as it was called, visiting West Germany and Berlin in order to demonstrate his solidarity with the West Berliners. In front of the City Hall in Schöneberg, he moved his audience with the declaration: “All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words: Ich bin ein Berliner.” May 30, 2018
The Stolpersteine also known as stumbling stones is a project of the artist Gunter Demnig and commemorates people who were persecuted by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945. The Stolpersteine are concrete blocks laid into the pavement in front of the last voluntarily chosen places of residence of the victims of the Nazis who were deported and murdered. Their names and fate are engraved into a brass plate on the top of each Stolperstein. These three victims, Arthur Kroner, Meta Kroner and Charlotte Kroner can be found at Friedrichstr. 55, a busy, bustling street in Berlin. There are several thousand Stolpersteine in Berlin but these stumbling stones can be found throughout Europe. May 30, 2018
Where the Stolpersteine also known as stumbling blocks in remembrance of Arthur Kroner, Meta Kroner and Charlotte Kroner can be found at Friedrichstr. 55, a busy, bustling street in Berlin. The Stolpersteine are concrete blocks laid into the pavement in front of the last voluntarily chosen places of residence of the victims of the Nazis who were deported and murdered. Their names and fate are engraved into a brass plate on the top of each Stolperstein. There are several thousand Stolpersteine in Berlin but these stumbling stones can be found throughout Europe. May 30, 2018
The busy streets of Berlin. May 30, 2018
The busy streets of Berlin. May 30, 2018
Toasting to the end of our 13-day Rick Steves “Best of Germany,” tour with beer…of course. Me, Alice and Tammy at Russpanne in Berlin toasting and getting ready to have our last tour group dinner on Wednesday night. May 30, 2018
Our Rick Steves tour guide, Carlos Meissner, during our last tour group dinner Wednesday night at Russpanne in Berlin after receiving a medal from a tour member for his super-duper tour guide skills. But more importantly for providing our group with an inclusive history, including that of his country. May 30, 2018
Carlos, our Rick Steves tour guide, introducing the buffet goodies of our last “Best of Germany” tour group dinner Wednesday night at Russpanne in Berlin. May 30, 2018
Thank you to my Buddy…Mary Ellyn…for sharing your photography knowledge and keeping an eye on me when I lagged behind the group trying to get in that one last shot. May 30, 2018

From Berlin, the train to Wittenberg, basically referred to as Lutherstädte Wittenberg or Luther City, made for a pleasant day trip to the charming medieval city that played an important role in Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) life. Indeed, Wittenberg is where the Protestant Reformer lived, married, preached, raised his children and wrote the 95 Theses against the contemporary practice of the Roman Catholic church to seek monetary support through indulgences. It is also where Luther was laid to rest.

Luther taught that salvation and eternal life are not earned by good deeds or the payment of indulgences but are received as the gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. His theology challenged the authority and office of the Pope by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge from God. And, he further caused ire by translating the Latin Bible into the German vernacular to be understood by lay worshippers.

But Luther was also controversial in his writings, expressing antisemitic views towards Jews and also harsh words towards Roman Catholics, whom Protestants labeled “Papists.”

Today, we said good-bye to both Berlin and Germany as we took to the skies for Luxembourg City. In the meantime, here’s the lovely city of Wittenberg, home to several UNESCWorld Heritage sites including the Castle Church, the Luther House, and the Town Church plus the man himself…Martin Luther.

Traveling on our own again. This time on the train heading to Wittenberg to explore where Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses that started the Reformation in 1517. Being able to explore Europe on its extensive train system is one of the main reasons I enjoy coming here, along with its history, because having a car just isn’t necessary. May 31, 2018
Our group selfie, Alice, me and Tammy, in the Marktplatz or Market Square in Wittenberg, Germany, home and resting place of Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation. May 31, 2018
The Marktplatz or Market Square in Wittenberg, Germany with statues of Philipp Melanchthon to the right and Martin Luther to the left. The Renaissance-style white/gray building is the Town Hall or Rathaus. May 31, 2018
The statue of Martin Luther, is one of two prominent bronze statues (the other one is his friend, teacher and fellow reformer, Philip Melanchthon), in Wittenberg’s Market Square. Luther looms large in Wittenberg for writing his 95 Theses that started the Reformation in 1517 and basically challenged the very prominent Catholic Church in Rome and throughout Europe. May 31, 2018
The Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. For more than 300 years after 1507, the Castle Church was the University Church where professors, like Martin Luther and his fellow reformist Melanchthon, held services. May 31, 2018
Luther’s theses are engraved into the door of All Saints’ Church, Wittenberg. The Latin inscription above informs the reader that the original door was destroyed by a fire, and that in 1857, King Frederick William IV of Prussia ordered a replacement be made. The old wooden door entrance to the church burned and was replaced by this bronze door, cast in 1858, with the Latin text of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses. May 31, 2018
Here they are, all of the Martin Luther 95 theses, posted on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, October 31, 1517. The doors you see now were put up in the 19th century (the original wooden doors are long gone, with the Middle Ages). The current doors are made of bronze and are engraved with all ninety-five theses. May 31, 2018
The interior of the Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
The statues on the altar of the Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, represents Christ together with the Apostles Peter and Paul. May 31, 2018
Martin Luther’s tomb by the altar and pulpit of the Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. There’s also a large bronze plate of Martin Luther affixed to the far wall. May 31, 2018
Martin Luther’s tomb by the altar and pulpit of the Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Enscribed on Luther’s tomb is: “Here is buried the body of the Doctor of Sacred Theology, Martin Luther, who died in the year of Christ 1546, on February 18th, in his hometown Eisleben, after having lived for 63 years, 2 months, and 10 days.” May 31, 2018
A close-up of the large bronze plate of Martin Luther affixed to the wall inside the the Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
At the altar of the Protestant Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, just opposite Martin Luther’s tomb, is a similar tomb of his collaborator and friend, the humanistic scholar Philipp Melanchthon. The Latin epitaph says: “Here lies the body of the devout man, Philipp Melanchthon, who died in this city in the year of Christ 1560, on April 19th after having lived for 63 years, 2 months and 2 days.” May 31, 2018
The engaging and charming tucked away city of Wittenberg, Germany, consists of mainly one Main Street that takes you from the Castle Church, where Martine Luther is buried, to the Luther House, where he lived with his wife and children…and other historical and interesting points in between. May 31, 2018
The city of Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
The Market Square with the grand towers of the Town Church in the distance make up the picturesque vision of Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Luther lived, taught and wrote his 95 Theses. May 31, 2018
A stream runs along the main pedestrian-only street of Collegienstrasse (which turns into Schlossstrasse), in Wittenberg, Germany, adding even more charm to the colorful town that lays claim to the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther. That tower in the distance is the Castle Church. May 31, 2018
The colorful buildings of the Market Square with the Town Church towers in the background along the main pedestrian-only street of Collegienstrasse (which turns into Schlossstrasse), in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
More of Wittenberg, Germany, along its main pedestrian-only street of Collegienstrasse (which turns into Schlossstrasse). May 31, 2018
The ornate entrance into the the former University of Wittenberg, now the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg off the main pedestrian-only street of Collegienstrasse (which turns into Schlossstrasse), in Wittenberg, Germany. In 1817, the University of Wittenberg, founded in 1502 and the University of Halle, founded in 1691, merged to become the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The Wittenberg portion serves as the Leucorea Foundation, a convention centre for academic and political conferences. May 31, 2018
The Leucorea Foundation once the University of Wittenberg, founded in 1502, has since merged with the University of Halle and is called the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Wittenberg, Germany. Under the influence of Philipp Melanchthon, building on the works of Martin Luther, the University of Wittenberg became a centre of the Protestant Reformation. May 31, 2018
The residence, a former 1504 Augustinian monastery, where Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, resided in Wittenberg, Germany. It was here that Luther had his offered theological lectures to students and where in 1517, he wrote his 95 Theses as an academic discussion of the practice and efficacy of indulgences in the Catholic Church. Today the Luther House is a Reformation museum and is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. May 31, 2018
A bronze statue of Katharina von Bora, Luther’s wife, inside the courtyard of the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany, that she, Luther and their children began sharing in 1525. May 31, 2018
A 1514 portrait of Martin Luther, the Protestant Reformer, painted by Lucas Cranach, inside the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany. Cranach, a close friend of Martin Luther’s, was a German Renaissance painter, printmaker in woodcut and engraving. May 31, 2018
The Lectern inside the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
A close-up of the ornate lectern inside the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
A close-up of a painting of Martin Luther on the lectern inside the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
Paintings of Martin Luther, like this one done again by artist Lucas Cranach in 1528, can be found throughout the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
This painting of Katharina von Bora, Martin Luther’s wife, was also painted by Lucas Cranach in 1526. May 31, 2018
A printing press and printed items are a part of the historical collection inside the Luther House in Wittenberg, Germany. Cranach and others assisted in the publishing of Luther’s works. May 31, 2018
The beautiful medieval Town Church or Stadtkirche, with its very visible double towers, is where Martin Luther preached many of his sermons and where he married Katharina von Bora in Wittenberg, Germany. Considered to be the oldest building in Wittenberg, it is also known as the “Mother Church of the Reformation,” since Luther did most of his preaching here. May 31, 2018
Inside of the Town Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and looking into the Reformation Altar. Although this parish church, where Martin Luther preached has changed quite a bit since his time, the altarpiece, crafted in 1547-1548 by Lucas Cranach the Elder and his son, Lucas Cranach the Younger, has not. May 31, 2018
A close-up of the Reformation Altar inside the Town Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Crafted in 1547-1548 by Lucas Cranach the Elder and his son, Lucas Cranach the Younger, the Reformation altarpiece is by Lucas Cranach the Elder. It depicts the Lord’s Supper (look for the faces of Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon and other Reformation figures), Baptism and Confession. Cranach, not only one of the most notable Reformation artists and friend of Luther, but he was also the Bürgermeister or mayor of Wittenberg. May 31, 2018
The mustard-colored Lucas Cranach House in Wittenberg, Germany. Cranach came to Wittenberg in 1505 as the court painter of Elector Friedrich the Wise and bought two large stone houses. Cranach created paintings, wood engravings and etchings. His portraits, especially of Martin Luther, provided the face of the Reformation. May 31, 2018
A printing press inside the Lucas Cranach home in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
Me standing by the bronze statue of Lucas Cranach painting a portrait of Martin Luther. The statue sits in the courtyard of one of his former properties, this one a workshop, in Wittenberg, Germany. May 31, 2018
Lucas Cranach has two properties in Wittenberg, Germany. This one, a workshop, sits in a courtyard where a bronze statue of Cranach can be found while he is painting a portrait of Martin Luther. Cranach not only gave life to Luther through his paintings but he also assisted with the publishing of Luther’s writings by printing and publishing them. May 31, 2018