We left Vancouver on April 6th at 6:45 p.m., after a hectic day of wrapping things up (packing up the motor home, dropping the motor home off at Barry & Vicky’s house for safe keeping, dropping the cats off at the cat hotel, etc.). Then it was ‘hurry up and wait’ at the airport.
We flew with KLM Royal Dutch airlines, and were very impressed with the service. We both tried to fit a little sleep into the flight so we wouldn’t be as jetlagged, but no luck.
We arrived in Amsterdam for our 4-hour layover at 1:15 p.m. The Amsterdam airport is big – it was a 24-minute walk to our next boarding gate (they have signs advising of the walking distance between gates).
We picked up our rental van (it is a sweet ride – a black, 7-passenger Mercedes diesel van; I call it ‘the beast’), and drove to Dorverden, the small town where Lyle has been living and working since the New Year.
We stopped briefly to see his new horse, Landiana, and the barn that he works out of,
It is beautiful place – lovely red brick buildings, small farms, old churches – very European, as Terry so aptly put it. We met up with Ron & Tammy, picked up Lyle and drove into nearby, Verden (a larger centre) for a tour of the town,
After Horst and his wife left, we officially launched the start of our ‘Dos Equis’ Euro Tour 2009, with the distribution of the t-shirts that Terry and I had picked up in Mexico. The ‘Dos Equis’ refers to the fact that our Euro tour is comprised of two ‘ex-spouses’ travelling with their respective new partners. We acknowledged that both couples had been taking a lot of heat over the fact that we were travelling with the ‘ex’es’ and how unusual the situation was.
The next day, we headed south to Nesselroeden to visit Lyle’s trainer, and check out his first ‘tour of duty’ in Germany, riding and training at a barn there before he went to Verden. We hit the Autoban, and cranked ‘the beast’ up to 150 when we were able. Unfortunately, we happened upon a traffic jam (turns out there had been an accident WAY down the road) that slowed vehicle traffic for about 25 miles. There was a line-up of commercial trucks that was unbelievable. So much for making time on the Autobahn!
The drive was unbelievably beautiful – rolling hills, quaint small towns, the occasional castle … We stopped to tour Plesse Castle, which was very close to Gottingen, and enjoyed a beer at the on-site restaurant.
The next morning we stopped by Heinrich’s barn to say goodbye, and headed south. We weren’t really sure of where we wanted to go, but after consulting our travel books and relying on Heinrich’s recommendations, we decided to travel to Freiburg, which is located on the edge of Germany’s famous Black Forest area, and quite close to the Germany/Switzerland border.
Freiburg is a larger center, with a population of around 200,000. It is home to a large community of university students, so there is quite a young atmosphere there. The town has some very interesting architecture (much of it classified as medieval), and stone-lined channels that run alongside the streets. We toured around and saw the amazing Munster (cathedral), which is presently undergoing a renovation.
As it was Good Friday, the cathedral was closed for touring. Lyle, however, decided to venture in and observed a bit of the Good Friday service that was taking place. When he left the cathedral, he noted that a lot of the people attending the service were crying and wondered if they were acknowledging some kind of disaster. We confirmed his theory with a bit of a lecture on the biblical events surrounding Good Friday, and why the devout Catholics would be emotional!
It was a beautiful, warm evening, and we enjoyed a meal at an outdoor restaurant before touring around the inner city and stopping at a few interesting spots for beers.
We’re going to stay here for two nights, and will take the day tomorrow to tour around the city a bit more, and then take a drive through parts of the nearby Black Forest. There are a couple of gondolas that take you up into the mountains and have some amazing views that we want to check out.