Wednesday, 2019 September 25
I got up with a sore throat. I figured it was a combination of dehydration and sleeping with my mouth open (according to Krista I was snoring worse than usual). I didn't think much of it at the time.
I did a bit of packing, then ran my and Krista's larger suitcases down to the car. It was immediately obvious that the "huge" trunk in the A6 wagon was not going to be up to holding all of our luggage. In hindsight I really wish I had just brought the one large suitcase, possibly with a duffel packed inside for overflow.
Krista and I headed down to breakfast. Dad was already down there, of course. Krista and I ate, then we all headed back to our rooms to finish packing and get ready to go.
We met in the lobby, checked out, and hit the road. I was once again impressed by the general politeness and rationality of German drivers. I made a few wrong turns on the way out of Frankfurt, but we were soon on the A66. My first experience on the Autobahn was positive; I stayed right and followed the flow of traffic, except when we got to the no-limit portions. There I found that I was comfortable with the people in the middle lane, usually doing around 120-130 kph. That seemed fast enough to me, and I was never tempted to try to play with the speed demons in the left lane.
I followed my GPS to Hachenburg. This is one of the two villages where the Hamacher family originated; if the family genealogy is to be trusted, three brothers came over to the US sometime in the 1700s (I think). This was the one thing Dad really wanted to do while we were here, so I was happy to oblige. It turned out that Hachenburg was also a lovely town of about 6000 people; it has a couple very well-preserved streets with very old buildings. Krista was absolutely in love, to the point where we had to look at some real estate listings (just like in Valencia).
The other reputed origin village, Oberhatten, no longer seems to exist and I couldn't find any mention of it online. However, in the same approximate position as it on the maps Dad has, there is now a town called Hattert. Per Wikipedia this is sort of an uber-town, comprising Oberhattert, among other communities. I have to assume that the town Dad's notes show as Oberhatten is in fact Oberhattert.
In any case, we drove through there as well. It was smaller and, while it had no shortage of cute houses, I didn't think it was nearly as picturesque as Hachenburg.
Dad and I both remarked on how much this entire region resembles portions of Pennsylvania; specifically, the Pennsylvania Dutch areas where my Mom is from, as well as the area where the Hamacher brothers originally settled. It's not hard to see why they chose that area.
Having seen the villages, we headed to Cologne. I encountered my first asshole German driver - a tailgater in a VW - but eventually got away from him and otherwise the trip was uneventful. I did miss a few turns in Cologne, but ended up at the Marriott relatively easily. On the way in we noticed the gondolas and decided we should ride them. Unfortunately we never thought of that again until we left.
Parking was a challenge - the A6 wagon was clearly longer than what most of the spots were intended for - but Krista spotted a place against the wall that was easy-in, easy-out. We headed up and checked in - this time we were able to get rooms right across the hall from one another.
Despite my positive impression of driving in Germany, I was wiped out. We chilled for a bit, then met up in the hotel lounge for an early supper. I ordered the pork belly sliders, which were absolutely delicious. The fries were so good I ordered more; combined with three beers (the local Gaffel Kolsch), this turned out to be way too much food and I was quite uncomfortable by the time we got upstairs.
Krista was also wiped out. We chilled for a while, but I think she went to bed around 1830. I tried to stay up but I had to throw in the towel before 2000.Tuesday, 2019 September 24 Thursday, 2019 September 26