Saturday, 2019 September 28

We were up about our usual time. This gave us time to basically pack up before we headed down for breakfast. We met Dad, ate, and then came back up to the rooms. Once we were all packed we met back down in the lobby.

I checked out - it's always amazing to me how fast expenses add up when you can just sign everything to the room. Everything was in order, though. I also paid for parking.

We headed down to the garage and packed up the car. I got out with no drama. It turned out that the parking gate was out of order and propped open - I could have just driven out without paying. Oh well.

Getting out of Cologne was straightforward. We'd decided to swing down through the edge of the Black Forest, both to see it and because we think that's where Mom's family is from (although Dad was less sure of that than he was his own family). For lack of anything better I set the GPS for Trier. This was about a two-hour drive.

It was nice country - again, it reminded us of Pennsylvania. There was an amazing number of small campers on the road, apparently everyone goes to the Black Forest to camp. I also started to realize that, despite my initial impression, the autobahns have just as many dumb drivers as American freeways. They're just dumb in different ways.

Trier appeared to be a really nice town, although traffic was backed up so much to make the left turn into the town itself that I just bypassed it.

From there we headed towards Freudenstadt. This was a long drive - about 3.5 hours - and by the time we'd been on the road for about four hours everyone was starting to get a little sick of being in the car. I canceled Freudenstadt and continued on to Nuremberg. Unfortunately that was also about three hours away.

By the time we were getting close I was cranky and my butt was sore from so much driving, and Krista was thoroughly carsick. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. I had set the GPS to go to "Nuremberg", so it took us to the city center. I didn't realize this at the time, and got frustrated because a) I had to drive through some very narrow city-center streets full of pedestrians and b) couldn't find the hotel when we got there. I ended up parking in a garage to get my bearings.

By the time we got outside I figured out what had gone wrong. I set the GPS to get to the hotel, got out of the parking garage, and discovered that with the narrow streets and stone buildings I was only getting an intermittent GPS signal and my phone wasn't really sure where I was. Luckily there were some other cars so I crept out of the core behind them.

The GPS finally got a good signal and we were back on track - I thought. We pulled up in front of the hotel, which supposedly had valet parking, only to discover that a) the entire parking 'lane' was full and b) there was no sign of any valet. I thought maybe I had done something wrong, so I circled around and tried again - same result. Krista called the hotel and they said we should park in a specific garage - which I couldn't find. Finally, I went past the hotel one more time and there was an open spot in the "taxis only" area. At this point I didn't care - I was hungry, tired, angry, and frustrated. I pulled in - at the time I think I said something like "they can tow this stupid car for all I care". Luckily that didn't happen.

Krista ran inside to get us checked in while Dad and I unloaded the car. Krista came back out and said that there was a valet, but everything was crazy because they were hosting a wedding (or a reception, I'm not entirely sure) that night. We should just hand the keys in at the desk and they would (eventually) take care of the parking.

The lobby was busy because of the wedding, but I did get to the desk pretty quickly and handed over the keys. We all headed upstairs to our rooms, finally. We were all on the top floor, the fifth. Krista and I looked north, over the old town. Dad looked west, over the train station. This would prove to be a source of endless fascination for him.

It was definitely an old hotel, but very nice (it was Le Meridien Grand Hotel). It had been very well maintained and updated through the years, but there were a ton of charming details that you don't see on modern hotels. We were on the sixth (top) floor and had a great view looking out over the old city center. Krista and I both finally started to relax.

We went back downstairs and sat down in the bar. This looked out over the main train station and was an awesome station for people-watching. Dad joined us soon. I ate way too much and ended up drinking 1.5 liters of beer, but I felt like I had earned it.

As soon as we finished we headed back upstairs. I fell asleep pretty quickly.

Friday, 2019 September 27 Sunday, 2019 September 29