Journal (11Aug11)by Tourguide on Thu 11 Aug 2011, 03 PM CEST, Views: 621
So summer is in full swing here in Germany, though clearing not ‘swinging’ as hard as it is in the US. Looking at these weekly temperature averages from the States, I must say I’m glad to be on this side of the Pond. I read Dallas, Texas reached 99 degrees last Wednesday, …at Midnight. Wow, just wow. To be honest, I don’t think it’s gotten over 80 degrees here. Though, that’s not to say that Europe can’t get hot. It was in the upper nineties several days last summer. Now, before you shrug that off, keep one important thing in mind …German houses do *not* have air conditioning.
That’s right, none of them have AC. We have instant radiator heating with cool floor coils to keep us toasty in the winter, but in the summer we are on our own. But, 49 weeks out of the year it’s not necessary. I’m told movie theaters make more in those remaining 3 weeks than the rest of the year combined, too funny. However, the way its going this year it looks like we won’t need the AC for all 52 weeks. We swing a window open (windows here are all multifunctional), and enjoy the warm and breezy feeling from March to mid September. Of course, I’ll keep this wonderful warm and breezy feeling in mind when I’m digging snow off my car for the umpteenth (funny, that word was in my spellcheck) time this winter.
Now, nothing drives tourism like escaping the inhospitable climate. Whether it be (I think there’s a pun there somewhere) winter snowbirds, fall leaf-peepers, or summer sun-dials as I’ve heard them called. And that is very true this year, by this time next week we’ll have had three sets of visitors in the last month. Rachel’s old buddy Gavin, who has a doctorate in Wine :), was speaking in the area and stayed with us. Rachel’s mom passed through here this week on her way to Russia, and Rachel’s dad and stepmom arrive next week on their way to Warsaw. One of the great things about our location here in southwest Germany is that we are central to all of Europe.
Now weather isn’t the only thing that drives folks to Europe. Because of the tight concentration of countries, site-seeing is a breeze here, and the late summer is the best time for it. Europe likes festivals, big festivals. Like 100,000 person festivals. They have 3 day music festivals that rival Woodstock *every* summer here in Europe, and not just one. The top 5 European festivals last year attracted 750,000 people. Wow, thats a lot of wristbands.
You can see dozens of world class musicians lined up right in front of you for a whole weekend. Depending on your taste of music, there is a festival for you. Pop music, Jazz, Classic Rock, Heavy Metal (check out this lineup), …Europe has you covered. The Glastonbury Festival alone attracts 180,000 people. This year’s 3 day Oxygen Festival outside Dublin was the talk of the town last month. Everyone knew someone going or trying to get tickets to go. With Beyoncé, Black Eyed Peas, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, and U2 mixed in with up-and-comers like the Stokes and Arctic Monkeys, there was something for everyone.
Now, of course, no discussion of large festivals near Germany would be complete without mentioning Germany’s own Oktoberfest. Rachel and I went last year, and it is *everything* it is made out to be. Interestingly, Oktoberfest actually takes place in September. It’s all over by the first weekend of October. Check out this hilarious video our buddy Kevin made of our trip to Oktoberfest last year. I was told I had a great time :).
We’ve already purchased our tickets (due to overcrowding you actually have reserve seats inside the beer tents these days) for this years event, and Rachel’s sister, Lisa, will be coming as well as a few of her own friends. It’s still possible to get tickets for this years event, though expect to pay $300 a night for a hotel. Last year we took a USO bus to and from the fairgrounds in Munich to save on costs, but that was 11 hours of driving in one day. My write up of this year’s Oktoberfest will coming to a blog near you in a few weeks time.
We’ve also got some initial emails about folks interested in coming through our area next summer. The 2012 Summer Olympics are in London next year, and London is only a 45 minute flight for us. And, amazingly, you can fly to London and back from here for about $40 via our local airport (see side story about flying Ryan Air). The schedule for the London Olympics was just announced and hotels will be impossible to come by. So, for the cost of roundtrip cab fair you can stay with us for free and fly in and out of London each day you have tickets. Crazy, eh? Such is life traveling about Europe.
With Rachel’s mom in town this week for a visit, we took advantage of the gorgeous weather to take her one a cruise down the Rhine River. Besides being a gorgeous river in and of itself, there are over two dozen world-class castles sprinkled along the Rhine River coast. The Rhine River is actually a UNESCO historical heritage site, and a cruise down it is listed in our 1,000 Things To Do Before You Die book. And for good reason, check our gallery of shots going down the Rhine. Simply beautiful.
This was actually our second Rhine River cruise. Last year we did an evening cruise with some friends of ours during the Rhine in Flames festival. Same concept as our cruise, however they set off fireworks above each castle at the end of the night, … a lot of fireworks. Seeing all the river boats lined up with fireworks reflecting off the water was truly amazing.
Our post-cruise activities were cut a bit short, however, when we got word from our dog walker that our dog, Ally, was bitten by another dog. This was, amazingly, the second time this week our poor 5 lb dog was apparently confused for a chew toy. While we have found German dogs to be exceedingly well trained, dogs will still be dogs. The first instance resulted over food (always an instigator for animals), and the second dog had just broken loose of their owner (who, apparently, was nowhere to be found) and came upon Ally, and our dog walker, while they walked through the woods.
Our dog walker, Ellen, did her best, losing 3 finger nails to the skin in the process. By the time we had made it back from Bingen, Ally had already returned from the vet with 3 staples in her back. She seems no worse for the wear, but the set of marks on her back from her two attacks looked pretty rough (hmm, another missed pun, ..I’m off my game). The grey adhesive used to cover her back makes it all look pretty strange. Ally, …our 5 lb silverback. Poor girl.
Rachel’s mom sat back a bit amused by how Rachel and I responded to the initial phone call, and then began to take what action we could (providing vet information, location of shot records and minimizing general hysteria). “Yep, you guys are ready for kids alright,” she chuckled.
Yah, perhaps she’s right. We’ll have kept our dog alive for 3 years next month (we’re thinking of a Kevlar doggy vest for her this year), so we must have some level of parenting skills in place …right? Next month will also be our 1 year mark in arriving in Germany. Amazingly, our European Tour is halfway done already. Who knows, maybe we’ll have more than new memories to bring back home with us. 😉
That’s all for this week. Next week we’ll be coming to you from Heidelberg, Germany for our annual Army Trainer conference and Rhacel’s mom will provide a first hand story for you about Ramstein Airbase’s harrowing aerovac (aeromedical evacution) mission.