Nederland or Deutschland…Both!

October 7, 2013

Dank je wel and Danke!  The two countries we spent the majority of our time exploring while away have much to offer and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have seen so much.  I had previously shared some photos on Facebook and you are about to see some more!  I first want to express how unbelievably beautiful the countryside is in both the Netherlands and Germany.  From small towns off in the distance and valleys with dense forestation, to an abundance of flowers and the infamous windmills, these eyes did not get tired while driving many miles over a span of 7 days.  The trip took us away from Den Haag, Netherlands, the homestead for my great friends Brad and Mindy who are living over there on a 2 year work assignment.  We first journeyed to Germany with stops in Cologne, Bamberg, Munich, and Stuttgart.  Our first stop in Cologne was an opportunity to see an amazing cathedral with such great intricacy in its design.

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Cologne Cathedral.

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Cathedral at night.  A photo I captured that I thought was cool.

After a night in Cologne it was onto Bamberg for our next stayover.  Along the way we were able to make a pit stop for a boat tour on the Rhine River.  This was a top highlights of this trip.  Simply amazing to see the numerous castles and picturesque towns right along the river.  Take a peak…

IMG_20130922_043248_896Castle #1

IMG_20130922_044545_497Castle #2

IMG_20130922_044746_726Castle #3

IMG_20130922_045447_567Castle #4

IMG_20130922_050338_567Castle #5

IMG_20130922_050525_942Castle #6

IMG_20130922_051255_098Castle #7

IMG_20130922_052237_875Castle #8 (in background)

IMG_20130922_053234_828Castle #9

IMG_20130922_055200_497Castle #10

A great glimpse, but as you can imagine in person the sights were much greater than my cell phone camera can catch.  It was amazing to see a castle around almost every corner.  I really hope that my friend Brad fulfills his promise to buying his wife Mindy a castle some day.  I can only imagine what it would have been like to live in one of these great fortresses along the Rhine.  This trip is a must for anyone visiting Germany.  Hop aboard the KD Rhine Boat in Bingen for the nearly 2 hour ride up the river to St. Goar.  It would have been great to have the whole day to hop off in a couple of the towns and catch a later boat to continue.  The little towns I am sure had much to offer and a tour of one of the castles would have been an added bonus.  Our time was limited as we wanted to get to our next overnight stop for some rest, Bamberg.

Bamberg is a gem and the Old Town is known as a UNESCO World Heritage sight.  It was barely touched during World War II and displays some very old architecture.  It is also known for its Rauchbier, which is a smokey flavored beer.  Only appropriate to enjoy a pint of a beer with one’s name in it!  Rauch translates to smoke in German and it provides a unique process of brewing that originates from Bamberg.  Even though a short stay, here is a glimpse.

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Above Bamberg!

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Along the river in Old Town.

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Bamberg Cathedral.

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Old architecture.

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St. Michaels Church

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Outside the Brewery where they make Rauchbier.

Then it was off to Munich where we spent three days and nights.  This proved to be a great mid trip break with all the miles we planned to put on.  Munich was my favorite city we visited with so much history and unique architecture.  There were a number of sights we were able to see as we ventured on a bike tour, spent a day at Oktoberfest, visited Dachau and went to a Bayern Munich match.  I too was able to take a run to Olympic Park which provided a great view of the city.  Here are some of the sights in Munich.

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Marienplatz during the Glockenspiel…hit it at the right time unintentionally!

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View atop a tower at one of the churches in Munich!IMG_20130923_064736_696

Inside a church along our bike tour…very intricate design on inside!

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The outside of the church referenced in previous photo.

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Garden visit along our bike tour.  Love this shot!

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Angel monument along bike tour.

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Oktoberfest 2013.

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Olympic Ring ride at Oktoberfest, yes I went on this!

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View atop the ferris wheel The Oktoberfest!

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The PowerShot which also gave quite a view of the city at night!

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Panorama of the Bayern Munich match at Allianz Arena!

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View out of the window of one of the barracks at Dachau. You can see the foundation of many other barracks that were in this prisoner camp.  Hard to believe that this was real!

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View of Olympic Park from atop a hill.

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View of Munich atop the hill at Olympic Park.

As you can see we definitely took Munich in!  From Munich it was on to Neuschwanstein Castle, which provided for a surprise second castle, which is the much lesser known.  It however provided one of my favorite sights of the entire trip.  Check it out.

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Hohenschwangau Castle with a simply majestic backdrop!

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Pretty Majestic too!  Thank you Neuschwanstein!

From here we were onto Stuttgart for an overnight and didn’t explore the city too much, from our first glance it was quite industrial.  We did however take in a great meal and then visited the Mercedes Benz Museum before we departed the next morning.  My favorites at the Mercedes Benz Museum are here.

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Always love cars with these gull wing doors!

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How about the 1974 World Cup Transport for the Deutschland Team!

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A sweet concept SUV!

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Can never beat a collection of classics!

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Classy!

After this morning stop it was on to Luxembourg City for our next overnight.  One of the coolest things in Luxembourg was the Casemates du Bock, which provided for a unique view.

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Panorama from the top of the Casemates.

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Another view from atop…fort like.

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From below the casemates.

Then we were back to the Netherlands.  After a pitstop in Liege including a 360 step climb for a view and lunch.  we were headed back for Den Haag.

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Will it be worth it?

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Yes, my legs were sore!

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It was worth it!

A little exercise was needed along the way because there was definitely a lot of driving.  Did I mention we put a lot of miles in as we explored?  We covered 1230+ miles in 6 days of driving.  Here is a snapshot of the route.

Map of Travels

A definite bucket list checkmark while driving on the Autobahn in Germany. I was thankful that Sixt upgraded the VW Golf equivalent rental to a BMW 1 Series Diesel.  Let’s just say when it was opened wide on the Autobahn I reached 220km/hr(136 mph).  Ya, that was sweet and my palms were definitely sweaty on the first go.  That was all of 20 minutes into Germany.  Yes, I like to go fast and I was fortunate that my co-pilot as we traveled across Germany was appreciative of the opportunity to go fast.  He also made mention of how much safer it seemed on the autobahn as compared to driving the interstates here in the US.  I concurred as drivers are much more aware of what is happening around them and senses are heightened.  You had to be when cars would fly by out of nowhere, literally!  Some had to have been clocking 250km/hr(150 mph).  A neat experience nonetheless and when I go back I will not hesitate renting a car.  After all the miles we were ready to settle in for a night back at the homestead.

We enjoyed a little take out and some College football before a day in Amsterdam.  Amsterdam provided some great sights and my favorite were the canals.  Took a little canal tour which provided a good view of the city.

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Great view of canal.

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Love the bikes that line most of the bridges above the canal.  There are an abundance of bikes in the Netherlands and I love it!

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Smallest house in Amsterdam.IMG_20130929_062347_948

The design on the top of buildings are called Step Gables…one of my faves!

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As I mentioned great architecture!

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One of the sights down the canal at an upcoming church tower.

After another night at the homestead watching football and enjoying some pizza, it was one last day.  This day we had nothing planned and I wanted to make the most of it by getting to see what I would define as a must see in the Netherlands, Kinderdijk.  I had a carefully planned route from Dordrecht which would involve taking a train, renting a bike and making a pit stop at the Noah’s Ark replica.  It really was the best way to close out my trip!

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A great panorama of the windmills!

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Up close and personal with a working mill!

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Love the farm in the fore ground, feels like the countryside!

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Love the canals that surround the windmills.  Useful!

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Bikes & Windmills = Dutch experience extraordinaire!

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That’s big!

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Unique perspective!

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There were animals.  Many pairs inside and yes some were live!

What I love about everything experienced on this trip is that there were so many sights that the eyes could only capture.  The photos are only a glimpse of the amazing time this trip was and my hope is to encourage others to find opportunities to get out and explore this world!  This was by far a trip of a lifetime and I am so thankful for our hosts Brad and Mindy who decided to live over in the Netherlands so we could come visit 🙂  Where will your journey take you too?  I hope in my sharing some are encouraged to someday visit Nederland and Deutschland as you will not be disappointed!  As for now it is back to work, bon voyage!