HERZLICH WILKOMMEN !
A hearty welcome to our travelogue of a summer traveling through Europe. We invite you to follow along on our journey as we visit familiar places and make new discoveries we’ve been planning on visiting. We’ll share an eclectic smorgasbord of European history, culture, art, geography, dining, drinking, and assorted serendipities that adventure travelers discover on the road.
We’re already halfway through our summer long journey and can give you ideas of what’s to come. We’ve already traveled in Germany, Belgium, a corner of France, England, Wales and Scotland and are in Austria for the next two weeks.
We’ve seen incredible scenery, visited medieval Brugge and the World War I battlefields of Flanders Field in Belgium, remote islands off Scotland, taken an all day train from London through France, Belgium and Germany and enjoyed a relaxing ferry ride on Lake Constance to a Flower Island of Mainau. We witnessed the baptism of our grandson, William Louis McMorran, in the Birnau Church near Friedrichshafen on Lake Constance.
There’s plenty to come . . . let’s begin!
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The 2011 Erickson Gypsy Caravan kicked off on the evening of May 24 with a non-stop Berlin Air flight from San Francisco, arriving the afternoon of May 25 in Düsseldorf, the capitol of North-Rhine Westphalia, the westernmost and most populous state in Germany. Düsseldorf is on Germany’s western border with Netherlands and Belgium in the Ruhr Valley, the industrial center of western Germany.
The most prominent topographic feature of North Rhine – Westphalia is the scenic Rhine (Rhein) River which originates in the Swiss Alps, flows through Lake Constance (der Bodensee), France, the German states of Baden-Württemberg and North-Rhine Westphalia, and empties into the North Sea in the Netherlands. The Rhine is the longest river in Europe (800 miles), and a main waterway throughout western Europe for industrial barges, cruise ships, and pleasure craft.
Düsseldorf is a financial, transportation, telecommunications, fashion, and industrial center and with major German manufacturers of Thyssen-Krupp, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, L’Oreal, Metro, and Esprit.
On our first night in Düsseldorf, we strolled from our downtown hotel through a park with a canal and stone bridges that lead to the Altstadt (the Old City), the center of Düsseldorf culture and nightlife. The Altstadt is a network of narrow winding streets on the Rhine River embankment lined with shops, restaurants, pubs, galleries, parks, an art academy, and old apartments.
We were treated to one of the best meals of the early part of our journey at the Fischhaus, an outdoor restaurant on a cobblestoned street jammed with ethnic restaurants, Japanese, Greek, Lebanese, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, and, of course, German. Strollers walked along the street, as guests dined al fresco. Talk was lively, relaxed, and inviting. Being a week night, crowds tended to be adult with retirees, and couples in their 30’s.
I had a lemon grilled fillet of sole and grilled vegetables. The sole was fresh, juicy, and flavorful, not usual with white fish. The grilled vegetables were cauliflower buds, tomato, zucchini, squash, onion and sliced potatoes, lightly grilled and flavorful. Two generous fillets that must have been about 6 ounces each. Very filling and delicious, the best dinner I had our initial week.
Lucy had a spiced prawn salad which came with fresh greens, croutons, and a generous portion of prawns.
We enjoyed a locally brewed Altbier, a top-fermented, lightly hopped beer, similar to English ales. The altbier style originated in Düsseldorf and is brewed in four brewpubs in the Altstadt.
During our three-day stay in Düsseldorf, we strolled along the Rhine River embankment, across bridges, and watched the many barges, tourist boats, and sailboats.
Germany’s national railroad company, Deutsche Bahn, operates an amazing network of local trains, trams (S-Bahn), subways (U-Bahn), regional, national and international trains (ICE). Train service from Düsseldorf airport to our hotel was only 15 minutes on the S-Bahn 11 train to the Hauptbahnhof (main train station) that put us within a ten minute walk to our hotel.
During our visit in Germany, we took numerous trains, subways, and trams in Düsseldorf, Essen, Cologne, and Aachen, amazed at how easy, affordable, and efficient it is to travel. Deutsche Bahn publishes maps that are easy to read and each station has maps, routes, and schedules. Deutsche Bahn has a major hub in Düsseldorf with more than 1000 trains leaving daily to major cities in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and France.
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Next destination: Essen
In addition to writing this travel blog, I write fiction — thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels. I’m currently writing a thriller series based in Milan featuring the anti-terrorism police, DIGOS, as they track down domestic and international terrorists.
My first thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, is an ebook at all digital publishing sites as well as a paperback at Amazon and at bookstores by ordering.
The sequel is No One Sleeps published as an ebook in December. The paperback will be available in June at Amazon and at bookstores by ordering.
I’m writing Book 3 in the series, Cadorna Station, and will be researching this summer in Italy. If you’d like to follow my travels and research, please sign up for my email newsletter at my web site.