The day after our visit to our Belgian relatives we continued to talk about what a wonderful time we had, and, of course, both Tom and Vicki continued to tease me mercilessly about driving the Opel into the Binchios ditch. Tom had visited them the month before Vicki and I were in Europe, and he told them at that time that he wasn't even sure that we would make it back to Binche. So he was especially pleased that we found the time to travel again to Binche.
After breakfast in our condo, we went back to the complex office and discussed once again with the attendant whether the Rhine tour to Koblenz and Rüdesheim would make. The situation did not look promising at all. Only four people had signed up and they needed at least 12. Over the next day, we decided that we could put together our own Rhine tour. We would drive down from Schleiden to Koblenz. At least part of the trip would be on the autobahn. The now unlikely tour was going to visit Ehrenbreitstein, one of the largest fortified castles in Germany, if not the largest. We decided we would look for it on the way through. Next, we would drive down the Rhine River and see whatever little villages and wineries were along the way. We could see from the map that the river was dotted with many castles on both sides. As it turned out, we went down the east side of the river. Finally, if we got to Rüdesheim, we would have dinner and then come home.
If I remember right, Vicki had to return to the Löwensahn in downtown Gemünd, because she had some reservations about the clothes she had bought for her grandchildren a couple of days before. Tom also bought some things for his daughter Heidi's children. The rest of that Wednesday was devoted to another visit to Monschau. I didn't take my cameral that day, but I did want to recall some of the many things that we did. t
On our second visit, we entered the town from a different direction. The first time, we had entered by the glass house and parked in their parking lot. This time we parked in the city parking lot outside of town. In many of these small German cities, we found that one buys a parking ticket from a machine and displays it in the window of his or her car. One of the first things I did was to buy a piece of pottery, a sachet holder, in a lovely shop by the river. Wouldn't you know that the day before we left for America I managed to break that pottery. Tom took it home with him and said that he would repair it for me. Both Vicki and I bought several pieces of embroidered cut work from a couple of shops. This type of work was very popular in the Monschau shops. There were gifts galore in this town. Probably the most extravagant item that I bought, and it was for myself, was a cookoo clock from a Monschau jeweler. I had always wanted a genuine cookoo clock. This one has a German fellow in lederhosen on the front holding a beer stein. He takes drinks on the hour when the cookoo announces the time.
There are a couple of other outstanding memories in my mind from Monschau. We really climbed a lot while we were there. First we climbed up a pretty high hill to a castle ruins and explored it. The castle was situated on a high point and you could look down from either side of this hill into the river valley that curved around it. We were well above the tops of the highest town buildings, so the view was spectacular. We examined the castle ruins, but could not get inside. Then Tom got the idea that he was going to climb clear to the top of the hill, even though he had been complaining about his feet and shortness of breath. Vicki sayed right on his tail and they disappeared up into the forest. I have to admit, I felt a little hurt that they would just go off and leave me, because, frankly, I thought they would never find their way back to where they had left me and end up in some other part of town. However, I calmed down and just set quietly on the nice benches that were there and enjoyed the perfect breeze and the view. In about half hour to 45 minutes, I heard Tom's voice in the distance and then Vicki's. Tom was quite triumphant about climbing the hill, although he was disappointed that there was no great view at the top, only lots of trees.
We climbed back down the long steps that led to our vantage point and it was time for lunch. I have to admit that I think I called more of the food shots than anyone, but it seemed amenable to all. There was this nice restauraunt that was up on the second level, just on the edge of the town square where we had eaten spaghetti the night before. We had a Pilsner or two and a nice lunch. There was a sun umbrella over our outside table, and our German fräuline was quite friendly and helpful.
After lunch we walked to the other side of the city and began once again to climb the higher hill over there. There was a large castle at the top. First we walked up a long set of stairs and then ended up in the area of the castle. There were many nooks and crannies in this castle. There were at least two tall observation towers, quite large, and there was a large fortified bridge that ran between these two towers. Also there were various stairways that went up and down in the dark and large dark cavernous rooms on the ground floor with dirt and pebbles covering the surface. And of course the view was once again spectacular. I'm beginning to think that the only thing commendable about castle life other than the safety was the view.
After we climbed back down from our second hill, we were all pretty tired. I think there was a snack, and then a bit more shopping. The last thing that we did was to go through the glass house that we had missed the last time we were in Monschau. The glass was quite interesting. It was very modern, and maybe in the Italian style. There were very large, unusually shaped vases, and lots of color, clear yellows, oranges and blues. We debated about buying some but dispaired of ever getting it home on the airplane. Tom was bummed out so he just sat on a bench outside while Vicki and I tried to test our browsing and shopping mettle a final time.
And that's where my memory of this day ends. We probably had dinner in Gemünd and sang a little bit, but I think we all were shopped out and tired.
Created October 18, 2000 by Jim Andris