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German answers and Iberian questions
DrewV
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** warning — this is a long one P>Hey everyone! I’m back for another round after my German experience in March. First, here’s my thoughts on the areas of Germany, Holland, Luxembourg, and France that I visited:

Bonn — loved it — quiet, charming city with great character — since it was my first city in Germany and becmae my homebase, I’m probably biased, but it’s still beautiful.

Koln — great cathedral, loved the Germano-Romanische (sp) Museum (saw the Dead Sea Scrolls!), loved the cheap, cheap shopping! — although I wish the men’s stores had clothes that fit American men…

Dusseldorf — my family came from here, so I am definitely biased, but I really enjoyed it. The best thing about it, honestly, is the beer. Altbier is God’s greatest gift. But as mentioned, I am biased.

Amsterdam — incredible city, even if you don’t do drugs. The bicyclists will kill you, but the city itself is simply bewitching. Plus, I ran into my old college roommate in line at the Anne Frank House. Highly random.

Luxembourg — One of the most romantic cities I’ve ever seen (next to Brugge). Expensive compared to Germany and Holland, but still enjoyable. Be sure to check out the casemates (the tunnels beneath the old citadel).

Strasbourg — Great pink sandstone cathedral and wonderful Alsatian cuisine. La Petite France is exceptionally charming. The construction acorss the city was a bit annoying, and the waitress tried to con us, but it was still nice.

Baden-Baden — If you do anything in Germany, take the cure at Baden-Baden. For around $24, you get the full spa experience in absolutely gorgeous surroundings. It’s SSSSSSOOOOOOOO nice after lugging your backpack around Germany.

Heidelberg — Only spent three or four hours here, but my friends and I were the only Americans at the Ochse Roten (sp), the pub mentioned in Let’s Go, where Mark Twain used to hang out. Anyway, we and the rest of the crowd sang German folk songs and Beatles tunes over several beers. A great experience.

Berlin — What can I say about Berlin? Magnificent, historic, powerful? Let me recommend the Circus (a great hostel with ultra-friendly staff) and above all Terry’s walking tour that is run from its lobby. Terry the tourguide was the former UK attache in East Berlin, and his stories are incredible. Without doubt, the best walking tour I have EVER taken. I could have spent weeks in Berlin, rather than the very full two days I did.

Bacharach — As picturesque as the town is (old Rhinish half-timbered houses and vineyards), it takes a bit of spirit to pull off — particularly if you stay at the hostel. The hostel is Burg Stahleck, a converted castle towering over the city. The view is marvelous, and the accomodations high-quality, alothough the staff isn’t anywhere nearly as great as the Circus’.

So that’s my trek in a nutshell — I definitely recommend Berlin, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Baden-Baden, and Dusseldorf, with thumbs up for Strasbourg, Koln, and Heidelberg.

And I’d really like to thank everyone on the board for their advice. I can’t remember who recommended the Circus, but whoever you were, BRAVO!

In the meantime, I’m starting to plan for a new March trip… Iberia.

Germany in March was great, with very few other Americans, so you felt as though you had the country all to yourself, but there’s a reason — IT’S F*ING COLD!!! So, we thought, this March, let’s try Spain.

But here’s the dilemma: 10 days. We are definitely going to Sevilla and Grenada, and we’ll have to fly into Madrid. What else do we fit in?

Now I’m immediately expecting a Barcelona answer. Yeah, it’s great, but I also feel as though I can include Barcelona, Bilbao, San Sebestian, etc. as part of another trip (ie, with Provence). I’m worried that if I don’t go to Lisbon and Morocco now, I might not be able to, since they’re not easily included in another trip (I’m not going to Algeria anytime soon).

Any ideas? What do I absolutely have to see in Spain, and is it worth sacrificing Barcelona for Lisbon and/or Morocco? Also, how much time should I allot? I did Germany WAY too fast last time. Any ideas will be great, but don’t worry — I’ll bother you for six more months!

Also, if anyone has any Germany/Luxembourg/Holland-type questions, let me know!

Drew from Atlanta