One of the top items on Rick’s “bucketlist” is to take a trip to Germany and to pick up a Mercedes from the factory there. Mercedes has a German Delivery program where you can order a car, pick it up from the factory, drive it on your vacation, then have it shipped to your local dealership in the U.S. By doing it that way you save a lot of money, and basically pay for your vacation. A little over a year ago, our friends Lennie and Lori Tremblay mentioned they were planning a trip to Italy. We’ve traveled with the Tremblays before and we have fun together – we have very compatible travel styles – relax and never miss a meal. Eventually their trip to Italy evolved into Tremblay/Biederbeck Bucket List Trip to Europe 2012.
We left Phoenix early in the morning on September 4th. Rick had cashed in about a bajillion frequent flyer miles and upgraded our plane flights to first class. It was awesome! Our flight fom Newark, New Jersey to Stuttgardt, Germany left at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday and we flew through the night. The plane seats folded all the way flat into a bed, so you could actually fly in comfort. For the first time in my life I was able to actually sleep on a plane. Add to that the fact that they served ice cream sundaes and you get some idea of how that trip went!
We arrived in Stuttgardt on Wednesday morning. We took a cab to the Mercedes factory in Sindelfingen. They had Rick’s paperwork all ready to go. We went into the customer lounge and ate breakfast and then it was time to tour the factory. That was absolutely amazing! 99% of the car assembly is done by robots. I’ve never seen anything like it! Each component of the car has its own specialized robot. The robots look like something from Star Wars – they zip around really quickly and never miss a step. There were robots that cold welded and robots that hot welded, robots that glued and robots that tightened bolts. We got to see the entire car assembly except the painting, because that area has to be completely dust
After the factory tour, it was time to take posession of Rick’s beautiful new car! A woman from Mercedes went over all the fine points and when she was finished it was time for us to be on our way!
Our first stop was Hohenshwangau, Germany. Rick was behind the wheel. (I’m glad it wasn’t me!)the highways in Germany have either no speed limit or very high ones. The driving lanes are very skinny. There were points along the way that the road looked more like a bike lane than a highway. We had a two hour drive in these conditions, and Rick was driving his brand new car (It had 8 miles on it when we left the factory!) It was a very exciting drive, and it was SO good to arrive at our destination in one piece!
Hohenschwangau is an absolutely beautiful town in the Bavarian area of Germany. There are two castles in Hohenschwangau – Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuenschwangau Castle, which looks a bit familiar to people when they see it because it was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. It was built by King Ludwig II and is just a short distance from the family’s castle where he grew up. Unfortunately, Ludwig was never able to finish his “dream castle” because he was declared insane and died under mysterious circumstances.
We stayed at the Hotel Lisl – an old fashioned Bavarian hotel. The beds were comfortable and the service was great. The food was good too! The scenery was absolutely breathtaking – mountains all around, and the two very different castles looming above.
We toured both castles on Thursday. They were both beautiful, but very different. Neuschwangau Castle was much larger and “over the top”. Ludwig II was a big fan of the Opera’s of Richard Wagner, and the castle is basically a tribute to the composer. Rooms in the castle feature painted depictions of Wagner’s operas.
On Thursday night we went to the nearby town of Fussen for dinner. Fussen is a walled city and we enjoyed walking along the cobblestone streets. We had a delicious dinner topped off by dessert which was a knoedel. From what I’ve been able to figure out, a knoedel is a dumpling. This desert dumpling was a big round dumpling ball in a big puddle of custard, then sprinkled liberally with poppy seeds. We enjoyed it! We are fans of knoedel! We also discovered the joys of spaetzle – little noodles that taste like butter – which I’m sure is because they are coated in it! One of the things we really like about traveling with Lenny and Lori is that we share a love of food. It’s been fun trying all the different German specialities. Next stop: Austria!


2 Responses to “Bucket List Trip”

  1. 1 Joni Judge September 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Oh Kathy n Rick – it sounds like a dream of a Bucket LIst! I have SO enjoyed reading about this first “leg” of your journey. Exciting! and it sounds as if you have the perfect friends that enjoy the same relaxation and food as you two do! Not always easy to find . Tnanks for sharing your journey! I’m looking foward to the next episode! Love, Mom

  2. 2 dixielundquist September 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    Where are the pictures?

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