As I’ve mentioned before on here, the Mr. and I don’t own a car. We had one back in Edinburgh, but decided to sell it just before we moved over to Germany because attempting to get it over here would have been far too much of a hassle. We toyed with the idea of buying one once we had arrived, but decided that it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense for now. The Mr. can walk to work or take a short bus ride, and I can either walk or take a bus into town. There are times when having one would definitely come in handy, but at the moment we wouldn’t use one enough to justify all of the costs involved in ownership like insurance, regular maintenance required by law, etc. That doesn’t mean that we might not buy one someday, but for now, we’re pretty happy to be vehicle-less.
What we do do from time to time is rent. If we have plans for a weekend that involve going somewhere that is less convenient by train, or if we need to do a big shopping trip, having a rented car can make life a lot easier. If one rents during the week it’s pretty darn expensive. But if you rent on the weekend, like we do, it’s not a bad deal at all. We get a brand new car (often with less than 500 miles on it) that is sparkling clean (often with all the latest gadgets and technology) that we can enjoy from a Friday evening to a Monday evening. You never know what you’ll get, and some cars are definitely more exciting than others, but more often than not we’re pleased with what we receive.
Lately, we’ve sort of hit the jackpot. We’ve gotten two brand new convertibles within the last two months at no extra charge. It’s been fun to put the top down and soak up some rays in style.
I didn’t manage to take a photo of the second convertible (we got an Audi TT) because the weather that weekend was fairly dismal. But the first car we got in May was a brand new convertible Volkswagen Golf. This one turned a LOT of heads. Germans like their cars, and for the first time, I realized just how much. We had a complete stranger walk up to us and start a conversation asking us about it. In the US, I probably wouldn’t find that so odd, but people tend to be more private here. Now I know is that all it takes is a fantastic, shiny new car to bring them out of their shells 🙂
We took the car to the so-called “wine island” of Franconia, an area known for its superb wine but also picturesque setting as the Main River loops around little villages, creating a sort of “island.” Our first stop was in a village so small it has the one road you drive through it on. Köhler offered a lovely cafe\restaurant right along the river where we enjoyed a yummy piece of cake and coffee.
Next we checked out the little village of Escherndorf, which had a small but charming town center. We came across this historic wagon that shows all the different tools they once used to harvest the grapes in the vineyards. We tried a little of the local wine in a tasting room, but weren’t taken enough with anything that we tried to buy a bottle. Silvaner and Müller-Thurgau are the two varieties that thrive best in this area, with some wine experts claiming that Franconia is the only place in the world where the Silvaner can be greater than the king of German wines, the Riesling.
We next drove to Volkach, and walked up to the historic chapel at the top of the hill. Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn’t sneak a peek inside, but it was a lovely day and the outlook provided some nice views. Along the way, one can stop and pray or reflect at the stations of the cross.
The next day the weather wasn’t as good, but we took the convertible into the neighboring state of Baden-Württemberg. We hadn’t really planned exactly where we wanted to go, and ended up following signs for Burg Guttenberg, or Castle Guttenberg.
When we arrived we were hungry for a piece of cake (as always) and a cup of coffee, so we had a seat in the medieval-themed restaurant with spectacular views over the valley. The Mr. found it a bit kitsch with all the wait staff dressed up in medieval garb, but I, of course, loved it. While I don’t know what was inside the actual castle as we only had about an hour-and-a-half to explore before closing time, what we did see was pretty darn cool: The German Raptor Centre.
Again, arriving so late in the day meant that we missed the chance to see one of their free-flying raptor shows, but we did really enjoy getting to see these magnificent birds up-close in their enclosures. They were so fascinating to watch. One can only hope that they have a good life there, in the Raptor Centre, but obviously they have to spend a lot of time in their cages. Thankfully there are the shows that happen several times a day when they get to take turns flying, and we saw one of their keepers (or whatever you call someone who looks after raptors) carrying individual ones around so they get the chance to get out of their cages a bit more.
We were sort of taken by this guy (or girl…no idea what gender) who was making the most of the sunshine coming through his cage. He fanned out his dark feathers beautifully to warm up in the sun as much as possible. Smart guy!
After we finished exploring the Centre, we walked down a lovely wooded path that lead to the castle’s family chapel. Nearby were the graves of family members resting in peace under the shaded canopy of the dense forest. It was a beautiful, peaceful little spot and not another soul to disturb us.