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Wiesbaden // Köln // Ibbenbüren

Wiesbaden // Köln // Ibbenbüren

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Wiesbaden: July 23-27 | Ibbenbüren: July 27-29

With our home base in Wiesbaden, a small distance west of Frankfurt, we toured the Rheingau region. This part of our trip, along with our stay in Bruges, was highlighted for me by being in spaces that were conducive to us doing big family dinners. We cooked our own dinners in both Bruges and Wiesbaden.

The Rhein is littered with castles and is also a wine growing region. We spent our time taking the train to other villages for exploring, hiking, and the occasional lunch out. We also took a small boat tour down the river, which I would recommend. We had some beautiful breaks in the clouds tossing light in some beautiful ways.

As mentioned in a previous post, when we left Wiesbaden, it was time for the group to go separate ways and Shell and me to be on our own for the first time. We would leave Wiesbaden and pause to tour Köln before stopping in a small town called Ibbenbüren. There, we would be having dinner with family of mine.

In Köln we stopped for lunch and beers at Peters Brauhaus and made a DIY walking tour for ourselves from some things I Googled. Other places I bookmarked but were not able to go to were Café Stanton and Brauerei zur Malzmühle.

The Dom, or cathedral, is as foreboding as pictures make it seem. It’s tall, thick, and dark. The interior has more than one organ, both of which seem like masterpieces to the layman (me). The remains of the Three Kings or Three Wise Men are said to be in the cathedral. The building sustained damage in WWII but was largely spared as it served the allies well for navigation. There were pictures outside of what it was like after the war. A tank battle took place just outside near the end of the war as the Allies advanced. Spend a bit of time with Wikipedia for more. But, we needed to move on.

We made it to Mutterbahr for a two-night stay. The country side is beautiful and vibrantly green. Shell and I took a run the morning after we arrived along a nearby river. Driving in and out of the area we would share the road with farmers moving their equipment from field to field. In some ways, it reminded me of home, but prettier, dare I say. The roads curved around ever so slightly, some lined with tall bushy trees creating a tunnel feeling zipping through the pastures.

We took a day trip to Tecklenburg after some quick Googling told us should be a cute town to wander around. I plugged it into Waze and off we went. The only problem with not having a destination or a particular parking facility picked out, is putting only a town name in will take you to the city center. In this case, a pedestrian only zone.

At this point, I was still very fresh with my European road signs, part of the problem. The other part is the sign was off on some side wall of the building, trust me, I walked back to check how badly was it my fault. Anyway, as you can tell, I drove our little diesel Citroen just a tad too far. I felt it, the feeling of the town suddenly change, and I knew what was up. But it was too late, we got into a tight spot and reversing would have been a real test.

At this point, Shell is outside the car trying to scope things out ahead of us to try and understand what exactly we should do. Meanwhile, the tiny diesel is doing its diesel rumblings, the loudest thing around in the pedestrian only zone. About that time, a parking officer appears out of nowhere. She starts attacking me in German, and I’m trying to reply with what little I know to explain I don’t fully understand and I just want to back up. My broken German + her broken English = we drive very, very slowly through the entirety of the pedestrian only city center to the other side. We made it, and we learned several lessons. Despite this, it was a beautiful little town and we had some good currywurst, and the parking officer was very nice to me. I’m sure she could have done much worse.

That evening we had dinner at the hotel restaurant with Manfred, Kerstin, Sandra, and Christian. I loved being able to reconnect with family separated by continents and years. I was too young the last time we met in the States to really remember much, so this is something I’ll cherish for a lifetime. They were also much too generous to Shell and me. We’re not exactly the most giving travelers since we’re not able to carry much in the way of gifts in our little backpacks, but Shell and I are looking forward to finding a way of showing our thanks in return. Also, I loved learning some of the history of our family in Germany. It was just a priceless experience. Manfred isn’t too dissimilar from my own father. A tough and rocklike figure through much of life, but down deep a heartfelt family man.

The next morning we packed up and drove to Hamburg for two nights before moving to Berlin for a full week. Partly because we wanted to allot that time to Berlin, partly because Hamburg is expensive, partly because we needed to sit down and plan what was up with this trip.

Thanks for reading.

I’ve been diving backwards into some tunes lately, here’s one from Stereolab. Have a listen.



Hamilton Crew – Black Black Pink Pink

Germany shines when you can see the infrastructure at work. Boats, cars, trains, all clocking along smoothly and shining.

Riding the lift up

Wine region…

Walking trails include ski lifts

We ate lunch at a fun little spot, upstairs was set and ready for dinner in very traditional decor

Wiesbaden was largely spared from the ravages of WWII, leaving beauty like this intact

Köln Dom

Köln Dom

Köln Dom

Köln Dom

Köln Dom

Köln Dom

Köln Dom – Three Kings remains

Peters Kolsch

A little sausage shack where we had some delicious currrywurst

Said sausage

I drove right through here, very near where the invisible sign is, just outside our sausage shack – notice the other car, please

Old world and new world family dinner

Voltlage – Outside the church

Onward from Wiesbaden, with a stop in Ibbenbüren

Onward from Wiesbaden, with a stop in Ibbenbüren

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I write this, sitting on a small balcony overlooking a courtyard at our AirBnB in Wiesbaden (Veez-bahdin). The sun’s dry rays are beaming down on me creating a warmth that’s been absent for a few days. This morning was starkly cold and drizzly as we woke early for a boat tour downstream (north) on the Rhine. Yesterday, into flanking days, it rained more than 24 hours, and we likely spent four or more hours wandering around in it, but we found a great winery. So we still won.

We also used the rainy day to figure out further travel plans. Shell and I had at least loosely planned through July 27th, and we’ve been kept busy with all the touring and family time. We didn’t leave ourselves sit-down time to plan out the next few weeks, and planning takes a lot of time and I’m only talking the basics of where, when, and how. Nothing planned or researched for what we’ll do, what we should do, etc etc. We were able to “plan” through August 7th, and here is what it looks like.

We have rented a car for four days. We leave Wiesbaden tomorrow morning and will aim to tour Köln (we spell and say it as Cologne). If we feel like moving on, we may hit another city before day’s end – Dortmund, Essen, Düsseldorf, et al. Then we drive to where we’re staying in Ibbenbüren.

Ibbenbüren is a small town just north of Münster, where there are some old family connections on the Hatke side. When I was young, maybe 7 or 8, there was a whole clan of Hatkes that visited us at my childhood home. I remember the kids who were in tow playing on our swing set well into the dark Indiana night, and the other English speaking kids and I blurting out the only German word we knew: Nein!

Manfred Hatke and my father were both police officers. So they exchanged, I don’t know what to call it all other than, artifacts and memorabilia. Things such as East German Polizei hats and patches, things that were unique to German Polizei given the times. Ibbenbüren is very much in the west, so I’m not clear on how Manfred was able to get these pieces. I remember taking some of the things Manfred gave us into Show-and-Tell.

With help from my father, I was able to connect with two of the Hatke clan in Ibbenbüren and they’ve been kind enough to meet us for dinner. Making Ibbenbüren our home base for two nights while we tour the cities to the south and position ourselves to move north. We’ll leave Ibbenbüren on Saturday, after our Friday night dinner, and head towards Hamburg where we’ll stay for two nights. Then, Berlin for a week.

Shell and I met a nice couple from Berlin while we were on Kauai, we look forward to connecting with them somehow. And being a funky, techy, artsy kind of city we’ve always imagined feeling at home in the city of so many Cold War novels. Now, we’ll get to test it out.

I owe you plenty of updates on Belgium and Netherlands, not to mention Germany already. Until then, thanks for reading.