Monday 31 July
Coming in to Muchen it is overcast, but not wet.
Its hotter than I remember summer in Germany. Heading for the high 20s. Time to get out of here and up to Stephi!
Arriving in Germany was interesting - just our passport, no entry card or immigration paperwork. The young officer at Immigration asked where we were going. I answered with a cultured "Schwaebisch Gmeund". His reply "Is that even in Germany?" You should have seen the look of disgust on the face of his partner!! And "Yes" I tell him - between Aalen and Stuttgart"!
Like in many other places, even home, there is a plethora of roadworks happening in Munich. Coming out of the airport terminal we need to walk the long way around to get to hire car companies. We have booked with a lesser known budget company called Alamo. They are super friendly and the cars are all new. We end up with a Ford Focus- supposedly in the same group as the Opel station-wagon that we had booked - I'm not convinced. Sizeable enough inside, but the wagon would have been better to help Steph and Felix move in to their new house.
And while we have brought Kate with us (our faithful GPS from our last trip), I had forgotten that I had deleted the European maps when we got home. Thankfully, the Focus has GPS built in and before long, I have set it to avoid motorways and tollways and off we set for the scenic route to Steph. It will take us about 2.5 hours.
The countryside is in its summer peak with vivid green trees in the forests framing picture perfect meadows - some burgeoning under the weight of ripe crops, others reaped and mowed to neat perfection. Those ever present roadworks see us detour into small lanes between maize half again as high as the car, and hops that tower well over us.
The trip is uneventful, but feels like it taking forever! So near and getting nearer.
We again see castles dotting the landforms.
Some in ruin and others like Kapfenburg just outside Aalen in its grand splendour.
Steph messages to say that she must collect Niklas from Kindergarten at 12 noon, and I know that we will probably arrive there about then. Sure enough, she is just home as we pull in to the driveway. What a sight for longing eyes. She looks well, although thin. And Niklas, like any 4 year old is shy and clinging to mum's legs! Mathilda is off horse-riding for her school holidays and won't be home until after we go tonight.
We are staying at a nearby hotel as Steph and Felix are packing up ready to move into their new house next. By 4 pm we are absolutely flaking and head off to the Hotel Krone about 500 m away. By 4:30, I am fast asleep, Michael goes for a walk before joining me.
He wakes about 2 am - his body clock all askew. Me? I just keep slumbering!