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South Germany and Austria 2001


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29 September (Saturday morning) we met all our arriving Members at the Frankfurt Airport. PHIL BROWN was a great help by meeting planes at one end of the concourse while HARRY COOPER was at the other. This is a very large airport. Our friend GERD DIETRICH, a cannoneer from the Crimean Campaign, was there with the deluxe motorcoach that had wide seats, great legroom, full-service galley (stocked with beer and soft drinks), toilet and even a small office area in the rear.

We went to the little town of Kiedrich near the Rhine, and checked into our hotel. It looked like a photo off a postcard! The entire town looked like Hansel and Gretel would come walking along at any minute. There our SHARKHUNTERS gathered for dinner this night, and it was the usual rousing time, with old friends seeing each other again, and new travelers making new friends. Actually, about 75% of those on this tour had been with us on other tours in the past. That speaks well for the high quality of our SHARKHUNTERS tours. Our entertainment was a German guy in a tall black topper hat, playing a hurdy-gurdy. If you are too young to know what that is, ask your parents.

30 September (Sunday) found our group at the sumptuous breakfast that included many kinds of breads, rolls, cereals, jams and toppings, cold cuts of meat, sausages, fruit and juices and of course, eggs. There was more great fellowship as the conversation began to flow between friends, and the hotel owners put American dance band music of the 1940’s over the music system in the breakfast room, just for us.

After breakfast, we walked 200 meters or so for church services – in a church that was built in the 15th century. The congregation was somewhat amazed the see three full rows of Americans at the 9 O’clock services. They made us feel welcome, as if we had lived there our whole lives. The priest gave a sad and impassioned commentary on the 11th of September attack on America and said that the whole world wept.

Our breakfast – we had a separate roomthe Niederwalddenkmal

Our motorcoach took us to the beautiful Rhine River and the Niederwalddenkmal – which is the German way of saying the Monument to the German unity in the 1800’s. This is a magnificent monument, about 100 feet tall and sitting atop a mountain along the Rhine. On the way there, WW II German military marches played on the overhead sound system of the bus while GERD DIETRICH and HORST BERGMANN sang them aloud.

Then came the highlight of a day filled with highlights – we boarded our boat for the cruise on the Rhine River, with castles around every bend. The tour was given in both German and English over the loudspeaker, so we knew exactly what we were seeing. Every place we looked was a picture postcard view of this famous river. Members shot photo after photo, and tremendous amounts of videotape footage as well. Watch for a SHARKHUNTERS tape on the Rhine River cruising, available soon.

Our Rhine River cruise boatCastles abound all along the Rhine

When the cruise boat dropped us off, there was time for souvenir shopping and all soon retired to a nice café for wine and beer. The band was playing 1950’s American rock and roll, and several German girls were dancing on the stage. GERD DIETRICH spoke quietly to one, about 22 years old, and she immediately grabbed Sharkhunters President HARRY COOPER from his chair and they began to dance. (photos below) GERD had to check HARRY’s pulse; he hasn’t been 22 for about 44 years!

the dancersstill alive?

The group left soon and went back to the hotel for a quick shower, change of clothes and the beginning of the Welcome Dinner with speeches, toasts with great wine, and more friends meeting over outstanding food. Sleep came early to some this evening, while others closed the hotel bar in the wee hours.

1 October (Monday) we departed this fairy-tale little town of Kiedrich and headed to Heidelberg. Our group took the tram up to the ruined castle. (photo below) It was good to be the king – even the prince lived pretty good……..the barons and dukes did all right, too

the castle at Heidelberg, destroyed in
the ‘Thirty Years War
Outside of the Sinsheim Museum.
Inside was even more fantastic!

After lunch, we rode to Sinsheim and a fantastic museum. On entering the first hall, we were confronted by a 1954 Corvette and then more and more Corvettes and other American classic cars of the 1950’s. There were cars of every era and from many countries as well as many racing cars, but that’s not all. There were extensive and intricate military exhibits with tanks, planes (inside and outside) as well as dioramas of trench life, soldiers in foxholes – just about every phase of military activity. There were many planes outside the museum for all to see – inside and outside, including the Russian SST. We walked through all these planes, some suspended as much as 200 or 300 feet in the air. Two weeks would not have been enough to cover this huge museum.

We had some light food, then boarded our bus for the ride to Nürnberg and our four-star hotel there.

2 October (Tuesday) something must be said about this Four Star hotel and its breakfast buffet. We measured it off, and the breakfast buffet is some thirty yards long! It’s got champagne and other fines wines to go with our breakfast. This is all just the normal breakfast here. We met our friend MICHAEL KAISER before 0900 and headed out on our tour of this famous city. We toured the Hauptmarkt which had been Adolf Hitler Platz in the 1930’s until 1945, when it was renamed Eisenhower Plaza and finally, back to its original name of Hauptmarkt. There is a famous fountain there & a beautiful old church (photo below). We toured the grounds of the three castles and we learned how the city got its colors of red over white over red then went into a special room, not open to the public, where the truce of the Thirty-Years War was ended with a feast. Since a feast was in order, we enjoyed lunch at an old sidewalk café.

The beautiful old church in NürnbergRoom 600 where the trials took place

Then we went to the ‘Palace of Justice’ where we once again, we allowed into the famous ‘Room 600’ (photo above) where the Nürnberg trials took place more than half a century ago. This room is not normally open to the public but then, SHARKHUNTERS are not the public and we had free run to shoot as many photos and videotapes as we wished.

What did they think of our ‘Patrol’?
This was the first SHARKHUNTERSPatrol‘ that DAVID STALTER ever took, and he wrote this:
“I had a fantastic time! I liked best the boat tour on the Rhine, the Nürnberg tour conducted by our German friends in that city, and the fellow SHARKHUNTERS on the trip. My best memory is being with a great group of people in a beautiful country.”