Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Day 10 (and all the previous ones too)

Sorry the wifi has been a bit more challenging and expensive than we expected. Windy and I are sitting on the Arno river in Florence this evening, sipping wine, eating Couscous and very much enjoying out evening. We found a perfect little place called the High Bar, that has free internet and a wonderful waiter that speaks english. We have left the kids at camp for a adult evening out. Yes once you hit forty apparently a romantic evening includes connectivity..... But I digress, or need too.

We had a very stressful departure from Frankfurt, due to my own failure to read and understand the rental agreements. We had to provide a cash deposit of 1200 euro ($1980.00) which I was assuming I could just put on the old American express card. They don't take AMX, and all of our Visa cards were debit cards. So I walked down to the local German bank and asked to withdraw the funds from savings.....I might as well have been speaking another language, ok I was but he still, the man said the ATM was the only way to get cash from a card. The ATM would not allow access to the savings, so it was dialing for dollars. After about 4 cards all with different limits for foreign cash withdrawals, I had the required funds. And we were off.

As we were leaving the little town with the RV rental place, we found a grocery store and stopped to stock up. Europeans shop a day at a time, so the large cartful of food was an odd thing and cause a big backup when trying to checkout. It wasn't until the end that we discovered they didn't take credit cards, and we needed more cash (Euros). I left Windy and the kids hostage and ran to the bank. It was under the railroad tracks and over the bridge, I kid you not. I found another ATM and dialed for Euro's once more and got lucky on the third card. And we were off.

About 10 minutes into the exit from the Frankfurt area we discovered the battery on the GPS was dead, and the charger I brought only worked when the device was powered off. My stress level was pretty high at this point.... I hit the road south and we were off. Fifteen minutes later Lufthansa called me to say they had found Windy's luggage and so we hung a U'ey and headed back to the airport. It was a huge relief to Windy to have her clothes, and since I was on the wrong road south probably a good thing for me too. But I did take my first RV damage as I scraped the mirror on the parking ticket booth at the airport. It would not be my last.

We headed over to Wurtzburg, where we camped the first night. A very pleasant campground on the river. As I was backing into the site, I heard a horrible noise, which turned out to be some low hanging tree branches. Damage two had now occurred and I was starting to freak out a little. Windy was wonderful, ensuring the kids were quiet while Dad melted down. Being very concerned about the tree damage, since the RV guys had repeatedly warned me specifically about this, I attempted to climb the back and check it out. The plastic I stepped on gave way and damage number three occurred. I parked in the open field, drank a beer and called it a day.

We drove down to Brunnen the next day without event. The camp grounds are incredible and the lake is very beautiful. We took a down day to let the kids play in the lake and throw rocks, play frisby and take long walks. The next day we visited the castles around Fussen, and Fussen its self. We very much enjoyed the area and highly recommend it.

Then it was off to Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Italy. We have climbed the leaning tower of Pisa and the Duomo in Florence. Visited the Uffuzi art gallery and walked the streets of Florence. It has been everything we hoped for and then some. We are off to Rome tomorrow morning.

It is a small world after all. Windy and I were walking down the street here in Florence tonight and bumped into a lady I worked with a Cingular (Sue Mahaffey) and her family. What are the chances that not only someone I know would be here at the same time, but that our paths would cross. Just too crazy.

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