2001-12-22 / Columnists

Dorothy Dunne

Just returned from a fabulous, fabulous trip to the Magic Cities of Germany: Cologne, Dusselorf and Stuttgart to cover their Christmas Markets. It was under the auspices of The German National Tourist Board who treated us royally. Our round trip flights in business class on Lufthansa were superbly smooth and comfy in their new wide reclining lounge seats, rising footrest with individual attached TV. The flight attendants took great care to attend to our needs and the food was far superior to any meals I have had recently on any airlines. Check-in security was tight as well. (As should be).

Our first stop was where Bill Clinton and Frank Sinatra stayed when in town, the Hyatt Regency, Cologne. I inhaled the magnificent view from my room of the old City of Cologne across the river. It resembled the fantasy kingdom in Disneyland with the outline of the Cologne Cathedral. At night it was especially vivid when the colorful lights from the Christmas Market shone so brilliantly. Only a short walk over the suspension bridge, adjacent to the hotel, and you were in the hub of activity and among the Christmas Market masses who were there to enjoy, browse and buy hand made ornaments made by artisans of many regions for this festive season.

Fortunately I wore comfortable walking shoes that made our walks through the city a joy. (I didn’t even mind the many steps we climbed to the towers). Marie Antoinette, our jolly, delightful guide, introduced us to Mr. Hardring who gave us a special treat in the open-air freight elevator that took us to the artisan’s workshop atop of the Cologne Cathedral built in 1248. From here we climbed winding staircases and staircases and staircases to the top of the roofs for the reward of a breathtaking view of the city. We then made a visit to the Treasury Chamber that houses the remains of the Three Magi. In the Town Hall Square was the Mikva Jewish ritual bath dating back from the year 1170 where the women had to bathe before they wed. (The men didn’t.). There were winding steps down to a murky pool of water and grottos built into the stone along the way for undressing. At this juncture my imagination came into play knowing this structure remained all these years since it was built. A "light", which always seemed to be more than" light" lunch, followed by a tour of the city and City Hall, a mecca for marriages, that completed our afternoon.

That evening, our guide, Marie Antoinette escorted us to the Historical "Em Krutzche" Restaurant where Bill Clinton dined when in Cologne. It was here I tasted my first Christmas Goose that was served twice with different vegetables; of course one with red cabbage. It was delicious! They showed us pictures of the Clinton family and some of his staff when he was there.

A beautiful full breakfast was provided by the hotel every morning to fortify us for walks through in and around the Museums: the Walaf -Richartz Museum with "Miracle of the Cross," Collection, Museum Ludwig presentations of Modern Age and future concepts; Roman -German Museum with their collection of Roman Art and Roman glasses. That afternoon ended with the Chocolate Museum surrounded by chocolate in every shape and size and machines to process and package these romantic delicacies. That evening another delicious dinner a the Glashouse Restaurant in the Hyatt Regency then on to a beautiful concert of Mstislav Rostrovitch, Violincello, at the Philharmonic Cologne followed by a stroll through the Old Town and a gay and happy visit at Papa Joe’s Pub for a German beer, a snack, laughter and song around the live piano music.

We were up early the next morning to transfer to the train to take us to the banking city of Dusseldorf to visit their Christmas Market. Dusseldorf is a very elegant and a sophisticated city known as the Fashion Center of Germany. Their shops are Fifth Avenue quality and are located along King’s Park Plaza where you will also find well-decorated Malls. A visit to their museums and that evening we attended the performance of Figaro’s Wedding at the German Opera House. Our charming guide here was Inge Puri and after the performance took us for a pub-crawl. Our well-known hotel Holiday Inn was centrally located among the shops and stores and malls and they took good care of us. In fact, we had a delicious dinner there before the opera.

The next day, a van took us to the Benrath Summer Castle, more than 200 years old. It has 452 rooms with the master bedroom at one end of the Castle and his wife’s at the other end of it. Bcause they could not stand one another, the King was only there four hours and the Queen overnight. It was only their summer castle.

It is now used on Festive occasions. In those days water was considered dirty and brought disease so they did not bath. Hair was elaborately dressed and never washed for months. A hair pick was used to scratch the little animals found in it. Inge Puri was our guide in Dusseldorf and she showed us the Christmas Market with great flair and treated us to German sausages, potato pancakes and strudel etc. cooked at the market. A visit to the old town brewery, Schiffchen for Alt Beer and a snack (as if we needed more food) followed.

The next morning it was off to Stuttgart, the city of automobile corporations and manufacturers. A charming very German small boutique hotel, Woertz zur Weinsteige hosted our stay there. A divine dinner was served in his wine cellar that reminded me of the wine cellar in the 21 Club. Our dinner was served underneath copper domed covers that were lifted by the waiters. That evening, our young and gracious guide, Karen Storz escorted us to the Stuttgart Opera House where we saw the most beautiful ballet I have ever seen Kameliendame ("Camellia"), choreographed by genius, John Neumeier, who has performed in New York and won awards in Paris and all over the world. He has only been in Stuttgart 6 years as Director of the Ballet and has made an extraordinary change in the popularity of the Stuttgart Ballet. The performance was magnificent!

Karen Storz showed us the city and this magnificent baroque castle (pictured), best restaurants as well as the Art Galleries of Stuttgart and, of course the Stuttgart Christmas Market, as well as the Baroque Christms Market in Ludwigsburg.

We had it all…planes, trains, trams and vans; five star and four star hotels, all with feather down comforters that floated you to dreamland in no time; Cathedrals and Historic sites, Pub Crawling and cultural art museums as well as fine entertainment in concert, opera and ballet; superb restaurants and delicious food. We could not want more. A well-organized trip hosted by Lori Rudiman of Weill Public Relations for German National Tourist Board. A trip that will linger in my memory. I wish to thank Richard Rinedorf for inviting me. I couldn’t have wanted to miss it for the world. It is the good and happy memories that sustain us during the bad times in life. So get as many good times as you can. We are not here forever and God does want us to have a good time! Get a reservation on Lufthansa and come to Germany for the best time of your life! You will be glad you did.

I could not get all the museums and restaurants in this synopsis, but the more elaborate version will be seen in "Dorothy Dunne Travels in Style to Germany’s Magic Cities" TV program…when aired.

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E-mail at dorothydunne @yahoo,com or

GIVE ME A CALL AND AWAY WE GO!!!


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