We woke up this morning to thunderstorms again. We had breakfast and were off at 8am on our way to the Rhine Valley in Germany. It was 3 hours to the first service station stop (in Germany), and we had lunch here. We stood in the queue for Burger King for 15 minutes and we were still about 6 people from the front. It seemed like it was taking about 5 minutes to serve each person and we only had 15 minutes before getting back on the bus, and this included still having to eat and go to the toilet. So we gave up on this queue and went to another shop to buy some food. I scoffed that down and then rushed to the toilet, before rushing back to the bus. I got the biggest can of sugar free red bull that I've ever seen here too. I couldn't drink it all. The trip to the next stop was only supposed to take 2 hours but took forever because we got stuck in a traffic jam for over an hour. We think there was an accident slowing down the traffic, but we're not sure really. A least it had stopped raining by then though.
Our next stop was in Heidelberg, which is the city of Germany's oldest university. We were told about these chocolates which you can buy called 'Student Kisses' which originate from the olden days when people weren't allowed to show any physical affection to each other, so instead they gave someone one of these chocolates and hoped to get one in return, then they could go from there if it was returned (just like a valentines card I suppose but not on a special day). These are still made and sold today in Heidelberg, so I bought one of these. We only had an hour here, so we had a quick look around in a few shops and markets and I also just bought a couple of postcards.
Another couple of hours from here and then we were in St Goar, where we were staying for the night. We went to a beer stein shop and demonstration first. All of the steins are handmade and painted here, including the world's largest stein. There were some pretty cool ones to go with different professions and special ones for fathers and mothers, etc. There were some made with a piece of the Berlin Wall, which was pretty impressive. They can't make them anymore because they have run out of pieces of the wall that they can use. I would have bought one of the Berlin Wall ones, but then he showed us a special Contiki one which has the places that we've been to and the flags, and I really liked that one, so I bought it. Thankfully it's the end of the trip, because now I have to carry it around everywhere without breaking it. There was a cuckoo clock shop across the road too which also has local handmade clocks, including the world's largest cuckoo clock. Some of these clocks were pretty amazing.
We had an interesting dinner after this at a random restaurant by these shops. It was meat, pasta, veges and gravy, but the gravy on the pasta made it taste like a pie. It was an interesting combination. Then we had some black forest pudding which also comes from around here. After dinner we had wine tasting in an underground wine cellar. We tried 5 different types of wine but I only liked 2 of them - the sweet dessert wines. One of these was called 'ice wine' because the grapes need to be harvested at -7 degrees to make it. I bought a couple of bottles of these in a nice box for a special occasion. They age well and can be kept for 20-25 years. We also got to keep the little glasses that we did the tasting from. More things I need to cart around without breaking!
From the cellar we headed to the hotel, which ended up not being the new one because we swapped with another Contiki group to make tomorrows travel easier. Instead we had to haul our suitcases up to the 4th story of the hotel because the lift didn't work. The stairs were all marble, twisty and skinny too. Typical that our room of girls was on the top floor - me, Stacey, and Gemma again, with me and Stacey sharing a double bed again. It's ok to smoke in this hotel too, which I think is the first one we've come across, which is yuck for us though but I thought it was interesting. You're definitely still allowed to smoke in more public places over here than back home, but I'm sure it's improved here a lot in the last few years too. You're also allowed to take dogs pretty much everywhere here too - into cafes and restaurants, department stores, and on buses and trains etc. It always surprises us to see this.
The rest of the night was completely free, with no planned parties etc. They told us to rest up well for Amsterdam as there will be a couple of big nights ahead. So we just did a bit of wifi and headed to bed. I also found out today that while we were in Rome, it was having the hottest summer it's had in 230 years with 37 degrees. No wonder we couldn't handle it, I'm sure the locals weren't coping either! I haven't had to whinge about the weather so much lately because it's been so much cooler as we've headed north again. Now all the Aussies are whining about it being too cold, but I think it's lovely.
Tomorrow will be our last bus trip, and it's going to be a big day. We head to Amsterdam where we go to a live sex show. This will be interesting... Only 2 days to go!