Today is June 11, which is Shannon’s birthday. Today was meant to be a leisure day in Coburg, but nearly the entire group decided to go up to the Veste Coburg castle, one of the largest in Germany. After breakfast at the hotel, the group got on the bus and at 9:30 we were on our way. Another gentleman on the tour has a birthday today as well, so everyone on the bus sang the Happy Birthday song to Shannon and him.

By land, the Veste is only a mile from the hotel, but there is a notable elevation stage as the castle is up on a hill. Sergei got us close with the bus, then we walked up to the entrance from there.

I enjoyed this castle much more than Neuschwanstein, probably because it was actually a functional castle at some point, and not merely a decorated palace. The appointments were not as rich and ornate as at Neuschwanstein, but still quite nice. The Duke and Duchess of Coburg lived in the residence here. Martin Luther was also in residence for a time in 1530 while the rest of the Lutheran princes and his colleagues such as Melanchthon were at Augsburg composing the Augsburg confession. This was apparently as far into Bavaria as Luther could safely travel during the Reformation, for fear of the Catholic princes of Bavaria. We were able to visit the room where Luther lived and worked, as well as a Luther Kapelle, or Chapel, at the castle. Also on display were weapons, torture devices, carriages, sleds, and all kinds of other interesting items.

Many beautiful works of art are in the castle museums, including some by Lucas Cranach.

Arms and armor were on display at the Veste as well.

Finally we reached Martin Luther’s rooms at the Castle.

The hourglass below is for timing sermons.

Some historical musical instruments.

Some torture and punishment devices, including a scold’s bridle.

Some additional arms, including dog armor.

There were numerous carriages and sleds in the castle’s garage.

After several hours at the castle, we rode the bus back to the hotel. Originally it was thought that some people might walk down, through the gardens, but we spent so much time at the castle, the consensus was to ride the bus back. The afternoon was a leisure period.

I went into the corner discount grocery store when we got back to the hotel and picked up some beef sticks (a pack of garlic and a pack of cheese) as well as a chocolate sampler for us to try, and a thing of wild berry tea bags to take to my Grandma as a souvenir. In Franconia, which I believe we are in that portion of Bavaria, tea is a much beloved drink.

We decompressed for a bit, then Shannon determined that she wanted to get some empanadas at an Argentine restaurant a couple minutes from the hotel. We ordered one each of a jamon y queso, carne, onion and cheese, and caprese empanada. They were all very good. They also came with little cups of what may have been pico de Gallo or something similar. It was all delicious. I had a sparkling water to drink and Shannon ordered a wheat beer, but I think ended up with just a lager of some sort. Another couple joined us for lunch, and we paid for theirs because they had covered our lunch previously up at Kehlsteinhaus.

After lunch we went into an Apotheke shop where a specific priest’s medicinal alcohol is available for sale, one of a very few places it is on offer in the country. We did not buy any yet, but we might pick some up.

We then visited a Lutheran church where Luther himself had preached in 1530. Someone was getting an organ lesson, and the tune was familiar, but I could not think of the song name.

On the way back, we went into a board game store and bought \a Star Wars matching game that is in German as a souvenir for some family members. Despite the language barrier, they should be able to figure it out. We stopped at an ice cream stand and Shannon got a scoop of coffee flavored in a cone and I got fig flavored. The fig was very good, and I’m glad I got something that isn’t readily available in the US.

Shannon went into a shoe store, but it was just like a Payless or similar store and she did not purchase anything. I perused books and we ended up getting one for our niece, “Komm Spiele, Kleiner Tiger” which means “Come Play, Little Tiger.” We then walked to another toy store, which Shannon went into while I went back to the hotel. Shannon just came in with a bunch of souvenir chocolate bars for our entire list of people back home.

Tonight the group is going to the Coburg copy of the Munich Hofbrauhaus, the famous beer hall, for dinner. John’s wife apparently bought a nice cake for the birthday celebrations.

At 5:45, the group proceeded to walk to the Munich Hofbrauhaus Coburg. It is a good thing we went with the group, because it was located in a totally different direction and location than Google Maps had indicated to me. Thomas was telling us a Bock beer that was “dark” and “more powerful” than their normal beer. It was a good Bock, but nothing crazy from what I could tell. I ordered the Bock, Shannon had the Lager. Later on we ordered another Bock to share.

I had the jaegerschnitzel for dinner, Shannon had the HB Spezial Schnitzel. Mine came with mushrooms and a thin white sauce, and fried potatoes. Shannon’s was smothered with onions, feta cheese, and bacon, as well as a side of fries. It was really too much food and we could’ve shared one plate. There was a salad too. I had it in my head that food was expensive in Germany, but by this point in the trip I think I finally decided that’s really not so true. This meal would’ve easily cost over $100 at the Austrian restaurant we’ve been to a couple times in Kansas City, but the whole spread was only 60 EUR.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel and they let us into a wine tasting room that normally you’d have to pay to reserve. The cake John’s wife bought a had a bottom layer of crust, then a white cake that may have been extremely light cheese cake, then more crust, and on top of that was raspberry jam and gelatin, and some strawberries. The outer edge was flakes of white chocolate. Shannon and I shared a piece as we were already quite full.

When we got back up to the room, I transitioned my big suitcase into the new dirty clothes suitcase for both of us, and moved my clothing to Shannon’s smaller carry on. I think I’m still going to need to do laundry before the trip is over to make it, but maybe just one outfit. I’ve been making my pants go 2 days use, which hopefully isn’t a horrible mistake.

Tomorrow we set off for Erfurt, and deeper into the Martin Luther topics. We stay there two nights, then two nights in Wittenburg, before returning to the US. Apparently there is a horrible 8 hour layover in the Newark, NJ airport we’ll have to deal with upon returning to the US.