We made it to Germany! And we have our train tickets booked for the rest of the trip too. Phew!
The World Cup chaos definitely exists within the big cities, but the 2 little towns we visited first were way out in the middle of the countryside and we took the little "milk trains" that stop in every city to get there so it wasn't busy at all. The only annoyance was some trains weren't air conditioned and it's been really hot and humid here.
First we stayed in Bacharach, a little one-street town on the Rhine River that was so German and so adorable. The hills are lined with local vineyards and at the top of the hill there was a 17th century castle that we actually stayed in - it's been a youth hostel since 1925! It was the cleanest and nicest hostel we've stayed in, too (outside view of it, right). More pictures on Kate's site.
Our second stop was Rothenburg, a famous (and touristy) medieval village with things like a gate and moat surrounding the city and you can actually see where they used to have cauldrons of pitch to pour onto intruders. Rothenburg is Christmas-Ornament central for the Bavarian part of Germany, so needless to say, we both left with quite a few kitchy but cute ones. While in Rothenberg, our hotel reservation actually fell through and we ended up just calling a phone number on an advertisement listed at the train station, and we rented the groundfloor room in a sweet little old grandma's house, with a private bathroom and breakfast included for just 45 €! So cute.
Now we're in Frankfurt where my friend Stephan and his wife Verena are letting us stay for 3 nights. We were going to try and get in to the Netherlands-Argentina match at 9pm tonight, but Stephan mentioned there's a huge screen by the river where all the losers or people with no money who didn't get tickets or didn't want to pay $600 for tickets gather to watch the match for free. We both have some bright-orange Holland-colored stuff we bought for 99 cents yesterday but apparently Germany and Holland are arch rivals, so we hope we don't get beaten to a pulp on the way over (just kidding, Mom & Kate's mom, don't worry).
Yesterday we stopped in Wurzburg for dinner on our way up to Frankfurt and within an hour of getting there, a match had just finished in which Germany WON, and it was the funniest thing. It had been really quiet and not many people on the streets,
when all of a sudden we hear shouts of YEAHHHHHHHHHHH! all at once come out of every window in the city simultaneously. And then we hear faint horns honking, getting louder, getting louder, coming closer, more horns... and then there was like an instant 3-hour parade of people in their cars yelling, singing, waving huge German flags out their windows, and honking to no end. Funniest thing. Germany is not really known to be a flag-waving patriotic country, so it's really fun to be here for this unique month-long party.