Signs, Signs

Turns out the Frankfurt, Germany, airport is now one of my favorites -- but only because of the signs.

The "(be relax) spa" makes me (be obsess) about grammar and punctuation.

And I guess I should be reassured that A.S.S. has got me covered. I guess.

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Cafe Gautor, Mainz

When we travel, the lovely Robin and I love to experience local cuisine in unique settings. So Sunday evening in Mainz, I asked the hotel desk clerk for a recommendation of a nearby restaurant serving German cuisine. She sent us to Cafe Gautor, a few blocks from the Schillerplatz, roughly ten minutes walk from the hotel.

The decor was inviting and we were greeted immediately with menus in English. How do people know?

We were disappointed, however, by the menu choices. I wanted spaetzle and Robin had her heart set on cabbage, but not one menu item offered either of those choices (and we thought we were in Germany!).So I had the medallions of turkey and noddles (above).

Robin ordered the rump roast (Argentinian style, whatever that means) with fried potatoes.

Neither dish was spectacular, but neither was objectionable, either. spaetzle? No cabbage? Mein Gott!

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Short Walk in Mainz

Our wonderful "Jesus Im Fokus" conference ended with lunch Sunday, after which our friend Daniel drove us the ninety minutes to our hotel in Mainz. After a short rest in our hotel room, the lovely Robin and I headed out for a short, chilly walk along the Schillerplatz in the old part of this modern city.

If it had been warmer we would have ventured farther, but did enjoy the scenes we saw on our way to city. Like many German cities, we love the pedestrian- and bike-friendly cityscape.

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Hilton Mainz City

The lovely Robin and I checked in yesterday at the Hilton hotel in Mainz City Center here in that historic German city.

It's an elegant hotel, and our room is beautifully decorated.

Like many hotels in its class, however, it offers wireless access only for a fee, presumably because business travelers will pay (there is a single computer in the lobby offering free half-hour Internet sessions).

Our stay, though short, was enjoyable.

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Heidelberg Castle

The lovely Robin and I are in Germany right now, so I thought the timing was appropriate to post one of my favorite travel pics from our 2010 sojourn in Germany. The shot above was taken from Heidelberg Castle at sunset.

Speaking in Dillenburg

I'm having a wonderful time, with the lovely Robin, speaking at the Jesus Im Fokus conference at the Stadthalle in Dillenburg, Germany.

It is a conference of 500 dedicated children's and youth workers--some full-time, many part-time or volunteer--from churches throughout Germany. It is sponsored by Christliche Verlagsgesellschaft, the German publishing house of many of my books (that's me, below, receiving a brand new copy of the German version of my one-year book of family devotions, coauthored with Josh McDowell, from publisher Hartmut Jaeger).

I'm speaking four times this weekend on the conference theme, "Healing for Hurting Hearts," with the help of my new friend and translator, Berndt (that's him standing next to me in the photo below).

It's such a blessing to be in this place, among such people. We've been received so warmly and we hope and pray that our small contribution can somehow be accepted by God and transformed by him into something special.

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After resting for most of the day, the lovely Robin and I walked to the most important site in all of Dillenburg, Germany.

The Wilhelmsturm, or William's Tower, is built on the site of the castle where William of Orange, the liberator of the Netherlands, was born.

The tower was a gift from the Dutch people and is visited every year by many Dutch, perhaps as Mount Vernon is visited by Americans. And sure enough, a couple we met in the tower museum were from the Netherlands.

Most of the displays and captions are in German and Dutch only, but a few videos are available in English.

Still, it was a marvelous place to visit, rich in history--and with a commanding view (even on a rainy day) of Dillenburg.

As part of the admission price we were also permitted to visit Villa Grun, the Economic History Museum for the area (below).

Even the walk to and from Wilhelmsturm was picturesque and enjoyable...even in the chilly rain.

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Bartmannshaus Hotel and Restaurant

The lovely Robin and I checked into our lodgings in Dillenburg, Germany, this morning. The staff couldn't have been more accommodating and we couldn't be more pleased with the amenities.

Late this afternoon, our host arranged for me to see a doctor, as I think I've come down with a brutal sinus infection. Though I was disappointed that the doctor didn't prescribe antibiotics (though he was exceptionally pleasant and kind), the pharmacy (which had just closed when we arrived) reopened just for us. Still, instead of the large dinner our host had planned for us with his staff, he graciously allowed us to bow out and we walked next door to the Bartmann's Haus Restaurant (see above and below).

We loved the ambiance and elegance of this establishment.

We were seated immediately, and offered English menus.

Soon after ordering, our server brought a delicious pork-and-cabbage appetizer:

I had the perfectly cooked duck with cabbage and potatoes (garnished by romanescos, a combination of broccoli and cauliflower):

Robin ordered beef tournedos with mashed potatoes and green beans-bacon-and-pears.

It was all absolutely wonderful repast in a delightful setting. It could only have been better if I had been feeling healthier.

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A Room with a View

The lovely Robin and I enjoyed one of the smoothest flight schedules ever to arrive this morning (8:15 local time) in Germany.

Our host, Lothar, was there to meet us and take us to our home for the next few days, the Bartmannshaus hotel in Dillenburg. Our room is spectacularly comfortable, and the view is delightful.

We are spending this day doing our best to reset our body clocks and prepare for the start of the Jesus Im Fokus conference.

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Multnomah Falls

Among my favorite travel photos is this one of Multnomah Falls in Oregon, taken on my trip there in May 2010 with the lovely Robin.

John Quincy Adams Slept Here

One of the best travel experiences of my life was one of the earliest.

On the evening of June 4, 1977, I checked into the venerable Golden Lamb Inn in Lebanon, Ohio, with my brand new wife, the lovely Robin. We had been married just hours before in Chillicothe, Ohio. I may have been a tad nervous, because I managed to lock my keys in the car. Twice. Well, once in the car, and once in the trunk.

But even with that, we were soon settled in the John Quincy Adams Room (above) for our first two nights as a married couple. The room's namesake, the sixth president of the U.S., was nowhere to be found, which was a good thing.

Still, the room is named for him because he was one of two U.S. presidents to stay at the Golden Lamb, Ohio's oldest inn, after his term in office--on November 7, 1843, on his way to dedicate the Cincinnati Observatory. The John Quincy Adams Room, with its queen-size bed and lovely view of nearby Gazebo Park, is on the second floor of the inn. Though if I remember right, the furniture has been rearranged since 1977. The wallpaper has been changed, too, I think. But I'm sure they've saved the hotel register for posterity, since it was the first time I wrote, "Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hostetler." Historical, don't you know.

Hello, Ruby Tuesday

It's been a long time since I've eaten at a Ruby Tuesday's...but after tonight's experience at the Ruby Tuesday in Sharonville, it may be much sooner when we return.

The lovely Robin and I stopped for a late dinner, and enjoyed excellent service and excellent food.

We both had the salad bar and petite sirloin, but she ordered coconut shrimp with it and a side of mashed cauliflower. I had squash and zucchini. All of it was expertly prepared...and thoroughly enjoyed.

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Derek Webb & Page CXVI at True West

The lovely Robin and I joined Aaron and Nina tonight for a truly wonderful night at our favorite coffeehouse, True West on Main Street in Hamilton.

We were all there for a night of live music, featuring Page CXVI, a group that also records as Autumn Film. They kicked off the night with a couple unique hymn settings and some original songs.

After a brief break, Derek Webb came out and performed a twenty-minute (or so) request set that included a couple of my favorites, "I Repent" and "This Too Shall Be Made Right."

Then, joined by Page CXVI, he launched into a full-length set of his new recording, CTRL, a concept album (as all his work is these days) reflecting his concerns about our reliance on technology and its effects on our lives.

It was a wonderful evening of two-and-a-half hours (plus) of great music. And the company was pretty doggone good, too. And for it all to take place just a few miles from our home, in little ol' Hamilton, Ohio...priceless!

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