One of the lovely ladies to wait on us at the Brauhaus.
We first went to the Liverpool Street Tube station to catch the train to Stansted airport.
Here's where the Stansted express train starts. Because of the travel time across London, the trip to the airport took longer than the flight to Germany.
In the US, I'd probably be hauled away for this photo.
We landed at Frankfurt-Hahn, an airport that used to be an important US military base during the Cold War. Of course, that's clear from the architecture.
Driving into Idstein, a small German town with about 26,000 people, it doesn't look terribly different from many other towns.
And my father's flat doesn't look too strange.
Nor does looking down on the square from his balcony seem too different, though it's a nice view.
And here's the same view, at night. It's generally relatively dark at night, though it can get a bit rowdy on the weekends.
This is my brother Greg, on the left, and our friend Tom on the right. Tom's a Scouser, so don't let him near your wallet.
My father, Jim Poe, relaxing. He left the US 40 years ago and has lived in Germany for about 20 (I think).
Hmm, the walk outside is beginning to look interesting.
And the buildings are simply gorgeous (and cheap compared to London!)
And this is Idstein's famous "crooked house".
And a couple of views of the castle gate that I thought you might enjoy.
The crooked house is a bit to the left of this view.
And more photos of downtown.
It was during the weekday, so there weren't many people here.
We went back to the flat and rested for a bit, then went out later. The tower is the "Hexenturm", or Witches' tower. Witches used to be tortured here and many of them were thrown from the top of the tower.
And the real reason we went to Germany: the beer.
This is the Idsteiner Brauhaus, Alte Feuerwache (old firehouse).
And we took up the end of the bar.
And got to know the staff.
And they got to know us.
And of course they brew their own beer (and those pretzels (Brezel)) on the right are heavenly when they first come out of the oven).
And Greg and Tom repeatedly sampled the beer to ensure quality control.
The next morning, Saturday, they had a fresh produce market in the square.
The next morning, we left early again. This is the view from Jim's courtyard.
And we had to see the Hexenturm close up.
It had a plaque commemorating the "witches" who were killed there.
And gorgeous gardens next to it. They're hundreds of years old (like so many things in Europe).
So, um, tell me again why I'd want to move back to the US? History and scenery like this is commonplace in Europe.
And here's another view of the garden's, with a 17th century palace in the background. Today, the palace is a gymnasium (school).
And here's Jim at the entrance to the gardens.
One of the castle doors.
And a rear view of the castle gate.
That Tom and Greg are passing through.
And trying to get into trouble.
And walking through the castle gate.
And the view off to the left as you pass through.
Later we took a walk through the woods.
And Greg making sure he doesn't fall from some rocks and die.
Because it was a long way down.
But made for a lovely view.
Jim, our tour guide, barely tolerating the camera.
This is the high water mark of floods which hit the area about 50 years ago.
Attached to this lovely pub, established 1607.
The visitor's center (which we didn't visit).
And some detail of it.
I just can't get over how beautiful the architecture is.
Greg and Tom standing in front of the high altar at the Unionskirche.
Which has magnificent ceilings. Note the pacifict Jesus beating up the money changers at the lower right.
And incredible craftmanship.
But the highlight of the evening was to be the log sawing competition at the Alte Feuerwache Brauhaus. Unfortunately, it started to rain, but it cleared up before the competition.
The Brauhaus hired entertainment for the evening.
And got down the saws.
And Greg decided to pretend that he knew what he was doing (he and Tom are psychiatric nurses. Log sawing doesn't come naturally to them).
Greg and Tom put up a valiant effort.
But they were crushed by their competition who finished so far ahead of Greg and Tom that they relaxed to watch Greg and Tom finish.
Greg and Tom were gracious losers, though (they had plenty of practice from last year), and posed with the team that defeated them the first round.
So we took some time to reconsider their strategy.
While Greg inexplicably developed gender confusion issues.
And round two started.
To cut a long story short, they would like you to think they came in first.
But they really came in second to last (the last place team just walked away).
And though they put on a brace face ...
... they decided to stick to what they were best at.
And things went downhill from there.
Here's the owner of the Brauhaus and a couple of the ladies who work there.
And he posed with us because he's friends with Jim. Incidentally, much of the boar served at the Brauhaus is brought in from his hunting. Boars to Germany are like pigeons to London. They're so overpopulated that they even enter Berlin and the government is trying to get more people to hunt them in an effort to control their population.
So we went hunting. Well, not really. The owner just showed us around his hunting sights. You can see more of those photos on my Flickr stream because I'm tired of posting photos :)
And I leave you with Jim's stein.
When he walks into the Brauhaus, someone who works there automatically walks over to a cupboard, pulls out an oversized stein with Jim's name engraved on it, fills it and sets it down in front of him without even asking. His is only one of six or seven custom steins they have. They love him at that Brauhaus and a finer tour guide couldn't be had.