German couple enjoys Great River Road trip

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Michael Thieme (left) and Christina Gulish of Cologne, Germany are on a month-long vacation traveling the Great River Road. (Press photo by Caroline Rosacker)

By Caroline Rosacker

Traveling along the Mississippi River on the Great River Road is something many northeast Iowans take for granted. 

Michael Thieme and Christina Gulish, who live near Cologne, Germany, traveled to the United States to spend a month taking advantage of the scenic route, stopping along the way to experience the amenities larger cities and small, rural communities have to offer. 

They are both employees of city government in Bonn, the former capital of Germany. "We are making a round trip starting in Minnesota and ending at the Mississippi River's source in Lake Itasca," they explained. "We are doing local stuff because we want to experience America. It is very important to us."

I met up with the travelers at the Eagle View Motel and Retreat at 115 Lorenz Lane. Our conversation was interrupted several times as the visitors were captivated by numerous eagles, pelicans, and geese that flew overhead, and colorful Iowa songbirds that feasted on feeders filled by Eagle View Motel and Retreat owner Kyle Selberg. A stunning, unobstructed view of the Mississippi River, Wisconsin's limestone bluffs, the City of Guttenberg and Lock and Dam 10 also added distraction. 

"We have enjoyed our vacation and the smaller communities we have visited," said Gulish. 

This is not the couple's first trip to America. "We traveled Route 66 and went to Las Vegas too!" she noted. "We were interested in the Great River Road because the Mississippi River is always full of stories and fascination."

The German visitors enjoyed two area restaurants and are eager to sample more American cuisine on their journey. "We enjoyed a great dinner at the Stadium Bar and Grill. They have a large menu and different food than we are used to," said Gulish. "We went to Rausch Café. That was great. It was familiar like family coffee." 

The eager travelers visited downtown Dubuque and went to the Casino. "We are always losing, but having fun," she smiled. 

Driving a rented car, they are grateful for calmer traffic condition. "There is no speed limit in Germany. My private car can travel 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph) so I can drive that fast," explained Thieme. 

"The streets in Germany are much narrower and difficult to navigate. The traffic lights in America are on the opposite side of the street which is much easier to see than in Germany," Gulish added. 

The couple was headed north to visit the Driftless Area Wetlands Centre, near Marquette, and on to their next overnight stay. "Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming!" they commented.

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