After much pondering, I decided to fly into Stuttgart, which is less than an hour's drive to Aufhausen, the village where my ancestors lived. I excitedly described my plans to some of my friends on my clogging team that week at practice. Susie, one of the dancers on my team, mentioned that she and her husband had some good friends, Hans and Shorik, that live in Heilbronn, which is near Stuttgart. She contacted them and told them about my visit, and they not only were able to spend some time with me, but offered to meet me at the airport and assist me with getting my rental car and a hotel for my first night in Germany! What a lucky break is that?
As I began researching all the museums, castles and other historical places of interest in Stuttgart, I realized that ALL of them happen to be closed on Mondays, which is the day that I planned to be in Stuttgart!! Back to the message boards I went.... if you're ever planning a trip and have questions, I highly recommend a site called Virtual Tourist. There are members from all over the world that post pictures, reviews, tips and respond to all sorts of questions about their areas of interest.
One of the members suggested a place called Ludwigsburg Palace. I hopped online and quickly learned that Ludwigsburg is about halfway between Stuttgart and Heilbronn, where Hans and Shorik live. AND, the Palace has an English-speaking tour every afternoon INCLUDING Mondays!
So as of now, Hans and Shorik will be coming to Stuttgart by train to meet me at the airport (Germany's rail system is supposed to be amazingly efficient). After retrieving my rental car, we'll drive to Ludwigsburg to visit the Palace. Then they will hop back on the train for Heilbronn, and I will hop on the autobahn (eegads!) and head for Aufhausen!