Sunday 29th September – Stuttgart to home

Not a lot to say about today. Flight to London and then the drive home. Some delays because of bad weather (and then bad planning at Heathrow), but we arrived home safely by 4.30pm.

Reflections on Germany

Oktoberfest was great fun and definitely something I’d like to do again.

Munich is beautiful and the bits destroyed in the war have been sensitively restored. A must visit city…

Rothenberg is another beautiful city and should be on a list of places to see.

Nuremberg is fascinating and frightening at the same time.

Time to start planning our next holiday! 😃

Saturday 28th September – Nuremberg to Stuttgart

After a late breakfast we got in the underground and went straight to the Nuremberg memorial court. We spent the next 2.5 hours looking at the exhibits and listening to the audio tour about the Nuremberg trials…all quite thought provoking stuff!

Just some of the main protagonists
The benches for the accused… No account taken of their previous status
The court room as it is today
The layout for the trial

By the time we finished and caught the metro back, it was mid afternoon. We went to see one last church, this time the Catholic one before having some food.

Then it was time to go back to the hotel to pick up our car for the drive to Stuttgart where we were staying overnight in an AirBnb. The drive took about 3 hours so by the time we arrived, there was just time for a couple of drinks at a nearby hotel before retiring for the night.

Friday 27th September – Nuremberg

After breakfast we headed out and started our tour of Nuremberg. The weather was good, but rain forecast so we decided to concentrate on the walking bits first!

Our first stop was close to the hotel where we saw two large churches across the square from each other – the Josef and Elizabeth churches

Josef church

We walked on and soon came to the river the bisects the old town in Nuremberg. Here we first saw the 19th Century Kettensteg chain bridge, the oldest in Europe.

We walked along the river and next came to the Maxbrucke.

Maxbrucke
Maxbrucke
The other side of the Maxbruke, a building that used to be a leper hospital.

Next we came to the Hauptmarkt, the main square.

Hauptmarkt

early 20th Century fountain in the corner of the Hauptmarkt
Frauenkirche
Inside the Frauenkirche

The Frauenkirche was largely damaged in the second world war, but has been extensively rebuilt.

Next, we headed off the square and onto Burgstrasse, the uphill road that leads up to the castle. On the left, is St Sebaldus kirche and the right is the Rathaus.

We went into St Sebaldus Kirche. St Sebald is the patron saint of the city. The church dates from the 14th century church and is the oldest in city. It has been Protestant since 1525.

We continued up the hill to the Imperial castle, the Kaiser berg, where we went in and had a self guided tour of the imperial castle.

Model of the castle c1300

Outside of the castle is a ‘secret’ building which contains the deep well. We waited for the tour and went in to see the well. The guide used a jug of water to prove how deep the well was…it took 5 seconds for the water to hit the bottom of the well and the displays showed that the well is 45m deep.

We stopped for a quick drink and then walked below the castle to the Albrecht Durer Haus. Albert Durer is, apparently, one of the most famous painters from Germany, although neither Ed nor I had heard of him! (Heatherns!) His house is one of the oldest in the city.

Albrecht Durer
The square from his house!

By the time we came out, it had started raining and was time for lunch so we ducked into one of the pubs on the square for a light bite! Once we’d eaten, we walked down the hill and caught a tram to the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds. The museum here is based on the old Nazi buildings and the guided tour was fascinating and frightening in equal measure. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the museum until it closed at 6pm!

Nazi party grounds

Creepy image of Hitler
This doesn’t really show the scale of the dockumentazien museum
Poinient memorial to the use of the railway in the Holocaust

We caught the tram and metro back to the centre and headed back to the hotel. After a beer and a quick freshen up we went out for some food in the city.

Thursday 26th September – Rothenberg to Nuremberg

We set off from Rothenburg after breakfast and headed out of the city on the romantic road towards Weikersheim.  The plan today was to follow the romantic road for the final stretch through the German countryside to Wurzburg before driving to Nuremburg for the next two nights. 

The first town, after about 50 minutes, was Weikersheim and we stopped briefly here to see the town square and the schloss.  The town was pretty enough, but nothing compared to Rothenburg. 

So, we drove on and after another 20 minutes ended up at Bad Mergentheim.  We parked up and walked into the town.  Again, having a look at the castle/rathaus before it began to rain andwe decided that it was time to continue on.

We spent the next couple of hours driving through beautiful conuntryside on the back roads and finally got to Wurzburg at around 2pm.  We eventually found somewhere to park, after driving around for what seemed like ages in what I thought was the narrowest car park I’ve been in!

We ended up near the main square and headed straight for some food.  One of the things that I’m particularly impressed with Germany is the range of decent non-alcoholic beers. The at Wirtshaus Lammle food was good and definitely what was called for.

Having eaten we walked into the main square. Different to other market places that we’ve seen, it was not set out as a square and was more of a rambling series of smaller platzes. We saw the beautiful gothic church and then walked to the old bridge which gave some great views of vineyards, the Festung Marienberg across the river and the town itself. 

Having taken our quota of pictures, we walked back into the town and past the Dom St Killam and the Neuminster, both large churches. 

Our destination, however, was the Residenz, a palace of the prince-bishops.  We paid to get in and saw the public rooms which were completely ostentatious and opulent, with the largest fresco in ?the world.  There were also some impressive, and high, reception and bed rooms.  As it was nearly 4.30, we stayed for the English tour which allowed you to see some of the ‘off-limits’ apartments.  They were, if not more, impressive than the ones that we had already seen.  Most have been painstakingly restored following being mainly destroyed by bombing by the RAF in the war. It was worth the wait to see.

It was now time to get to Nuremberg and we followed the autobahn which took about 90 minutes and checked into the Holiday Inn just after 7.  (the car park here was even narrower than the one in Wurzberg!)

We showered and then had a light meal at the restaurant at the hotel and then retired to plan the time in Nuremberg.

Wednesday 25th September – Rothenberg ob der Tauer

We started the day with breakfast in the hotel with magnificent views over the river below.

Once we’d been fed and watered, we headed out to explore the town.

The weather looked like it was going to be showery and as we walked out it started to rain lightly. So, we walked up the slight hill to the main market square and then up a side street to the old city walls. This is another town which is completely enclosed by walls, lots of which you can walk along under cover.

We climbed the steep steps up to the wall and started walking around. It was a good move as the heavens opened.

We walked along the walls and had great views of the city roof tops. The East side of the town was extensively destroyed in the war, apparently to bomb the Germans into submission by destroying not just their industrial cities but also the beautiful towns. However, certainly in the area that we’ve been in so far, the Germans were much better at rebuilding than in the UK and much of the rebuild has been done in the original style.

The city walls have many many plaques from people around the world, along with local businesses, that have contributed to the restoration, including the hotel that we’re staying in.

We walked on around until the raised section ended. We descended and then continued to follow the walls around the town, walking through the streets and passed some pretty buildings. We eventually came to the west of the town which is a promitrary over a bend in the river. There was originally a castle on this site, but it was destroyed in an earthquake in the 14th century. The area is now a garden and had amazing views over the valley.

Vineyards

There was also a small chapel which had been rebuilt and had the names of the locals who lost their lives the the second world war.

We continued on and the route took us back to the main square where we had a quick stop for a small beer. After this, and a quick pit stop as we passed our hotel, we descended out of the town and into the valley where we visited the double bridge.

It started raining as we were taking photos and do we walked back up the hill to the town walls and continued tracing them. Fortunately, we arrived back at a covered and raised area where we managed to avoid the rain. We walked on and passed, amongst more beautiful buildings, an amphitheatre.

Eventually, we arrived back at the tower that we started. There was an exhibition at the top of the tower of the destruction and rebuilding of the town after the war. The trek up the tower was steep but the views made it worthwhile.

View from the tower

By now it was almost 2pm and so we stopped for another refreshment break and while we were sitting on the main square we saw the mechanical clock. Heading across the main square we made a brief visit to the Josef church before walking down the hill to the criminal museum.

Market platz
Marketplace

We spent about an hour and a half wandering around museum and seeing some of the instruments of crime and punishment. When we left it was about 4pm and so we found somewhere to have a snack before for handing back to the hotel for a freshen up.

Model of the city

We planned to attend the Nightwatchman tour at 8 this evening and so we headed out early for food. Again we were lucky to get into a place, the Altfraenkische Weinstube that was really busy, although tonight we had to perch on a table with a group of local Germans. I had a really lovely pork steak with potatoes and a side salad and Ed had 7 Bratwurst!

After food we wandered back to the main square and had a quick drink before we joined the your at 8. The Nightwatchman tour lasted an hour and was excellent. Just enough information and history about the city in the middle ages, right up to the war, but not so much that you lost interest. Rothenberg is just as pretty at night as during the day!

Towards the end of the tour it had started to rain and so we went back to hotel once the tour had finished to review our photos.

Tuesday 24th September – Munich to Rothenberg ob der Tauer

We had a much more relaxed start this morning after a number of mornings where we had to be up early. We just made breakfast at 10 and then went back to the room to pack our bag.

We checked out and retrieved the car from the hotel car park. The plan for the day was to pick up the Romantic Road but to do this we needed to travel about an hour West of Munich to Augsberg. The road was good and we arrived in Augsberg and parked up for a quick look around the centre of the city.

Augsberg is quite a large city but we concentrated on the Altdstat (the main square with the rathaus on it) We took the obligatory photos and sat in the square with a coffee.

The Rathaus
Main square

We had a further short walk to see some of the beautiful buildings, many of which were rebuilt as they had been destroyed in the war.

Period buildings

After this, it was back in the car and changing direction to start heading north. Around 15 minutes later we arrived at Harburger, a really pretty town with a large Schloss perched on the rock above the town itself. We stopped and had a short walk across a lovely stone bridge and around the town.

The Schloss high above the town
Town Square

We now picked up the signs for the romantic road. The road wound it’s way through the countryside and by 2pm we arrived at a small town called Nordlingen. This town has almost complete medieval walls and the obligatory rathaus and large Catholic church. We parked just outside the walls and walked into the centre. The town walls themselves are almost circular.

Gateway through the city walls
Rathaus

In the centre we stopped for food at a little Italian sitting outside on the street. Having finished, we had a quick look inside the church which was bright and airy and had grey stonework with slender columns.

The Daniel, aka church

We drove on and eventually arrived at Dinkelsbuhl, another pretty town. Conscious of the time we didn’t stop for long as we were keen to get to our stop for the next couple of nights, Rothenberg ob der Tauer.

The journey from Dinkelsbuhl was only around 30 miles and mainly on the motorway so it didn’t take long to get there and we arrived just after 5. Our hotel is within the city walls and the streets are very narrow. After a couple of failed attempts, we eventually found the hotel car park and squeezed our rental car through a narrow entrance and parked up.

Were staying at the hotel Goldener Hirsch. Our room here is very different to the last place as it has large windows and is decorated with more traditional furniture. We headed straight out for a drink before coming back to freshen up before going back out for food.

Our hotel, the Goldener Hirscher
Narrow streets!
Gateway

I found a lovely little restaurant, Zu Holl, just few minutes walk from the hotel and we were lucky to find that there was a table available for us (lots of people were turned away after us!). We both went for the recommended ‘young wine’, currently in season, which came served with a warm onion tart (a bit like a quiche).

For main course we both chose the recommended special which was porcini mushroom sauce (also in season) which came with salad and potato dumpling and a choice of meat. Ed went for the sausage and I had lamb. By the time we were finished we were both stuffed. Surprisingly, they didn’t take credit cards so I had to go out to find a cashpoint!

Having settled up, despite it being only 8.30, we headed back to the hotel for an early night, the weekend still catching up with us, but looking forward to exploring what looks like an amazingly pretty town tomorrow.

Monday 23rd September – Neuschwanstein Castle

We woke up to the alarm and despite yesterday’s excesses, didn’t feel too bad. After breakfast we met the group at 9.15 to get a minibus to the castle. The weather has taken a turn for the worse and it was cooler and rainy!

The journey took about 2 hours, travelling through some beautiful countryside, despite the rain. The castle itself is perched high on a rock, overlooking the old palace that Ludwig II’s parents lived in. Neushwanstein literally means new swan stone and was built starting in 1869. Only around 6 rooms have been completed as the building finished when Ludwig died in 1886. Outside though the castle is complete and looks magnificent.

When we arrived, we had a quick coffee stop while our guide, David, went to buy the tickets. We then proceeded to walk up to the castle through a beautiful gorge with waterfalls. Some of the path is literally bolted to the walls!

The walk up took around an hour and every so often you’d get glimpses of the castle. At the top, instead of turning to the castle we headed in the opposite direction to get the classic photo of the castle itself from a high bridge over a gorge. The rain was persistent, but not heavy although it did mean that there were lots of annoying tourists with umbrellas. However, the rain didn’t stop us seeing spectacular views which must be even more glorious on a sunny day.

Flipping tourist umbrellas!

We walked back to the castle ready for a tour inside at 1.25pm, stopping for a quick history lesson about the rise and bizarre demise of Ludwig.

The Germans are very precise! There were about 40 people on the tour and we trooped between the completed rooms. The ones that were finished were very ostentatious, but as you couldn’t take photos inside, there is nothing to share.

The throne room in particular was impressive with high chandeliers, friezes on the walls and a large semicircular decoration above where the throne was intended to be. Bizarrely, one of the rooms was a mock cave!

View from the castle balcony

Having completed the tour, we walked back down the road to the car park, stopping for food and drink on the way.

The rain had finally stopped as we headed back towards Munich. The journey took just over 2.5 hours and we got back at around 6pm. We said goodbye to our leader and then had a quick drink before freshening up and going into the centre for some food.

We went to a restaurant called Haxnbauer which served traditional Bavarian food. Their speciality is pork knuckle and it certainly filled me up. We decided on an early ish night after the excesses of the previous couple of days and went back to the hotel for a night cap. We’re heading into the romantic road tomorrow!

Sunday 22nd September – Oktoberfest

So, what to say about Oktoberfest?

We were told that we needed to be at the tent by 10am in order to be able to get a table. So we were up fairly early and caught the train the two stops to the Theresienwiese, the area where Oktoberfest is held. We weren’t really prepared for how big the site is – apparently it’s over 100 acres! The are 6 massive tents and lots of smaller ones with funfair rides, stalls and food shacks.

We followed the crowds to the site and realised that we were in a small minority of people not dressed in lederhosen. So, we both bought Austrian hats so at least we looked a bit more the part.

We had tickets to the upstairs balcony in the Braurosl tent and it was already pretty full by the time we got there. It seems that I’m the unreserved part, you have to stay queueing by 7.30 in order to get a table!

The music starts at midday and there was a steady stream of German drinking songs interspersed, between every song, by a chorus or ein prostil, which it’s the law that you have to join in! (At least that is how it seemed)

Captain Birdseye?

The waitresses serve you at your table and carry up to 6 steins at a time. We also had some food at some point in the afternoon.

By 7 we decided we’d had our full of beer and so headed back to the hotel for a shower, before getting the train back into the centre of town. All in all, a great day and one that it would be good to repeat. 🍺🍺🍺

Saturday 21st September – Munich

We were meeting our fellow travellers at 8.30am so we were up and at breakfast at 8am.  We met our tour leader, David, a Canadian living in Germany followed by 16 other travellers – all Americans.

We all got on the train and headed to the centre of Munich and spent the morning wandering around the streets finding our about the history of the city, most of which I’ve already forgotten. 

One thing that I did remember is that it is only breweries that are within the city limits that are allowed to take part in Oktoberfest and that they make over a third of their annual profits at the 2 week festival.

Fish fountain
First day of Oktoberfest

We stopped towards the end of the tour at a lovely square where we had a coffee in the sun.  The busiest beer keller in Munich was also on the square.

Cathedral
Statue that has been turned into a Michael Jackson memorial!
Classic image of the cathedral. Nothing taller than this can be built in Munich
Italian style square
Rubbing the lucky brass!
The gold line shows the route that locals used to avoid having to go past a statue and use the Nazi salute
Inside the beer Keller
Beer garden

New synagogue
Memorial to gay people killed by the Nazis
Lots of Vespas in Munich

The walking tour finished at around midday and we wandered back around some of the streets that we had been before finding ourselves at the same square where we stopped for some food and, this time, a couple of beers sitting in the sun.  We had the rather surreal experience of chatting to a German couple about the bombing in the war and Brexit!

View from our lunch table
There are men in lederhosen everywhere!

By 3pm we had had enough sun and so headed back to the hotel to relax before the evenings activities.

We meet the rest of the group at a restaurant a couple of stops away from our hotel. We had a traditional Bavarian meal with a salad, duck and some sort of sponge pudding.

The first stein

After food some of us went into the centre of the city for a few drinks before heading home!

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