Monday 10th February 2020

After breakfast and checking out we caught a bus to the walled town of Mdina. The town is small and we walked around it in no time. The streets are narrow with tall walls and all built in the local limestone.

The main church
View from the wall

We walked back to the main transport area and caught a bus which we thought was going to take us to the nearby town of Rabat. As it headed off in the other direction we realised our mistake and so jumped off and caught a bus back! We walked from here to St Paul’s catacombs where we spent around an hour going into some of the catacombs which had been built as burial chambers.

By now it was time to head back to the hotel, via two buses. We just had time for afternoon tea before heading to get a taxi to the hotel for our evening flight back to Gatwick.

We were glad that we hadn’t planned the return trip on the Sunday when storm Ciara was blowing. It was a little bit bumpy on landing, butt nothing compared to what it was like the day before.

Sunday 9th February 2020

Another relaxing start with breakfast before catching a couple of buses to take us to Marsaxlokk, a pretty town on the coast where there is a Sunday market.

Unfortunately, half of the island seemed to have the same idea and it was pretty busy. It must be absolutely packed in the summer! We wandered around the market area, taking in the sights and seeing the pretty painted boats bobbing in the harbour.

The church

After a quick drink we caught another bus to take us to Paola, where we planned to see some catacombs. However, on arriving there, wet realised that our we hadn’t done or planning very well as you need to book weeks in advance!

It was now mid afternoon and so we decided to catch a bus back to the hotel for afternoon tea.

We had a short walk around the harbour near our hotel before a shower and back to the lounge for drinks and cards!

Saturday 8th February 2020 – Malta

We had a leisurely start before catching a bus to Valetta. The bus network in Malta is very good although the traffic and coastline means that short journeys can take quite a while. The bus dropped us off right outside the city gate.

New city gate

After walking through the city gate the first thing that you get to is the new parliament. Directly behind this is an open air theatre built directly on the site of the old one that was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in the war.

Parliament building
Open air theatre

We walked on down the main Street which was decked out with banners because of the St Paul’s festival due to take place on the Monday.

There are reminders of Britain’s role of there island everywhere…

A short way down the street and we came to the co cathedral.

Outside of the co cathedral

Inside the cathedral is intricately decorated with the floor made up of stones, each one carved for one of the Knights.

Caravaggio painting

Having looked around the cathedral we walked a little further and then stopped for a well earned beer, sitting on a square in the sun.

After our drink we walked into the main square and then through the streets to the upper gardens, overlooking the the cities.

From the upper gardens we descended and entered the Lascari war rooms. These were a top secret bunker that was used first to coordinate the defence of Malta against the Luftwaffe and then to plan and monitor the campaign to take Sicily in 1943.

We had a really interesting tour of the rooms.

On leaving the war rooms we descended again to sea level, passing the Victoria gate.

At the bottom of the hill we caught a lock boat across to the three cities. There were some great views on the boat.

On the other side we stopped for another pit stop and had a beer overlooking the marina.

We spent the next hour or so wandering around Birgu and then got a taxi back to our hotel where we took advantage of canapes and drinks in the lounge.

A bit later, after a shower, we walked to the bar area for a couple of drinks out on the town. The area around the hotel was quite commercialised so we didn’t stay out long and had a night cap back at the hotel bar.

Friday 7th February 2020 – London to Malta

We had an early morning flight to Malta and after a short delay due to fog and there threat of French air traffic control strikes, we left Gatwick.

The route was a bit more circuitous than it should have been to avoid the strikes but we arrived on Malta just 15 minutes late.

We had a taxi to the hotel intercontinental, in St Julian’s and checked in at the lounge and had a drink before heading to the room.

View from the room

After a shower to freshen up, we headed out to explore. We walked through the streets of at Julian’s towards the ferry across the harbour to Valetta.

Valetta

However, the swell in the harbour had caused the ferry to be cancelled and so we took a taxi to the other side, to see the Malta experience, a 45 minute show giving the history of Malta. It was interesting to see how frequently over the years the island had been invaded and just how strategiclly placed it is in the central Mediterranean. It also included a short talk about the history of the hospital, which treated mainly rich men.

By now it was gone 5pm so we had a short walk through Valetta and some of the pedestrianised streets before getting a hair raising taxi back to the hotel.

Having had an early start we decided just to stay in and make use of the hotel facilities so went upstairs to the lounge for canapes and drinks before am early-ish night ready to explore on Saturday.

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.

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