Germany by the Romantic Road

I love travelling with my parents. When we are young we are silly, we don’t like to go anywhere with them but once we get older we learn that, between other qualities, they are actually amazing travel buddies. I am quite lucky as they are actually fantastic and fun people. And joining the “Germany crew” I added my super fun, 100% healthy-eating-always and upbeat (also fantastic!) auntie.

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We have to be careful with my mum as we can lose her at any time – she is totally lost! – But her quality is that she knows the good things to do and see in any town in the world. My dad is the joker of the group and for him everything we plan is good – in Germany, as long as it was involving sausages and German beer he was happy. I am the planner, I created the itinerary and even the kilometres we would walk by day. My auntie is the map reader, it was actually her that taught me to read a map while in Belgium when she decided that she was on holidays and I was in charge. My perfect crew was gathered so then we could hit the road.

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My auntie always wanted to go to Germany and she kept asking me to go with her, so on a courtesy of Virginia from Be Happy Tours we made this happen.

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Virginia was absolutely fantastic and helped us to choose the perfect trip, matching with our dates and also combining with my ideas of my little tailor-made itinerary. If you live in Brazil and are thinking about traveling abroad or if you live abroad and would like to visit Brazil, you don’t need to look any further. She has been almost everywhere in the world and her knowledge is vast and up to date.

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Now, back to Germany. Starting in the country’s capital: Berlin. Check my post 48 hours in Berlin.

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My Mum, Dad and Auntie loooooove a train journey in Europe so on the next morning we went to Berlin train station heading to Frankfurt. The views from the train journey were just beautiful.

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We arrived in the morning and only had a few hours to see the city. And for that I just love the hop on hop off buses – they give you a good idea of the area and what is interesting to see with the bonus of you not needing to waste time trying to understand the public transport. Also, most of the sites are not far from each other and can be easily reached on foot.

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Frankfurt is the business and financial centre of Germany, with its high-rise buildings the financial capital of Continental Europe and home to the shiny new headquarters of the European Central Bank and the German Stock Exchange, one of the world’s largest stock exchanges. With all this in its curriculum I expected to see lots of “in a rush” business men in suits and imposing skyscrapers.

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But instead I also found an unexpectedly traditional and charming city: medieval style buildings at the old town (Altstadt), village-like neighbourhoods, beautiful parks and riverside paths.

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Shining with glass, steel and concrete skyscrapers, the city is also well known for its futuristic skyline.

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Römerberg is a lovely, quaint square with the Justice Fountain in the centre, located in the heart of the Old Town. This is the busiest pedestrian zone in the city and it is also the most picturesque square.

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As we are all big wine fans we were quite intrigued about their typical “Apfelwein”. So, for our sundowners we went straight to the famous neighbourhood of Sachsenhausen to check out on its cosy apple wine taverns also serving regional food.

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We left through one of the most famous roads in Germany, the “Autobahn”, which
in many sections have no speed limit, to the romantic and medieval city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Germany has lots of “Rothenburgs”, make sure you are going to the right one.

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Rothenburg is Germany’s most exciting medieval town which makes it look like a fairy tale dream town. The town is very well known for its lovely medieval centre (Market Square) where it’s Town Hall and St. George’s Fountain are located, and it’s also encircled by 14th century town wall. All of it seems to be untouched by the passage of time.

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The town has thousands of years of history among its cobbled streets and even with crowds of tourists arriving every day, overpriced souvenirs and a peculiar pastry specialty – Schneeball, fried ball of pie crust – Rothenburg didn’t lose its charm.

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We were on our way to Munich when we stopped at Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a quick visit so I would love to go back to climb up the medieval wall that surrounds the city and walk its 1.5-mile stroll. I also would like to admire the view from the city and the countryside around from the Town Hall tower.

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Instead we went to St. Jakob’s Church to check on the must-see treasure in Rothenburg: A 500 years old altarpiece carved in wood by Riemenschneider, the Michelangelo of German woodcarvers. The greatest piece of woodcarving in Germany’s is not “in your face” as you expect when you enter, so go up the stairs behind the organ and enjoy a moment of beauty and peace.

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We then left towards the capital city of the Bavaria: Munich. After being unimpressed with Berlin, I had mixed feelings in regards to Munich.
I fell in love with Munich straight away, the city was everything that Berlin wasn’t: beautiful, clean, lively, had a city centre, great parks and delicious food. It was completely different than walking around the industrial Berlin. Read all about it on my post I L.O.V.E. Munich.

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On our way out from Munich we stopped quickly at the quirky town of Oberammergau to admire its beautiful and picturesque facades decorated with frescoes – typical from the Bavaria. Getting around the town is very easy as it is a relatively small town so you can take a nice walk around it.

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The town is famous for its many buildings with beautifully painted mural-type illustrations (usually religious themed) on their houses – which is known as Lüftmalerei. Some are based on scenes from “Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and other fairy tales. The most famous is Pilate’s House (Pilatushaus) where you can see Jesus coming before Pilate and then the Resurrection. The building is actually the headquarters of a wood carver.

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Oberammergau is very famous for its woodcarving and if there is something that you should have to buy when visiting the city is a wooden souvenir. The wooden cuckoo clock is the most usual souvenir; you will find lots of shops with walls covered with them from top to bottom, different types and sizes and also the widest range of prices you can imagine.

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We continued by the region of Hohenschwangau where you can find the famous Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle has been built by the “mad” king Ludwig II from Bavaria, who lived his life immersed in the fantastical and mythological stories narrated in Wagner’s operas, which inspired the decoration inside the castle. The interiors of the castle were only partly finished but the rooms that were completed were simply WOW! This was by far the most beautiful castle I have ever seen.

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If you’ve ever been to Disney World you will recognise Neuschwanstein Castle’s design very quickly, as this was the castle that Walt Disney modelled Cinderella’s castle after. It is a fairy tale castle and I felt as if I was living inside a fairy tale while I walked through its beautiful corridors.

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After visiting the castle we then went to the medieval city of Fussen, where we spent our night. Another lovely quirky town in the heart of the Alps; surrounded by breath taking landscapes. Füssen is one of the last towns in the south of Germany before the border with Austria and the very end of the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße), one of the most scenic routes in Germany

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Füssen is small enough that you wouldn’t need a car and a walk around the romantic medieval town centre is highly recommended to appreciate the colourful houses. While strolling around appreciate the “High Castle” (Hohes Schloss) and the former Benedictine abbey of St. Mang, browse through a wide variety of shops and find that typical Bavarian souvenir.

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We continue our trip to Lake Constance, Central Europe’s third largest lake and it is the only place where you wake up in Germany, take bike ride in Switzerland for lunch and get to Austria in time for some strudels, as the lake creates a natural border between the 3 countries.

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We crossed the lake by ferry to Konstanz; despite the cold wind the views were just beautiful.

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Konstanz is a beautiful university town with Mediterranean character and colour-washed stone houses.

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The harbour is a lovely place to relax in the park, see the sailboats or do some water activities. We chose to sit in a beer garden and enjoy the views.

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A modern statue adorns the harbour; La Belle Impéria is a courtesan holding two tiny naked figures representing royal and religious power that rotates very slowly. 20 years ago, when it was erected, locals were scandalised by it, I guess you will have an idea once you have a look at the pictures. The statue commemorates the wrangling and refers to a short story with the same name by Balzac.

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Konstanz has a great variety of restaurants, bars, bistros and cafes and in summer time most restaurants offer a lovely outside area. It is lovely to sit outside and see the life going by while you sip delicious German beer. A good introduction to Konstanz restaurant scene starts at the central marketplace Marktstätte

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We then continued through the beautiful Black Forest, a mountainous region with grandiose views, unspoilt landscapes and beautiful lakes that gets its name from its dark, slightly sinister canopy of evergreens and known for its picturesque villages, which inspired some of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: this is where Hansel and Gretel encountered the wicked witch where Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf lurks. The region is also home to the famous cuckoo clocks

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The region is good for hiking and biking at the vast nature parks and swimming or sailing at the Lake Titisee, where we stopped to try the Black Forest cake, a chocolate cake layered with cherries and drenched in schnapps. Not really my taste but mum and auntie were really happy to share my slice.

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Freiburg im Breisgau is known as the “Jewel of the Black Forest.”- Don’t confuse Freiburg im Breisgau with Freiburg an der Elbe or Fribourg in Switzerland ☺

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This lively and cheerful university town with its charming cobbled streets covered with wisteria is considered one of the most beautiful cities in southern Germany

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Reaching our final destination… Germany’s oldest and most famous university town, Heidelberg is a precious town located on the Neckar River in south-western Germany adorned by the red sandstones of its majestic half-ruined hilltop castle.

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We took a ride on the funicular to reach the castle and its gardens, which have amazing views over the river and the baroque Old Town.

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Heidelberg celebrates both the old and the new and its Old Town centre is a wonderful combination of beautiful narrow streets, market squares, arts, history, lots of cafes and restaurants and pretty little shops.

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Now I could list my reasons why I think you should visit Germany but I think I gave you reasons enough already so what are you waiting for? Ah! Don’t forget to tell me if you have any funny stories of travelling with your parents (or children!) ☺

One Comment on “Germany by the Romantic Road

  1. When you’re back to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, DON’T miss the Rothenburg Night Watchman Tour! Tours can be booked in English or in German. I took the tour in English (back then I couldn’t speak German) and it was a blast! The tour guide was simply awesome — he totally looked like Eric Idle by the way 😉

    No need to make reservations, just ask for it at the Market Square, in front of the Town Hall.

    XOXO

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