Sunday, 2nd June – Potsdam to Lubeck

Today was our last day in Germany on the way to Scandinavia. We’d been before and we would be back – Germany is always a favourite.

Before leaving Potsdam we decided to check out the Historic Mill (Historische Mühle) which dates back to 1737, its restoration was completed in 1983 after being destroyed in WWII.

We also saw The Ruinenberg also located in Sanssouci Park. In 1748, the Prussian King Frederick the Great had a water tank with a capacity of around 7,600 cubic metres built to supply the Sanssouci Park water features, and had it decorated with artificial ruins.

Whilst Lubeck is one of our favourite little cities and last time we were here (https://coolstuffwedid.com/2014/08/06/wednesday-6th-august) we spent the day walking around the old town. Today our intent was to enjoy the 5 hour trip on the way.

Located about an 1 1/2 hours from our hotel in Lubeck was the wonderful Schwerin Castle located in the city of Schwerin. It is situated on an island in the city’s main lake, Lake Schwerin. Historically the home of German nobility it is now open to tourists and houses the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament.

It was a beautiful though very warm day and we really enjoyed exploring the amazing Schwerin Castle. We strolled through the gardens, around the castle and lake, the pictures below really tell their own story.

  

The only thing that could make the day any better was an ice cream cone. Luckily there was a van selling quickly melting ice creams at a ridiculous price. They tasted amazing.

We headed back to the car, drove the rest of the way to Lubeck and checked in to the hotel. Tomorrow we catch a ferry to Scandinavia!

2019 European Adventure Germany

Saturday, 1st June – Dresden to Potsdam

Although a holiday can’t be judged by the hotels you stay in, Dresden pushed the envelope. The hotel was one of the worst we had experienced on the trip and we were happy to be leaving it behind as we left for Potsdam.

The challenge to staying in a hotel, besides getting bad ones, is that there isn’t anywhere to wash your clothes. If you’re creative though, it can turn into an adventure.

Bec found a laundromat through Google and we set off to find it. Sometimes language is not necessarily an obstacle to get things done, but today it just didn’t work for us.

After driving the wrong way down a one way street, we found a park and carried three bags of washing to the laundromat. Then we tried to work out how the hell to use the machines pretending to understand the instructions in German. Someone did finally help us so we could put the washing in. We then realised that we’d have to wait while they washed. Time for lunch.

Across the road was a Chinese Restaurant just like we’d have back home. We decided to try it out  with very low expectations. However, after selecting a dish that we felt mostly confident in (using our limited translation skills) we sat back and hoped it would be okay.

Karma came through for us and it turned out we have found one of the best western chinese restaurants in the world!

After lunch and collecting our clothes, we headed off to Potsdam. After checking into the hotel and asking for lots of extra clothes hangers, we headed back to the room.

One of the best items that we have used travelling is our faithful elastic clothesline with suction caps on each end. We quickly rigged up the line and coat hangers to resemble a small laundry and then headed out to see the sites.

The hotel was truly convenient being right on the edge of the old town. Which was fantastic given that it was 38 degrees. Yes, we were lucky enough to be experiencing one of the worst heat waves in the history of Europe. Luckily the old town is pretty small.

The City Palace (Stadtschloss Potsdam) was on our doorstep.

The Potsdam Museum stood on the edge of the large market square.

At Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas’ Church) we stood with busloads of tourists watching a wedding taking place.

The Film Museum building looked like something out of a film!

As the day wore on, the sun continued to blaze and we felt like we were melting. We decided to leave our sightseeing for the air conditioning of the hotel. On the way to the hotel we took a slight detour heading down to the river for an ice cream and to watch tourists turning red as they waited for boat tours to turn up.

We finally headed back to our room and relaxed amid the almost dry washing. By the time it was fully dry we were fast asleep dreaming of heading to Lubeck tomorrow.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Friday, 31st May – Dresden

With our hotel being close to a mall, we awoke to the remnants of Vatertag sleeping off a big night. We set out for breakfast and found a great little cafe not far from the train station. Today was going to be another 36 degree scorcher.

The old town of any German city is always the interesting bit and Dresden is no exception. We made our way through the Altmarkt (Old Market Square) passing the Kreuzkirche (Holy Cross Church) and an interesting mural.

We continued on to Neumarkt (Town Square) stopping to marvel at the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).

Surrounded by beauty, we even saw splendour looking up. There is a beautiful glass walk way that is part of the Royal Palace (Residenzschloss) now known as Dresden Castle.

Dresden Castle is now an extensive museum complex that is also home to an art library (Kunstbibliothek) with approximately 260,000 volumes of special literature on art history.

Directly across from the Dresden Castle is the Semper Gallery and the Zwinger, a palatial complex with a glorious garden courtyard.

We decided to head towards the river that snakes through Dresden. It’s called the Elbe and on the bank is the Theaterplatz housing the grand Semperoper (Opera House).

As we walked past the Augustusbrücke (Augustus Bridge) we saw the Katholische Hofkirche (Catholic Cathedral) and the Oberlandesgerict (Courthouse).

A lovely surprise was Fürstenzug (Procession of Princes) a large mural depicting a mounted procession of historic rulers of Saxony. Originally painted on the walls of the Dresden Castle stable walls, it was replaced with approximately 23,000 porcelain tiles during 1904 -1907. With a length of 102 metres it is the largest porcelain artwork in the world.

We continued our walking tour via Brühls Terrace on the banks of the Elbe, past the Academy of Fine Arts (Hochschule für Bildende Künste).

After completing our own personal self paced walking tour, we decided it was time for an early dinner. We headed back through the city to hit the hotel, put our tired feet up and then prepared for the next day.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Thursday, 30th May – Leipzig to Dresden

Today we slept in and took advantage of the large, delicious breakfast and late check out. It was a long weekend so we expected to relax.

In Germany, we have observed that on Sundays nothing is open. Nothing. So you need to make sure that you have all the supplies you need just in case. We had expected nothing to be open.

However once we left Leipzig on our way to Dresden, we saw something we didn’t expect. A group of drunken young men who were riding their bicycles and towing a modified trailer full of alcohol. It was a lark. They were friendly and yelled out to us as we drove by. But, hey. It’s Germany.

Then we saw another group, then another. Then a whole lot of them. All heading to the closest city. When we got there we found out why.

It’s called Vatertag. In Germany, this is Fathers Day.

Father’s day in Germany is a huge tradition, it involves drinking lots of beer, riding bikes of some sort and is generally a huge boys day out! The holiday actually has noble beginnings in the Middle Ages as a religious ceremony honouring Gott, den Vater (God, the father). Towards the 1700s, the day transformed into Vatertag, a family day honouring the father of the household. Men would be carted into the village centre and the father with the most children would earn a reward, often a large ham.

Once we got to Dresden we checked into our hotel. Then we decided to enjoy the rest of the afternoon with a few drinks, fine food and some relaxing.

Tomorrow we explore Dresden.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Wednesday, 29th May – Bamberg to Leipzig

After days packed with lots of sightseeing and walking around large cities, today’s drive from Bamberg to Leipzig was the opposite. The journey wove through farms and small country villages. This scenic route driving style is the favourite way to travel for both of us.

Another thing that we care about is sustainability and finding out ways that we can help to sustain the world that we want to travel. Germany is the perfect place to see this.

All over Germany there are biogas plants – about 9,000 of them. Germany has the largest biogas market in the world and it’s a key to the overall sustainability of the country. Farmers take their animal and vegetable waste and let it rot in huge “digesters” which causes natural biogas to be emitted. This gas is then caught in massive canopies that look like a cross between a hot air balloon and a jumping castle. You can see the green canopy in the photo below, under the wind generators which also provide renewable energy.

These biogas digesters not only produce gas but also consume all the natural animal and vegetable waste – especially around the meat industry. This means that the country has less waste, more free energy and less carbon emissions. It’s great to see how it is possible to make small changes for a global impact.

Continuing our journey weaving through the fields and pastures, we headed towards the little town of Wogau. If you drive through and blink, you’d miss it. However, it was a very important place for Keith. His grandfather was born there.

When his “Opa”, Herman, was growing up in this village he learned to be a bricklayer as a trade. He then used that trade to move from village to village all over the country avoiding the draft of the Second World War.

As we drove through the tiny town we wondered how many of the brick buildings we saw were built by Opa.

After Wogau, we continued on to Leipzig. Not only did the countryside change, but so did the weather. Although the day started off cool, it soon reached around 36 degrees!

Time to check into the hotel…. that had no air conditioning.

Time to change hotels!

We found a new hotel with air conditioning and had a quiet afternoon. Bringing our laptop on the trip meant that on days like this we could lie in bed and watch a movie on the computer and just relax. After all, this is a holiday.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Tuesday, 28th May – Nuremberg to Bamberg

We left Nuremberg this morning with the ultimate destination of Bamberg, taking in Wurzburg on the way.

The weather was threatening to dampen our spirits, but we rolled into Wurzburg ready for some sightseeing. We parked the car and bravely headed towards the Old Main Bridge when the heavens opened. We ran for shelter and found a small cafe with other rain refugees. Little did we know that this shop, near the Neumünster Catholic Church, specialised in flamkuchen – a traditional food of this area known world wide. Imagine bread dough rolled out really thinly in the shape of an oval, covered in crème fraîche, thin-sliced onions and ham and then baked. It was amazing and a great way to wait for the rain to stop.

Once we were full and ready to go, the rain had eased to almost nothing so we set out to see the old town of Wurzburg.

The Old Main Bridge (Alte Mainbrücke) has views of the Fortress Marienberg and its famous vineyards.

The Four Tubes Fountain (Vierröhrenbrunnen) has origins back to 1763 and is located near markets in the Market Square.

The Würzburger Cathedral is also known as St Killian Cathedral and is a feature of this busy little town.

The Old Main Bridge is probably the biggest attraction in the city. It was built between 1473-1543 and has 12 statues of saints that were added in 1730.

Because we haven’t before, we stood on the bridge and watched a barge come through. To do this the bridge uses a complex lock process that raises and lowers the boat. It was great to just be standing there watching something that is so common place to the locals, but so entirely alien to us.

Once the barge was through, we left Wurzburg to head off to Bamberg. We try to take the roads less travelled instead of highways as there is always so much more to see. We are often rewarded and this short trip was a perfect example.

Driving through a little town called Ebrach, we saw some activity at what seemed to be a plain but large church and we decided to explore. It turned out to be called the Klosterkirche and the grounds also were home to the Ebrach Monastery and beautiful garden surrounds. Nothing could have prepared us for what we found inside, though. This was one of the most spectacular churches we had seen anywhere in the world. Apparently many people make pilgrimages to this place and we had stumbled upon it.

The first place we stopped in Bamberg was the hotel, where we parked and checked in. The hotel is only a short walk from the old town so we decided to explore and find some dinner.

Bamberg is an amazing little city where the Old Town (Altstadt) and the newer areas are separated by the Gerberhäuser am Ludwig Canal with three main bridges. We set off to cross the bridges and explore the sights.

We came across the Sculpture Centurione by artist Igor Mitoraj with it’s modern design from 1987.

The Untere Brücke (Lower Bridge) is home to a statue of Empress Kunigunde. She died in 1040, was canonized by Pope Innocent III in 1200 and is the patron saint of the city of Bamberg.

 

Heller Haus is the Blue building built in 1730 by Joseph Heller, a famous German Art Scholar.

Also visible from the Lower Bridge is the back of the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall).

It continued to drizzle throughout the day giving the narrow cobbled streets of Old Town a heritage sort of feeling.

The Bamberg Cathedral was completed in the 13th century. Since 1993, the cathedral has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Town of Bamberg”.

Old Court Building was the focal point of a strange eclectic courtyard.

We made our way back through the old town.

Over the Obere Brücke (Upper Bridge) to the front of the Old Town Hall, we found people kayaking on the rapids of the river.

By the time we had been all through the town, we needed to find somewhere for dinner. We found a tiny little pub that did traditional food and settled on Schnitzels. The pub was called Eulenspiegel and the food was great.

Full from dinner and feet sore from walking, we headed back to the hotel. We discovered a little statue of an odd man out the front of the Bamburg Theatre (near our hotel). The statue was of E.T.A. Hoffman who was a German romantic author of fantasy and gothic horror, a jurist, composer, music critic and artist. Despite the spookiness of the statue, we slept well that night.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Monday, 27th May – Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Nuremberg

For Keith’s actual birthday (even though he celebrated it yesterday due to a time zone loop hole) we awoke to the sound of birds from the forest and the chiming of the local clock tower. One face of every building was gold due to the spectacular sunrise.

We planned our days adventures while eating breakfast and taking in the view of the forest surrounding Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We were sad to leave this hotel that had been owned by the same family for over 400 years.

Our journey today would take us to Nuremburg, but on the way Bec had found a small city with huge gardens called Ansbach. We found a car park near by and spent the morning exploring the gardens.

As we wandered through the nearby park forest we saw a little squirrel foraging for food. Keith chased it around for 10 minutes with the camera to try and catch a photo of the busy little critter.

Nuremburg was only a couple of hours away without stops, so we had enjoyed our breakfast in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, had a liesurely stroll through Ansbach and still checked into our hotel in time to go searching for lunch.

Our hotel was just across the road from the Old Town. Like most cities in Europe, the Old Town is the most interesting part to explore so we took our time to see the sights.

The Frauentorturm (Fortress) is one of four circular towers that acted as the entrance to the walled old town.

The City Gates hide the Craftsmen’s Courtyard, a makers market and food court.

St Lorenz Kirche (St Lawrence Church)

Tugendbrunnen (Fountain of the Virtues) is full of symbolism with 3 levels, 6 cherubs, 7 humans (representing the 7 virtues) and an eight sided pool at the base.

Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) stands behind the Haupt-Markt which was being set up for a “beach party” event that night.

Schöner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain)

Saint Sebaldus Church

Fembo Haus – City Museum

All the sightseeing and walking had built up an appetite, but it was a little too early for dinner. To fill the time, Bec decided to get her nails done and Keith waiting patiently while sampling local biers.

Once the restaurants had started to open, we found a place called Maredo Steakhouse and ordered the biggest plate of food we had seen on the whole trip. Luckily it was a sharing plate for two.

After dinner we went back to the hotel and decided to have an early night. The children learning to tap dance in the nearby dancing studio made for a strange bedtime lullaby.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Sunday, 26th May – Stuttgart to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Todays trip took us from Stuttgart to the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The town of Ludwigsburg is conveniently located on the way and has one of the best examples of extant baroque architecture and extensive gardens in the Residential Palace.

We found a parking lot that was within walking distance and wandered through the Marktplatz towards the Palace.

The Ludwigsburg Palace contains a museum but we opted to instead spend our time looking through the Blühendes Barock (Botanical Gardens). Although there is an 9 euro entry fee, the gardens on the 32 hectare estate can take all day to walk through.

After seeing as much as we could with the time we had, we grabbed a coffee and some pastries from the Backerei Konditorei Cafe and then headed off to Rothenburg.

Since we’re using the backstreets more often than highways, we get to see a lot of small random towns on the way. These are often some of our most favourite finds.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fascinating medieval walled city – the largest in Germany. Even just getting near the city makes you want to stop and take photos.

After battling the narrow cobbled streets full of wandering tourists, we checked in to our amazing hotel.

 

There was an amazing view from the room – we could see the village that we had driven past earlier.

Lunch was in the Bier Garten of the Hotel Reichsküchenmeister which was so good, we vowed to return for coffee and cake later in the day.

We then set off to walk around the Marktplatz and saw sights like the Town Hall and St James Church.

The town is much bigger than it seems and every turn you discover something new – for example, the White Tower or a wishing well.

In this walled city, the fortifications all around the old town are incredibly well preserved. People are able to walk along them and Keith was keen to explore, he then convinced Bec to give it a try. The views over the city are worth the fear of heights and small spaces.

Eventually we returned to the Bier Garten for coffee and cake. Since it was already Keith’s birthday in Australia he decided to celebrate with a piece of Black Forrest Cake which had his name all over it.

The day ended with a spectacular sunset which we were able to enjoy from the garden of our hotel located on a part of the city wall.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Saturday, 25th May – Tübingen to Stuttgart

This morning we took advantage of the big breakfast and late checkout provided, catching up with photos and blogs. We really enjoyed our stay at the Ibis Styles in Tübingen. It’s a relatively new hotel and they’ve done a great job with their menus and all the staff were just fantastic.

Our destination today was Stuttgart, however we’d heard about a Chocolate Museum in Waldenbuch – Ritter Sport. This chocolate company was established in 1912 and still remains as a family business, with net annual income noted as 482 million euros in 2017!

We were chased to Waldenbuch by a loud thunder and electrical storm which hit just as we pulled into the carpark. What a shame to be trapped at a chocolate factory until the worst of it had passed over!

After learning the German words for all the different chocolate, we made our way to Esslingen. With no real plan we enjoyed the short walk into the Marktplatz. The photos below show the Münster St. Paul on the right and Stadtkirche St. Dionys to the left.

Stadtkirche St. Dionys

Altes Rathaus

Some other interesting photos we took in the back streets walking back to the car.

Agnesbrücke and Schelztorturm

Frauenkirche

Whilst we dodged the storm in Esslingen unfortunately it caught up with us in Stuttgart. We did as much sightseeing as we could and then when the rain became too heavy we took refuge in a restaurant (Alte Kanzlei) and watched the storm whilst we had some dinner.

Schlossplatz and the New Palace

We walked down the major shopping district on Königstraße until we reached the Stiftskirche.

As we left the restaurant we managed to get a few photos of the Altes Schloss.

We then made our way to the UBahn at Charlottenplatz via the Flea Market at Karlsplatz.

2019 European Adventure Germany

Friday, 24th May – Strasbourg to Tübingen

This morning we left France crossing the Rhine River making our way into Germany through the Black Forest. The name Black Forest comes from the general dark colour of the numerous pine trees that grow in this region, as you can see from the photo below.

Our first stop today was at Rottenburg Am Neckar, we parked the car, walked across the bridge into the old town and had lunch at the local bakery.

Hohenzollern Castle was on our way to Tübingen. We enjoyed taking photos leading up to the castle, however we decided we didn’t have the time to park the car, get the shuttle bus and then wait in line to walk through the castle. Instead we enjoyed the view from afar and took a sneaky photo of the old castle gate.

Once we arrived in Tübingen we checked into our hotel and made the very short walk into the Old Town. The bridge, Eberhardsbrücke, offered the most amazing view of the Neckar River, where many locals had come out to enjoy the weather and watch the gondolas.

We made our way to the Marktplatz through the old town enjoying the atmosphere.

Tourists and locals alike were gathered around the Stiftskirche enjoying a drink or ice cream in what had turned into a  really warm day.

Around the Rathaus in the Marktplatz people were busy setting up for the night markets.

We really enjoyed Tübingen and is one of the highlights of our trip so far.

2019 European Adventure France Germany