Posts Tagged France

Our Family Journey Through Europe, Part Two – Southwest Germany

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Thank you for tuning in for part two of our family journey through Europe.  It was an amazing trip and one worth talking about, so I can’t resist the urge to share our experience with you.  In part one of this post, I left off sharing our Paris journey with you.  Well, after four amazing days in Paris (and several blisters later), we were on to our next portion of the trip…Germany!

We departed Paris en route to Frankfurt via a bullet train.  This is when we learned the meaning behind those infamous words of advise you get before you take a trip to Europe, “pack light.”  With my 70lb bag, my husband’s 40lb bag, the stroller and car seat, embarking on the train was not an easy feat.  However, once we were on and our luggage had a safe home, it was an enjoyable three-hour ride to Frankfurt.  The train traveled at up to 200kph speeds and you would think it would be hard to enjoy the scenery at this speed, but it was quite enjoyable.  A nice meal was included and our daughter was entertained by the other kids in our section.  It was a very nice way to travel across France.

Since we didn’t spend any time in Frankfurt, I can’t say much about it other than my first impression was…it’s a big city.  Once we got to the airport from the train, we picked up our rental car and drove straight to Wurzburg (about one hour away).  My family and I lived in Wurzburg when I was about four years old.  This is also where my sister was born.  Our hotel was located in the center of downtown and much of it seemed familiar while walking downtown and around the river.  I think my only clear memory from my previous time in Wurzburg was taking strolls along the river with my parents and feeding the ducks.  It was a short one night stay in Wurzburg and it poured rain the whole time we were there so we were unable to explore too much.

The next day we met some childhood friends of mine in Rothenburg to do some sightseeing and visit.  Rothenburg is a beautiful little town full of history and culture.  In many ways it was like jumping back into the middle ages.  They have done a great job of retaining much of its original architecture and historical structures throughout the town, while conforming with today’s modern lifestyle.  We visited a world-famous Christmas store, had an amazing lunch, followed by delicious ice cream, only to then be forced to leave by the incredible down pour from above.  We literally had to sprint back to the car because the rain was coming down so hard and it wasn’t stopping any time soon.  By the time we made it back to the vehicle, we looked like we all just jumped in a swimming pool with our clothes on.

We followed our friends into Leutershausen and stayed a couple of nights at their home.  This was a unique experience for me, as my family and I also lived just behind their home for a couple of years.  In fact, I could look out the bedroom window that we were staying in and see my old home.  Upon arriving, there was the most amazing traditional German dinner waiting for us on the table.  It was complete with stomach/blood sausage (which sounds gross, but actually tasted pretty good), along with a variety of other sausages and meats, fresh-baked rolls, and a selection of cheeses.  Following dinner, we were offered a selection of their homemade liquors, beers and wines made from fruits in their garden.  Wow!  Let’s just say it was a late night of tasting and sharing great company.  Experiencing life in Germany with the locals is irreplaceable.

The following couple of days, we visited the garden I played in as a little girl and sites around the area, including dinner that evening at the Colmberg Castle nearby.  If you’re looking for a unique dining experience in Germany, I highly recommend dining in a historic castle.  The photo opportunities from this castle were amazing, the food was delicious and the ambiance was like no other I’ve experienced.  The Colmberg Castle even offers overnight accommodations if you were interested.  It was cool (for lack of a better word)!

A couple of days later, we headed south towards Fussen, Germany where we planned a tour of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.  We drove part of the journey on the autobahn and the remainder on the Romantic Road where we saw some beautiful countryside.  Many people would recognize this castle, as it was the one that Disney’s fairytale castle was based on.  We took a tour inside upon arriving that afternoon and the view from the castle was indescribable.  It was like you were standing in a painting and surrounded by fictional forms.

The following day was a scenic driving day.  We drove West on the Southern border of Germany and crossed into Austria for only about an hour or so and drove then drove through the mountains towards Lake Constance.  We saw some amazing countryside and hit a few road closures along the way, but it was a beautiful drive.  We stopped in a couple of towns surrounding Lake Constance before landing at our hotel in Konstanz, Germany.  We had to cross the border into Switzerland for a brief moment to arrive at our hotel too.  Konstanz was right on Lake Constance and surrounded by beautiful scenery.  This area struck us as a popular local vacation destination.  We were here for two nights and on the one full day we had there we decided to visit Mainau Island, a privately owned little island in the middle of the lake that is known for their amazing flower displays.  My parents took me there as a kid and from their description, it sounds like it has changed drastically since then.  They used to only have flowers all over the island, whereas now, in addition to flowers, there is a petting zoo, duck pond, pony rides, a couple of places to eat, butterfly house, a much more!  Our daughter thoroughly enjoyed herself.

The last few days of the trip, we worked our way West to the France/Germany border and North towards Koblenz, where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet.  We drove through some beautiful country in the Black Forest area and saw some amazing sights along the Rhine River.  Once we reached the France/Germany border, we crossed into France and spent two nights in Strasbourg.  Strasbourg was a very nice city with plenty to do and see.  It was a unique destination because although it was in France, there was a heavy German influence there due its geographic location.  You could almost say you have the best of both worlds there, with the option to have German or French food.  Furthermore, most residents of Strasbourg speak fluent German and French.  Upon leaving Strasbourg, we took our time driving North along the Rhine River to Koblenz.  The drive along the river was amazing!  We probably saw 20 castles that day and even more vineyards.  It was magical.

Koblenz was our last stop before saying goodbye to Germany and it was one of our favorites.  It’s situated right where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet and is a popular destination for everyone.  There is so much to do in this area such as river cruises, hiking, biking, wine tasting, historical sites and points of interests, and the list goes on.  We had one full day here and we happened to be there during their big flower festival.  We paid one price and had access to several parks, churches, a gondola ride to a castle across the river, historical sites, and of course the most beautiful flower gardens you can imagine.  It was a great day in Koblenz and I would love to go back anytime!

Germany is charming.  I absolutely can’t wait to get back and explore other areas.  We spent nine days in Germany and only explored the Southwestern area.  So much history, great food, affordable, friendly, family friendly, simply charming.  Loved every minute.

Our journey through France and Germany had come to an end and now we could look forward to a 24 hour journey home…but wait, we still had a stopover in Iceland, complete with a massage and a day at the Blue Lagoon!  This was the PERFECT stop to break up the long ride home.  Stay tuned for the last portion of this post…Iceland Gem.

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