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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Once Upon a Time...

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…the international school fall holiday break was once again upon us. Princess DD asked if she and her Squire (DDog) might survey the Fairy Tale Route in Germany. And so the holiday was planned; the five-horse turbo charged diesel carriage was packed; and we embarked on a circular route from Vienna toward Frankfurt, through Kassel and Hamelin and up to Bremen, and then a long slog to Prague for a night before returning home.

The Abridged Version
1. The Fairy Tale Route, we all felt, is best enjoyed with older Princesses (DD is 15), as a younger Princess might not appreciate the historical nuances and the Disney/Grimm story-telling differences.
2. Late October, at least this year, was a spectacular time for the drive. Colorful foliage and morning fog here and there set the fairy tale scene perfectly and made for enviable holiday photographs.
3. Germany really needs to get its act together with respect to autobahn maintenance. We counted 32 construction zones during our weeklong drive, and estimated that we had added more than ten extra hours to our total weeklong “Fahrvergnügen.”
4. There were no exceptional gastronomical experiences of which to speak in Germany; however, our final night’s dinner in Prague more than made up for the dining doldrums.


Day One. Tragedy.

We departed Vienna in good order, our planned overnight being the small German village of Geingen an der Brenz, where the Teddy Bear was born! Though not part of the FTR, the Steiff Museum seemed an appropriate first stop. With just 22km remaining until we reached our hotel in the mid-afternoon, our plan was to visit the museum, and take in one or two castles the following day en route to the beginning of the FTR.

But our plan was not to be. We and many, many other travelers were stopped completely for four hours on the A8, for what we concluded was a tragic accident: two medical helicopters landed on the highway; and 6 ambulance vehicles plus 4 fire response vehicles wended their way through the multi-kilometer Rettungsgasse to respond. We reached our lodging in enough time to refresh ourselves, give DDog a less-than-acceptable walkabout, and sit for a solemn dinner in the hotel restaurant, our hearts and minds heavy with the events of the afternoon.

Day Two. Steiff and Somber Town

After a good night’s sleep and a fresh, delicious breakfast, we made our way to the Steiff Museum just as it opened. The museum tour was well done, offering just enough historical context for one to appreciate the “petting zoo,” a large area filled with exquisite hand made animals, many of which were suitable to ride or otherwise pose with. Funny enough, the museum seemed to be a favorite with teenage girls, all of whom loved hugging the various “zoo” animals and taking innumerable selfies. As can be expected, one exits the museum/zoo via the gift shop, which is thankfully void of ticky-tacky tchotchke, but still brimming with handmade stuffed animals all begging to be taken home. We welcomed a classic Teddy Bear to our family.

The drive to our next overnight was uneventful, and we reached Mainz by mid-afternoon. With all respect to any forum readers from Mainz, the city could have been the inspiration for Somber Town in the Christmas classic, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Yes, we arrived on a Sunday when everything was closed, but even Vienna, for all of its Sunday Shutdown Shortcomings is never as dreary as was Mainz. Though the weather was pleasant, people walked about mournfully, casting wishful glances at the closed stores and restaurants. We took the remainder of the afternoon at the Gutenberg Museum, appreciating both Gutenberg’s contribution to the printed world and also those of other cultures. The museum was exceptionally well-curated, and was one of two highlights in this otherwise bleak stopover.

Our lodging in Mainz was a small, well-reviewed (by whom, we wondered later) and relatively expensive apart-hotel, and soon the question of dinner was upon us. With everything near closed but a Tapas Tavern and a sketchy Irish Pub, we were ever so grateful to discover an Imbiss near the train station selling what turned out to be rotisserie chicken that rivals our favorite place in Vienna, and absurdly fresh salad ingredients for dinner (the second highlight). Princess DD found a stand near the station selling her desired currywurst, and so dinner was done! In keeping with the Somber Town experience, though we were charged an “extra guest” fee for DD, the apartment lacked a third chair for the dining table; a third set of dinnerware; and a third set of bath linens. We laughed it off. At checkout the following morning I pointed out that not only had the promised Internet failed, we had not received the necessary amenities for the “extra guest,” and was looked at by the former Stasi guard receptionist as if I were telling a lie.

For those who might wonder, we opted not to stay in nearby Frankfurt because we have visited the city once before; plus, the Gutenberg Museum seemed a compelling reason to overnight in Mainz.

The story continues...

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    Thoroughly enjoying your start- I'm happy to see a trip report of the fairytale route. I'd love to do it sometime. What kind of dog is your Princess' Squire? Is is generally difficult to find dog friendly lodging in Germany?

    How long did your tour of Steiff take? In your opinion, is it worth a detour? I was thinking about doing a day trip from Munich in December. Thanks!

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    Thank you, everyone, for your comments.

    marvelousmouse, Squire DDog is a 25kg Foxhound. Throughout Austria dogs are as revered as small children, and the neighboring countries are about as accommodating. Over our now four years in Europe, the only road-trip destination where dog-friendly lodging was challenging was Venice.

    All told, we spent a little more than an hour at Steiff; though, of course, the museum was quiet when we arrived, but the entry queue was lengthening considerably as we departed. Would it be worth a detour? We were all happy to have added this stop to our itinerary. The first ten or so minutes are devoted to Steiff's history, and are well done. The exhibits were also arranged to appeal to adults, so even if hugging giant giraffes isn't your thing, the Steiff story is interesting in and of itself.

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    Day Three. On the Fairy Tale Route.

    Happy to bid, “Auf Wiedersehen” to Somber Town, we pointed the carriage toward Alsfeld. Not having grown up exclusively with Grimm Fairy Tales, I cherry-picked our destinations to maximize our holiday. This meant we took a pass on the Brothers Grimm’s birthplace of Stein and their university hangouts in Marburg, heading first to the “prettiest town along the FTR” and the home of Little Red Riding Hood. Oohs and Aaahs poured forth as we wandered the little village of half-timbered buildings. We found the Märchenhaus easily; DH and DDog were happy to chill on a parkbench while DD and I took a brief look inside. But, no! A large group of tourists were filling every nook and cranny of the small building; the rude tour guide attempted to shoo us out with, “Dies ist eine Privat Tour!” and seemed shocked when DD retorted, “Das Museum ist für alle geöffnet!” The guide then closed the main door on us, and we decided to let it pass. Ultimately we had the last laugh, for we were able to enjoy a small wander through the village and plenty of photo snaps before tucking into a restaurant for lunch, watching a cloudburst soak the tour group.

    Leaving Alsfeld we drove through Schwalmstadt and its forest, through where of course Red traipsed on her way to Grandma’s. Seriously, the colors were spectacular, even with a light gray sky background, and it took much longer than expected to reach Bergfreiheit, home of Snow White for all the photo-op stopping. We didn’t mind; in fact, we were having fun! Princess DD had prepared a play list of “dark” classical music suitable for the season, so the carriage rolled merrily on through the countryside to strains of “Danse Macabre,” “A Night on Bald Mountain,” and so forth.

    Snow’s house sits on a quiet street and is so unremarkable (that is, it is as charming as all of the other houses on the street) that we almost drove past! During the summer the house is open frequently and visitors can meet “Snow White” and the “Seven Dwarfs” (little boys dressed as dwarves). None of us were distressed at having missed that opportunity.

    On the nearby hilltop sits Schloss Friedrichstein, gloriously buttery in color and full-on Baroque. The palace belonged to the Waldeck Family, whose daughter Margaretha inspired the Snow White of Grimm’s tale. The building now houses a museum collection of armor and hunting equipment, which didn’t really interest any of us, but the grounds offered the Squire a chance to stretch his legs and for me to snap away.

    With late afternoon approaching we made our way to Melsungen, near to Kassel, and our apart-hotel for the next two nights. We are not hotel people; though we travel together well, having a little personal space is essential. Plus, DH and I are early risers, something not always compatible with hotel breakfast hours. The lodging offered a “real” kitchen, so we took the opportunity to prepare dinner in (and enjoy a reprise from German food.) Princess DD and her Squire set off to explore a nearby park while DH and I sought dinner at the market. Guess what? The market was small and the options were lean, so dinner ended up being Nurnbergers and roasted potatoes, and a rather exceptional Grau Burgunder. (It is not that we dislike German cuisine; the foods are just so readily available where we live that they’re not “exciting” any longer; and, with four days remaining in Germany we needed to pace ourselves on the cuisine.) We toasted our successful day, and the promise of more to follow.

    Coming up, Rapunzel’s Tower, Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, and our favorite half-timbered village.

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    Adelaidean, good to know! We'll look for currywurst crisps on our next travels through Bavaria.

    Day Four. Princess Castles and the Brothers Grimm Epicenter

    After a much-appreciated breakfast on our schedule in the apartment, the “Princess” highlights of the Fairy Tale Route beckoned. Squire DDog was all too happy to let us wander whilst he snoozed upon the sofa, and so we set off into the misty hills first toward Trendelburg, Rapunzel’s castle and tower. Once again our itinerary went awry, with DH having to stop the carriage every kilometer or so because, “Oh!,” “So Pretty!,” and, “Cows!” DH is more than accustomed to this. He knows to simply pull the carriage aside and hit the emergency flashers, because I am likely hopping out to get closer to my photo target. On one occasion, though, I was also hopping quickly back into the car, as one of the cows started moving rapidly toward me and I was pretty certain the rope fence would not hold her back!

    Rounding a curve, Rapunzel’s hilltop castle revealed itself through the misty surroundings. Carmina Burana’s, “O Fortuna” had just begun to play in the carriage—we could not have scripted that moment if we had tried! DH pulled to side and we just stared ahead for a few moments. Soon thereafter we reached the castle; and to be honest, it was one of our favorites. On a hilltop, brooding, with remnants of a moat and grand scenery in every direction, we all thought Rapunzel may have rather enjoyed her digs, contrary to what Grimm and Disney wrote.

    Reluctantly moving along, the real inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Sababurg, lay ahead. A forested path welcomed us to the castle, but we felt Germany has done a better job marketing Neuschwanstein instead. The castle is a hotel, and yes, the ruined parts made for more fabulous photo snaps, yet we all agreed that Briar Rose would have been happier in Bavaria. While we were walking about the grounds, we chuckled at a mom desperately trying to hold her young son’s interest in the castle while the daughter walked about, starry-eyed.

    From Sababurg DH steered the carriage toward Hannoversch Münden, another charming half-timbered village and so very worthy of the time we spent walking about. (Spoiler: in the final consideration, Hannoversch Münden would rank as our favorite half-timbered village.) Though the richly decorated Rathaus was covered in scaffolding, it did not distract from the oh-so-photogenic half-timbered buildings throughout. We walked about snapping photos until lunchtime hunger pangs distracted us, and followed our noses to an Indian restaurant serving a buffet of luscious Dal Makhani and Butter and Curry Chicken. A most welcome find!

    We departed the village pleased to have added it to the itinerary, and not even the drizzle that had begun to fall was a concern when we arrived in Kassel; specifically, at GrimmWelt, the epicenter of The Brothers Grimm. The museum delighted us; having researched ahead, there was concern that expectations might not be met for gaining a full appreciation for the Brothers Grimm and their works, including the creation of a German dictionary that took more than 120 years to complete, but that did not come to pass. The museum is not at all a place for young children; the exhibits require a creative sense of understanding, and we could understand why some reviewers (on TripAdvisor) were less than enchanted with their visit. For us, our time spent was a remarkable tour through German cultural and linguistic history.

    From the museum the plan had been to tour the Wilhelmshöhe and the castle, but not only had the drizzle intensified, we had run the day later than expected and needed to tend to DDog. Looking over the photos that evening, we all agreed that some of them should be sent to the Deutsche Märchen Straße tourism folks for use in their promotional materials, the countryside was that remarkable.

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    quokka, sometimes that's just the way the travel strategy works out. To have made Marburg an overnight didn't fit our itinerary; and, we would have found ourselves there on a Sunday, when everything is closed. Walking around Marburg in possibly inclement weather took a backseat to visiting the Gutenberg Museum, even with Mainz being so dull.

    Day Five. Hameln, and one last Princess Castle(Ruin)

    Leaving Melsungen we stopped first at Burgruine Polle, the “home” of Cinderella. The story originates in France (we think), and was tinkered with by the Brothers Grimm. They had traveled through the area and thought the ruins would make a perfect setting for the story. So, viola! We preferred to believe the ruins were truly that of the chateau where Cinderella slaved for her Stepmother and Stepsisters. Though the interior of the ruins were unexpectedly closed we could walk along the outside perimeter quite easily, taking in stellar overlooks of the River Weser while DDog cataloged the scent of every leaf in his path. The autumnal colors contrasted wonderfully with the shadowy ruins, once again making for chamber of commerce photos. Along the perimeter were placards telling Cinderella’s tale; we had paused to read one and suddenly heard a lapping sound. Squire DDog was drinking rainwater out of the bronze Cinderella slipper on display!

    Hameln was our second, and final destination for the day, the intention being to sit for lunch and explore the village. In my planning I was a little concerned that we were shortchanging Hameln with just an afternoon’s sightseeing; in fact, the timing turned out to be ideal. By the time we had finished lunch many stores had reopened from the Mittagspause, and in combination with following the “Pied Piper Route,” so marked by brass “rats” in the cobblestones, we saw the architectural highlights; snapped lots of photos; stopped in every bakery in search of rat-shaped cookies (the bookstore had them); and even serendipitously found ourselves at Hochzeithaus in time to view the Pied Piper clockwork story, complete with Glockenspiel chimes.

    Our stop in Hameln was for two nights, with the second day reserved for a (long) day trip to Bremen. Though we knew our hotel had been built for Napoleon in 1808, when Hameln was under French occupation, it was not until after we had departed did we learn that the hotel had also housed political prisoners during WWII; that the British used the hotel as a prison for Germans suspected of war crimes; and the park behind the hotel was the site where more than 200 of them were hanged. Not quite a fairy tale history.

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    I like to read that you have thoroughfully enjoyed your trip through a part of Germany which is largely ignored by American guidebooks (like many other beautiful parts of Germany).

    Seems that you had bad luck with your food in Germany. I really mean bad luck because you can get great food both in restaurants and in grocery stores or on markets. But not always in very small towns (or it is hard to find for a non-local).

    Next time, before you travel to Germany, post a thread here to ask us about our tips and recommendations!

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    traveller1959, my apologies if what I wrote has implied that we had "bad luck" or that we hated the food on this holiday. We ate "good" food, but truly noteworthy gastronomical experiences just didn't happen for us in Germany on this particular holiday.

    tomarkot, thank you for following along!


    Day Six. Bremen!

    Our last official day on the Fairy Tale Route dawned with clearing skies and the promise of a 15° day. Perfect! With Bremen being an approximate 2-hour one-way autobahn drive from Hameln, and an extension further north to Bremerhaven as an option, Squire DDog joined us for the day trip.

    In a word, or three, Bremen charmed us. The city was absolutely correct in rebuilding the original architecture after the war (we felt). A lively Marktplatz (a small Oktoberfest was underway, adding to the general sense of happiness); the Bremen Dom, its interior shimmering in the early afternoon sunshine; a nearby Farmer’s Market, always a worthwhile detour; architecture that begged to be photographed no matter where we turned; the Schnoor Viertel with its medieval lanes and lack of tourist tchotchke shops; and even a little light shopping at stores I have otherwise only visited in Paris, Rome, and Berlin. And yes, we all touched the Bremen Town Musicians statue for luck. :)

    With mid-afternoon approaching we realized that Bremerhaven would have to wait for some other holiday, Bremen was simply that enjoyable. We snared a table in the Marktplatz, filled it with wood-roasted salmon and Kartoffelpuffers (deep fried potato pancakes) from the Oktoberfest stalls, plus a couple of Beck’s beers (the Bremen Beer), and soaked in the atmosphere and sunshine for a little while. Squire DDog, meanwhile, busied himself soaking up the various bits of food and who-knows-what that had been dropped about. Everyone was happy.

    The city exhausted my camera; even DH was compelled to take his iPhone out of his pocket for some snaps. Every other step in the Schnoor Viertel of medieval lanes and preserved fisherman’s homes demanded at least two or three snaps. Tourist crowds were non-existent in this area, which could easily have swayed our opinion in another direction, however. The shops were interesting; my only non-postcard souvenir of the holiday came from Bremen, a lovely hand-painted watercolor of the Bremen Town Musicians that perfectly matched our feelings of both the city and of our holiday. DD and I also spent considerable time in the Bremen Bon Bon shop, though there is little evidence remaining of those souvenirs.

    Eventually we dragged ourselves back to the carriage (detouring slightly to snap the bronze figures at the head of Sögestraße), the incentive being dinner at Hameln’s Mexican restaurant, which the hotel concierge described as, “Excellent.” First, though, we had to endure an additional hour of autobahn construction delays on our return, turning the two hour drive into three. Thoroughly starving by the time we reached Hameln, we deposited Squire DDog in the suite and headed out for an early dinner of Mexican food goodness.

    But like the add-on trip to Bremerhaven, this too did not happen. The restaurant just happened to be closed that evening for a private, “Comedy Night.” We were not amused. To the “Pauliner im Rattenkrug” we went, having exhausted the other viable dining option, Italian, the evening before. We placed three orders of “Oktoberfest Wiesen Hendl,” and raised our glasses to toast the, “Most excellent Bavarian Mexican food we’ve ever had in Northern Germany,” laughing so hard that we may have caught the attention of other restaurant goers.

    With a long driving slog awaiting us the following day, we called it a day a little earlier than we had been all week, and returned to our hotel.

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    After six days on the road, four different lodgings, and a fair amount of, “family time” we were surprisingly all a little sad that our holiday was coming to a close. But it’s not a holiday if it doesn’t end, right?

    Day 7 was the long 6 hour slog from Hameln to Prague, via Wernigerode and Brocken Mountain of the, “A Night on Bald Mountain” fame. Princess DD is Concert Mistress for her HS orchestra, so we would have been remiss not to visit. While thumbing through our Rough Guide: Germany over breakfast that morning, I noticed a little tidbit about Torfhaus, DE, and how one could view Brocken, the tallest peak of the Harz Mountains, from its Visitors Center. I somehow glanced over the sentence, “Brocken is cloudy and fogged-in 300 days of the year,” however.

    We departed Hameln under clear skies, though as we edged closer to Torfhaus the grey took over. Hopes for a spot-on view of Brocken diminished quickly as we climbed the mere 1.100 meters to the visitor’s center through swirling fog. Though Brocken is not above the alpine tree line, it apparently has a microclimate that adds to its eerieness. A perfect late October setting, and I regret not taking a short video of the swirling fog, ethereal and magical.

    Motoring along, Wernigerode was but a small detour along our route, and so we detoured, naturally. Its castle dominates the approach, and I was ever thankful that DH had the carriage reins so that I could snap away. As we neared the town and castle, Brocken stood out with its cap of clouds against the rest of the range. Stunning. Wernigerode has both WWII and Cold War histories, but these were not the focus of our holiday.

    And so ended our holiday. The next few hours were autobahn and uninteresting scenery, and we reached Prague in the late afternoon. This being our 8th visit to what we consider a Fairy Tale city, we tucked the car into a garage for the night, joined the revelers in the Old Town Square celebrating the Czechoslovakia Independence Day (1918) for a bit, then settled in to a favorite restaurant to toast our holiday and savor some of the finest roast duck around. Squire DDog let us sleep in to the late hour of 0700 the following morning, a little too late to catch the sun at Prazsky Hrad, but still quiet enough to absorb the beauty of the city. A little shopping followed, and then, at last, DH selected, “Home” on the GPS.

    Lodging, gastronomical, and miscellaneous thoughts to follow shortly.

    Thank you for reading. :)

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    Loved reading this. And it doesn't surprise me that there weren't more noteworthy meals. I can think of only one noteworthy meal I ever had in Germany, and that was after at least a dozen trips there. I just don't associate Germany with noteworthy food. I'd love to be enlightened by more learned Fodorites.

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    I've very much enjoyed your trip report. The "carriage" and music details and Squire dog have made it quite a vivid tale! I nearly cast aside my Christmas Market plans in favor of rat shaped cookies in Hameln!

    Question: I had read the same reviews on tripadvisor of the Grimm museum. I enjoy cultural and linguistic history, but I was wondering if the exhibits had enough English description to follow along? My German is fairly limited.

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    marvelousmouse, DD and I have B2 German competency, and so could translate for DH, whose German is more on the "Straßen Deutsch" level, when necessary. The major introductory placards to each section of the museum, as well as "highlight" pieces have English translations, but many of the smaller exhibits have only German descriptions. This said, I would think that you could still have a meaningful visit. I hope this helps.

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    Lodging Notes.

    Salzburgerhof, Geingen an der Brenz. Perfectly fine, if a bit sparse with amenities. The hotel was chosen for its proximity to the Steiff Museum (a 10 minute walk). The adjoining rooms gave us ample space for the one night we stayed. The European continental breakfast had the most variety and flavor of our hotel breakfasts.

    Guesthaus Mainz. Small, but with new features across the board. With the sofa bed open, two people could not pass anywhere in the studio. A decent location for one night, though it lacked amenities for the “extra guest.” This apart-hotel offered breakfast at €10 per person, if I recall correctly. What I saw in the dining area, a platter of frosted pastries and a basket of bread, didn’t seem worth the money.

    Hotel Sonnenhof, Melsungen. A tie with the Prague hotel for our favorite stay. The apartment was incredibly spacious; the kitchen done in a renovated-but-vintage style that I loved though the rest of the apartment seemed lost in the 70s, style-wise; and the shower pressure glorious. The apart-hotel offered breakfast, as well, but we opted to eat in our apartment. The location proved to be a good base for our day trips along the southern part of the Fairy Tale Route, as well. The area was rather lean on restaurants, but we prepared our meals in the apartment and so were not affected.

    Hotel Stadt Hameln. Many of the public spaces are a bit dated in style, but still very clean and fresh; we had a lovely, albeit slightly small suite with non-hotelish reproduction furniture and wooden floors (which I love—hotel carpet wigs me out). The location just outside of the Hameln AltStadt was ideal; we walked no more than 10 minutes each evening in search of dinner. The breakfast, highly touted on TA, was to me dreadful and unappealingly presented. Cold bacon and sausages, even though presented in warming dishes. Unappetizing display of smoked salmon both mornings, in little heaps on the tray. The cheese tray was depressing; I get excited when I see a cheese with a grayish-blue rind because that usually signals a strong cheese, but was disappointed with the bland flavor of one cheese and did not bother with the others. I was glad to have carted along the leftover Camembert from Melsungen to enjoy on the second morning. Very few vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes) on offer, and the fruit was piled unceremoniously in a couple of baskets. The yogurt and muesli offers were average.

    Hotel Cerny Slon, Prague. Our favorite hotel in Prague is Old Town Suites, but they had no open reservations and so I reserved the “Family Room” here for our one night. We have eaten at the restaurant previously but had never stayed in the hotel. “Just wonderful” might be the title of my review. Ours was a spacious room on the top floor, requiring a climb of 15 stairs from where the lift stopped—small matter for us, but may be a huge issue for others. The hotel sits across from Our Lady Before Tyn on a narrow lane that doubles as an echo chamber; periodically during our slumber we could hear waves of barhoppers heading to their hotels, but overall were not disturbed by them or the church bells the following morning.


    Dining Notes

    Being of Eastern European descent, I have favorite Polish dishes that I find delicious and that make me happy, but probably wouldn’t earn any Michelin stars for innovation or creativity. That’s pretty much how we felt about our dining experiences throughout Germany. We enjoyed truly well-prepared Schnitzel; my favorite being a JagerSchnitzel because it was topped with mushrooms, and the side of Spaetzle tasted handmade. The “Royal Imbiss” rotisserie chicken in Mainz was on par with what we have enjoyed in Vienna and in Paris, and ranks just above the “(Mexican) Oktoberfest Wiesenhendl” in Hameln. In Alsfeld I savored my bowl of Kartoffelsuppe, though the Bratwurst “floating” in the bowl made for a humorous appearance. Princess DD did not encounter a Currywurst that failed to meet her expectations. My lunch in Hameln was a delicious throwback to my childhood; the “Königsberger Klopse,” slightly larger-than-meatball size ground beef “patties” topped with a mild caper sauce and served with potato puree and a perfectly dressed cold beet salad. Growing up it was dill sauce on the meatballs, but the concept is the same. DH had nothing but high praise for the various forms of roast pork he ate throughout the holiday. The “outlier,” dinner at the top-rated Italian restaurant in Hameln, was also very good, but nothing exceptional. Though the tiny, 6-table restaurant announced, “Handmade Tagliatelle with Austernpilze” on the menu board, they hadn’t any fresh pasta left by the time we arrived, so I defaulted to Spaghetti Aglio e Aioli. DH and DD enjoyed their wood-fired pizzas, and the organic house wine was more than fair.

    Far and away, it was dinner in Prague on our last evening that we anticipated, and it did not disappoint. The hotel and restaurant are family owned and operated, and the personal touch shows. I had made dinner reservations (essential, as the restaurant has but 10 tables), and we settled in with an excellent Moravian white, roast duck (for me); Schweinshaxe (of appropriate size, for DH); and a mascarpone-stuffed chicken breast with seasoned couscous for Princess DD, with a shared cheese plate to end our meal. Squire DDog was upstairs, awaiting his doggy bag. The breakfast was simple but tasted of homemade goodness. Vegetable strudel, and meats and cheeses with true flavor. Plus lots of Czech pastries.

    Miscellaneous Notes

    As mentioned initially, ours was not a road trip for elementary-age Princesses; the Disneyesque element is non-existent. Our Princess DD loved the holiday (and, apparently, her Snapchats were envied by her peers), but not every 15-year-old Princess is the same. DH survived this history-thin holiday rather well, as I fed him historical tidbits along the way. In between I’m sure he imagined he was whipping across Germany in a Porsche and not a station wagon with a Thule on the top and a dog snoozing in the way back. :)

    Squire DDog has his usual fabulous roadtrip experience. As an über-freundlich hound, every scent must be catalogued; every fellow canine and small person must be greeted; and there is no such thing as too much attention. On this holiday three people asked if they could take his photo, apparently he was that adorable!

    We travel with relative frequency to Munich for school sports tournaments, and have always had pleasant exchanges. Similarly, people throughout Germany were refreshingly friendly everywhere, the lone exception being the hotel clerk in Mainz. German Autobahn authorities, however, have cured us of ever taking another road trip in the country. Just as it seemed we travelers had found our Fahrvergnügen, everyone was slowed through yet another construction zone, the worst being the 10 and 12-kilometer beasts. Though we had researched our route beforehand, and the GPS helped to reroute when possible, there was little driving fun in Germany.

    With this our holiday trip report concludes. Thank you for reading.

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    Re: food.

    I see that you only tried a type of food that Americans would call "soul food": rustic, simple, greasy and cheapish dishes. No wonder that you missed a memorable dining experience! Schnitzel is NEVER memorable.

    There is fine dining in Germany (as well as all kinds of ethnic cuisine) and there are restaurants which serve German cuisine in a refined, creative way. And you find quite a few restaurants with Michelin stars or good ratings. One of the best meals of my life I had in Bremen. But it was certainly not roast chicken.

    Actually, we Germans hardly ever eat knuckle of pork and other traditional dishes - except when we are on vacation.

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    traveller1959, your words upset me, and I ask that you not batter me for writing that German cuisine was "good" and not "exceptional." None of our meals were greasy or cheap (we're quite well-versed on terrible Schnitzel, thank you). After having being parked on the autobahn for four hours because of an accident, should we have instead driven to Ulm or Augsburg for a "Michelin" meal at 1900?

    We are more than willing, and frequently do, put forth the Euros/Koruna/Forints/Zloty or whathaveyou for exceptional dining (and have done so in Berlin, Munich surrounds and Heidelberg on recent visits). Have you been to Mainz on a Sunday? Where in that Somber Town were we to find starred-cuisine?

    Where in Melsungen, any day of the week? Should we have schlepped kilometers away to defend Germany's cuisine?

    Ditto for Hameln. Perhaps the locals venture far and wide for "refined, creative" cuisine and we travelers are left with the dregs of German peasant food and the occasional Italian or Mexican (when it's not Comedy Night), but that is more on Germany's tourism infrastructure than on us.

    In Bremen, we thoroughly enjoyed the wood-smoked salmon from the Oktoberfest stalls. Should we be expected to travel hither and yon from our destinations to give German cuisine a good name on your behalf?

    For the record, the Schweinshaxe was in Prague. DH was simply in the mood for it, knowing that he had enjoyed it previously.

    I feel bad that you are offended. As I have stated more than once, what Germany offers its tourists/visitors was "good" food, but not "exceptional."

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    Over the years the best meal I ever had was plaice with lardons at 8am in a restaurant overlooking the docks in Hamburg one Sunday where the Dutch come to sell their out of dates plants. A memorable event as nothing goes back to Holland, anything not bought is flung into the air so the poor Germans can fight over the debris.

    The worst meal I ever had was in the old ship restaurant in Lubeck, where the chef selected an illegally small plaice (yes I know, but I thought the Germans had to obey European law too) and rather than a fillet I got a whole boney plaice the size of my hand.

    Other than that the odd asparegus or onion tarte has done well but ...

    Luckily Germans make very good wine, reasonable Beer, but very good wine.

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    Really enjoyable report about an area I have yet to explore. Your impressions and comments make for a really interesting read. A report is about what you experienced, and you expressed that well. quokka had me looking up Marburg, now I need to do the same for Bremen. Many thanks :)

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