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Trip Report Trip Report: Following Grimm, Goethe and Luther

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Recently back from a 12 night trip. It was a great family trip for me, my sister and mother. It was my sister's first time in Europe. Mom is 85 and in good shape. The forum was invaluable in helping plan my trip. I asked a question and got great advice about there to break one part of my journey - thank you all for your help. Here's my trip report - which is long!

Day 1: Arrived in Frankfurt and took the train to Marburg. We arrived at 10:30 a.m. and were able to check into our hotel for a short nap. By 2:30 p.m. we were taking an elevator ride up to the old town. Walked through a short alley and we were in the Market Square - wow, really charming. We knew the Grimm brothers studied here and right away we were struggling to figure out which fairy tale was represented by the large flies attached to the seamstress shop. Guess we should have read a few fairy tales before our trip since we never did figure it out until we got home. Answer: The Brave Little Tailor.

We caught the rooster crowing at the top of the Rathaus and it was a fun experience and made us laugh as he sounds like he's not in the best of health. To conserve our energy we used our Länder ticket to take the bus up to the Schloss. The museum is closed for renovations so we enjoyed the outside views before deciding to walk down. We passed a few other pieces of public art. I had a disagreement with my sister about some figures on top of a wall. She thought they represented the seven dwarfs and my vote was for a modern art depicting garden slugs. Must have been my jet lag talking as that makes no sense. Oh well, we also came across the seven kids and wolf.

Through our walk we visited the medieval synagogue covered by a glass cube and admired many Fachwerk buildings. Our first meal was a donar which was very tasty.

Day 2: First stop was the old botanical garden then the University Church. At this point, I was ready to head to the elevator to take us up to the old town but my sister was in the lead and led us up a flight of stairs, a short walk up a street, then more stairs, then repeat. What a workout! I so appreciate my prairie landscape and the flatness of my city.

Checked out a few stores then started wandering the streets simply enjoying the architecture. Got a picture of a slightly chubby-looking Apollo perched on the corner of one building, then Spiderman dangling overhead. We visited a number of churches and then it was time for lunch. My sister decided she wants a salad from Subway, the one we passed when we climbed up. No taking the elevator down, let's walk! Ugh, so back down the stairs we went but both me and mom opted to visit a bakery for a sandwich and a piece of cake.

Back to the hotel to eat our lunch and have a short rest as we didn't want to tire mom out too much. She noticed a Woolworths on the taxi ride from the train station to the hotel the day before so after lunch off we went. [She's on the hunt for a plastic tablecloth just like the one she previously purchased at the Woolworth's in my dad's home town - which was at least 15 years ago. Apparently she can only get them in Germany. No luck this time]. Stocked up on some chocolates and then it was off to explore the river and the great views of the old town.

We then headed to Elisabeth Kirche, in time to take a 3 p.m. tour. While it was in German, both my sister and I understood at least half of what the guide said. It was a fascinating tour and you do get an English info sheet.

What I liked about Marburg: lovely Fachwerk buildings, the public art depicting Grimm fairy tales, Elisabeth Kirche
Not so great: lots of graffiti

More to come.

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    Thanks everyone.

    Day 3: Our first hiccup was the taxi driver saying there is no Budget car rental office. He drove us to the address I had from AutoEurope and all the signs say Avis. With fingers crossed, went inside and thankful they had my reservation. A nice Mercedes C class with GPS and we were off - 1st stop Hannoversch Münden.

    It’s Saturday and we are amazed at the number of people but soon discover why - there was a market taking place. This was a great convenience as we purchased food for that night’s supper as we’d have a kitchen. We were in time to see the Glockenspiel, which went on for a lot longer than I had anticipated. It was very fun to see, and after the show we started wandering the streets. Beautiful fachtwerk buildings again, but a slightly different look than Marburg.

    We explored for about 1 hour which was enough to cover the old town, then we grabbed a few sandwiches and set off for the Weserstein which marks the confluence of the Fulda and Werra. Our picnic over we headed back to the car.

    What I liked: the Glockenspiel, fachtwerk buildings and charm
    Not so great: very crowded on a Saturday afternoon

    Are final destination for the day is Goslar and we arrived within 1 ½ hours. Our hotel is a great location just off the main square. We stashed the food and headed out. Our arrival coincided with an Altstadt Festival. We wandered around the Market square, watched some entertainment and soaked up the atmosphere before calling it a night since the beer was flowing and some in the crowd were getting a bit rowdy for our taste.

    Day 4: The Market square was quieter and we were able to see the TI office so grabbed some maps, took some pictures, watched the glockenspiel and started out. We checked off many attractions along the way. One sight I wanted to see was the Pieta by Witten at St. Jacob’s Church. Unfortunately, service was taking place when we arrived so we had to skip it.

    The Altstadt festival was starting to warm up again and in the Shoe Square I broke down and purchased a pair of earrings at a booth. We started looking for a place to eat and ended up back in the main square where a dance troop was performing. To the beat of a Zumba dance, we enjoyed our first rouladen of the trip - which was very tasty!

    After lunch, we headed out to the Imperial Palace. As we got closer, we thought the Altstadt Festival extended to the Palace grounds since we could see huge crowds in the distance. Alas, it was a public flea market with vendors all over the place. This was disappointing since it took away from the majesty of the setting. We went inside but neither mom nor sister where interested in paying to see the inside so we heading back outside, this time in search of the Great Holy Cross. We enjoyed our time wandering through all the small stores and though I was tempted on a few occasions, restrained myself from buying any craft items.

    What I liked: the Glockenspiel, fachtwerk buildings, various squares, Altstadt Festival, vibrancy and charm
    Not so great: flea market at the Imperial palace

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    Day 5: First order of business was the Rammelsburg Museum. To give mom a break we took the mine train tour which was a fascinating glimpse into what mining was like between the 1950s – 70s. Back in the sun, our next destination was Wernigerode. It was a short drive and the few glimpses of the castle as we drove up where thrilling. We headed to the TI office for maps and started wandering around Market Square and street. The Rathaus is absolutely beautiful! More fachtwerk buildings and much more colourful than Marburg or Goslar.

    That evening, back at the hotel we decided to try their restaurant which turned out to be a mistake. We waited over 1 ½ hours for our food. We were just getting ready to leave when it finally came. It was very frustrating and disappointing as we had planned to do the Night Watchman tour but missed it due to the bad service.

    Day 6: We wandered around for about two hours and have seen pretty much everything on the map. Time to look at some potential side trips I had mapped out. We decided Rübeland and visiting the Baumannshöhle would fit the bill. It was a short 30 minute drive and before long we were being led through the cave. The tour is in German and I understood maybe a third of what the guide was saying - don't understand geological explanations in German. No matter, it was extremely interesting and cool - both literally and figuratively. Temperatures were around 10C. It was an enjoyable hour "down below" and afterwards we headed back to Wernigerode for lunch.

    Next up was the bimmelbahn to the Schloss. Hard to pass up a ride going up a hill. We rented the English audio guides and thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the Schloss. The sky had cleared and we had beautiful vistas of the surround area, even seeing the Brocken in the distance.

    We took the bimmelbahn back down and ate dinner. Later, mom was tired and had no interest in the Night Watchman tour. So, we all enjoyed a quiet night reading and relaxing.

    What I liked: beautiful buildings, Schloss is great and overall charm of the city, cave fun and fascinating
    Not so great: nothing

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    cd - Marburg is built on two levels and to reach the upper town you can take one of two public elevators near the TI office or climb up stairs/streets.

    Day 7: Woke up to a fine drizzle. One last place to see - the Kleinste Haus which is a short walk away. We paid our fee and squeezed into this house that at one time was home to a widow and her six children. Wow, hard to see how they all fit in. Very interesting and mom pointed out a few items in the kitchen and explained what they were.

    Next destination is Thale. On the way, we decided to stop at Blankenburg and climbed more hills and stairs to make our way to the Market Square where a market was taking place. The smells of roasted chicken and bratwurst were hard to resist. We admired the view of the Rathaus and contemplated a further climb up to the two Schlosses – Grosse and Kleine. We started up and after approx. 50 meters I gave up, followed shortly by mom. The cobblestones plus the steep incline were too much for us flatlanders. We did some shopping and then walked back down to our car to continue our journey.

    It didn't take too long to make it to Thale. We wandered the town, admiring some of their sculptures that are part of their Myth Way walk and found a place to eat. Looking at the overcast skies, we decided not to go up the hills and hope for better weather the next day. Back in the car for the short drive to Quedlinburg.

    Our home for the next two nights was a holiday cottage right in the heart of the old town. What a great location and the extra space was a welcome bonus. We headed out and wandered Breite Strasse, admiring the many fachtwerk buildings. We found a grocery store and picked up a few items for dinner and breakfast. We took the time to wander up and down each aisle, as we like to see what's the same and what's different from home.

    Later, after 8 p.m. we headed out to take the Night Watchman tour. Amazing how different the town looks in the dark. We enjoyed the hour long tour, learning a bit more about the history of the Roland statue that graces the side of the Rathaus as well as the influence women had in the early days.

    Day 8: We woke up to sunny skies. That was our clue to jump into the car and head out to Thale again. By the time we arrived, more clouds appeared but not enough to dampen our enthusiasm to take the "wire" rides as my young niece once dubbed the chairlifts in Banff, Alberta. I bought a combo ticket that included a trip on the Harz bob. My sister quizzed me but she too bought a ticket. We first took a ride up on the gondola and found the Hexentanz Platz. Posing with the witches was a lot of fun. Couldn't get mom to put her hand on the bum of a statue for a picture. Gazing over the gorge and rock formations and checking out some of the souvenir shops took up about an hour.

    Then it was time for the Harz bob. What an absolute blast! I had a lot of fun and could have done the luge ride a number of times. But, to be fair to mom, we limited ourselves to one run so she didn't have to wait too long for us.

    Then it was time for a return trip down and then the chairlift that would take us up to the Rosstrappe. It was quieter up here and after a short time, we headed back down, and returned to the car for the trip back to Quedlinburg and some lunch.

    Later, with map in hand, we went exploring the charming streets, eventually working our way up to the Schloss and the gardens. We toured both the schloss and church and though there was construction and not very clear signs, we found the church treasury and enjoyed viewing the works of art.

    Heading back to the market square, we took a different route down to further explore the winding streets and beautiful buildings.

    What I liked: Thale, especially the luge ride, the crooked cobblestone streets and the abundance of fachtwerk buildings, the Stiftskirche treasury
    Not so great: nothing

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    Day 9: We got an early start this morning as our next destination is Schloss Wartburg. Mostly driving on B roads, we wound our way through the Thuringia forests, up and down hills. After nearly 3 hours, we arrived in Eisenach and followed the signs to the castle. Mom's reaction was "more hills!?" so we used the handy van service for a quick ride up the final hill, it drops you right in front of the entrance. Well worth the 2€.

    We purchased our tickets for the 1:30 English tour and then ate lunch at the neighbouring hotel. Back at the meeting point, we enjoyed the views from the courtyard and my sister took my camera and headed up the South tower to get a better view of the surrounding landscape while mom and I enjoyed the inner courtyard.

    Finally, it was time for the tour. It was so fascinating, and since we had spent time in Marburg, we were able to better appreciate the history of Princess Elisabeth as this is where she spent her childhood and marriage. The women's sleeping chamber was dazzling and a stark contrast to the previous Knight's Hall.

    At the end of the tour, we continued on to visit the room where Martin Luther had spent his time translating the Bible. It was very stark and yet bigger than I had imaged it would be. By now, we had been at the Schloss for nearly 3 hours so we decided it was time to hit the road for Erfurt where we dropped the car and taxied to our hotel.

    Since the TI office was open till 7 p.m. we headed out and picked up our maps, visited some of the stores along the Anger and enjoyed a nice meal in the Benedikts Platz.

    Day 10: First stop was the train station to purchase our Schönes-Wochenende-Ticket for the next day. We first tried the machine but couldn't see any info about reserving seats so off to the ticket office to inquire. No luck, can't reserve a seat so back to the ticket machine to purchase ticket. Then, it was time to explore.

    We visited a number of key sights, including the Kaufmannskirche where Luther had once preached. We could tell our mom was really interested in the church and his statue nearby. We continued along, and did a short tour of the Kloster before returning to the Market Square where mom and I enjoyed the warm weather and people watched while my sister answered the call and shopped.

    After lunch, we enjoyed Krämerbrücke first by detouring around the outside to gain a better appreciation that buildings are built on the stone bridge. Then, we looped back and walked along the bridge that is flanked both sides with a variety of stores.

    We then worked our way towards the Citadel and discovered a market taking place in the Domplatz. We checked out a few stalls before starting the climb up to Petersberg where we enjoyed the views over the city. Soon, we noticed a bunch of brides walking in the square. Then, later a few guys in tuxedos. OK, there can’t be that many wedding happening – what is going on?

    After a while, we headed back down and climbed the stairs to visit Mariendom and St. Severi. Behind one church, we saw a party going on and most of women where dressed in bridal gowns. My sister stopped and asked a waiter and it was a party put on by a wedding event company and all the brides and grooms had been married within the past year. Mystery solved! By the way - both churches are beautiful inside and out.

    By this time, we were starting to feel hunger pangs so we started to head back to the hotel. Along the way, my sister decided she needed to visit a few more stores so mom and I continued on to the hotel for a much deserved rest.

    What I liked: Wartburg, Kaufmannskirche where Martin Luther had preached, Krämerbrücke, the Citadel, vibrancy of the Anger district and Dom Platz
    Not so great: lots of graffiti

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    Great report. Agree that Wernigerode is much more colorful than the other towns with timber-framed houses. Love this place! You didn't miss much by not going up to Grosses Schloss in Blankenburg - it's not accessible inside. But the Kleines Schloss is very nice and has a very beautiful garden - it's not much uphill from the Market square, btw.

    Was in Erfurt this summer, too. Agree that it is a vibrant city, quite nice.

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    Ingo - Erfurt was a delightful surprise. I didn't find as much info on the city as our other locations but I'm glad we spent some time there.

    The last few days:

    Day 11: It was a short walk to the train station and the train was waiting, ready for departure. We found seats no problem which was good news as I know mom was worried that we would have to stand. It was an enjoyable 2 ½ journey to our last destination - Würzburg.

    We arrived at noon and were able to leave our luggage at our hotel. We headed off to the TI office to discover that Stramu - an international street music festival was taking place. We wandered a bit before deciding to eat at the Bronnbach Wirsthaus where, in the inner courtyard, we enjoyed a performance by a duo who sang English folk and rock songs from the 60's and 70's. It was a great ambiance and would have stayed longer except we had a bus to catch.

    It took a few wrong turns before we found ourselves at the Juliaspromenade to catch the #9 bus that would take us up to the Fortress. We arrived in time to take the 3 p.m. English tour and enjoyed our guide who is also an archeologist and gave us a fascinating glimpse into the history and building of the fortress. After the tour was over, we visited the museum which is home to many sculptures by Tilman Riemenschnider.

    It was getting close to departure time and we caught the bus just as it was leaving. Back in the city centre, we watched a few more performers before finally settling on a restaurant for dinner.

    Day 12: Our plan was to start with a bimmelbahn tour at 10, then visit the Residenz afterwards. Our map reading abilities let us down and we did a huge loop, seeing the Dom and university along the way before we made it to the bahn stop. Bad news was they were expecting a group so wouldn't sell us a ticket until after the group arrived to ensure there were enough seats. We sat around a while and once we saw the size of the group knew we had no chance of taking the tour.

    Plan B was put into action which had us entering the Residenz and purchasing tickets for the 11 a.m. English tour. In the meantime, we headed up the grand staircase and visited the public rooms. By the time we were through, we only had a short wait before the tour started. Back up the staircase, but this time, the commentary helped explain the Tiepolo fresco and the beautiful White and Imperial halls. Then, it was through a locked door that took us through the south wing of the Residenz. Wow, all the rooms were stunning, but the best by far was the mirror room.

    After the tour was completed, we headed back out and discovered that we were in time to take the noon bimmelbahn tour. The 40 minutes went fast and it was nice to rest our feet for a time. After, we headed back to our hotel, stopping at a grocery store to stock up on chocolates and sandwiches for lunch.

    After a few hours rest, we finally made it to a café for cake and coffee. It had been on my mom's wish list and our last full day we finally took the time to make it happen. After the piece of torte we once again headed out to the Market square, worked our way to the Alte Mainbrücke, and walked along the opposite side of the river, stopping in a few stores and a church. We then headed back over the bridge, and purchased some wine then back to the hotel and dinner.

    Day 13: The Woolworths store we had noticed Sunday was our target. Mom had given up the hunt for her plastic tablecloth but my sister is nothing if not persistent, especially when it comes to shopping. So, hitting the streets, we made it to Woolworths and lo and behold found two tablecloths in the right size. This was probably one of the happiest moments mom had been on the trip though she'd probably deny it.

    From there, we walked along the river back to the hotel to check out, getting great views of the Fortress, seeing the Alte Kranen and a number of river boats.

    What I liked: tours of the Fortress and Residenz, the Stramu festival
    Not so great: nothing

    Our last train - an ICE to the Frankfurt airport. I had purchased Spar reise tickets and reserved seats since having a seat was always a concern for my mom when I mentioned train travel. The 1 ½ hour ride went smoothly and it didn't take too long to check in.

    Don't know if it's related to the anniversary of Sept. 11 but every non-Caucasian person on our flight was pulled aside and taken away by the airport police. After a while, they started singling out young males. On one hand it made us glad we were three white females but it was uncomfortable to witness.

    Our final hurdle was a rain delay and our flight left over an hour later which meant we missed our connecting flight in Toronto. It was past midnight before I was home and the alarm clock the next morning was a sad reminder that it was time to go to work.

    Overall, I really enjoyed our trip. My goal when planning was to ensure we didn't cover too much ground so that mom didn't over tire herself. On our previous trip she came down with shingles and we returned home early. She was very leery about travelling again but I wanted to show her that as long as she’s healthy and we go at an easy pace, she can continue to travel, perhaps even into her 90s! I wanted a cross selection of small towns and small cities and the itinerary delivered. We used public transportation at the beginning and end and had a car for the middle portion which was a great combination. We saw the sights we wanted to see and never felt rushed.

    Thanks for reading. Am already planning a trip for next year and will use this forum for advice and inspiration.

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    Thanks for the report mars!
    I am starting to put together a trip to Quedlinburg/Goslar/Wernigerode for next September and the info helps.

    Do you have any photos to post?
    How did you decide on this area? (I have been to Deutschland many times, and am only now getting to this region!)

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