The Fairy-Tale Road Feature
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Driving the Fairy-Tale Road
Weaving its way through rolling hills and a gentle river valley, between whispering woods and past stone castles, this drive along the Fairy-Tale Road connects Göttingen, a vibrant university town, with tranquil riverside villages and the modern state capital of Hannover along the way.
Beginning in the south of Lower Saxony and ending in the heart of the state, with a brief excursion into Hesse, this two-day drive is best enjoyed in early spring when cherry and apple blossoms dot the countryside. Late summer is another good time to go—the weather is at its best and the roads are no longer cluttered with peak-season traffic. Avoiding the high-speed stress of the autobahns, the drive keeps mainly to country roads allowing time to take in the surroundings between stops. Gazing out at the landscape, it's not difficult to conjure images of wicked witches lurking among the trees, kind woodsmen, and fair maidens trapped in distant towers.
Paddle the Weser
Flowing placidly between Hannoversch Münden and Hameln, and on to the North Sea, the Weser passes through many towns offering equipment for rent. If time and weather permit, swap the car for a canoe and paddle the river's glassy waters. Check out www.weserbergland-tourismus.de for details on canoe operators.
A hearty German breakfast at Bullerjahn in the lively town square in front of Göttingen's Altes Rathaus is a great way to start your trip. Once sated, jump in the car and drive 29 km (18 mi) west through the Hannoversch-Münden nature reserve to the town itself. Here, you can stroll among its delightful Renaissance architecture and watch the Fulda and Werra rivers amicably converge to form the Weser River. Half an hour up the road is the town of Sababurg, and perhaps the Fairy-Tale Road's most famous landmark, the Dornröschenschloss, Sleeping Beauty's castle. Spend some time wandering the castle's rose gardens and contemplating the princess's enchanted 100-year slumber. From the castle it's an easy 20-minute drive across the border to Hesse and the baroque spa town of Bad Karlshafen, where you can soothe whatever ails you with a long soak in a thermal, saltwater spring at Weser-Therme. Suitably relaxed, head to the peaceful riverside town of Bodenweder, which lies just more than 50 km (31 mi) to the north along winding country roads. Stay overnight here, and visit the small but fun Münchhausen Museum in the morning and enjoy the gentle murmur of the Weser as it flows its way past. Before lunch, travel 25 minutes north to Hameln and the home of the Rattenfänger, the Pied Piper, where you can experience "rat-theme" dining at the Rattenfängerhaus. Afterward, drive the 47 km (29 mi) up to Hannover for an afternoon of culture in one of the city's impressive museums and a predinner drink on the terrace of the stunning Neues Rathaus.
Bullerjahn. For a hearty breakfast at this cellar-level restaurant, order the enormous "Ratsfrühstück," which consists of bread rolls, jams, honey, Gouda, cold cuts, salmon, yogurt and fruit, orange juice, coffee, sparkling wine, and a boiled egg. Markt 9, Göttingen, 37039. 0551/307–0100. www.bullerjahn.info.
Museums Café. Afternoon coffee and cake is as a strong a culinary tradition in Germany as tea and scones are in England. This elegant cafe in Hameln has cakes and tortes that'll have you embracing the custom like a local in no time. Osterstr. 8, Hameln, 31785. 05151/21553. www.museumscafe.de.
Back und Naschwerk. Delicious breads are baked in the back of this little bakery, using only natural ingredients and real butter. Their maple syrup and walnut or poppy seed and nougat muffins are worth a visit alone. Kramerstr. 14, Hannover, 30159. 0511/7003–5221. www.back-und-naschwerk.de. No credit cards.
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