101 places Rick Steves doesn't know

Old Nov 26th, 2010, 01:15 AM
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101 places Rick Steves doesn't know

I'm browsing this board for a while now, and like others I noticed a preference for southern Germany (Bavaria, Rhine). The questions usually center around the same places again and again. Don't get me wrong, Bavaria is very nice, Munich is a interesting town, and Rothenburg o.d.T. is charming, but there are lots of other places which are equally interesting, nice and charming. Sadly they are quite unknown... even to alleged experts like Rick Steves. His Germany looks like this:

Click on "look inside" to see the table on contents. 420 pages for Bavaria and the Rhine, 70 pages for Berlin, 50(!) for the rest of Germany.

So, this thread is about places Rick Steves doesn't know. Everyone can participate, but the places should be *notable*. There are lots of unmentioned sights of national importance. A few words and pics about the sights would be nice. Hidden gems are OK too, when they are close to a bigger sight.

Lets start with:

Quedlinburg is the Rothenburg o.d.T. of Eastern Germany. It's more than 1.000 years old, completely preserved, a World Heritage Site with more than 1.200 half-timbered houses, a castle and a Romanic church, which is the burial place of Henry the Fowler, first king of Germany.
The first pic shows the Finkenherd", the place where Henry the Fowler allegedly fixed his birding net (in 919) when messengers told him he would be king:
One of the oldest half-timbered houses in Germany, from 1346:
Market square:
And some half-timbered houses:
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 01:44 AM
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Maybe you allow an "advertisment" for my birth town, Hameln or Hamelin in English.

It's a picture-perfect example for the Weser renaissance architecture, plus has an old old town with many half-timber houses.
The river Weser valley is quite popular with Dutch, Scandinavian, and UK tourists, but does not see too many US visitors.

You can leisurely drive the River valley road from Hannoversch Münden (near Kassel) to Rinteln and spend each night in a castle or manor.
It's also part of the Fairy Tale road, so you will see many places that should sound familiar if you are familiar with the Bros. Grimm tales.
Highlights would be Hann. Münden, the Sababurg (castle/hotel), Bad Karlshafen, Fürstenberg (porcelain manufactury), Hämelschenburg, Bad Pyrmont (spa), Hameln (obviously, unless you never heard of the Pied Piper), Rinteln, Bückeburg.
The Weser renaissance road goes on until Bremen, but the sights between Bückeburg and Bremen are a bit less by numbers.

YOu can get a first idea what the area looks like here:

And here:

The closest airport is Hannover/Hanover, which has no direct flights to the US, but you usually get cheap airfares on BA via London or KLM via AMS or Lufthansa via FRA.

If you plan to drive the Fairy Tale road, you can start near Frankfurt and go North, drop car in Hannover and take the train back to FRA or add a few days in Berlin, which is just a 90 min train ride from Hannover.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 03:44 AM
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Thanks for some more places to add to my list of wish fors.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 04:36 AM
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what a wonderful idea for a thread. Hope we get many more responses. Quedlinburg is on my list. Looks terrific.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 04:45 AM
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Wernigerode is a small town close to Quedlinburg, and also known as the "the colourful town in the Harz foothills". Visitors can enjoy a town center full of colorful timber-framed houses, a romantic castle high above the town, the largest narrow gauge railway network in Europe, the highest mountain range in northern Germany... and Hasseröder, a pretty well known beer.

Colorful houses everywhere:
Market square with the beautiful town hall from 1500:
Narrow streets:
The smallest house of Wenigerode:
The castle:
Steam train in the Harz mountains:
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 04:56 AM
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I do not knock Rick; he fills a niche.

My favorites outside his book are Regensburg and Goslar.



We will be in Regensburg in a bit over a week. I am most smitten with its Dom, the Danube water front and the many plazas connected by alleyways. My wife likes the Thurn and Taxis palace.

In Goslar I just enjoyed the lay of the city with its half-timbered houses and a series of ponds. When my daughter was about 1, I remember taking her for a walk through the town very early one morning while my wife got a bit more rest. It was almost a magical morning in a most inviting place. BTW, the webcams in Goslar show snow on their Christmas Market.

Regards, Gary
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 07:33 AM
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I have some favorites around the Taunus Mountain area and also along the Main.

Büdingen is a true gem, a medieval walled city, never been destroyed, and still posseses the charm that Rothenburg has lost.

Kronberg, pretty little town, way up in the Taunus Mountains, great Staufen castle, the Johannes church is beautiful and unusual.

Bad Homburg, Residence of Kaiser Wilhelm 2 and Empress Augusta Victoria with a church next door that will surprise you when you walk in. Gorgeous park, casino, thermal spas, the Saalburg reconstructed Roman fort, Hessen Park - an open air museum for kids and adults. Plenty of hiking, walking the Limes.

Idstein, has some of the most unusual fachwerk houses, a Hexen Turm, and the Union Church.http://en.idstein.de/tourism/

Seligenstadt, home of one of the oldest and largest abbeys, dating from the 800's. http://www.seligenstadt.de/index_2.phtml

Mainz. Rick simply writes it off, so I think he has never been here. If he entered the 1000 year old Dom or St. Stephens, I think he might change his mind.

Frankfurt. Rick really needs to give this city a better look. In fact, I wish all the guidebooks would come give Frankfurt a better look. Most of the gems that are here, seem to have escaped whoever was writing the books or they just had crappy tour guides. If he visited Höchst and the Justinus church, gone into St. Leonhards or the Deutsche Ordens church or even learned any of the Jewish history of Frankfurt, his attitude to the city might change.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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Halberstadt itself, close to Quedlinburg and Wernigerode, isn't noteworthy. Once it was one of the most beautiful towns of the Harz area, but after a carpet bombing in WW2 80% of the old town are gone. Preserved however is the huge cathedral, one of only a few in Germany modeled after churches in northern France, and probably one of the most beautiful Gothic churches in Germany. The interior is completely preserved, and the treasury of the Church is one of the richest in Germany.

General view:
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 09:29 AM
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This thread is great. A question since we are planning a Germany trip next summer - our theme for the trip is beer, so do any of these towns have an interesting local brew and/or neat brewery that can be toured? We have a general itinerary for the trip, but since it is not until August, there is definitely time to switch things around
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 10:39 AM
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Every town has it's local brew. Most locals are pleasantly surprised when tourists ask about the favorite local brew.

Don't expect the Bavarian "Mass" type beer glasses. The most common beer serving is between .2 and .25 liter in stemmed glasses or tall thin glasses.

Germany also has great wines. The dry, or trocken, white wines are worth a try.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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One of Rick Steve's overlooks is Mittenwald even though many Fodorites have sound it and cherish it.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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I have never looked at a Rick Steve's guidebook before but that Table of Contents is truly sad...and a bit of a head-scratcher. No Hamburg????

I am partial to Baden-Wuerttemberg because that's where I lived for 2+ years and as far as I can tell it is excluded from the book except for the Black Forest. I'll just list a few favs:

Tuebingen - beautiful college town with a well-preserved historic district, great outdoor market and shopping

Burg Hohenzollern - awesome perfectly-restored castle south of Tuebingen

Schloss Lichtenstein - another spectacular castle (more of a "hunting lodge") perched on a cliff south of Tuebingen

Kloster Bebenhausen - lovely preserved monastery just outside Tuebingen

Bad Wimpfen - picturesque village overlooking the Neckar Valley

Schwaebisch Hall - mid-sized town with incredible half-timbered houses and a river running through it; great for fine weather strolling

Stuttgart - for anyone who loves cars, the Mercedes and Porsche museums alone are worthy of a visit

And in the north:
Hamburg - a bustling city with great shopping, dining and a fascinating harbor district; the harbor tour is not to be missed!

Luebeck - a fine Hanseatic city with the famous Holstentor and beautifully restored old town

Ruegen - Baltic island off the coast of East Germany, a perfect getaway if you enjoy beaches and hiking - a . It was once a Nazi holiday destination of choice; some of the grand resort towns and hotels have been restored (e.g. Binz).

I could go on and on but I am out of time!
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 02:13 PM
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OK...I'll be coming back to this thread for future trips.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 02:37 PM
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Not to be a spoil sport, but Rick Steves doesn't know 1,000,001 places in Europe, and that's not the half of it.

Does it not occur to anyone going traveling anymore to go .... travel????

If you want tourist sights pre-selected for you, fine. Follow a Fodor's thread instead of a Rick Steves book. But Europe is filled with fascinating places, 99 percent of which never appear on lists anywhere, all of which are in easy reach of good lodgings and restaurants.

Take a chance on yourself sometime. Take a chance on Europe without the interface of a tourist guide.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 03:12 PM
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I've got to add three places in Lower Saxony:

Wolfenbuettel - township of half-timbered houses and home to Schloss Wolfenbuettel and the remarkable Duke August Library. It also has some significant churches (Hauptkirche and Trinitaetskirche). It is partly medieval, partly baroque in its architecture.

Celle - another city of beautifully maintained half-timbered houses and seat of the Guelph princes. Some of the facades are painted. It also has a tower you can climb to get an aerial view of the city. Buildings are 16th-18th C.

Duderstadt - near Goettingen. Small township with a really superb half-timbered town hall, a restored medieval wall around the town and a church with twisted spires, something I've never seen before. The picture in this link is of the town hall:


Oops, that's a really long link. Sorry!

I would also like to submit Weimar, in Thuringia. Weimar was where the writers Goethe and Schiller were active (Goethe is the German Shakespeare), and many locations in the city are now UNESCO world heritage sites. It's also home to the Bauhaus movement in art. When Germany was a republic between the two wars the country's constitution was drafted here (the Weimar Republic). Plus the buildings are pretty, although it's not a Fachwerk city. I really like Thuringia and there are others I'd like to add which are historically significant or very pretty (I like Jena myself) but I'll leave them for someone else.

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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 03:23 PM
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@ November Moon - it used to be the case (and maybe someone in Germany can comment here) that there was a 'cult' beer in the north, Flensburger Pilsner, or 'Flens'. It comes in brown glass bottles with a ceramic flip-top lid. Hopefully you won't have to travel to Flensburg to get one (i.e. the Danish border). But there are heaps of nice beers - Germany has the Reinheitsgebot, special purity laws to ensure that no adulterations are permitted when brewing beer. It makes for less interesting beers than Belgium (no "kriek" or "framboise"), but fab beers anyhow.

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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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We have already visited a number of the places mentioned and several were on my "wish list."

I think the good thing about Rick Steves is he gives some people the confidence to travel when they might not otherwise do so.
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 07:31 PM
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 08:42 PM
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I had never heard of this Rick Steves character until a few days ago. No good, huh?

The only place I spent a good chunk of time in was Leipzig. The zoo there is pretty neat, and their Christmas Market was a lot of fun.

Thanks for mentioning Büdingen, Mainhatten Girl! I'm going to be staying in Rheinland-Pfalz next April and knew there was a walled city closer than Rothenberg!
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Old Nov 26th, 2010, 09:02 PM
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I wish other posters were not so quick to put down Rick Steves. At some point, every traveler was a first timer who needed the kind of information a first timer needs. No one can take it all in on the first trip. At least he gives the first timers the courage to get going. Then they learn as they go. No traveler started out knowing everything. And starting out with the places he suggests (in Germany and in other countries) is not really such a bad start.
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