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Bavaria to Bratislava and Back in three weeks

Bavaria to Bratislava and Back in three weeks

Old Nov 26th, 2018, 07:40 PM
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Great trip report, Isabel. My style of travel is a bit slower that yours but I love the detail you include and your photos are wonderful! I like that you visit places others have skipped over and am very eager to read more.

Re. Hallstatt, we were there for several nights but used it as a base for day trips. Our balcony faced the lake and it was magical... additionally we never heard the church bell that rang every morning at 6 am. My sister was not so fortunate but every morning when she looked out at the town square (at 6:00) there was a different bride posing in a long dress in front of the water fountain. It's quite the destination, apparently, for tourists who want to see "the real thing" and full of selfie stick wielding tourists, but lovely beyond words at night.
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Old Nov 26th, 2018, 11:18 PM
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In case you're interested; DH and I are into WWII and Cold War history for different reasons, so there is much collective trivia between us. The tall buildings over in Petrzalka are known as panelaks, which loosely translates to "pre-fab housing" in Czech and Slovak. Once upon a time the area was a garden-filled outpost of "Pressburg" in the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary. Annexed by Nazi Germany as part of the First Slovak Republic, and then for about a year was a labor camp for Hungarian Jews. After WWII it became an internment camp for Hungarians. Thirty years later authorities decided to construct panelaks, the concrete housing blocks.

Many of the neighborhoods have been renovated insofar as much as possible, though having gotten lost in one of those mazes (bad, bad, GPS) I can duly report that not all of the complexes have been refurbished. It's possible to tour some of the interiors (we've taken the Communist tour), something I'm surprised I have not yet done.

We like the riverside promenade, too. Especially on Sundays, when Austria is closed and the area is lively with shoppers and outside lunch tables filled with diners.
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Old Nov 27th, 2018, 03:23 PM
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Days 11 & 12 - Back to Austria and the Wachu Valley



Bratislava Train Station is a real dump. As far as European train stations go, on scale of 1-10 it’s a 2, Communist era ugly building, no place to sit, crappy coffee shops, kebab places and tiny newsstands. Trains from Bratislava to Vienna are hourly and take about an hour. We then continued on to Melk (via St Polten) – so in total it was three separate trains, but easy enough – although each one was a few minutes late and connections were tight. But everything worked. We decided to base in Melk for two nights and do the Danube river cruise to Krems on our one full day which worked out great. We had time to tour the Melk Abbey the day we arrived, and spent most of the following day on the cruise and exploring Krems and then taking the bus to Durnstein for a few hours, and another bus back to Melk.



The Wachau is the 30-kilometer stretch of the Danube Valley between Melk and Krems, supposedly one of the most beautiful river landscapes in the world, where the river cuts a narrow, rocky valley and is noted for its many ancient little towns nestling below historic old castles and castle ruins. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as a protected cultural landscape. It is very pretty and the towns of Melk, Krems and Durnstein picturesque, but we both felt we actually liked the Rhine River Valley better.
Melk (population 5000) is a cute little town, and the giant abbey on the hill over it dominates. Really only one main street but it has some really nice buildings, and the Abbey is gorgeous. The Rathauskeller Hotel is right in the middle of the main street, in one of the oldest buildings in town, great location, 10 minute walk from the train station. There are 11 rooms over a restaurant, one of the main ones in town. Dinner at the restaurant was one of the best meals of the trip.

The Benedictine Melk Abbey is gigantic and very pretty in shades of light yellow and apricot sitting up on a hill overlooking the town and the river. The ‘museum’ part was pretty boring religious stuff, but the actual church was amazing – considered the finest Baroque church north of the Alps. The view from the terrace was also lovey, the Baroque spiral staircase gorgeous and the library amazing. The Baroque Pavilion was built in the 18th century in the Abbey park, and it is filled with historical frescoes which show the then known continents and their inhabitants as well as their flora and fauna as imagined by the painter Johann Bergl. €11 per person.

Danube River Cruise. Beautiful day, mostly sunny and warm but not hot. The trip between Melk and Krems (the most scenic stretch) takes 90 minutes going downstream and 3 hours back up so we opted for the quicker trip so we’d have more time to explore the towns and I’m glad we did. It’s pretty scenic but 90 minutes was plenty. There are about 3-4 cruises a day in each direction. We didn’t pre-book, got to the ticket office about an hour before the sailing and easily got tickets and then seats on the upper deck.

The Danube is almost blue when the sun is out – not ocean blue certainly. But the scenery is of course lovely, hills, many covered with vineyards, cute little villages and a few castle ruins. Nowhere near the castles of the Rhine though. Much less ‘traffic’ on the river too. Mostly the river cruise boats (Like Viking River Long Boats but many different companies).
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Old Nov 28th, 2018, 02:49 AM
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In Krems (population is only 24,000 but it’s still the 5th largest city in Austria, doesn’t feel like a ‘city’) we first walked in the opposite direction from the main part of town to Stein, which used to be a separate town but now blends in with the rest of Krems and I think was the prettiest part of the city. The main gate into Krems itself, Steiner Tor, is a ‘wow’ and the Alstadt past it, was nice enough, pretty lively, full of shops and people. We stopped for ice cream just inside the gate and got largest bowl of ice cream for €2.50 I’ve ever seen. I'd read about how 'far' it was from where the boat docks to the train station but even walking in the opposite direction a bit and then through the center of the town it was still a very doable walk in an hour or two (stopping for lots of photos and the ice cream). So some guide books suggest not getting off the boat in Krems but unless you have mobility problems it's really not an issue.

The bus station is right next to the Train Station. There are signs for the various buses, and schedules but no ticket office or kiosk. But the bus came right on time and we were able to buy the tickets from the driver. We got tickets only as far as Durnstein (€2.30 each).

Durnstein (population 870) is adorable – set on the river, amidst vineyards on both sides and behind the town, and high up on the hill an old castle ruin where Richard-the-Lion-Hearted was kidnapped and held for ransom when returning from or going to some Crusade. Old town walls on both sides of the village. Durnstein Abbey is the most striking church in the area, a beautiful large blue baroque church right on the river. The town is really only one main street, but lined with beautiful old houses. It was packed with people when we got there (3:30) but most of them disappeared within an hour (I think boats heading in both directions picked up a lot of them). There were lots of bikers and of course independent travelers who came in cars (parking lots on the outskirts) but I didn’t see any tour buses.

Day 13 - From Melk to Nurnberg via PASSAU



The trip from Melk to our next stop, Nurnberg was the longest, over five hours and when I discovered that it was actually considerably cheaper to book a train from Melk to Passau, and another 4 hours later on to Nurnberg I decided it would make a nice stopover. This was my fist experience with ‘left luggage’ and it went great. There were lockers, in several sizes, one medium one fit both bags, €4 (for up to 24 hours). Not all stations have left luggage lockers, some have no option at all, others have a ‘room’. Left luggage in Bratislava was a room with a desk and no guy at it when we passed. Much more sketchy. But with the lockers you didn’t have to worry about schedules or guys taking breaks or anything.

Passau made a great 4 hour stopover. Had plenty of time to explore the old town, climb up to the castle, have a lunch at the Rathaus beer garden. Passau’s main feature is it’s setting at the confluence of the Danube and the Inn Rivers- it comes to a sharp point where the two rivers meet. On one side is a fortress/castle, the other an abbey. The alstadt is about a 15-minute pleasant walk on mostly pedestrian shopping streets from the train station. The Dom is huge and very pretty both inside and out. There’s a nice square behind it with cafes and a fountain. The rathaus is a gorgeous medieval building, right on the river across from the fortress, great huge clock tower. There are a few other churches, some medieval winding lanes, a promenade all along both sides of the peninsula along both the Danube and the Inn. Onthe Danube were multiple riverboat cruise ships. I think Passau probably saw a ten-fold increase in tourists once those cruises caught on, the place was crawling with silver haired tourists.

Last edited by isabel; Nov 28th, 2018 at 02:53 AM.
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Old Nov 28th, 2018, 05:06 AM
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Originally Posted by isabel View Post
In Krems[FONT=&quot] (population is only 24,000 but it’s still the 5th largest city in Austria, doesn’t feel like a ‘city’)
Erm no, that's not even close https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...wns_in_Austria
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Old Nov 28th, 2018, 07:38 AM
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OK I googled it and it's only the 5th largest city in LOWER Austria. Must have missed that the first time. Or the site I got the info from omitted that little fact. Guess you can't trust anything you read on the internet
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Old Nov 28th, 2018, 01:41 PM
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Still enjoying your travel descriptions! With your gorgeous photos and excellent writing, you should start your own travel guidebooks!
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Old Nov 28th, 2018, 03:40 PM
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Yes, I also like your descriptive style and impressions.
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Old Nov 29th, 2018, 02:47 AM
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Thanks guys, that's nice to hear that people get something out of my trip reports. I know trip reports are the first place I go when starting to plan a trip.


Days 14-16


We decided to base in NURNBERG for three nights as we had several one and two nights stays so far and though it might be more relaxing to have three nights in one place, and Nurnberg is centrally located between Bamberg and Regensberg. We wanted to see Nurnberg itself of course, but were surprised when it turned out to be our favorite of the three cities.

Hotel BB Nurnberg City is modern, 6 stories, 10 min walk from train station on main road, right next to opera house. Very clean and even a bit of a view of the church steeples. The Nurnberg train station is a classic northern European old style train station and is right across the street from the city walls and one of the main towers. Plus it had a great selection of decent food. Best train station food court I think I’ve ever seen (well kind of like NY Grand Central’s). There is a fresh seafood restaurant (Nordsee, a chain); Japanese; ‘Dean & David’ which is fresh pressed juices, salads, wraps; Der Beck (German chain bakery with croissants, sandwiches, etc.; a pretzel sandwich place; decent looking pizza; and of course a place selling bratwurst, etc.

The first evening we were able to walk across the old town to the castle and back, across the river on some really pretty bridges, through nice squares and neighborhoods. Took about 1½ hours at a leisurely pace. We also had a couple of other mornings and two more evenings and felt we had a good amount of time to explore the city. We didn’t get to the WWII sites, which are a bit out of the center, but for us those were not a priority. We did have time to tour the castle and the Albrecht Durer House Museum.

During the 15th and 16th centuries, Nürnberg enjoyed a cultural flowering that made it the center of the German Renaissance, a northern Florence. So enamored was Adolf Hitler with the Nürnberg’s huge swaths of half-timbered houses, steeped and gabled rooftops, and cobbled lanes and squares that he chose to stage his massive Nazi rallies in what he considered to be the most German of German cities. As the ideological center of the Third Reich, the city was a choice target for Allied bombers and much of the city was seriously damaged. Much was destroyed and therefore today there are quite a lot of fairly ugly mid 20th century buildings. But a lot has been restored and the city is really very pretty. The Pegnitz River runs through the center and there are numerous lovely bridges.
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Old Nov 29th, 2018, 03:14 AM
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I think my favorite thing about Nurnberg was the river and the many interesting bridges. Kettensteg is a 'chain' bridge and is right up against the city walls and one of the best preserved towers. Henkersteg is a wooden covered bridge that connects with an island which in turn is connected to the other side by an old stone bridge (with buildings on it). Right in the center of town (between the two main squares, Lorenzerplatz and Hauptmarakt) is a bridge that looks over one of the most historic buildings in the city, Heilig-Geist Spital from 1332. That is reflected beautifully in the water.


There were also many interesting squares. The biggest, Lorenzerplatz, home to the 14th century Gothic cathedral is also home to another of the most beautifully preserved old houses, Nassauer House, a good example of a medieval upper class house. Just a few steps away is the Hauptmarakt where produce and flower markets are held and also home to the Frauenkirche, 1352, the other major church. On one corner of that square is the Schoner Brunnen, a huge intricately carved fountain. And that in turn is only steps away from the third major church, St Sebaldlus, also 14th century.


My favorite square was one between the Albrecth Durer House and the castle. The Albrecth Durer House itself, and several other buildings on the square are red and white half timbered buildings and one of the best towers and stretch of city wall are there. In the evening it's jammed with people sitting on the pavement (literally, I'm not talking about in chairs) and drinking beer. Very festive. In the morning it's peaceful and beautiful. The Albrecth Durer House is one of the oldest buildings in the city and can be toured. In addition to furnishings there are several of his works of art.


The castle (Kaiserburg) is also pretty good for a city castle. It's got a lovely garden behind it, a huge tower that can be climbed, and a 'deep well' (that you need to do with a guide, all the rest you can do on your own). The guide pours a pitcher of water down the well and it takes what seems like forever but is probably only 20 or 30 seconds for the water to hit the water at the bottom of the well. In the middle of the main building of the castle is a nice two story stone Romanesque chapel.


I was surprised at the amount and condition of the city walls. There are towers scattered throughout and it goes around about two thirds of the old center. But the best of all, in my opinion, is Weissgerber-grasse (Tanner's Lane), a couple block long ensemble of old artisan houses, mostly half timbered, in various colors. Looks like a painting.
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Old Nov 29th, 2018, 06:28 AM
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Great report.
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Old Nov 29th, 2018, 03:19 PM
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Thanks


One of our 3 days in Nurnberg we did a day trip to BAMBERG


At a kiosk at the train station we got a VGN card for €19.70 which was considerably less than the Bayern card which is €31. Both are for two people, round trip, all day. We got the 9:38 to Bamberg.


Bamberg is worth visiting for two reasons. One, it is a UNESCO town in it’s entirety with narrow cobblestone streets of ornate mansions, palaces, and churches, with styles ranging from Romanesque to Gothic, Renaissance to baroque, to the eclecticism of the 19th century. And two: it’s famous smoked beer. Bamberg has been called “a beer drinker’s Eden” (there are more breweries there than in Munich). The beverage of choice in Bamberg is Rauchbier, a smoked beer first brewed in 1536. My husband is a home brewer and self proclaimed beer snob and spent the whole trip trying different beers and this was his favorite.


It’s a 30-minute walk from the train station to the Gruner Markt which is a long, pedestrianized square/street filled with market stalls of enticing looking fruits and vegetables. Just past that is the highlight of Bamberg, The Altes Rathaus, a gorgeous Gothic structure on its own little island in the Regnitz River. One part is half-timbered, the other covered on both sides with amazing frescoes. Right below it is ‘Little Venice’, a district of old fisherman houses along the river.

From the Altes Rathaus we headed to the Dom, passing The Schlenkerla Brewery, over 600 years old and its tavern is the only place in town serving the smoked beer from the barrels. Around the corner from the oldest brewery in town is the oldest pharmacy, the Hof Apotheke, in business since 1453.

The Dom (St Peter’s and St George Imperial Cathedral, 11th century) shares it’s square (Domplatz) with the Alte Hofhaltung, a Renaissance palace with a courtyard surrounded with late Gothic half-timbered buildings. Across the square is the Neue Residenz, 1602 with a huge statue and fountain filled rose garden which supposedly has 4500 roses. Unfortunately all of these had a good deal of scaffoldings around.

But one of the places we were most interested in visiting , Michaelsburg Abbey, a 15 minute walk up hill from Domplatz, was completely (and I mean completely) covered with scaffolding. And the Brewery Museum in it was closed. Bummer. However, this was all at least somewhat compensated for by the excellent lunch we had up there at the terrace restaurant, one of the two best meals we had on the trip, and of course they had the Bamberg smoked beer. The Michaelsburg torte we had for dessert wasn’t bad either. And there was a lovely view of the town below.
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Old Nov 29th, 2018, 11:22 PM
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My son called that smoked beer "bacon beer" ....he loved it, I hated it.

Bamberg is a pretty town, isn't it.

I visited my cousin in Nürnberg in September - we always stay in her apartment in Petzoltstrasse, it's changed a lot over the years, becoming more 'hip' (used to be described as a bit dodgy). Really enjoying your photos and seeing it through your eyes.
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Old Nov 30th, 2018, 03:47 AM
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Adelaidean - agree on that beer. But at least my husband found one he was impressed by. One of the reasons we picked Bavaria for this trip was his interest in beer. We've been to Germany before but only briefly to Bavaria so he was excited to sample a lot of regional Bavarian beer but turns out I think he prefers British beer to Bavarian. But the Bamberg one he did find interesting.


REGENSBERG Day Trip We started the day with breakfast at the train station. Although Nurnberg Train station has several excellent places to get coffee, we just had to try the Dunkin Donuts. While Starbucks has been a common site in much of Europe for the past decade, I had no idea anyone in Europe had ever even heard of Dunkin Donuts but Nurnberg has at least two. The coffee was just like the Dunkin Donuts at home. Couldn’t bring myself to have donuts when there were all those croissants steps away though. Then we bought a Bayern ticket for €31 and got the 9:34 to Regensburg (1 hour).Regensberg train station is only about a 15-minute walk to the center. Although Regensberg is another UNESCO city, I was not as impressed with it as I thought I would be (this does not mean I didn’t think it was a beautiful city worth visiting, just that it didn’t live up to my very high expectations of it). There was even more construction than in the other cities (and they all have some) as well as lots of trash bags piled up awaiting pick up. There seemed to be a lot of vehicles, especially vans and trucks.

Regensberg is located on the Danube River and contains many medieval buildings of exceptional quality. It has ancient Roman, Romanesque and Gothic buildings including patrician houses and towers, and a large number of churches as well as a 12th century Old Bridge. Regensburg is one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities and the only one to remain completely unscathed by World War II bombings. Strategically poised on the northernmost reaches of the Danube River, Regensburg was a Celtic settlement, then a Roman outpost, and the center from which, beginning in the 7th century, Christianity spread throughout Germany and into central Europe via the Danube. Regensburg was also a major hub for trade, and by the 12th century the town was pouring its wealth into churches, towers, and some genuinely lovely houses and public buildings. Two of Regensburg’s more famous contemporary residents have been Oskar Schindler and Pope Benedict. With all that history and having seen photos of gorgeous buildings and lots of towers I was psyched to see it.


When we first got there it was quite sunny, lots of blue sky. There are some lovely old buildings but there was some modern stuff interspersed as well. The Dom looked a lot like the one in Nurnberg. Steinerne Brucke is the stone bridge over the Danube, 1135, with 16 arches, beautiful bridge, unfortunately it was half in scaffolding. It was the only stone bridge crossing the Danube from Vienna to Ulm for over 800 years. The clock tower/arched entry to the bridge is gorgeous and there are nice views from it, especially of the Salzstadel (Salt Warehouse) right next to it, built in 1620, an interesting building that was important in the active salt trade in the region. The best views of both of these are from the next bridge down river. There are several boats docked between them including a museum boat, and boats leaving for day cruises.

The Porta Petoria from the 1st C AD. is just a small corner of a building really, but a well preserved Roman ruin nonetheless. The main square, the Haidiplatz is really pretty, lined with beautiful buildings. The Altes Rathaus in Rathaus Platz (houses the TI office) adjoining Haidiplatz is one of the prettiest buildings in the city. There are numerous towers scattered about the alstadt (old town). There were a few other squares but none terribly inviting. We had read about the view from the top floor restaurant of the department store in one of the squares so we checked that out but the view was not great. The Alter Kornmarkt sounded like it would be a pretty square but was essentially a parking lot. However, it is the site of the Alte Kapelle, a rather boring church from the outside but a definite “WOW” inside – very beautiful baroque. One of the more unusual sites is the Goliath House, built about 1260, the largest mansion in Regensburg but the best part is the 1573 painting of the flight between David and Goliath covering two stories of the outside of the building. We were just starting to check out some of the lesser sites when it got cloudy quickly and then there was a sudden massive thunderstorm – now that was impressive. Fortunately we found an enclosed alley and waited it out for about 15 minutes. Then it slowed to drizzle but by that time I was not interested in any more exploring – combo of weather and just the town itself.

Last edited by isabel; Nov 30th, 2018 at 03:51 AM.
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Old Nov 30th, 2018, 08:58 AM
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Nice trip report and photos as usual. Your style of moving about is much like ours. You have given us some new places to add to the list. We spent one night in Bratislava, and it was just enough. We were right smack in the middle of the old town, noisy and, after hearing drunks all night singing “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Heavens Door”, I was surprised we went to see Bob Dylan last year. We are glad we made the stop, and the one t-shirt we remember for sale, was an exaggeration: “Been there, done nothing.”

We have been to Lake Hallstatt twice, once in an October sleet, and we still took some of our best photos ever. And this past September on a perfect day. The cable car up the Dachstein Mountain, the "World Heritage Skywalk" and the panoramic views from up there made the trip to the salt mine memorable. It was not as crowded as the little village, and the salt mine experience was top notch, from the suits we all put on to the giant slides we went down to the little train that brought us out.
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Old Nov 30th, 2018, 10:01 PM
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"Although Regensberg is another UNESCO city, I was not as impressed with it as I thought I would be (this does not mean I didn’t think it was a beautiful city worth visiting, just that it didn’t live up to my very high expectations of it)."

That was our impression, as well. A perfectly agreeable city, but like so many UNESCO designees it just didn't live up to expectations.

Still enjoying your report...
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Old Dec 2nd, 2018, 05:15 AM
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Day 17 - We spent the morning doing the few things in Nurnberg we hadn’t yet done (touring the castle and the Albrecht Druer House) and then took the 12:30 train to Rothenburg ob der Tauber ((VGN ticket). The whole trip was only about 1½ hour but required two changes, one 4 minute and one 5 minute but we made both easily, both trains were on time. We wanted a late afternoon and a morning in Rothenburg to try and avoid the crowds so booked just one night and this plan worked well. An afternoon/evening and a morning were just about right. Hotel Zum Breiterle is just inside the walls, a ten-minute walk from the train station. The hotel is a nice old picturesque house, inside not exactly modern, but clean and comfortable.



ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER– “Red fortress on the Tauber river” is every bit as gorgeous as everyone says it is. Surrounded by massive stone walls (most of which you can walk) with 42 towers and several gates and full of cobbled streets lined with gorgeous buildings and flower filled window boxes, a beautiful main square with amazing buildings, and a picture postcard perfect intersection of two streets with a gate and fountain. The walls were great fun, most of it free and the bastion at the south end of town also incredible and free. So Rick Steves is right, Rothenburg is the quintessential German medieval town. Looks like a movie set except for all the cars everywhere. Reminded me a bit of Brugge only with walls instead of canals. Rothenburg, like Brugge, was poor in the 17th and 18th centuries when richer towns were tearing down the old stuff and building Baroque and later, so it remains very medieval.

But I was really surprised they don’t restrict at least the parking of cars, I can see why they need to allow residents to drive in and deliveries need to be made, but parking could be banned. The tour groups all over the place from when we got out and sightseeing (around 3) till about 6 were a drag but I expected that, that’s why we spent the night. But the cars I didn’t expect. By 7 pm we almost had the town to ourselves.

The next morning we were out exploring by 8:30 and the streets were almost deserted and stayed that way till around 10. So really a great idea to overnight in Rothenburg. We had almost 24 hours and that was perfect. We climbed two sections of walls and walked most of the circuit, some of it twice. We climbed to the top of the city hall tower – great views. And the climb was very interesting. First is a hundred or so stone spiral steps – very wide and easy. Then a series of wooden steps, getting more narrow and steeper as you go for another hundred or so steps. The final couple of ‘flights’ are essentially ladder. The last bit certainly is and with the (very small) backpacks on we barely squeezed up – no one with any mobility issue or at all ‘overweight’ could possibly get up it. The very last part you climb, not walk. But it was fun. Interesting that the ticket desk (€2.50 each) is at the top. Due to the small space up there only 20 people at a time are allowed. About half way up is a turnstile with a light – if green it lets you go, if red you have to wait till some people come back down.

We also checked out St Jacobs-kirche (which is on one of the northern routes to the Camino de Santiago, where we spent our trip last summer) and sure enough, there is a bronze statue of St James with the scallop shell in his hand right outside – and the bronze scallop shell markers on the ground point the way to Santiago.

The main market square is straight out of a fairy tale book, as is the Ploniein ("little square" 1385) which is the most photographed place in town (and is on every website, guidebook, etc.). The two best towers were the Roder Gate/Tower and the Markus Tower but they were all gorgeous.
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Old Dec 4th, 2018, 05:56 AM
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Day 18 HEIDELBERG

Though the focus of the trip was Bavaria, and Heidelberg is not in Bavaria, but we needed to be close to Frankfurt airport for the flight out and I had read Heidelberg was just as quick to get to the airport as Frankfurt itself and sounded way more interesting. We didn’t arrive until late afternoon so really had just one full day. And in order to be close to the train station for the departure morning we stayed there rather than in the center. Turned out to be a bit more than a half hour boring (but otherwise perfectly acceptable) walk. The first evening we did walk to the center, the last part of the walk is along the pedestrian shopping street, Haupstrasse which is filled with shops, many of them popular European and international chains. There are some nice buildings and the university is along there.

Having walked the Haupstrass the previous evening, we decided to walk to the center along the river, cool and shady. The Alte Brucke (old bridge), 1786, is a lovely multi arched sandstone bridge with a twin towered medieval bridge gate on the old town side (covered with scaffolding). The view of this bridge, with the castle on the hill behind it is the best thing about Heidelberg.

Marktplatz (The main square) was setting up for an antique car rally so the atmosphere was not terribly pleasant. Oh well. It does have the most impressive church in the city, Heliggeist-kirche as well as the Rathaus. The adjoining square is the Kornmarkat which was a grain market in the middle ages, nice fountain in the center. The entrance to the funicular is just off this square.

We took the funicular up to Heidelberg Scholss. It’s 7€ each for the funicular plus the castle grounds, the old apothecary and the giant casks. If you want to go inside the castle buildings you have to buy a separate ticket for a guided tour. We took the funicular to the station above the castle station and walked down, easy 15 minutes, hoping for great views, but the view of the castle from the grounds themselves (Schlossgarten) is much better. There are quite a lot of grounds outside the castle (with panoramic views of the town, the old bridge and the river) and then the courtyard is quite large.

Perched on a hill overlooking the city, the ruins of Heidelberg Castle is the result of many centuries of building and destruction caused by war, fire and pillaging. The earliest fortifications were in the 13th century; most of the present structures date to the Renaissance. While much of the castle remains in a state of artful decay, some areas have been renovated to its Gothic glory. Even in ruin one of the great Renaissance landmarks of northern Europe suggests beauty, grandeur, and long vanquished empires—in this case a division of the Holy Roman Empire, whose prince electors lived here from the 13th century. Very interesting contrast with some of the castle is in great shape – with lots of intricate carvings on the exterior walls, etc., yet the rest of it is a ruin.

The Great Cask, aka the Heidelberg Turn, a symbol of the exuberant life the prince electors enjoyed, was built in 1751 to store more than 208,000 liters (55,000 gal.) of wine (the largest in the world). There are three, besides the Great Cask. The biggest cask is in a room by itself with a beautiful wood spiral staircase going to the top of it. The others are in a large hall like space that is also a wine tasting bar and a food/beer/beverage bar. We got white sausage with sweet dark mustard, beer and ice tea. Same meal that was our first of the trip in Munich.

The Chemist’s Tower houses the Apothekenmuseum (Pharmaceutical Museum) and the old chambers spotlight the importance of German pharmaceutical research (much of it conducted at Heidelburg University) with utensils, laboratory equipment, and re-created chemist’s shops from the 18th and 19th centuries. The apothecary museum is extensive and one of the best I’ve seen (probably second only to Krakow). Many rooms, lots of apothecary chests (room size) and jars and jugs and miscellaneous other materials used in pharmacy. Lots of explanations on the history of pharmacy, all in both English and German. Nice little crocodile hanging from the ceiling.

Although the funicular back down to town is included with the ticket we had we choose to walk. It’s only 220 steps (and they had painted numbers on them).

On the other side of the bridge from the alstadt is the “Philosophers walk” (Philosophenweg )– up a pretty steep hill, then along the river, through vineyards and woods. Fabulous views back to the old town with the castle above it and the old bridge over the river. The town is definitely better from a distance – but from a distance it is a stunner.

Last edited by isabel; Dec 4th, 2018 at 05:59 AM.
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Old Dec 4th, 2018, 06:37 AM
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Thanks for writing such a wonderful, detailed report. I've visited many of the same places but your TR makes me want to go back. Fabulous photos!
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Old Dec 5th, 2018, 08:34 AM
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Thank you trophywife007

So for my husband that was the end of the trip - he flew back home from Frankfurt.

I was going on to Greece for a few weeks. When we started planning late the previous fall/early winter, I had found a flight from Frankfurt to Santorini which fit perfectly. I booked the transatlantic flights then but figured I could wait on the Ryan Air flight to Greece. Big mistake. By mid winter (still 6 months before the date I wanted to fly) it was sold out. I ended up not only having to pay twice as much, but take a flight from Munich which meant I had a three and a half hour train ride back to Munich. Turned out to be the worst train trip of them all. One very tight connection, packed trains, late trains. I did make it but I learned my lesson. Book all your flights as soon as you know your dates, and hopefully know them seven or eight months ahead.

Here's the link to the report for the rest of my trip Greek Island Trip Report: Santorini, Folegandros, Milos and Sifnos in July
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