Drop everything you’re doing right now, and add Germany to the top of your “must travel” list!
To be honest, Germany never came to mind when I thought of where I would want to go if I could go anywhere in the world. However, when I found out a friend was going to be married there at the beginning of fall, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity. Let me just say that it was so much more than I expected!
Since our flights were set to fly into Stuttgart and out of Berlin (the two cities a good 7 hours away from each other) we decided to go ahead and make a road trip out of it. Before we talk about that though, here’s some things I learned along the way that you need to know:
- Exchange your money for Euros before you leave the states. An extra few is charge if you do it once you are there.
- Keep small change with you. I was surprised to find out that you have to pay to use almost any public restroom. Once we tried to use the restroom at a restaurant we had eaten at and we still had to pay (though that is less common)!
- Be aware that local Hostels will often not have an elevator. I found this to not be a problem on our trip. However, if you are carrying heavy equipment or if you have health problems this is something to take into consideration.
- Check what your flight layovers are well in advance of your trip. Two weeks before our trip we noticed that we had a layover in Paris, France on the flight home. We excitedly called the airline to see how much it would cost to push back our flight a few days so we could have a weekend in France. It was 1,500 per person! If we had noticed earlier it could have made a significant difference.
- $1.20 makes 1 Euro. Things may be a little more expensive then you think. Be careful before you buy.
- Ask locals where the best places to eat and visit are. Trip Advisor can only tell you so much. If you happen to get into a conversation with a local, make sure to ask where there favorite place to eat or if there is a hidden gem in the area. You’ll find something more authentic than any travel site can offer!
- Southern Germany is a gem! This is not really a tip to survive your trip to Germany but I felt I had to let you know. Southern Germany is much prettier than any other part of the country I saw while I was there.
Now lets get to the Journey!
First stop: Lindau
Lindau is a little town in Southern Germany set right on Lake Bodensee (or Lake Constance as some call it). Looking out onto the lake you can see the Austrian Alps and a little bit of Switzerland. If you want to go to either you can just hop on a train of ferry and take the short 1 hour trip.
This was personally my favorite place we stayed at during our trip. It was beautiful! Being able to look out of my hotel window and see the mountains reflecting across the lake was breathtaking. The town was a plus as well! It was nice to be able to walk down cobblestone roads and just admire the old buildings and items being sold on the side of the road.
If you love peaceful small towns then I definitely recommend Lindau. It will not disappoint.
While here we stayed at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof with the rest of the wedding party. It sits right on the lake over looking the harbor. The rooms were warm and spacious, and really it was on of the most comfortable hotels I’ve ever stayed it.
During the morning hours they serve a complementary breakfast, complete with a variety of eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal, champagne, and much more! I still dream of the little chocolate croissants they served
Day trip to Switzerland – Rhine Falls
Our second day we decided to head out early to Switzerland. Our destination the beautifully famous Rhine Falls. I almost changed our plans to see this spectacular site when a local said it was “nothing special”. I was extremely glad we didn’t.
It was raining off and on when we got there, only causing my uneasiness in my decision to carry on with my original plans to grow. We walked down the many stairs from the parking lot and were met with the site of 75 feet of rapids, mist rolling up into the air. All 3 in my party stopped and gasped. It was certainly something special.
I loved how the area was kept close to how it was so long ago. It wasn’t crowded over with touristy stores or restaurants, simply two small gift shops, a coffee shop, and a beautiful old building that housed a modest restaurant.
For the adventurous type, they have boats to take you out closer to the falls, where you can climb to the top and just listen to the roar of the water while the wind and mist encircles you.
At one point during the day, however, we saw something that came close to ruining the magic of this place. At the top of the falls, a man dropped his phone into what seemed to be a calm part of the river before the actual rapids begin. We all watched and protested as he stripped down and proceeded to jump into the water. He succeeded in what he intended to do, coming out of the water with his phone in hand, only to be swept away seconds later.
Fortunately, the water happened to push back toward the shore a couple of feet down and he was able to get out of the dangerous section of the water.
So, if you do happen to visit this wonderful site, do not jump into the water. Especially not for a phone.
Off to Bavaria!
The morning after the wedding we started off towards Bavaria to see both Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau Castles. This was one of the most cliché things we did while we were there, and it was so much fun! Being able to see the inside rooms of castles in Europe was amazing and different than anything I’ve ever done on a trip. It was like living history while learning about it.
Tip: For the love of all that is good and holy wear comfy shoes and leave your heavy bags in the hotel room. It’ll be a much longer walk to the castles than you’re expecting.
The drive to Bavaria from Lindau was about an hour and a half, and the country side was beautiful, so it really wasn’t a bad drive at all.
That night we stayed in Fussen at the Central City Hotel, a wonderful, modern hotel that was just minutes away from the castles. Once settled, we walked to a local Italian restaurant named II Pescatore where I ate pizza until I couldn’t eat anymore. At least not until I saw the chocolate soufflé ;).
Austria and Munich
This was the busiest day of our trip. We had originally intended to do both the castles and Austria on the same day, but if you want to see inside of both castles there’s no way there will be enough time in the day to plan anything else.
We drove the short 25 minutes to Reutte, Austria where we were going to walk the Highline 179, a suspension bridge nearly 400 feet off the ground. Which meant another long walk up a hill (we called it a mountain but apparently that was incorrect).
At the top we also found the castle ruins of the Ehrenburg Castle where you can explore through the broken down walls and learn about it’s interesting history.
Around noon we started making our way to Munich, a 2 hour drive. We were really just passing through on our way to Rothenburg od der tauber. In all honesty, I wasn’t too thrilled with Munich, but I’m not one for crowds and big cities.
We finally found a place to park and hurried to the Viktualienmarkt. Viktualienmarkt is a fresh market that sells everything from cheese, fruits, vegetable, chocolates, meets, and so much more! We went from shop to shop gathering various cooked meets, cheeses, chocolate, and wine to make our own little picnic to eat in our hotel room once we go to Rothenburg.
Note: We discovered that it takes much longer to get to Rothenburg from Munich than google maps originally let on, so be prepared for the drive if you decide to do the same as us. Also, make sure you put the correct Rothenburg into your GPS as there are 7 different ones in Germany.
Rothenburg od der Tauber
This place is amazing. That’s all I really feel like I need to tell you, but I’ll share a little more.
The town of Rothenburg is about 700 years old, complete with all the original old buildings with their clay tile roofs and pastel exterior colors. It was like a fairy tale. Surrounding the town is a wall that you can climb and walk all the wall around, admiring the streets and shops from above.
As you walk down the streets you’ll find a variety of little shops that hold much more than the souvenirs you’d find in most shops aimed at visitors in Europe, but if that’s what your looking for than they have that too!
We stayed in the Romantik Hotel Markusturm. This was by far our favorite hotel of the trip. They did a fantastic job of keeping the authentic look to the hotel while making the rooms modern and comfy. If you ever do get the chance to make it to Rothenburg, I definitely recommended staying here!
At 8pm they have a Night Watchman’s tour that meets in front of the Rathouse. You meet a man in a cloak that leads you around the town recounting the history of the town from the viewpoint of a lowly watchman. The best part is that it’s available in English!
Dresden was once known as the Florence of the Elbe until it was badly bombed during World War II. Some buildings remained mostly intact though you can tell where many of the stones have been replaced on it’s exterior.
One interesting thing about these buildings is that there is black all over the old stones that have never been cleaned. Whether this is from age of an affect from the bombings it still gives the buildings a haunting effect.
This is a wonderful spot to visit if you enjoy looking at beautiful architecture!
We stayed at a local B&B called the Therese Malten Villa. There was a bit of a mix up and we ended up getting the very last room in the house, which happened to have the beds on a loft. This could have become an inconvenience since we had to climb up and down the small ladder at the edge of the loft whenever we forgot something in our suitcases, but we actually found it all very funny.
In the morning the owners serve breakfast family style and everyone in the hotel sits at a long table all together. Even though most of us spoke different languages, I found it very enjoyable.
Check out the green vault while you’re here. Many of the treasures were lost in the war but it is still a gorgeous museum.
By the time we go to Berlin we were exhausted and had planned to stay in for the night. Then we found out it was the festival of lights while we were there, so we went out anyway. The festival of lights is very cool, but also quite crowded so you need to pick your poison in this case.
On our last day we took a River City Tour. You can find these all around the city, but be sure to talk with your hotel concierge for the best one.
Afterward we visited Pergamon Museum. There are so many interesting things to do in Berlin so it’s really up to you what you’re going to do while there. Just make sure to have fun!
Thanks so much for joining in on my adventure! I hope I gave you some useful advise for your next trip to Germany. Make sure to leave a comment and stick around for more!