To be honest, we didn’t know what to expect when we got to Germany. We half-expected the people to be brusque (after all, their language sounds so harsh!) and, per their reputation, incredibly efficient. As it turns out, our first expectation was entirely wrong, but the second was spot-on. Far from being brusque, we found the people we encountered to be incredibly warm, particularly in the small towns. (In just one example, a woman in Kreisstadt whom we had stopped to ask for directions tracked us down later to make sure that we knew where we were going and that we understood the particularities of that day’s Kreisstadt Festival.) Signs of German efficiency, however, were everywhere, from the road signs that were so helpful that we could almost drive without a map to the amazing Documentation Center in Nuremburg; never before–not even in the U.S.–had we seen such a well-organized museum.
And although we’re getting a little bit redundant with our constant pronouncements that the cities we saw on our Belgium/Netherlands/Luxembourg/Germany jaunt were “quaint,” that’s exactly what the small German towns were. With their cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, their wishing wells and bridges, their shops selling cheese and soft pretzels, they were the stuff of postcards, and we’re so glad that we had a chance to see them.
Blog Entries We Wrote
To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.
Pictures We Took
To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.
Cities/Areas We Visited
- Rhine River Valley (July 3, 2008)
- Heidelberg (July 3-4, 2008)
- Nuremberg (July 4, 2008)
- Regensburg (July 4-6, 2008)
- Kreisstadt (July 5, 2008)
- Eichstatt (July 5, 2008)
Places We Stayed
- Hotel Schonberger Hof in Heidelberg (July 3-4, 2008): This place was such a great find; we came here per the recommendation of someone at another hotel after finding out that that place was already full for the night. Our room was tiny, but it was clean and super close to just about everywhere (and right off of the main pedestrian street). At about $105 after a little negotiating, this place was about $100 cheaper than every other option we found in the area.
- Ibis Regensburg City (July 4-6, 2008): This chain hotel feels like just that (and, actually, a lot like a dorm room), but we loved it for its cleanliness and predictability, its internet access, its parking and its friendly staff. It was about a 10-minute walk from the center of lovely Regensburg.
Places We Ate
- Zur Krone Restaurant (St. Goar): This seemed to us to be the quintessential small-town German restaurant. It was sort of dark and cavernous, and the menu had not a speck of English (always a good sign). Derek’s sausage and fries were pretty good, and Shanna loved her potato pancakes with applesauce. And, of course, the beer was delicious. (The Reisling, on the other hand, was nothing to write home about, despite the fact that it comes from this area!)
- Crepes Stand (Heidelberg): We came here after a tour of the local student bars and found it to be just what we were craving, in that it quickly provided us with some delicious crepes but didn’t cost us too many of our precious Euro.
- Viva Mexico (Heidelberg): We made a late-night stop here in an attempt to satisfy Shanna’s eternal Tex-Mex craving. Derek’s gyro was decent, and Shanna’s burrito was good enough to satiate her, at least for a little while. Perhaps because it was right on the touristy pedestrian street, though, it was really expensive.
- Agvino Spaghetteria (Regensburg): This centrally located-but-kind-of-hard-to-find place is in an old church, which gives it a really cool ambiance; some of the church’s murals are even still visible. The pasta we got here was hot, tasty and fairly cheap.
- Tagblatt (Kreisstadt): The spaetzle we had at this place during the annual Kreisstadt Festival was so good that it forever redefined our perception of the noodle-y stuff. Derek’s wiener schnitzel came with an amazing mushroom cream sauce. We’re still debating whether Shanna’s breaded meat was chicken (Shanna) or pork (Derek), but whatever it was, it was pretty tasty, too.
- Kreisstadt Festival food stand (Kreistadt): We ordered up two kinds of bratwurst, as well as sauerkraut and german potato salad, and then devoured it at a picnic table alongside hordes of other festival-goers. Both the food and the atmosphere were fantastic.
Things We Did
Drove along the Rhine River, visiting several small towns, including the lovely St. Goar
Toured the Heidelberg Schloss (Castle) and enjoyed its views over Heidelberg
Walked the quaint streets of Heidelberg
Visited the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelande, an incredibly well presented, informative museum about the Nazi Party and Hitler that stands on the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Visited the Weltenburg Monastery on the Danube River, home to the oldest monastic brewery in the world
Walked around the old town of Regensburg, with its lively cafes, imposing cathedral, David and Goliath mural and Oskar Schindler’s house
Hiked on a sometimes-hard-to-find trail (to get to it, we had to trespass through a farmer’s field; luckily, he didn’t seem to mind) in the Altmuhltal National Park, high above the city of Eichstatt
Attended the Eichstatt Alstadfest, a small German festival where we inexplicably witnessed bored-looking high school students from Edmond, Oklahoma performing a low-key version of the Macarena
Attended the Kreisstadtfest in Kreisstadt, where Derek got crushed in chess by a teenager
- Capital City: Berlin
- Currency: Euro
- Exchange Rate: 0.63 Euro to $1 ($1.58 to 1 Euro)