OK, we are in Munich and a lot has happened this last week. We went to the Hofbrauhaus tonight for supper and only had 2 beer…really! However that equates to at least 6 beer at home…see the pictures at the end of this report to see what I mean!!
Let’s start at Bamberg which is one of my favourite German cities. A beautifully preserved medieval town, Bamberg is easily walk-able and has many sights that take your breath away. Our hotel is perfectly situated just down the hill from the Cathederal (Dom). So naturally that’s where we start our self guided tour.
The first cathedral was consecrated in 1012 and the current building was finished in 1237. The famous Bamberg Horseman was dated to around 1230 (see picture below). Another picture is of the tomb of the imperial couple (Heinrich II and Kunigunde) was from 1513.
From there, onward to the Old Court which was the former imperial and bishop’s palace and once directly connected to the Dom. The inner courtyard is surrounded by half-timbered buildings and was the sight of scenes from one of the Three Musketeers’ movies.
Our walk took us through the old monastery and along “little Venice” as the river flows high right up to many of the old buildings. However, perhaps the most well known spot in all of Bamberg is the old town city hall or “Rathaus”. A bridge has led over the river at this point from as early as the 11th century . The old town hall was built in the middle of the 14th century.
Here we met my cousin Simon who toured around some other sites and specifically landed in what he termed the 2nd best Biergarten in Bamberg…second only to another which was unfortunately closed for the day. We ended the day in a great restaurant featuring Franconian food (loved the schnitzel) and of course some of the beer that Bamberg is world famous for!
May 5th – Karen’s Birthday!! An early morning breakfast and off we go to Rothenburg ab der Tauber! A world famous site of a beautiful medieval walled town, it truly represents what life was like back in those days. It is a walled city, so much of our time is spent walking the walls of the city since we have seen most of the highlights in the town before. If you have never been, make sure you climb the city hall tower and visit the “criminal museum” if you have the stomach to see how prisoners were tortured back then!
Onward to celebrate Karen’s birthday in the small town of Sindeldorf, home to where my Grandfather and Grandmother lived (Oma and Opa) and where my Aunt Karin and my cousin Georg still live. We are staying with Karin and we have arranged to have the birthday supper at the local Gasthaus, the site of many family celebrations over the years. All of my relatives have been invited and we end up with a dozen people there. The reunion is magic and we have the best time possible…a great way to celebrate Karen’s birthday although, she admits missing our own kids and our grandson!
The next day, my cousin’s husband…Wolfgang takes us to a couple of great sites including Langenburg Castle. Langenburg castle, the residence of the royal Hohenlohe – Langenburg family, is magically situated on the top of a hill overlooking the enchanting Jagst valley in “Hohenlohe country”.
Langenburg castle has one of the most magnificent Renaissance inner courtyards in Germany, a castle chapel, and fascinating museum exhibits. This stately home provides beautiful views of the Jagst valley.
The Langenburg Castle Automobile Museum (“Deutsches Automuseum Schloss Langenburg e.V.”) is located in the historical stables, with approximately 35 vehicles, and documents the development of motorised vehicles from vintage cars up to modern times.
A permanent exhibition gives a great insight into the lives of the princes and the special events that have occurred in Langenburg Castle. One of the many highlights was the state visit of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. The family has close family ties to the British Royal Household as well as to many European Royal and aristocratic dynasties.
From here, Wolfgang takes us to the very special town of Schwabish Hall. Rather than try to explain the beauty of this city, please have a look at the pictures below…you’ll understand why we have come back to this stunning city.
Finally, off to my cousin Anja’s and Wolfgang’s beautiful new home for a home cooked meal of German cuisine and great wines. Too much great food and fun…we love visiting with our relatives!
A tearful goodbye to all and the next day we are off to another must see site on the Romantik Road – Dinkelsbuhl. It’s only about an hour away from Sindeldorf but we have never been here before and it is an unexpected delight! Our accommodation at Hotel Luise is perfectly situated in the centre of the old town and we set off on a walk outside of the city wall to get a different perspective of the town.
That evening, we decide to take a night walk around town and want to meet up with the Nightwatch Tour. Unfortunately, it’s only in German so we struck out on our own for a short walk.
With Willie Nelson’s famous song “On The Road Again” as our anthem for this trip, the next day we strike out to discover more of the Romantik Road with a stop in Nördlingen, one of the most attractive of the towns in the central part of the Romantic Road. As all the tourist guides mention, it shares with its neighbours to the north (Rothenburg and Dinkelsbühl) the distinction of being one of the only remaining walled medieval towns in Germany. Nördlingen, however, is far less crowded than the other two and offers an additional attraction of geological interest – being located in the crater of a meteorite impact and with its impressive tower being built of the rock formed from that impact. Again, as in Dinkelsbühl, after a stroll around the old town we opt for a hike around the city wall. Only this time, we picked up a take away lunch and a bottle of wine to enjoy a picnic lunch along the way.
After our picnic lunch we are off to Harburg, a small riverside town on the Romantic Road located under the imposing presence of the castle looming on the promontory above the town. The town is worth a stop along the way but it is really the castle we have come to see.
The Harburg Castle is one of the largest, best-preserved castles in all of Germany. We made it there in time for a guided tour but unfortunately, the tour was completely in German. My rudimentary German was not enough to be able to translate all that the guide was saying and when I mentioned I didn’t understand something, she would look me in the eye and say exactly the same thing only a little louder – lol!
The Harburg Castle is one of the jewels of the Romantik Road. Wonderfully preserved, the castle sits high on a hill and overlooks the town for which it’s named. The castle complex, including the castle house, chapel, sentry walk (complete with holes through which to pour hot oil on invading marauders!), prison tower, dungeon, and various buildings used to support the inhabitants, is surrounded by a wall supporting six towers. In the center of the complex is a large courtyard with a well. We ended the day staying in a nice Gasthaus and had a fabulous outdoor supper overlooking the luscious green countryside.
Dachau! We had never been to a German concentration camp before and thought we would stop on the way to Munich. We have all read and been taught the horrors and atrocities that these camps were, but I was very moved, upset and horrified at what humans can do to each other. Our planned 1 hour stop turned into 3 hours as we read account after account of what the inmates at Dachau had to endure before many of them perished at the hands of these monsters. It was a visit that I will always remember and hope that we have learned the lessons that this black period of history should have taught us.
We arrived in Munich to a traffic mess! I don’t know what was going on, but there were police roadblocks everywhere and ambulances chasing around several locations. What should have taken us 5 minutes from the point of the first roadblock actually took us over an hour. Kudos to Don Gibson who navigated us around all of the mess and to Karen, who managed to program the GPS to find the parking garage we needed to get to our hotel.
None the less, we made it to the Hotel Schlicker in time to check in and head off to the world famous Hofbrauhaus for supper and a couple of beer. The following pictures will explain it all.
That’s it for this update. Prost!