Germany Day 5 – The Northern Black Forest

We were up around 4am again so I wrote up my blog post for yesterday and we gradually got ready for the day. I had tossed and turned a bit and my arthritis was acting up so I took a larger dose of my pain meds (I don’t like taking them so often forget that I can).
Finally at 8.30am we headed down to breakfast. Wow – this was impressive. They have our beloved bread rolls, cheeses, boiled eggs, the usual selection of museli, yoghurt, meats, etc. Plus make your own veggie/fruit juice or orange juice. I made Kevin & I an apple, carrot and orange juice.

We honestly can’t rave about this hotel enough and at breakfast the owner came up and introduced himself to explain more about the B&B and to offer any help we needed. At 9am we moved into the lobby to meet with our tour guide for the next 3 days – Simone of Black Forest Private Tours. Such a lovely friendly young lady. We immediately felt as ease and throughout the day it just felt like a friend was showing us around her home town.
First off we went on a walking tour of Gengenbach, which is a very sweet little town.

We visited the local university (which is where a monastery used to be) and the baker with it’s old water mill. This town had been burned down many times so they started building in brick. We chuckled many times when Simone referred to something as not too old or new – only to discover it was 150-200 years old. It’s all relative I guess but in Australia we have very few buildings older than 200 years so new would be in the last 50 years or so.

I didn’t know what I was seeing when we walked past this. But it’s apparently the normal way to announce a birth in Germany. Pretty cute actually.

After exploring the town and got in the car and drove to Oberkirch Castle, which is now a youth hostel. We got a workout walking up to the top I tell you. Actually I was too pooped to make it to the very top tower (but Kevin and Simone went up)

Here I am posting a keek 🙂

As you can see this is very much wine country.

Our next stop was in fact a winery. If we did drink wine would could have enjoyed a wine tasting, but instead we just enjoyed the view. BTW, today was ALL about the view – everywhere we went!

We drove through a number of cute German towns before we stopped at a rather fancy Schnapps maker

This is one of the more upmarket and famous brands and we were made very welcome. Kevin got to try quite a number of flavours and we felt bad we couldn’t buy more than a few small bottles (but we did get the details of the Australian distributor). The lady even included some sample bottles and put out some chocolate/biscuits for us to enjoy. I was offered a coffee since I wasn’t sampling.

Next we drove to a more informal tasting. Apparently everyone around here makes their own schnapps and many have what is called a schnapps fountain where you can have a sample (and where you are expected to leave one Euro per drink (all on an honor system). To get here we had little uphill walk in the woods. I tell you we are going to be super fit by the time we leave Germany.

The schnapps is kept in the cupboard underneath.

I enjoyed some apple juice & water.

And we got to see some cute baby goats.

I think we took close to 200 photos today but you pleased to know I’m not sharing them all with you :-).

Next up we headed to the town of Baden Baden – which actually seems rather French as we are very close to the border and a French man turned to town from a spa town into a gambling town (when gambling was banned in France). Today it is a town of money – with many Russians calling it home. You can definitely tell it’s a wealthy town with many designer shops.
I could be wrong but it seemed like the Beverly Hills of Germany, with many rich people calling it home.

It is a really gorgeous town with lots of flowers, which I loved.

We had been going to have lunch at a sit down restaurant but somewhere else caught our eye.

Fresh Choice is relatively new juice and sandwich shop, which Simone hadn’t yet been too. It was perfect for us. Kevin had a roast beef sandwich (they have the fillings already prepared and then slide them onto the bread as it is cut in a special machine – I did film this) and I had a yummy oriental salad.

After lunch there was a quick stop at a chemist as Kevin was having some sinus pain. The chemist here was so lovely and helpful and even offered a glass of water for Kevin to have his medication right away. I loved how it looked. So different from chemists in Australia. Here nearly everything is behind the counter and they really mainly sell medicine (and a few beauty items).

We then set out to the explore the town some more. I tell you, you’d have to be fit and able to live in this town as there are so many steps. No wonder nearly all Germans are slim.

This is the bust of a Russian author (can’t remember his name now) who wrote Crime and Punsihment, but actually wrote The Gambler while living here.

We visited a now Catholic Church with gorgeous stained glass windows.

Kevin found his next car…

And I’ve been loving these blossom trees…

We left Baden Baden and headed up into the mountains on the Summit Road.

As you can see it was a magical day and even up here it was still rather warm.

Kevin was happy to have some snow to play on.

But he decided not to try walking on the ice (though apparently you could about 2 weeks ago).

Instead we went into the hotel and enjoyed some afternoon tea out on the deck.

Of course we had to have Black Forest cake in the heart of the Black Forest. It was yummy, though I gave my cherry layer to Kevin.

Next we headed to a place where parasailors take off and there were a few there waiting, but no wind. A few were up high in the sky above us though.

It was around 5pm now so time to head back to Gengenbach. We got back around 6pm and said our farewells to Simone, then headed into town to have a look at a few shops. I found one selling lots of cute horse stuff (made in Germany) and made a few “little” purchases for Christy.

I had an unsettled tummy and we had no luck finding a place with a English menu. In the end we found a cute little pizza place to get some dinner.

We asked for takeaway, but changed our minds when we realized we could sit outside and enjoy the lovely evening.

Unfortunately the lady didn’t understand we ended up with takeaway, which was fine and we just took it back our room to enjoy.

After dinner I watched some YouTube and fell asleep around 9pm. I woke up during the night with my headphones and glasses still on!!!! Kevin informed me he closed up the ipad. Oops.

Tomorrow : Exploring the Southen Black Forest with Simone.

Germany – Day 4 – Off on our own

This morning Kevin and I packed up for the first day on our own. The kids are all headed to do a homestay with a German family and we’re off to explore the Black Forest – somewhere I’ve wanted to see since I was a child.
We left our luggage in reception and went to have breakfast. Another yummy roll with cheese (we also packed one for later :-)). Then we collected our luggage (said farewell to Amy) and walked about 5 min to the train for our first train (of 3). This was when we became glad we were travelling so light.

The trains here are amazing – so quiet and smooth. We loved going past all the little towns. And at the train stations they have special conveyer belts (beside the stairs) for your luggage. At one of our stops we bought some tea and chocolate to share – making sure to buy things we can’t get at home. Both of these were yummy, but we esp. loved the Milky Way crispy rolls.

It took just 1.5 hours and 3 trains to reach Crailsheim. Unfortunately we didn’t know where to get a taxi and ended up walking into the main town.

We got a taxi pretty quickly and he drove us to Europcar to pick our car rental.

By 10.30am we were on our way and Kevin was having fun driving on the autobahns with no speed limit. At one point he was up to 170km/hr and cars were flying by us. Kevin didn’t drive that fast most of the time because cars would suddenly stop and trucks would pull out in front. I have pretty crazy footage of all the trucks stopped and us trying to get through them to an off ramp.

After an hour or so we had a bathroom break (where we had pay to use to toilets).

We also bought this packed of chips to much on – which I have declared the best chips I’ve had.

Finally at about 12.30pm I spotted our destination…

Hohenzollern Castle..

I don’t know why but Kevin always laughs at me when I pull out the camera to vlog.

We arrived at the parking lot and caught the shuttle (you had to pay for both) to the top. Holly molly – there is no way I could have walked up the steep path (but when we were coming back I say someone with crutching walking up the path!!!!).
Okay… wanna see some pics of the castle? We started off by walking around the outside…

The view was impressive from every side.

We then headed into the main courtyard.

There was a lovely outdoor cafe we wanted to eat at but there was nothing vegetarian so we went to the indoor cafe – where we were the only customers.

Here there was even a section in the menu titled – Main courses for vegetarians. I ordered cheese spatzle (swabian noodles) – which was just like a version of mac ‘n’ cheese – only better. It was a huge portion, however and I only ate about a third.

After lunch we had a quick look in the gift shop (only buying a postcard) then went outside to wait for our English speaking tour of the inside of the castle.

The tour was great and we had fun sliding around in these shoe covers (which you could buy in the gift shop).

Unfortunately there were no photos allowed once we left the main entranceway. It was fascinating to learn more about the castle and the family who owned it. Yes, not lived in it as no-one has ever lived here!!! How crazy is it? The man who built it died before it was finished so you can only hope he planned to live here but it really was built as more of a monument for the family. It’s a very cold monument I can tell you. It was freezing inside (after having some cold weather last week). This the third castle built here and is “just” 150 years old.

We took our time leaving the castle, taking some more photos and enjoying the view from up here while Kevin had an icecream. Then it was a bus ride back to the carpark and into the car. One thing I’ve been amazed at is how busy the roads are here. I was expecting to be on quiet country roads – not so far anyway.
We drove about an hour to the town of Schiltack, which is full of beautiful timber homes.

This home was my favourite

Can you imagine living in a town like this?

On the way to Gengenbach (our home town for the next 2 nights) we stopped for a visit to Aldi – which was pretty much like the ones in Australia except they sold huge timber trays of strawberries for just a few euros!!! We then went to a supermarket and pick up a few things, including some dinner.
Then it was onwards to our B&B. All I can is wow – I did good picking this one.

This would be one of the most luxurious places I’ve stayed and it really wan’t too expensive (not by big city standards anyway). We even got robes, slippers and a plate of fruit.

We were pretty exhausted by the time we got settled at around 7pm and very glad we’d already got some dinner. Kevin actually ended up falling asleep pretty early so I enjoyed dinner in bed while watching some YouTube (free wifi here).

I tried to stay up as late as possible but I think my ipad fell on me just before 9pm so I called it quits then.

Tomorrow : A day of touring with a private guide I’ve booked for the next 3 days.

Germany – Day 3 – Exploring Rothenburg

Kevin and I were both awake at 4.45am, which is a pretty normal time for us. We were able to watch the day come to life outside on our balcony.

I worked on yesterdays blog post and enjoyed a few cups of green tea (with my new hot water maker) and at 9am we went to the hotel to have breakfast. Such a great spread. We were very impressed and it suited us perfectly. The bread roll was one of the best I’ve ever had.

After breakfast we all met up and headed into town to visit St. Jakobs (Lutheran) Church, which dates back to 1514.

It was one impressive church (and we’ve seen quite a few). The high vaulted ceilings were amazing. Amy actually toured around here with us so she could learn from her Dad – which made the both of us very happy.

While we were waiting for everyone to finish here Kevin & Amy bought some kind of cake pop from a nearby shop. I sampled both and they were pretty good.

Next on the itinerary was a Christmas Shop, which for a Christmas lover like me was absolutely amazing. There is a museum attached but we spent of all our time in the shop :-).

Once we realized we could ship everything home I had a bit of a shopping spree and I got a few gorgeous homemade German things to add to my Christmas decor collection.

At 12.30pm it was time to have lunch. Today the weather was even better than yesterday and reached a high of 24 mid-late afternoon. This meant that we could enjoy lunch in the Beirgarten again.

Kevin & I both had this delicious mushroom (gnocchi that looks like worms type thing) in a bread bowl. It did come with a bread lid which made the presentation a bit nicer.

After lunch it was time for everyone (except for me & two of the teachers) to visit the Medieval Crime Museum. Torture is one thing I can’t stand to watch/hear about so I decided it would be best to skip this or I’d be thinking about it for the next few days. Some people have a phobia of snakes or spiders, I have a phobia about torture!

Kevin thought it was okay ( he’d seen better) but he was impressed with this papal decree from 1256.

What did I do while everyone was learning about medieval torture? I went shopping :-).

When we all met up again we went to see the oldest house in Rothenburg. So amazing that it’s still standing and is over 700 years old.

We had a bit of free time before meeting for dinner, so Kevin and I went in search of tea/coffee and a snow ball. They are called schneeballen in German but Kevin & I can never remember the name and I started calling them schnoodles (which we later realized is a schnauzer/poodle!).
We went to a different place this time and Kevin was relieved to have a proper coffee.

As we were walking back Kevin decided he want to have an icecream. So we got the smallest scoop of cherry cream. I enjoyed the icecream, but not the cone.

We ended up having a short break back in the room before meeting up for a “debriefing & quizz” and then heading to dinner. We ate at the hotel again and had tomato soup, salad and then veggie kebabs. Unfortunately the kebab wasn’t very nice – the veggies were rather mushie – but I did enjoy some of the potatoes.

I didn’t care much for the dessert either (it was okay but I wasn’t going to eat it just because) but Kevin did and ate half of mine as well as his own.

After dinner it was back to the town square for our tour with the Nightwatchman.

He was great. Very entertaining and we learnt a lot as well. Plus Kevin had fun taking lots of photos in the evening light. So here’s some last photos of our time in this beautiful city. I definitely hope to return again one day.

Oh, and I just have to say how proud I am of my daughter (and her best friend) who have befriended a blind girl who on this trip (and had been hanging out with the teachers so far). She’s a couple of years older than them but they seem to be having lots of fun together. They are the only two in the whole group who made any effort to include her. Amy actually helped guide her on this night tour. Anyway, that’s my proud Mummy moment of the day.

I was so tired by the end of the tour and not feeling the best. Plus I had very sore legs (walking on cobblestones is hard on the calves!) so it was straight back to our room and into bed. I think I read for a whole two minutes :-).

Tomorrow : We head out on our own, pick up a hire car and visit our first German castle.

Day 2 – The Fairytale city of Rothenburg ob de Tauber

Tired as we were, everyone was very excited to see the little German towns that we passed on our way to Rothenberg.

We arrived in town around 9am and dropped off our luggage at the Hotel Rappen and a little talk on what was to happen today.

We then headed into town – our hotel is JUST outside the medieval wall which enclosed the main town. Okay, get ready for photo overload….. the first two were taken on our way to the main square…

which was just gorgeous…. many of the buildings date back as far the 1300s….

The kids (if that’s what you call teenage students) all went up the tower over the town hall. We would have but it was a bit unorganised (from the towers end) that we ended up not bothering and just waited on the steps of the town hall. Definitely not a bad spot to have to wait. When eventually all the kids had been up (only 20 people could be there at a time) we headed back to our hotel to have lunch (which is two doors up from the actual hotel). It was a lovely day (I think we got to a top of 18) so we were able to sit outside in the beirgarten.

My meal was a lovely cauliflower fritter and I ate Kevin’s side salad. Kevin had schnitzel (he doesn’t normally eat veal but pretty much it was only meat choice available. He was also very brave and tried someones blood sausage – which he said was disgusting!!!)

After lunch we split the group into two. Our group went for a walk around part of the town wall, seeing the town from above and exploring under some of the gates.

Everywhere you look in this town is just so cute and fairytale like. Hard to believe it’s all real.

We headed to the Castle Gardens (though there is no longer a castle) where the kids were given the task of drawing something they’d seen that day. Kevin and I relaxed (so glad to be off our feet for a while) and enjoyed the stunning location. One thing I didn’t realized is that all the trees would still be bare – though many are just now starting to bud.

After a bit Kevin and I decided to do a drawing too. Though I only filmed Kevin’s, so you’ll just have to admire my endeavor. I did love Art at school – took it till year 10 but I never very good :-).

Afters our drawing endeavors we headed back to the market square to meet with the other group. Of course I took more photos along the way. It’s one of those places that you want to capture every way you turn. There were lot more people out and about but it was still pretty quiet – I’m guessing because shops are closed here on Sunday.

We then went to have some afternoon tea in the form of “snow balls” – sorry don’t recall the German name. These very delicious treats are only available in this town.

Kevin and I chose 3 small ones to share – chocolate, lemon and powdered. The lemon was our favourite, and yes, we’ll be coming back for more tomorrow :-).

Everyone was feeling rather tired by now and it finally time to head back to the hotel and get into our rooms for showers (yay). We were very impressed by the room. It’s very modern and clean and we even have a balcony. As you can see Kevin was more than ready for bed :-).

After showering and getting changed I did some washing and Kevin made a make-shift clothes line on our balcony.

I also got started on yesterdays blog and at 7pm headed up two doors to have dinner (inside this time). We were served 3 courses. The first was soup with omelette strips.

The same cauliflower fritter that I’d had for lunch but it was so yummy I was happy to have it again.

Desert was a delicious pineapple fritter but I was too full to finish it (so Kevin did as he loves cooked fruit).

I tend to only photograph my own meals but if you’re keen to see what Kevin (non-vegetarian) is eating just let me know.

Some of the kids (like Amy) fell asleep at the table. Afterward we walked like zombies back to the hotel and fell straight into bed. I’m pretty sure I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.

If you remember our trip to the UK back in 2010 you’ll know we like to spot goldens. Well, yesterday there was a record count of 5 goldens :-). And to think we weren’t even sure if we’d see any in Germany.

Tomorrow : Another day in Rothenburg