driving on one of the most known roads of the country, but doing it in reverse
30.05.2019 - 04.06.2019
30/05/2019 let the road trip begin!
This holiday was long awaited and to be honest I was counting the months ever since I booked the hotels and looked at the route I was going to drive in the upcoming week. The "Romantische Strasse" is a journey I wanted to do for several years but somehow I never got the time or the free days to travel to, so this year I went to my boss and just asked for a few days off. I must admit, I had to negotiate a little to get it, but half an hour later I got out feeling like a winner ... I did it! I was so proud of it and now that the day finally had arrived I was looking forward to a few days on the road.
I left my home very early in the morning, it was about 4 AM coz I was going to do the infamous route in reverse. That meant that I had to drive a whopping 800 kilometers, but that didn't stop me at all. As I left, it was still dark and not much traffic on the road, just as I liked it.
An hour had gone and I crossed the border with the Netherlands and not soon after even the border with Germany. I must admit that it is fun knowing that in just mere hours you can cross several countries from where I live. Living in just a small country has its benefits ... at times that is!
I had been driving for about 3 hours when I finally had my first stopover at a small roadside café where I enjoyed a quick tea break with a biscuit, a much needed visit to the toilet and than it was back on the road again for yet another few hours.
Luckily for me I selected a good play list which is much needed on the road coz as soon as daylight arrived, so did more and more traffic popped up and although I was lucky enough to avoid traffic jams, as soon as I passed Frankfurt am Main, I started gazing at all those cars in front of me. Yep it was getting busier and busier and I was so glad that I left on a public holiday coz now no heavy traffic like trucks were allied on the roads.
After my quick lunch break in yet another roadside café, I was back on the road again and looking forward to the last hours when all of a sudden at the neighborhood of Stuttgart my nightmare came through ... I ended up in one traffic jam after another and although they weren't as worse as I had a few years back driving towards Austria for a skiing trip, still it made me arrive in Füssen about 3 hours later than expected.
I was just so glad to be of the highway and driving towards my dwelling of the night, which luckily enough wasn't that far and smack in the middle of the little town. Hotel Fantasia was just ideally located and as soon as I parked my car I was greeted a lovely old lady who happened to be the caretaker of the hotel. She showed me my room and also gave a lot of details on what to do an a free afternoon.
As soon as I dropped of my stuff, I headed to town and the fact that the sun was shining made things more interesting.
Füssen is but a small town, but the shopping street was filled with smiling people and like most of them I sprinted towards the ice cream stall to have myself a cup of something delicious while investigating the shops even a bit more. I just loved the shops with the typical German clothes called "dirndl & Lederhosen". It is nice to see that people still hold on to their traditions.
Although the town hasn't got those typical half-timbered houses, I still fell in love with the vibrant colors they use and once up on the hill, the town even has its own castle called Hohe Schloss which basically means "high castle". Once the summer residence of the prince-bishops, nowadays it is just a gallery with Bavarian state art.
Upon my arrival late in the afternoon it was closed, but I was just happy to linger around and soak it all up. It was after all a nice place to sit on a bench and enjoy the sun rays while knowing that you are on holiday ... it made my day, that's for sure!
By the time it was 6 PM, I looked up a typical Bavarian restaurant and ordered some delicious food and once finished I had one last stroll to the hotel, had a quick shower and an early night to go to sleep. I was completely knackered by the time it was 10 PM.
31/05/2019 sometimes dreams do come true!
An early night meant also that I woke up early in the morning, but that didn't bother me at all coz today I was going to visit a long awaited dream and to get there, I needed an early rise and shine!
I quickly had breakfast in the tiny but beautifully decorated breakfast area and I must say, my complements to the caretaker coz it was absolutely delicious. The place could seat only about 10 people but than again, it wasn't such a big hotel, I am sure there was going to be room for all of the guests, not to mention the variety of food displayed on the counter.
As I grabbed my stuff, checked out and dropped everything in the back of my car, I headed for Neuschwanstein which is only a few minutes away from Füssen.
Driving on my first meters of the Romantic Road I soon got a glimpse of the town of Hohenschwangau and it took me only 10 euros to park my car in the vicinity of the castle. I knew this was going to be a "tourist trap" but I wanted to visit the castle for quite a while so I had to go with the flow ... even if it meant that it was going to be an expensive one!
Because it was still early, it seemed I was in time before all the tourist busses arrived, but as I entered the ticket office I noticed I still had to wait till 12 AM to go on a slot to visit the castle. WTF ???? It was only 9 AM and I didn't wanted to wait all that long. I knew it was going to be a hassle to get into the castle as the caretaker of the hotel told me yesterday. She also told me that it was going to be an 1 hour visit with about 300 steps and you weren't allowed to take pictures inside the castle.
I must confess that I was in doubt what to do next? Did I go inside and rushed like all tourists do or did I want to enjoy my little time here and skip the inside all together and go for the amazing outside. I must admit the first one sounded so appealing coz I really wanted to see al the splendor of that crazy king Ludwig II (even if it were only 3 rooms), but on the other hand, when I was organizing this trip, I also calculated only a few hours coz I still needed to drive for a bit towards Landsberg am Lech.
Seeing all the tourists arrive about half an hour later, I made up my mind and went for option number 2. I was going to skip the inside and instead of paying 25 euro for visiting both castles, I chose to pay 3 euro for a small bus to take me halfway up the hill to avoid the steep climb up and seeing I was crushed between loads of other friendly Asian tourists, I was glad I avoided option number 1 and I was more glad to get out of the bus about 15 minutes later.
The driver told us to go to the Marienbrücke first and so I did with just a handful of other people. Most of them sprinted for the last meters to the castle coz they needed to be on time to visit the inside. I was so glad not to have chosen that one and instead I walked the few meters up the hill only to find that beautiful castle in front of me. It truly is magnificent, even on a cloudy day and I can see why Disney has chosen this castle for sleeping beauty, coz it just screaming magic all over the place!
I took my time to soak it all in and crossed the tiny bridge several times ... helped a few Korean tourists for their much needed picture and soon I was on my way to have a closer look of the castle and it didn't disappointed me at all! The hurdle of tourists on the other hand made me feel claustrophobic and although it was a pity to see the entrance of the castle in scaffolds, I was glad to see the courtyard was not entirely hidden in scaffolds as I read a few months ago.
The courtyard itself isn't that big and it was completely packed with tourists waiting to go inside the castle and although at that moment I felt a bit sad that I didn't went for option number 1, I soon learned that only 2 rooms could be seen, the 3rd room was also under construction ... lucky me, for once I made a right decision!
As I walked down the hill in a slow pace I could see the castle in all its splendor and I get it that 1.4 million people want to visit it, but on a yearly base that is just an insane amount of people. Maybe for the town it means big business, but I wouldn't be glad living in it, that's for sure!
Once back in town again I also visited the outside of that other castle of Ludwig II, "castle Hohenschwangau" and even walking up the lower castle it made for a great work out, I must admit that I enjoyed it a lot.
I wondered around the castle for a little while, visited the gardens around it and by the time I was back in Hohenschwangau it was already 12 AM. This meant time for a little snack and although there was nothing else but fancy restaurants to be found, I did manage to find a small food stall that sold some delicious "bratwürst", just what I needed to fill my tummy instantly!
More and more people started to arrive into town and even getting to the parking area was a hassle, so this was my sign to say it was more than enough time to leave the town behind me, which I managed to do about half an hour later.
As I drove for yet another few meters on the Romantic Road I quickly stopped at the small chapel of Schwangau from where you had an amazing view on Neuschwanstein in the distance. It is only from this place you can see how high it is situated in the mountains. Really incredible!
Back on the road again, I drove for about half an hour when I suddenly arrived in Rottenbuch. This was also on my list because of the abbey. On itself you wouldn't say that it is amazing, because the outside it plane white and it is tucked away in the small monastery with even a small cemetery, but the inside of the abbey is so amazing it really took my breath away!
I must admit that even in Belgium we have lovely churches and chapels, but this one was evenly beautiful and I must admit that I love the rococo art period. It is just so dramatic and I guess that is the thing I like most of it. It makes people look so small and art so big ... just like it is intended to be, but that's just my opinion.
Back on the road again, it was nice driving alongside those small villages and wide open fields and although Schongau was also on the map as a must see town, I personally didn't like it as much except maybe for that amazing statue of the German eagle, although this reminded me of a person which no-one wants to remember ... I guess a legacy all Germans have to deal with and I am so glad that it is just such a beautiful country that it makes people forget about the past even if it is for a little while!
As I left Schongau behind me, it was only about half an hour driving when I arrived in Landsberg am Lech, my homebase for tonight.
It was so sad that I couldn't find one vacant hotel in the center of town, so instead I had to deal with the fact that I had to choose one closer to the highway in an industrial area. For one, it is close to the highway and a quicker getaway in the morning, but as I arrived, it soon got clear to me I had about a 45 minute brisk walk ahead of me in order to even get to the center of town.
The sun was still shining at 4 PM in the afternoon so no worries there and I was glad to have made it to the center coz although once again it was lacking the half-timbered houses, the colors were yet again very vibrant that you instantly loved this town. It is a big one and also build on several hills so it seems and already a bit tired, I just wondered around the small historical market place and its churches in the vicinity.
All that walking made sure I got hungry again, I didn't ate all that much for lunch, so instead of walking, I chose a nice terrace with a view to kill for and digged in on some delicious food.
Sadly enough the sun was slowly disappearing as it was getting later and later, but still craving for something sweet, I went for one final sin and got myself a delicious ice cream again.
As I was walking next to the river Lech, I noticed a lot of commotion going on on the other side of the river and it made me curious as hell. Looking on my map of the town, it was also listed as a viewing point so that got my attention. Maybe loads of tourists where taking pictures, I don't know what was going on so I went for a closer look only minutes later to arrive at the scene to find hundreds of drunk teens or should I say young adults lying on the ground completely knocked out, drunk and screaming at each other, others making fun with each other, clearly with something in their hands that is not legal at all ... I must admit that they had chosen an ideal place coz the views from there on the town were quite beautiful. Being young once, I knew what they were going through and I admit that I loved to party as well in my days, but I didn't behave in public like this ... if this was the future I was looking at, I didn't liked it one bit. This made me feel quite old and I guess I am behaving like an old lady because I didn't fell nothing else but disgust when looking what was happening in front of me. The so called youth that is so pre occupied with a clean and green environment left nothing else but empty glass bottles, most of them broken, plastic hanging around trees, food and its plastic content that was littering on the ground ... it was just plain awful and I was glad to be out of there in mere minutes, I had seen enough!
The sun was gone and so was my good mood to explore the town even further, so instead I just walked alongside the river Lech for a while ending up at the crossroad towards the hotel again where I ended up about an hour later.
I went for a nice hot shower and a little while after I looked up some more details on what to see and do tomorrow as I drive further up the Romantic Road. I guess it must have been almost midnight when I finally closed my eyes.
01/06/2019 more sightseeing on the Romantic Road
Although I fell asleep quite late, I somehow woke up very early and instead of looking up the breakfast area, I decided to sleep in for a little while longer. However, by the time it was 9 AM it felt right to have a bite to eat.
Breakfast was yet again delicious and with so much food displayed in front of me it was hard to chose what to eat first, but somehow I managed. The sun was shining and I had planned to visit 2 beautiful towns today, but somehow I wanted to take things slowly today. Maybe because to sun was shining so brightly, maybe because it was a Saturday, I don't know what was going on, but I didn't want to rush things today, so it was going to be a slow mode day.
Arriving at Augsburg, the capital of the Government District Zwaben, it was clear to me that I left all the small towns behind. I was now in a big city and as soon as I parked my car I tried to figure out where I was. Soon I noticed I had chosen the perfect place to park my car, in close vicinity of a food market near the center of the city. It took me only mere minutes to be at the center and find the much needed visitors center.
With a city map close to me, I felt ready to tackle this city and the first thing I wanted to visit was the "Függerei". Back in the 16th Century this area was kind of a social housing project to get people out of poverty and into a better shape so that they could find jobs and so on. I must admit that I am still not 100 % sure what the "Fugger" thing is all about, but it made for a good thing for loads of people.
Till this day this is still the main purpose of this place coz although it is mainly intended as a museum to show how people lived in that certain era of time, nowadays some of the houses are renovated and with low costs you can find a nice place to call home. it is not fancy but all you basically need is there, I saw one of the houses and I really fancy the project. It is just sad it is a long way from home otherwise I would be interested.
Augsburg is a major city and once you walk around, you can notice it in all the little visible things : terraces to relax on, restaurants for foodies out there, loads of churches, museums and so on to visit, as well as a few main shopping streets shopaholics with love to see and although it is fun to linger there for a while, I must say that I also was glad to move on to visit another town. I guess visiting cities is fun for a while but that is just it ... these are just the talks of a country girl nothing more, nothing less.
Paying my fee for the underground parking, I was out of Augsburg around 1 PM and on my merry way again on the Romantic Road only to stop in the small town of Rain. If I say small, I mean small coz besides a town hall, there is not much else to see. It was a big difference between the big city in the morning and this small seemingly empty town in the afternoon. I tried to search for a place to be open and to enjoy the sun on a terrace, but it seemed that this town was just abandoned and I can say that in all honesty coz I was there for about half an hour and I didn't see a living soul!
Not wanted to stay another minute in a human-free town, I stepped back into my car and just drove of towards Donauwörth, where I was going to spend the night.
I knew this town was small when I booked my room at a local B & B just outside the town, but it was the only one available when planning this trip. It seemed that July is a very popular month when visiting this area so I just had to make due with the things thrown at me. The B & B was very small and so was my room, but it was clean and modern and I didn't ask for anything more.
There was no-one to meet and greet me upon arrival, which I was referred to when I booked the room, but I did however found a map of the town into my room and I made the most of it. The walk towards town was only 15 minutes and although it was a very hot day, I could enjoy the shade of the trees alongside the road, it was just perfect.
Once again it was quite odd arriving in a seemingly abandoned town and I was so curious what this was all about? It was a hot day, I knew that, but come on? The shops were closed and it was only 3 PM? This sounded so strange to me ... what's this all about?
Arriving at the center of town I suddenly found myself at an Italian ice cream parlor with only a handful of people and I decided to have a rest now that I finally found humans. The ice cream itself wasn't all that bad either I must tell you and when I asked the waiter why it was so quite on what supposed to be high season, he seemed confused as well and just lifted his shoulders. He thought the hot weather had something to do with it and it was normal for the shops to close for a few hours during noon, it seems that even in Germany they have a siesta like in Spain. It seemed odd, but that was the simple truth.
The area I was in is very popular with bikers, so during the day they are exploring the roads and at the evening they arrive at their hotels, maybe I should have done that as well instead of using my car, but I am just too lazy to go for a cycling trip ... at least I am honest!
Using my town map to its fullest I must say that Donauwörth although small, it is really a beautiful town and it did feel a bit magical with all the beautiful roses along the way, the nests of the storks and of course the old buildings help as well.
Although still early in the evening I decided to have dinner in this little town before going back to my room at the B & B. It was already 6 PM so I thought to have an early bite to eat and found something delicious in the near pub of a hotel. With a handful of other people I enjoyed the daily menu and it was once again delicious, but than again, I never have problems eating German food, that's probably the reason why I keep coming back to the country coz I love it so much.
With the sun still shining on my head and back I slowly walked back to my room and was amazed to find that the B & B had opened a beer garden. It seemed that in the summer months loads of bikers pass the B & B and they simply opened up the terrace so that people stop and have a rest and it makes for a bit of profit as well ... so smart of them and with the sun still shining, I just simply found myself a cosy seat and ordered a nice cold white wine ... I died and have gone to heaven!
Well, not quite yet luckily, but as the sun was about to set, I turned to my room and after a nice shower it was time to hit the sack. I could have easily stayed till in the wee hours, but I didn't quite feel up to it.
02/06/2019 going back in time
Maybe the wine had something to do with it, but I slept like a baby and luckily I didn't slept through the morning because of the sound of other people leaving the B & B. Having a room next to the entrance can be handy at times, so as soon as I woke up, got dressed and enjoyed my breakfast, I checked out and said goodbye to a lovely couple of the Netherlands I met last night.
They were doing the Romantic Road in the right order and were going in the direction of Füssen while I was going up north, higher and higher. It was cool to see that they were doing it in an oldtimer. I don't understand much about cars, but the old convertible seemed like a fun car to do this road, maybe I should do this as well when I get retired ... nice idea anyway!
Packed and ready to go, I drove off towards Nördlingen where I arrived almost an hour later. I passed Harburg on my way which is known for its beautiful medieval castle but as I was driving towards it, it was still closed and rather not wanted to wait for a few hours till it opened, I just drove further towards Nördlingen.
I quickly found a parking space and walking towards the medieval center wasn't that hard. I immediately found the tourist office and was glad to see it was just opening doors. Being the first customer of the day made them smile I suppose coz the lady was super friendly and told me to just follow the signs of the medieval walk and I could see the entire town ... who am I to contradict this?
Just as I have been told I followed the signs passing some beautiful half-timbered houses, small churches, remnants of the old wall and there was even a part where you could get up the wall with its fairy tale like towers ... I really liked this town and the festivities going on ... what is not to love at a food festival with some great music.
A little in the afternoon I said goodbye to the town. I could have easily spend an entire day but I had to hit the road again and visit another town on my well organized trip.
Passing by Wallerstein, a small village known for its monumental Bohemian plague column, and a very beautiful I might add, I drove further on the Romantic Road only to stop half an hour later in Dinkelsbühl, another beautiful example of medieval times.
Yet again I have found myself in a town with historic towers and a city wall, and most importantly ...a few of the much loved half-timbered houses. Need I say that this was the thing I was searching for all along! What can I say, I get weak to the knees when I see this, I am not into modern buildings, but these houses, incredible! I just love the handicraft.
For several hours I wondered through town getting blown away by the beauty of the houses, half-timbered or not and since it was yet again a very hot day, I decided to end my visit with a quick stop at an Italian ice cream parlor. These last few days I got really addicted to the ice cream. I have an excuse and could tell people it had to do with the hot weather, but to be honest, I just found a new addiction which is called the amarena cherry. Sweet and sour at the same time, it is just heaven in my eyes.
Once back at my car, I drove off to the last stop of the day ... Schillingfürst, where I arrived about 6 PM in the evening. I got settled to my room, walked a bit through town all the way up to the castle which unfortunately was closed because of the late hour and instead I just walked back to the hotel and had dinner. The lovely owners of the hotel prepared a delicious meal and the dessert was mind-blowing ... their panna cotta with strawberries was to die for. Yep, I know it is not your typical German dish but still, it was awesome and delicious so who cares!?
Not up for another walk in the evening hours I just went to my room, did some reading and decided to make it an early night ...
03/06/2019 another "highlight" on the road
An early bird catches the worm and this was just my idea of the day. It was only 8 AM in the morning when I finished breakfast, checked out and got all of my stuff in the back of my car, onwards towards that town that made me wanna do this road trip in the first place : Rothenburg ob der Tauber!
I have to admit that Neuschwanstein had something to do with it as well, since it was a long last dream to visit it, but this town looked magical as well and whenever I opened social media and saw a picture of it ... this was the place I wanted to visit and of course I was not alone. Although it was still early, I already noticed a few groups of Asian tourists who also found their way to this incredible beautiful town and this is not a lie.
With a map once again in my hands I just walked the streets for a couple of hours, just being amazed with all the beautiful buildings and I was impressed to find part of a city wall as well. It is not a lie but the simple truth when I say that walking a day through town is not a punishment ... however doom came over me a little in the afternoon when I didn't notice a few stones at a house and sprained my ankle.
At first I tried walking on it, but the pain just went from normal to worse and instead I gave up and relaxed for a while on a terrace. While enjoying the heat of the sun, I also was in doubt what to do with my foot ... was I able to walk again, let alone drive my car?
Need I say that a small panic attack came over me and while I rested my foot after a while I wanted to give it another try.
In the beginning it was still hurting but as I was walking, things progressed a little and I initially thought that driving wouldn't be a problem, so late in the afternoon after relaxing more than a few times to spare my foot, I headed for another part on the Romantic Road.
Driving seemed not to be a problem, but as I arrived in the small town of Creglingen, it started to hurt again as soon as I tried to walk, so instead I drove further on the road passing Röttingen hoping to find myself a pharmacist, but once again the town was dead and besides a beautiful river there was not much to see, literally that is!
Further on the road I crossed Tauberbischofsheim and this time I was in luck. I found what I was looking for in yet another seemingly dead town, but the pharmacist was open for business and that made my day entirely. I was just so thankful that they could help me and with an ointment and a foot bandage, the guy behind the counter ensured me that things would only get better .... fingers crossed.
Walking on it was still a problem, but the bandage sure took away the pain, so that was a relief.
Since there was not so much to see in town besides a few sculptures, I just drove to my hotel for the night, which was located near the highway in the town of Reichenberg. Upon my arrival it seemed that yet again I was situated in an industrial area nowhere near a city center or something interesting to see, but to be honest, I wasn't up for it anyway.
I quickly checked into my room and relaxed for a while on my bed, had dinner around 8 PM in the restaurant of the hotel which was for the first time since my trip not the best I had eaten. It seemed that the pain of my foot was setting the mood as well and I just went back to my room, read a little and went to bed, hoping that tomorrow would bring a brighter day!
04/06/2019 to all things comes an end!
My final day here in Germany and waking up with the sun shining through the window I got a positive vibe again. Yesterday evening I told myself if I still had a lot of pain, I would drive home immediately but by some miracle, the swelling had gone and the pain was less ... it was still there but bearable, so after breakfast I decided to go ahead with my initial plan and visited the last city on my program, which was Würzbürg.
Just like Augsburg, this is a major city and you feel it as soon as you arrive. I quickly found a place to park my car and loved the fact that I had to cross the Old Main bridge to enter town. It is truly a beautiful bridge and although Fortress Marienberg looked appealing, I just wasn't up for it to visit it ... not in my condition that is!
I had a slow and relaxing walk in the center of town, but because of festivities going on, you simply couldn't get a beautiful view of the center and that was really a pity. I visited the Dom and hoped for a save journey back home and by the time it was 11 PM, I had a quick lunch at a bakery and went back to my car.
The drive home wasn't going to be that long now since it was a bit less than 500 kilometers, my exact plan in the first place. I estimated to drive for about 6 hours and although traffic was crazy at some times, I did manage to get home before 8 PM in the evening which was great in my back. Completely knackered from driving for some reason, I was glad to be home again.
Looking back on the last few days while enjoying a hot cup of tea, I must admit that this trip was a fantasy of mine for a long time and maybe I romanticized it because I never visited it, after all it is named "Romantic Road" for something, but now that I did, I must admit that some towns lived up to their reputation, while others were a bit disappointing, but nevertheless the whole picture is what counts and this trip was one I will never forget, thanks to my sprained ankle!