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Entries about fairy tale

the Spessart region

loads of forests and more "magical" villages!


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05/07/2016 : Germany it is!

When my alarm clock went off at 6 AM in the morning, I was glad that for once it wasn’t for going to work but for something completely different, to be more precise, a break from daily life and away from all the usual hustle and bustle.

Mind you, I must admit that a few weeks before, when I asked my boss a few days off from work, I was so afraid it wasn’t possible because of the busy year and all, that she really surprised me and granted my wish. At first I was completely overwhelmed because somehow I didn’t expected her to give me even a few days, but once I was over the “shock”, I started planning thing, what to do with just a few days?

Since going far away abroad was out of the question and city tripping was a bit too expensive this time of the year, with all the last minute ticket hunting and all, I resorted to going on a bus holiday. I could have gone for a road trip myself like I did last year, but when I read the program this particular bus company offered, with all meals included, I must admit that the price just did it for me. All I wanted was a few days off and go to a place where I just could go with the flow and didn’t have to think about organizing things and bookings and so on, I guess I was more than ready for this much needed break!

After I got something into my system and packed my little bag, I drove off the the bus company where I arrived about an hour later and got to meet a few of my fellow travellers which of course where almost all of age, but somehow I didn’t care about this little fact at all and as soon as we resorted to our designated seats, got to know our driver Chris and our guide Angèle, we were on our way towards Germany and to be more precise, the Spessart region!

During my trip last year to the Hesse region, I must admit that I loved it so much that when I read the program and learned it was possible to visit more of those typical Brother Grimm villages and towns that it caught more than my attention and I wanted to go and explore this region a bit further, even if it meant I had to travel with more than 30 senior citizens!

When the bus was finally on the move, I claimed the back area of the bus all to myself and with a bit of fine music, it didn’t take me too long to doze off. Seems I was more tired than I thought I was coz I only woke up when our guide started talking about the current city we were passing, which was Aachen or maybe some people know it better as Aix-La-Chapelle, a city I have visited more than once and which I love so much, but I guess that maybe some of the older folks on this trip never had the chance to see the beautiful black cathedral and now from afar they finally could.

It must have been about one and a half hours later when we had our first short stop, so that people could stretch their legs, go to the toilet, have a drink or do whatever they wanted as long as they arrived back at the bus about half an hour later. I took the opportunity to meet up with a few people, who surprisingly enough live close to my hometown and one couple even have a daughter who is just a year younger than me and went to the same elementary school I did, so cool in a way!

After our little break, we drove further into the Hesse region and arrived about an hour later at Limburg an der Lahn, our only stop of the day before we were going to arrive at our homebase for the next 4 upcoming days, Weibersbrunn.

Limburg an der Lahn is one of the many small towns in the Hesse region which has that typical small medieval centre or Altstadt (old town) like the Germans like to call it, with loads of half-timbered houses.

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On the edge of the old town, there is a small hill which you can walk up to and leads you automatically towards St. George’s Cathedral, the main “attraction” of the otherwise small town if you like and although our guide Angèle could talk so passionate about the history of the church and all, my interest was soon gone and I drifted of to that other interesting building, the bishop’s residence which according to our guide was the focal point of a scandal not so long ago when former bishop (yes, he had to resign!) Franz-Peter Tebartz van Elst or also called “Bishop of Bling” renovated this particular building (or to be precise, two small buildings) to his own taste with money from not only parishioners, but from gifts he received from people for the poor in the world. Instead of using it for the people or organizations who needed it, he used it to enrich himself and it is said that the total cost of the residence go well over the 31 million euro … nice price tag if you ask me.

I don’t know where he put all the money into, but I guess the inside must look like one gigantic golden house, otherwise I can’t understand it at all, but thanks to our current pope who put a stop to it, unlike the former one who turned out to be a close friend, it seems that even till this day, you can’t really trust the Catholic Church or am I wrong at this point???

As soon as I had a quick peek at the yard of Limburg Castle, the rest of our group arrived as well and although we had given about an hour of free time to wander around, most of our group hooked up together at a small terrace and enjoyed a cup of coffee or even the well known German beer, which I am afraid to say is not that tasty, but that’s just me!

When the group was once complete again, we walked in a slow pace back towards the bus for our final kilometers towards Weibersbrunn, where we arrived about a few hours later.

Our guide Angèle took it upon herself to get our roomkeys as quick as possible, so that people still had a bit of time to relax or freshen themselves up before dinner at 7 PM, but since this wasn’t really my goal, I just dropped of my bag into the room and went outside again to see a bit more of the village of Weibersbrunn, which turned out nothing more than one big street with a few hotels and houses where no-one seemed to live in.

The village itself is closely situated near the highway and it seems that people live in this tiny village because it is close to some major towns. Tourists who happen to come here, are generally passing by on their way to their final destination in Germany and Austria and to be honest, I must admit that my first evening in the Spessart region was not exactly what I thought it would be, maybe tomorrow I will feel different about it, but today I was a bit disappointed.

Luckily dinner made things a bit better, maybe food and drinks will do that to a person and with a full stomach and not ready to go to sleep yet at 10 PM, I walked around Weibersbrunn or should I say the big street, once again, only to reside to my room about an hour later and enjoyed a nice hot shower before I tried out the bed.

06/07/2016 : exploring the region

Although it was still pretty early when I woke up, another bright and sunny day awaited me and now that I was here in Germany I decided to make the most of it. I booked this trip purely to clear my head from work and because I wanted a bit of change as well, so this was it, I had to grasp it with both hands and go with the flow, just like I intended to do at the first place.

Promptly at 9 AM every single soul of our group was ready for another day here in the Spessart region and as soon as we were all seated, our driver Chris drove off for a ride through a part of the large woods called “Odenwald” which consists mainly out of oaks and beeches. Of course there are more than enough other species of trees growing in this large area, which made sure that the people living in the region since medieval time had more than enough wood to build houses and other wood products.

The name of the region “Spessart” is derived from the german word “Spechtshardt” of which the first part means woodpecker and the second hilly forest. Most probably this woodpecker forest was filled with these little birds and I guess when walking through it at that given moment in time must have brought a person to madness coz they produce a lot of noise or at least here in Belgium they do!

For centuries these hills and forested valleys of the Spessart were the private hunting domains of the German nobility and bishops and that is mainly the reason why large parts of the woods remained more or less untouched by the outside world till even today. The small villages who were once surrounded by the woods and forests have grown over time and today we were going to visit a few of them of which the first one is Wertheim.

Wertheim is situated at the mouth of the river Tauber into the Main and is basically known as the glass blowing town. Although there is a large museum at the edge of the town where you can learn more about it and even have the possibility to check out the modern factory. Sadly enough our guide Angèle told us this wasn’t included in the program, something she thought was quite a pity and I definitely have to agree with her, if it is typical of the region, why don’t go and check this out. It seems that this program needs a bit of adjusting if you ask me!

Instead of going to see the glass factory, our group was dropped off at the edge of the old town and our guide took us along with her for a guided walk trough this rather small medieval town center. Till this day the center of town still has a few old half-timbered houses, but the main passion of our guide Angèle, like yesterday, seemed to be the towering late-Gothic collegiate church, which is a protestant one.

As soon as we were seated inside the church, she told us all about the building which was said to be erected on Roman ruins as well as the differences between being Catholic and Protestant and although this might seem fascinating to some, I find it a bit boring, but that’s just me and I was more than glad to be out of the church after listening to her stories for more than half an hour.

The old town isn’t that big and just like yesterday I was a bit disappointed and thought it would be more “magical”, but I guess that is also one of the reasons why the fairy tale route is situated a bit north of the Spessart, for everything there is a reason of course.

Once back at the beginning, to be more precise the edge of town, we were brought to a boat and were told we were going to make a boat trip for a little more than half an hour on the river Main where we could have a better view on the town of Wertheim as well as the forests surrounding the town and river.

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Although the sun was still doing her best to shine, as soon as we took off, the wind made sure it was still a bit chilly on deck, but with a nice hot drink in front of me, I was all set to go with the flow this time and enjoyed every moment of it, I really did.

The boat ride was a bit short and could have easily took much longer when I was concerned, but I guess like most people, I started to get a bit hungry as well and as soon as we were of the boat, we slowly walked to a small restaurant where lunch awaited us and I must admit that I loved every single bit of the local delicacy we received, which was some kind of tender meat with boiled potatoes and horseradish as well as red currant sauce, some didn’t like the flavor of the horseradish because it was a bit spicy but I cleaned out my plate, I guess the water made me hungry!

As soon as we were all finished, we had a little bit of free time to have a closer look at the local shops, or I guess our guide wanted to have a closer look, but instead I skipped window shopping all together and just walked back to the carpark and enjoyed more of the sun on a little bench, were soon enough I got company of a few fellow travelers and started talking about the small things in life, live can be that easy.

When we were completed again, all 36 of us that is, we went back on the bus and drove of to another small town in the area, Miltenberg, which is very much known for its historical market square or “Schnatterloch” as it is called in German. I just love those German words, can’t help but smile whenever I am in the country, maybe that is one of the reasons why I love it so much.

For the first time since I have been here in the region, I must say that this little town really made me happy. The half-timbered houses are more than beautiful and the fact that the sun is shining bright on us, makes sure we were are all in a more than good mood. Angèle wanted to guide us through this small town as well but soon figures out that most of the group just wanted to relax and have a cup of coffee on one of the many terraces, so instead we just set a time to be back at the bus and we all went our separate way.

Along with an ice-cream in my hand, I went on discovery in this more than small town and soon figured out that there was only one main street with many shops, a beautiful market square, a castle on top of a hill that was closed and an old church. Funny enough when I went inside to have a look, I found our trusty guide inside with a few people while she was giving them the full explanation about this small but yet beautiful building. That woman really loves her churches!

Once outside again, I just wandered of to some of the alleyways and with a little bit of time to spare I enjoyed a cup of coffee myself at one of the many terraces at the beautiful market square, this really is holiday in my book!

Time flies when you are having fun and although I could have easily stayed a little bit longer, sadly enough it was time again to go back to Weibersbrunn, but not without one last look at the Miltenberg bridge and gate over the river Main.

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It must have been a little over an hour later when we are back at our home base and although we have more than enough time to relax before dinner which is at 7 PM, I take our guide Angèle up on her word and together with a few others, we are up for a small walk around Weibersbrunn, which turns out to be a bit more hillier than first imagined. Sadly enough my initial thought still remain coz Weibersbrunn is but a small dull village, but I have become to appreciate it, after all, it is just a place to sleep, nothing more, nothing less.

As soon as I am back into my room, I went for a nice hot shower and a change of clothes and once back at the restaurant I was up for a small aperitif and dinner, at the rate I was going right now, I am sure to gain a few pounds once I go back home again, but at the moment, I didn’t mind to much, after all, I am on holiday!!!

By the time it was 10 PM, I decided to have enough fun for one day and although I had a few glasses of red wine into my system, I still decided to walk all the way up to the third floor instead of using the elevator. I succeeded, although in a very, very slow pace and once my head touched the pillow, I was off to dreamland, wondering what tomorrow would bring!

07/07/2016 : castles and palaces

Surprisingly enough, when I woke up this morning and also a little bit later than expected, the sun was already shining brightly in the sky. I must admit that after weeks with nothing else but rain and even more rain in Belgium, this was more than a welcoming change and I was in a more than good mood from the moment I jumped out of bed.

Getting dressed wasn’t too big of an issue and as soon as I walked downstairs for yet another yummy breakfast, I was already looking forward to another sunny day. Today we were going to visit a few beautiful castles, if I had to believe everything our guide was saying that is, but in a way it made me curious, so I was more than glad that we could finally leave for our first visit of the day, which was Hessenthal, situated about half an hour away from our little village.

Hessenthal or more in particular its tiny church, is very much known for its “Lamentation of Christ”, which is a famous sculpture of the artist Tilman Riemenschneider. I must admit that I had never heard of this fellow, so just like any other member of our group, I walked inside the little chapel, just to hear our guide and the priest on duty talking on and on about what a great sculptor he was. According to both, he must have been one of the greatest sculptors of the late middle ages, but maybe I was being a bad tourist coz after a few minutes I just left the chapel and walked outside again, glad to see that I wasn’t the only one. A few older gentlemen of our group didn’t find it all too interesting as well and just like me they enjoyed the outside air and the sun which was shining bright and high up in the sky.

It must have been more than half an hour later when the rest of the group appeared again looking somewhat confused about what the priest told them I guess coz some of them even had a harsh time finding our bus and our driver again, what was going on here???
I already knew that I was a bad tourist, but now I even become a curious one coz I wanted to know all about it.

When I talked to someone about it, she just told me that he was rambling on and on about the middle ages and the history of the village as well as the sculptor so, it turned out I didn’t miss one thing … yeah!!!

Back on the bus again, we drove off for another visit in the neighborhood, which was the beautiful moated castle of Mespelbrunn. Still till this day it is in the private hands of the family of the counts of Ingelheim, who despite their reluctance to open up the castle for the public, finally caved in because of the lack of money, it is just that simple. Yep, even “rich” people seem to have a hard time these days.

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After paying the entrance fee, there was a guide already waiting for us and just with a handful of people we could finally go inside the castle and have a look at how the other side lives, if you can call it that. The entrance to the rooms was quite unique and I loved the stoney stairs so to speak, but once inside, we first went into the hunting room which is said to be a very beautiful one, but to be honest, I don’t know what was so beautiful???

Firstly, the room smelled very musty. Secondly, with every step you made, it seemed like you woke up one or the other death relative and thirdly, what in the name of the good lord is so nice at seeing one dead animal after another when it is either beheaded or its fur lying on the ground … I missed it completely and I was more than glad to be out of that room!

Since it was forbidden to take pictures, and to be honest, who wants to take pictures of something like that, it made the guiding part of our “damsel” in front of us so much easier and in an hour she guided us through all the different rooms which were exhibited at that moment, going from the sitting area, library, the children’s room, the parlor to even the guest bedroom.

Once outside again, the sun was still shining so brightly that we decided to walk all the way towards the restaurant where a yummy fish lunch awaited us.

With still a bit of free time to spare, I made use of the time for another leisurely walk towards to other end of the town, but besides loads of houses and a tiny chapel in the distance, there was not much more to see, a disappointment really coz when I compare this trip with the one I did last year, I must admit that this is a complete different part of Germany and it is only 50 kilometers apart from each other. Strange, but nice to know as well.

Back on the bus again, we drove off for another castle visit or to be more precise, a palace visit, which was about an hours drive away, located at the edge of the city of Aschaffenburg which on its own is known as the most important city of the Spessart region.

The city Aschaffenburg is mostly known as being the "Bavarian Nice" amongst the neighboring states of the country. If this is true, I cannot say coz I have never visited Nice and secondly, since we came here solely to visit the Palace Johannisburg, I didn’t see much of the city itself. The bus just drove us straight towards the palace which sadly enough was partly under construction.

Although our guide, Angèle promised us that we had more than enough free time to wander around the palace area, she urged the whole group to follow here inside where I soon enough figured out that the whole building was one gigantic museum. My first thought was that we were going to see more “splendor” than we already saw at the smaller castle earlier today, but instead when we headed for the first floor, we only saw some models of what the old castle in the medieval times might have looked like and how it changed over the years.

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I must admit that our guide is a sweetheart, but when she gets to talking about a certain subject, you can see that she is so passionate about it, which basically means that time passes by before you know it. After listening more than half an hour to the history of the medieval model of the palace in front of us, I quickly figured out that we weren’t going to have any free time anymore coz the bus was going to pick us up in just a few hours, the only thing left for me to do was to tell Angèle that I was leaving the group and I was going to see them again at 5 PM at the entrance of the palace.

Leaving the scale models behind me as well as our group, I soon discovered it was a long way out of the palace, after all, it is a very big building.

Something peculiar I found on my way out, were several rooms filled with cork models of important buildings we all know today, like the Colosseum in Rome. Strange to look at, but on the other hand, the detail of the models were quite impressive. Besides more models, there was also a floor of which every room was filled with nothing else but old furniture as well as an entire floor with contemporary art of German and Dutch painters. Interesting for some, but modern art isn’t really my cup of tea and I was more than glad to be out of there and walked into the open air and into the sunshine.

Although the inside wasn’t for me, the outside of the palace was more than beautiful, especially coz it was located so close to the main promenade from where you had an amazing view on the palace and its garden. Walking next to the river Main was quite relaxing and I even saw the Pompeiianum in the not so far distance. In a way I felt sorry that I left our group coz with leaving them, I also missed out on the ticket for visiting this museum, which is basically a replica of an ancient Roman villa.

Once I arrived at the villa, I just had a quick look at the place from the entrance door before I headed back in a very slow pace towards the palace.

Still a bit impressed by the unique garden which lead you through different pathways towards higher and lower view points on the river and the palace, I also found the next best thing, a terrace with a view.

With a little bit of time to spare, I relaxed at the terrace noticing that I wasn’t the only one of the group. Talking to some, I soon learned that Angèle lost most of her group as soon as she was on the second floor, leaving her with only a hand full of people who she agreed upon to visit the Roman villa.

I must admit that I could have stayed at that same spot for quite a while longer, but it was almost 5 PM and together with most of our group who also found their way towards the palace terrace we walked back to the entrance of the palace and afterwards back to the bus which was going to bring us back to the hotel.

Although we had some time to spare before dinner, I didn’t really felt up for it to go for another walk through the village, so instead I just relaxed at my room and as soon as it was time to go downstairs again, I awaited another yummy meal, not even mentioning about the delicious desserts they serve here at the restaurant.

With a full belly, I couldn’t go straight to bed, so instead I went for a short walk in the company of two older ladies who turned out to be sister-in-laws and although both there husbands were dead, they decided to travel at least one a year together. I thought it was nice to see such a friendship and as soon as we were back and it was just too dark to stay out, I went back to my room for a nice hot shower and a goodnight’s rest.

08/07/2016 : a “fairy” good day

When I woke up this morning, I thought that the weather had changed upon us as the forecasts for today weren’t that good, but as soon as I opened the curtains, for once I was glad that they were wrong. Although a bit cloudy, I knew that today again was going to be a good day.

In the morning, we were going to visit Lohr am Main, which is in a way the gateway to the nature park Spessart.

Although Lohr is but a small town, just because it is so closely situated to the woods, it thrived through the ages from a small insignificant village to a town that is so beautiful that it comes straight out of a fairy tale, if you can see through some of the more modern buildings of this day and age.

For the first time since I have been on this trip, I was glad to be in this town because it reminded me so much about my last year’s trip and maybe that is also one the reasons this town is also called the home of Snow White. As our guide Angèle explained to us during our walk through town, this had all to do with the father of “Snow White”, who was an important mirror maker.

Of course we all know the beautiful fairy tale, but according to our guide, the “truth” is a little bit different. According to her, the story goes like this … once upon a time, in the small town of Lohr there lived a handsome widower with his young daughter who needed to marry again. But because he was a man with a trade, he couldn’t just marry anyone. But against everyone’s advice, he did. He married a beautiful younger woman with 3 children and no money. Hoping that his second marriage would bring nothing else but bliss, they all lived a happy live and as years passed by, the widower became more and more known for the art of making mirrors. Back in the day, this meant that he became a very wealthy person because Counts and other important people from all parts of the region came to his house to buy such a mirror. Live was good, live was great, until the day the widower died himself. "Snow White" once a very young girl grown into a beautiful young lady, but more importantly a wealthy one as well. More than a bit jealous of Snow White, who after her fathers dead became the sole heir, the stepmother wanted her dead and Snow White somehow sensed that. Not knowing who to turn to and more importantly would believe her, she ran away into the deep forest of the Spessart, knowing that once she returned, her stepmother wanted her head. She ran straight into a small forest village with strange looking people who accepted her after she told her story. For a few years she lived happily with her new found family until one day a huntsman of a neighboring town of Lohr arrived and discovered that a beautiful young lady was living between these odd looking people. He immediately noticed that she wasn’t from this village (looks and brains … is that possible?!?) and asked her about it. As Snow White was telling her story she was lucky that back in the day, a huntsman also acts like sort of a policeman and because she was a bit scared of going back, the huntsman returned to the town of Lohr and paid a visit to the house of the stepmother, who during the years lived in wealth and was hoping for a third and more importantly more wealthy marriage. During this sort of interview, he learned the truth and while the whole town believed the young woman was dead because of a story the stepmother told, the huntsman made sure that everyone knew that Snow White was still alive and he made sure that she could return to her town and got her money back, or what was left of it.

Did she marry the huntsman or not, I don’t know, that is where the story of our guide ended, so you can choose your own happy end or something else if you like, but if you are a believer like me, you will certainly end with a nice marriage, a couple of kids and a nice castle and of course, they lived happily ever after … sigh, isn’t that just beautiful!!!

After our nice little walk we ended up at the only castle of the town of Lohr (home of Snow White of course), which these days is a museum where you can find more details about the history of the town and the Spessart forest. The museum itself is well worth a visit, especially when you reach the upper floor of the castle and find all the mirrors which were made back in the time. It is true that the town was a bit know for this craft, so it nice to believe that the story of the beautiful Snow White was true as well. Sadly enough, we will never know this for sure, but for the people living in the town, she is forever connected with them and throughout the streets, you will find numerous references to this young woman.

With a little bit of spare time left, I spend most of it enjoying the warm weather on a small terrace with a nice cup of tea. It slowly hit me that although this wasn’t the best vacation I ever had, it still was a nice one, away from work and everything and sadly enough, it was also our last day. Tomorrow we were going home again, but I didn’t wanted to think so much about that.

As soon as we were all back on the bus, we drove back to our hotel for lunch which was a very extended plowman’s lunch and a yummy one as well.

Our guide told us that in the afternoon we were going for a walk into the forest and although I was very much looking forward to it, I was more than disappointed because from the moment I stepped inside the bus, which was going to bring us to the entrance of the National Park, Angèle told us that she changed the program.

Because 90 % of our group wasn’t able to walk for a very long time, she decided to change the walk into a bus ride through a part of the forest. This meant that we drove for about an hour or even a bit more, through the forest and although I wanted to walk alongside the beautiful big trees, now I could only see them behind the glass window of a vehicle. This for me, was really a major disappointment. Words can’t describe this, that’s for sure.

I guess she somehow knew that besides me, a few other people were disappointed as well, so after our drive, we ended up at the edge of the forest in the vicinity of a big hotel. While most people offered to relax at the terrace of the hotel with a glass of liquid, me and about 10 others joint our guide for a village walk.

Although it wasn’t the most pleasurable walk, because what is there to see when you walk alongside some modern street houses. It all made it a bit interesting when of course, Angèle got lost again. I was besides myself. I know that she couldn’t help it, but how on earth is it possible that she takes out a group of people out on a walk and gets lost in the process, and more importantly in such a small village where I think it is not possible to get lost.

Maybe that was one of the reasons she cancelled the forest walk, in a way I was thanking the lord coz when we were lost there, we were never to be found again. Now we knew we had to end up back at the hill somewhere and although we only wanted to go for half an hour walk, we were all smiling when we arrived back at the terrace of the hotel with a nice cold drink in our hands. It really made up for the disappointment earlier today coz half an hour later we were all laughing about it and why not, nothing bad happened, so even for us this was a happy end of the day.

Once back at the hotel, there was still some time to relax before dinner and together with a few others of our group we wandered of to the nearby hotel where we had a few drinks on the terrace and discussed all the things that happened during our trip, for me this was a great ending of the day as well as the delicious dinner that followed, so in the end, a day with ups and downs that I will never ever forget, that’s for sure!

09/07/16 MAINhattan

Our last day here in the region and for some reason, the weather changed from good, to dark and cloudly. It seemed that even the weather told us that it was time to go home again and as soon as we packed all of our stuff together and had one last breakfast, we did just that.

Today we were going to have a morning visit to the big city of Frankfurt am Main. I must admit that this wasn’t exactly a highlight of the trip, but Angèle got my attention when she told me that some people also call this city the “Main”hattan of Germany. I must admit that I visited Manhattan myself in the past and although I love the city of New York, I didn’t had one clue why she made this comparison, until she told us that the skyline was equally beautiful.

It took us a few hours to drive towards the city and to be honest, once we arrived at the center of town, I was more than glad that I could finally stretch my legs.

Chris, our driver dropped us off smack in the middle of the city, at a place called “Römerberg”, which was basically the center of everything during Medieval times. I have to admit that this market square lookalike was very beautiful, filled with nice old buildings, but our German guide kept on talking and talking that at one point I thought she was related to our guide Angèle. She was even worse to be more precise and at one point I was even looking for escape routes out of here, but sadly enough we didn’t mention an hour when we were going to leave here, so I didn’t had a choice, I had to “undergo” everything.

I guess we must have been standing there more than half an hour, when we finally moved from our place next to the fountain to the inside of the City Hall, where we arrived at the Imperial Hall which was filled with paintings of all the rulers of Frankfurt am Main or to be more precise, all the emperors from medieval times till now and let me tell you know … never ever go inside this place with a guide coz you’ll never know when you get out of there. Outside our guide was telling us on and on about the Medieval times that at one point it wasn’t even fun anymore but inside the Imperial Hall, she kept going on and on about all the emperors and although some of them were maybe interesting, I didn’t think it was necessary to talk about them for almost 2 hours, for once we all shared the same thought, how can we go out of here and where can we run to!!!!

It was almost 12 AM when we got out of the place and although we said thank you in the most friendly way we know, even our guide Angèle was glad to be out of there and that says everything!

Although, we were still meant to do other things like visiting the Jewish Cemetery and so on, because our German guide was going on and on about the last centuries filled with more than a dozen emperors, there wasn’t much time anymore. We even had to run so to speak to visit the Main Tower and because most of our group wasn’t able, we were just left with a handful of people who ended up on the deck of the tower, which was quite high and reminded me just why I was afraid of heights!

Once back on terra firma, I agreed with our guide that I went back on my own to the center of the city and as soon as I got the time we were supposed to leave again to Belgium, I wondered of to different streets making sure I would see the most of this city in so little time.

In less than an hour, I managed to get back to the “Römerberg”, had a quick visit to the Cathedral were a wedding was going on, had a bite to eat and even scored a delicious ice cream dessert, I was that good!

Back in the bus again on our way home, I must say that I wasn’t really impressed with Frankfurt am Main, but than again, I hadn’t seen much of it as well and as soon as we crossed a gigantic bridge towards the other side of the river Main, I finally got it when they say that it reminds people of Manhattan. My gosh, it was a really beautiful skyline and as we were driving home, I was thinking, this is not the last time I visited this city and I really want to visit this city once again. It seems that there is still so much to discover, Frankfurt am Main, I am certainly coming back if you like it or not!!!

A short stop along the way and about 5 hours later, we arrived back in Mol, the hometown of the bus company and as soon as I said goodbye to some people of the group, I drove back home where I arrived about an hour later. I was glad to be back home again, but on the other hand, it meant that my short break was over as well.

Maybe in a way this was a sad thing, but on the other hand it means that I can plan new holidays and visit other places and countries, so what is not to like.

Posted by Ils1976 03:05 Archived in Germany Tagged landscapes bridges churches buildings boats desert restaurant nature monument culture hotel bus town germany walk city clouds holiday castle tour sightseeing sights europe group drinks viewpoint fairy_tale half_timbered_houses grey_weather Comments (2)

German Fairy Tale Route

a "magical" road trip following into the footsteps of the infamous brothers Grimm leading me to so many beautiful towns and villages.


View German Fairy Tale route - 2015 on Ils1976's travel map.

25/06/15 how things evolve

Coming back from Budapest, I didn’t had much time to think about anything else except work and it amazed me how quick a month went by.

I needed a break urgently after spending more than a month at the office, almost always alone with lots of moody drivers who needed a break as well and needless to say, I was more than glad that I was smart enough to have asked my boss some days off from work earlier in the year.

Sadly enough, I only got 7 days off and although I had so many plans in the back of my head, one week was simply too short to cross an ocean, so I decided to keep it closer to home.

A few years back I was handed a brochure at a local Travel Fair containing several roadtrips in Germany and one of them particularly cought my attention.

The title alone was more than interesting … let’s face it : German Fairy Tale Route, is there something more “magical”?

For some reason, I never seemed to had time to go and explore this route, but it never got out of my head as well and now that opportunity presented itself, I was more than eager to see what this was all about.

Ever since I was little, I was fascinated by fairy tales and to be honest, growing up, I never got tired of hearing those 4 tiny words “once upon a time”. Even at an age where I started to read, those four little words could bring me to another world, where loads of stuff happened and everyone truly lived happily ever after.

Becoming an adult you basically forget most of your childhood memories, but this one sticked to me and now that I have become a godmother myself, all those fond memories are starting to come back as well.

With only a few weeks of planning ahead of me, I am more than ready to become enchanted!

28/06/15 planning a trip isn’t always easy

Most of the time, I travel abroad with an organised tour, not only because it is easy, but at times, they make such good deals that you just cannot ignore it and if there is always enough free time to do things on your own … it’s a “yes” for me!

This time however, I was going to do a road trip in Germany and although I read on the website of the German Fairy Tale Route that they have packages of 7 to 8 days, I decided to plan this trip all on my own, making it possible to stop at certain places as well as skipping others coz the route itself is more than 600 kilometers in length, too long to travel in just one week anyway.

With a guidebook on one side of the table and a map of the entire route on the other, it was fairly easy to plan things, that is … till my mother came along!

Thinking this trip was going to be all about having some ME-time, my mum tricked me in letting her join me on this trip and not soon after, even my dad started complaining, saying he deserved a break as well and wanted to come along!

Being the family person that I am … the more the merrier I always say! So instead of some ME-time, this was going to be a family outing, how things can turn in just mere hours.

Although it didn’t take too long to plan the trip, finding 2 rooms was a bit more difficult. I had to do alot of searching but in the end I managed and found ourselves some good deals through booking.com and with that last problem solved, our road trip was finished.

09/07/15 road trippin’

5 o’clock in the morning sounds pretty darn early, but if it is the start of a holiday, it can’t be early enough in my book!

After a quick breakfast and making sure that our luggage was safely secured in the trunk of the car, the three of us were ready for our journey towards Germany.

Seeing it was still very early, there was not so much traffic on the road and even with times we’ve got the road almost all to ourselves, that is till we reached the border with the Netherlands. It seemed that more and more people were up and about and ready to go to work.

By the time we reached Germany, it was still doable on the road, but not because of the many, many and I really mean many (???) road works along the way. After an hour or so even traffic jams started to appear as well, not something to look forward to, to be honest!

From time to time, it even seemed that we just drove from one road work to another, but with a bit of patience and one quick break to stretch our legs, we reached the city of Hanau a little after 1 PM, the real start of the Fairy Tale Route.

At first I was a bit disappointed seeing Hanau coz I thought it was going to be a beautiful small town with very old houses, instead of this modern city with loads of new buildings and shopping streets.

It turned out that the three of us were in the new and modern Hanau and after lunch we ended up in the part I was really looking for. Mind you, it took a while getting there because they were not only working on the highway, even Hanau itself looked like one giant construction site.

The old town of Hanau nowadays is very small with just a few half timbered houses and one goldsmith house which serves as a museum for the art of forging gold as well as an old well, but that’s about it.

Because the city was bombed by British during World War II, almost everything of historic value was lost, even the birthplace of the brothers Jakob en Wilhelm Grimm, the once responsible for the fact that I am doing this route in the first place.

Luckily the people of Hanau are so proud of their 2 most famous residents coz till this day, they commemorate this infamous duo with a national monument at their central market place. Ever since the late 1800’s Jakob stands tall next to his brother Wilhelm who sits on a comfortable chair. Legend says that during the witching hour, the brothers change places in order to give Jakob a rest. A nice thought no!?

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Now that we were at the starting point of our road trip, I must admit that I got all excited again and after a quick visit at Schloss Philippsruhe just outside the city centre, we were eager to discover our next stop on our agenda, Steinau an der Strasse, where we arrived about an hour later whilst driving through beautiful hilly landscapes.

It is just a complete different feel driving on the highway with nothing interesting to see or driving on small roads with beautiful sceneries hiding behind every corner. Sadly enough most of the time we need highways to get somewhere faster, otherwise I would never leave these small roads I suppose!

Steinau An Der Strasse is a very small picturesque village and mind boggling at the same time coz this was the thing I wanted to see! Beautiful medieval half timbered houses, a renaissance castle which seemed to come straight out of a fairy tale, cobblestoned roads, in short … the whole package!

It is not allowed to drive through the streets of the village, only inhabitants can drive through to go to their houses and this certainly adds to the magical atmosphere surrounding the village.

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Since it was already late in the afternoon upon our arrival, we couldn’t visit the House of the Brothers Grimm anymore. This is just a small museum dedicated to Jakob and Wilhem, who grew up in this place after leaving the big city of Hanau behind them.

The museum is said to house a collection of over 200 manuscripts, examples of the brothers’ work, many family portraits and artefacts. It also shows the great contribution they made to language, literature and law. Their work has been translated into 140 languages and is the most widespread literature available after the bible. This alone sounds pretty amazing and this only means that one day I have to come back.

Since the weather was all changing on us from bright and light to cloudy and grey, we just had a stroll through the village and moved on to our destination for tonight, Schlüchtern.

It was just just half an hour’s drive and since our hotel was easy accessible, we were checked-in in no time into our room.

WIth only a few hours of daylight left, we had a nice walk through this town as well and found ourselves a cozy looking place to have something for dinner and together with a few glasses of wine, I did manage to find my room back in the dark, but that’s about it … to be honest, I didn’t even remember going to sleep … I suppose I was completely knackered!

10/07/15 on the road again

A good night’s sleep is without a doubt the best thing there is, but this combined with a delicious full breakfast is truly knowing you are on holiday!

With our bellies full and our luggage stored in the trunk of the car, we were ready for another day of sightseeing on the fairy tale route.

Our first stop of the day was going to be Freiensteinau, which was only about an half hours drive from Schlüchtern. Although it was still very early in the day, the sun was already shining and with a big smile on my face, we drove through some of the most beautiful countryside I had ever seen, especially when you compare it with Belgium, where nature is more and more losing the fight against modern day buildings and huge apartments. I guess nowadays Germany is facing the same problem as well, but in this part of the country it seems that they are still spared from this modern day problem … the question however is … for how long?

Freiensteinau is but a very small town with only about a dozen houses and a parish church high up a hill where you have an incredible view on the local meadows. The parish church, although very beautiful, was sadly enough closed and maybe the early hour had something to do with it, so after a very short walk through the local cemetery, we decided to say “auf Wiedersehen” to the place and went on our way towards Herbstein, a slighty bigger town, but still very small compared to most cities in Germany.

It seemed that most people were sleeping in as well coz just like Freiensteinau the place looked abandonned, except for a few cars which were parked at the local market square.

Herbstein is mainly added to the fairy tale route because of the many sagas and stories of the Vogelsberg region which have been passed on from generation to generation and ended up in one of the books of the local folklorist and teacher Ulrich Benzel. Although the little town has in the first place nothing to do with the brothers, I am sure that one time or another they passed it and therefor it is definitely worth a visit.

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Nowaydays, you can still wonder through the town and find not only a beautiful parish church, but 3 defensive towers as well, remnants of the 13th century partly restored town wall. More known for the region are the Herbstein Vulcan Baths, with a thermal pool of 32,6 degrees warm water which is said to have some "healing powers". If this is true I don’t know, but when we visited the place the pool was packed with senior citizens, so they definitely believe it … the three of us on the other hand, just sticked to a walk through the park and a cup of hot chocolate afterwards. Pure enjoyment!

Sadly enough we couldn’t stay here all day coz we still needed to cover a bit of road to end up in Kirchhain this evening, our end destination for today!

Back on the road again, we drove through lots of small roads, only to end up in Alsfeld about half an hour later. This town is said to be the most picturesque town on the fairy tale route, needless to say of course, we had to make a stopover and our guide book wasn’t wrong at all, it really is a beautiful one.

The historic town center of Alsfeld has one beautiful half-timbered house after another. Through the years, people of this region developed different building styles on their houses and here you can see most of them. Some of the houses may look crooked, but after hundreds of years they still stand, so I can only admire their builders, they did a great job!

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It was almost noon when we arrived, so after a little snack in one of the many bakeries which you can find throughout the centre of town, we went back again to the main square and paid a visit to the Tourist Center. Here we were handed a guide map with a 60 minute walk covering all the major sights of the town, one of the most important being The Alsfeld Fairy Tale House (Märchenhaus) which was build in 1628. In this house it is said you will be greeted by the fairy tale teller who brings all the sagas and stories of the brothers back to live. Seeing is believing, but sadly enough our story teller wasn’t at home, so the only thing we could do is admire the beautiful old building.

Not that we mourned too much about it … the weather was nice, the sun was shining, so instead of listening to stories all afternoon, we decided to try out what seemed to be a local delicacy out here … spaghetti ice! The only thing I can say about it, it is heaven on a plate, it is simply that delicious and although it basically is just vanilla ice cream with strawberry sauce and a bit of white chocolate, it is more than yummy and I liked it very much, secretly I am ready to taste more of it this week!

Since it was still early in the afternoon, we just had one more walk through the town of Alsfeld and at the same time did some window shopping, admired more half-timbered houses and did what everyone does on a hot afternoon … we went for a few drinks on the main square while enjoying the view on the late Gothic Town Hall, which is really a nice piece of architecture.

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It was already after 4 PM when we finally left Alsfeld to drive towards our end destination of the day which was Kirchhain. Our hotel was located in the middle of the old town so it wasn’t that difficult to find. Although it took a while to get our keys to our room, we were still in such a happy mood because of the good weather that we didn’t mind one bit.

As soon as we were unpacked, we went outside again and had a little stroll in town, but unlike Alsfeld, besides part of a town wall and a witch tower without a witch, there wasn’t much to see.

Since we were getting hungry again, after all it has been quite a while since we had eaten something and besides that, we are on our holiday … we went on the lookout for something nice, but sadly enough there wasn’t that much to choose from so in the end, we just turned back to our hotel and decided to have dinner at the terrace of the joint. Eventually this turned out to be a good choice coz dinner was fine and even the red wine my dad ordered was something I could appreciate and that doesn’t happen very often, I am not really a red wine fanatic.

We stayed outside and enjoyed the last rays of sunshine but as soon as it got all dark on us, I decided I had enough fun for one day and to be honest, I was a little tipsy as well!

I did manage to get up the stairs to the third floor but once I got into the shower and crawled into my bed I was so sleepy that I just needed to close my eyes. I guess after walking a whole day in the sun and drinking almost half a bottle of red wine, I felt that tired that I didn’t even see the clock turn 11 PM!

11/06/15 how many stairs can a person do in one day!

Surprisingly enough I didn’t woke up with a headache, unlike what I expected and after a quick hot shower and some food, I was more than ready for another day of sightseeing!

Today we didn’t had too much driving to do coz our main goal of the day was Marburg, the university town of the brothers from 1802 till 1806 and only about a 15 minutes drive away from Kirchhain. Jacob Grimm once described his impressions of Marburg to a school fellow as follows : "I believe there are more steps on the street than in the houses. One even enters one house through the roof.”

Eager to find out if this was true, we quickly parked our car in one of the many parkings and as soon as we got an idea where the old town was situated, we came across our first obstacle … a staircase with about 50 steps or so, I didn’t really count them, but needless to say, once we arrived at the market square, I was beat and needed a rest for a minute or two. This was really a test to see how much I was out of shape and to be honest, I wasn’t liking it, not one bit!

Seeing it was still early in the morning, there were already some people up and about, but luckily no big crowds yet.

During the weekends in July and August, you can find all kinds of activities along the major towns on the Fairy Tale Route and Marburg is no exception. People were already busy setting up some stages for the festivities later this afternoon.

In the meantime, the three of us were ready for some more climbing and after what must have been about half an hour later, we were at the highest point of the old town and reached the Landgrave castle, which is a nice piece of brickwork build in the 13th Century. Although it housed loads of Hessian Landgraves over the centuries, nowadays it is a museum of Cultural History and how fascinating this might be, for me the view from the castle on the old town and half-timbered houses were more interesting, so while sitting in the sun and admiring the view, we relaxed for a short while till it was time to go down again through many of the narrow alleys and cobblestoned roads.

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Reaching the market square again, things were getting busier and busier and even the first choir of the day was practicing their songs on stage. Since it really wasn’t my cup of tea, we just walked down the shopping streets all the way towards the church of Saint Elizabeth and the ruins of her hospital … but who was this saint?

Elizabeth of Hungary was born in 1207. Her marriage was arranged when she was just a child, and at age of four, she was sent to Thuringia for education and eventual marriage. When she was 14, she married Louis of Thuringia. They loved each other deeply. According to legend, Elizabeth went out with loaves of bread to feed those who were poor. Her husband saw her and took hold of her cape to see what she was carrying. What he saw was roses rather than bread! Because of this, she is also known as the patroness of bakers. Louis supported her in all she did to relieve the sufferings of those who were poor or sick. But Louis’s mother, Sophia, his brother, and other members of court resented Elizabeth’s generosity. She was taunted and mocked by the royal family, but deeply loved by the common people.

In 1227, after six years of marriage, Louis went to fight in the Crusades. He died on the way. Elizabeth was grief stricken. Her in-laws accused her of mismanaging the finances of the kingdom, forcing her and her children out of the palace. For a while, they found refuge only in barns. Finally, they were taken in by her uncle, the bishop of Bamberg. When her husband’s friends returned from the Crusades, they helped restore her to her rightful place in the palace. Elisabeth increased her service to others and devoted herself to works of charity. She was amongst the first to build a hospital and till the day she died, at the age of 24, she cared for the sick and poor.

Very soon after the death of Elizabeth, miracles were reported that happened at her grave in the church of the hospital, especially those of healing. No wonder this woman was canonized only four years later!

True or false, I don’t care, this woman deserves a medal for what she has done in her short period here on earth and at the same time it made me rethink about all the stupid things I worry about, for a while that is!

But enough with the serious stuff, we are on our holiday after all and because of all that walking up and down loads of stairs and narrow streets, the three of us got thirsty and a bit hungry as well. As soon as we were back at the market square, our prayers for finding something suitable to eat were answered.

We quickly found a nice enough spot near a stage and with a drink in one hand and a “bratwurst” with mustard in the other, we had one hell of a good time listening to some awesome German music … you gotta love that typical Bavarian folk music when you are in the country … but yodeling is a bit too much, even for me!

It was already a few hours in the afternoon when we decided we did enough walking coz after all ... "how many stairs can a person do in one day?”

To be honest, I had seen enough of them and by the time it was 3 PM, we returned back to my car. Since it was still a bit early to head back to Kirchhain, we decided to make a little detour and visited the small village of Gossfelden, which is situated in the beautiful region of the Lahntal and once upon a time the home of Otto Ubbelohde.

I must admit that I had never heard of this painter who lived in the early 1900’s, but reading more about the brothers, their live and also their work and legacy, I soon found out that he got famous internationally because of his illustrations he made for the volumes of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales, a total of more than 450 illustrations to be more precise! His inspiration came from the region he was born into and to be honest, the whole area screams fairy tale, so it’s not so odd that this painter got famous for it, all he needed was to walk outside and take his paintbrush with him!

Nowadays the small village has a walking trail named after his famous inhabitant, which leads from the center of the village all the way towards his house, where he lived and worked and I have to admit after walking up and down hundreds of stairs, this was a welcome change.

The museum itself is held inside the studio of Otto Ubbelohde and is only open in the weekend from 11 AM till 5 PM. At the moment we arrived at the scene, so to speak, it was a quarter to 5. Although it was time to close, the friendly caretaker let us in anyway, so we still had a chance to have a quick look inside, where you can still find some of his most important paintings, etchings as well as illustrations.

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Once outside again, the sun was still shining, so needless to say, the walk back to the center of the village was a pleasant one!

As soon as we were back at the car, we drove back to Kirchhain, where we enjoyed the rest of the evening. Although it was already after 7 PM, it was still warm outside, something I can only rejoice and just like the day before, we opted for dinner in our hotel.

This time I was a bit smarter and instead of the usual bottle of red wine, I just sticked to water. I guess this was the smartest thing I did all day coz otherwise I had never been able to walk up the stairs, I was just so freaking tired and when I finally hit the sack, I remembered myself that once I got home again, I really needed to do something about my physical shape, maybe I am getting old, I don’t know what is happening, but I am definitely not liking it!

12/07/15 onwards it is

Maybe I was a bit grumpy when I went to bed last night, but after a good night’s rest, that all changed and with a nice brekkie as a start of the day, things couldn’t be better. The sun is shining, we still have our health … what more do we need!

As soon as we checked out and said our farewells to the friendly family of hotel owners, we went on our way again for another stretch of road on the Fairy Tale Route.

Unlike yesterday, today I had planned a whole day on the road with several stops along the way and the first stop of the day was the small painters village of Willinghausen. Except for the wooden sculpture of the frog prince in the center of the village, there is not much to see but if you happen to have a fondness for paintings, there is always the museum “Malerstübchen” at the Gerhardt-von-Reutern House, where you can find loads of works of old painters like Ludwig Emil Grimm, brother of our famous duo as well as works from painters who are still alive today!

Although we had the intention to have a quick look at the museum, there was an election going on at the same time we arrived and believe it or not, the voting booths were put up in the museum itself. Even for me this was a bit awkward, so instead of browsing through the few rooms, we just returned back to our car and went on for our next destination, the small town of Treysa.

Treysa is located smack in the middle of the Schwalm region and together with its neigboring town Zieghain and 11 other smaller villages, it forms the city of Schwalmstadt, also better known as the capital of Little Red Riding Hood Territory.

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From the moment we arrived into town, we immediately discovered the cute bronze sculptures of the wolf and the seven goats near the train station as well as the star of the region, Little Red and her eternal rival, the wolf!

Besides those bronze sculptures, the real attraction of the town or according to some the emblem of Treysa, are the ruins of the Church of St. Martin, build in the 13th century and since 1610 known as the Church of the Death because it was exclusively used for funeral services. Strange fact however, non of the deceased are buried in or near the church.

After walking around for a while and enjoying the views on the Schwalm area from a higher part of the town, we decided to move on and visit another village in the region. Next stop was going to be Knüllwald with its ruins of Wallenstein castle.

Wallenstein castle was originally built in the high Middle Ages and was first mentioned in the early 13th century as castle “Wallinsteyn” which basically means stone in the woods. They weren’t wrong there when they named it coz the walk up to the ruins is a short one but you have to conquer a bit of green to get there. Once you reach it though, you'll get rewarded with magnificent views.

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Sadly enough till this day only the stair tower to the former living area as well as a part of the surrounding stone wall are preserved, but than again, it makes for one hell of a good look-out tower so no complaining here!

The ruins of the castle are located just outside the small village of Knüllwald, near a local camping area which in its turn is ideally suited for a small break. Besides drinks, they also have small snacks on offer, but since we still weren’t that hungry yet, we opted for a cold drink on the terrace which had a great view on the remnants of the castle. There are worse things in life when relaxing in the sun … that’s for sure!

I have to admit that I could have easily stayed at that same spot for the remainder of the day, but we still had a bit of driving to do, so onwards it was and once back on the road, the sun started to disappear as well, so maybe in the end we made the right choice.

By the time we arrived in Homberg (Efze), dark clouds appeared above us and as soon as we reached the idyllic market place with its half-timbered houses and impressive St. Mary’s Church it started to rain. Just our luck I guess!

According to my guide book this town is amongst one of the more beautiful ones along the route, but when it rains, even I don’t see the beauty of it all, so after a quick stroll through the town, we decided to find something for a late lunch and at the same time take shelter from the dreadful weather as well … but during our search for some food, I really got thunderstruck.

I know it was a Sunday, but believe it or not, not one restaurant was open, every bakery we passed was closed and after walking around for more than half an hour, we finally found a small pub, which served a few snacks like hot dogs and more of its kind. What a difference when you look at my country, where the main purpose on a Sunday afternoon is going out and have lunch or dinner with friends, relatives and finding one eatery opened after an other!

Since we didn’t had too much of a choice, we went for the hot dog like dishes and although it was’t really fine dining, it kept us alive!

When we left Homberg (Efze), it was still raining and it kept on raining and raining for quite a while that even driving through it, wasn’t all that fun. So instead of going to some smaller villages, we decided to drive straight towards our final destination of today, Bad Wildungen that is, till we passed the small mining village of Bergfreiheit.

Driving through the village, I suddenly saw a sculpture of Snow White and her dwarfs and since we were on the Fairy Tale Route, I couldn’t but take a picture of it, even when it was raining! Getting closer to the dwarfs, I noticed that they were as big as me, but still, it was a beautiful sight!

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Across the street of the sculptures, we found refuge at a local pub and ordered something hot to drink when all of a sudden the waiter started telling us some interesting information about the region. It was like having a guide with us and soon he even told us that the village was known for its Snow White House and of course THAT got my complete attention!

It turned out it was but a few blocks away and since it was already way in the afternoon, he arranged for us to get in, if we got there before 5 PM. Thanks to the friendly directions, we did manage and in a way it is strange seeing people standing outside to welcome you, it feels a bit royal!

Although at first I expected to see a tiny house, because dwarfs were living in it, it was just your typical German house but melted into a museum dedicated to this wonderful person.

On the first floor we were welcomed by Snow White herself and even the cute dwarfs where present. The entire floor was adapted to the height of the dwarfs with small beds, a tiny kitchen and so on. After meeting up with the local celebrities, we went upstairs and were put into a video room where we got the complete story behind Snow White and how the legend was turned into a fairy tale. I have to admit that it was quite interesting and at the same time it really gave us a better idea of mining itself.

Going outside again, it was still horrible weather, so we quickly said goodbye and thanked the wonderful owner of the house, who especially kept it open for a few strangers and soon after, we drove towards Bad Wildungen, which was about half an hour away from the small village.

Upon our arrival at the town of Bad Wildungen, we immediately went straight to our Guesthouse which was about a few kilometers away from the centre of town and as soon as we checked in, there was nothing else for us to do than find something to eat for dinner. Since we were located in some sort of residential area, there was not much food in sight, so we decided to drive up to Bad Wildungen itself, which in its turn turned out a major disappointment … again!

I don’t know what it is with villages and towns on a Sunday, maybe it had something to do with the bad weather, I don’t really know, but walking through the centre, we only got wet feet coz not one restaurant or eatery was opened, what was going on here???

Thinking we had to go to bed without food coz even our guesthouse didn’t serve dinner, we just drove back to our hotel till about a kilometer before we reached it, we all of a sudden saw some lights coming from a Italian restaurant and the beauty of it all, there were even cars in front of it … OPENED FOR BUSINESS!!!!

I guess, we were the three happiest persons alive knowing that we finally found something to eat … how easy life can be sometimes!

After a really good dinner and with smiles on our face, or at least on mine, we went back to the guesthouse and decided we had enough fun for one day. A quick call to the home front learned us that everything was still fine and one hot shower later, I turned to my laptop, got up to date with the latest news on the social media till even my eyes couldn’t handle it anymore and at long last, I hit the sack a little before midnight, after all, it had been quite a long and more than weird day.

13/07/15 the wheels of the car keep going round and round

Contrary to earlier nights,, this night, I didn’t sleep a wink. I don’t know exactly what happened, but the whole night I kept on tossing and turning … was it the bed, was it the food … I just have no clue, but I was more than glad to see my alarm clock turn into 8 AM! After a nice hot shower, I slowly got dressed and went to the breakfast area where I met up with my parents.

It seemed that I wasn’t the only person with gigantic bags under my eyes (I hope this is the right translation!) coz looking at my mum, I immediately saw that she had the same problem, only she knew the cause and blamed it on the bed.

Although two out of three persons looked miserable, we did manage to enjoy breakfast and as soon as we were checked out and had put our stuff into the trunk of the car, we were more than ready for another day on the road.

Our goal of today was to reach the city of Kassel by this evening, but since it was still early in the morning, we had more than enough time to explore some more towns and villages along the way and the first one of them was only about half an hour’s drive away, to be more precise, the small town of Waldeck, which is basically known for its beautiful castle build on the remnants of an 11th century fortification.

Nowadays the castle serves as a four star hotel and a beautiful one I might at, but in the past it had all kinds of functions going from being the ancestral seat and residence of the Counts of Waldeck, a state penitentiary, to even a state archive and forestry office. It seems that through the years they always found suitable use for this building from which you have an awesome view on the Edersee.

Even from the town of Waldeck itself, you have an amazing view on the castle and although the town looks pretty modern, going through the main street, you still find some old half-timbered houses of which the oldest date back from the earlier 1700’s.

Our next stop on the route has fairy tale town writing al over itself as it is called Wolfhagen and dates back all the way from 1231. Like all the towns along the route here you also find beautiful half-timbered houses as well as the Gothic town church St. Anna and the most infamous piece of architecture, if I may call it that, the fairy tale fountain which displays the story of the Wolf and the seven goats.

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Walking through this small town, we came across more than one statue of the Wolf, so I expect that the inhabitants of this town are a bit proud of this magical being, despite the fearsome character it sometimes has. I must admit that I was glad to see that people here depicted this mammal in a gentile way instead of it being a predator all the time.

From Wolfhagen we decided to drive to Schauenburg, where till today you still find the castle ruins of the town itself high up a hill, but as we were driving, we just drove from one diversion into another … I can’t say enough how I hate those roadworks and it surprised me that even in the countryside they make quite a mess of it, so instead of searching time and time again for a new road, we just crossed this little town from our map and went on to Niedenstein!

Maybe we should have persevered, but than again, I was just tired of hearing my GPS saying “ TURN BACK” after hearing it for 50 or more times, it is not fun anymore!

Niedenstein isn’t too big if a town and to be honest, I would have rather called it a village, but than again, who am I to say anything about it. As we parked our car in front of a local pub, we headed for the church of Niedenstein which is built in the late 1700’s and stands proud in the middle of town, but the main reason why I wanted to visit this little tiny town, was for that one special natural monument, a thousand-year-old dance lime tree. As the name suggests, dances were held under this tree and it has been said that more than one marriage was planned underneath this lime tree, but we kept on searching and searching, we didn’t find it, so is this just one of the many legends???

Getting hungry after all that searching, we tried to find some food, but in small towns, not much is opened, so after a quick visit to the local bakery, we had scored some sandwiches and other delicious items and together with some hot and cold drinks, we just drove to a beautiful spot outside the town and had a picnic near one of the many woods.

Sadly enough we couldn’t stay there for the rest of the day coz dark clouds were once again hovering above our heads and it looked like it was going to rain any minute, but it turned out to be 2!

Driving onwards on the road, our next stop was Gudensberg, which like every town we visited the last couple of days, has quite an interesting history concerning the Hessian landgraves, only this town itself goes way back coz they even talk about a prehistorical settlement that once had been set up here. They called themselves the tribe of the Chatti, which had their meeting place on the Wotan’s Mountain (Wodansberg) in the gray prehistory.

Wotan, the Teutonic storm and war god as well as father of the gods and people, was worshipped at this region and Wodansberg, from which the town of Gudensberg derived its name, was the religious and political center-point of the Chatti … impressive not!!

Nowadays, not much has remained from this period of time, unlike the countless half-timbered structures from the 17th and 18th centuries, but than again, I guess those Thuringian and Hessian landgraves had better luck since their structures aren’t that old, maybe we still have to wait a couple of hundred years to see what remains as well.

Although it drizzled all the time, we still managed to have a fairly nice walk around town and if the weather wasn’t against us, I am sure we even walked up the hill and visited the castle ruins, but I guess this will have to wait till next time.

Once back at the car, it started to rain more heavily and I was more than glad that we were inside my trusty car, so instead of looking at the raindrops falling down, we just drove another stretch of road, till we reached our next destination.

Fritzlar is really a beautiful town if you can look through the many raindrops and once a complete fortified town, nowadays you can still find 14 towers and hundreds of half-timbered houses throughout town, one more beautiful than the other. Even the Town Square with its Roland Fountain and Town Hall is really worth looking at, as well as the Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral, which once received the privilege of a visit of Pope John Paul II.

Although we took an umbrella with us for our walk through town, we soon got soaking wet and instead of walking from one puddle to another, we were so happy to have found a bakery which was open in order to soak up some warmth, have a hot drink or 2 and something delicious with it.

By the time it got darker and darker, we expected more rain and instead of hoping for a dry walk through the town again, we just went back to our car and drove in a straight way towards the city of Kassel where we arrived about an hour later, trying to avoid major roads and enjoyed riding through some more amazing countryside.

When we almost reached Kassel, the weather cleared up as well and as soon as we checked in at our hotel, we went outside again for a short walk to the city centre trying to find something to eat.

The friendly receptionist of the hotel gave us some pointers where to find something to eat and thanks to his good suggestions, we did find something to our liking. With the evening sun still shining upon our faces, we just had a nice walk through the main street with all of its shops and by the time we got back to our room, it was already quite late. A quick shower later, I just went to bed and hoped that tonight I would have a good night’s rest … not that I was hoping for it, since we were sleeping in a triple room and my dad is someone who snores a lot … fingers crossed!

14/07/15 walking around the capital of the German Fairy Tale route and World Heritage Site

Amazingly enough I slept like a baby and since we didn’t had too much planned today, the three of us just relaxed for a while and slept in. A nice hot shower later, we were ready for some brekkie and although the weather outside didn’t predict too much fun, we still managed to walk up to our car and drove onwards to our main goal of today, the mountain park of Willemshöhe, which was located at the other side of the city, about 8 kilometers away.

My initial goal was to walk up to the park on foot, but I guess this was just a bit too much for my parents and seeing the distance myself with the dark and gloomy weather outside, I guess that in the end, we made the right decision.

As soon as we parked our car, we had a fierce walk through the park uphill, till we reached the beautiful Willemshöhe Palace, a neoclassical piece of architecture, build in the late 18th century for the Hessian Landgrave Wilhelm, who in his turn used this place extensively as a summer residence and a personal retreat.

You can’t blame the guy of course, because from the moment you step into his backyard, you’ll find the mean reason why thousands and thousands of tourists visit this city every year.

Willemshöhe mountainpark is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site for a reason of course. The area of the park is 2.4 square kilometers and this number alone makes sure it is the largest European hillside park. The landscape garden is amazing to look at, even in the rain and although we were out of luck because they were renovating the place, you still had an idea how things would look like if you closed your eyes and imagined that big gigantic cascade with the statue of Hercules on top, taking all that water downstairs through loads of smaller cascades, streams and aqueducts … quite an impressive picture and although I was a bit disappoint at first, I soon got over it as we started walking up hill.

I must admit that I had rather seen all the smaller cascades as well as the big one, but the walk up hill in the rain was already rewarding enough for me and when I saw that statue of Hercules I was glad that I made it … maybe I wasn’t too much out of shape like I first expected or otherwise the German air had something to do with that!

On our way back down hill we crossed a few roads and visited the Löwenburg castle, which to me is one of the most beautiful castles I had seen on this trip. I might add, that till this far I saw most of the time nothing else but ruins, but still, Löwenburg castle is also said to be a ruin, although to me it looked quite okay and fits right in the idea of a beautiful fairy tale castle.

It was already way in the afternoon when we arrived back at Willemshöhe Palace and from all that walking, we all got a bit hungry. It was kind of sad that the restaurant of the palace was closed for business, because I would have loved to have had a look inside, but instead we walked a bit down hill again and found a nice place instead, the “Schloss Café” which had some typical German dishes on their menu, how can anyone do wrong with a bit of sausage!

With our bellies full, we walked down the hill again and since the weather cleared up a bit, we drove back to the hotel to park our car and after changing our wet clothes for some drier ones, we were ready again for an afternoon of exploring the city.

The first interesting building we saw was the Orange Palace, which was located in the smaller Karlsaue State Park and although it doesn’t have a big name for itself like the palace does at the Willemshöhe Mountainpark, I found this one with its bright color even more beautiful.

As we were walking through the park, we accidentally arrived at a place which literally means “beautiful view” and I must say that this lane with plants on one sight and modern buildings on the other was just that! In German language it is written “Schöne Aussicht” and this was more than true because you had a nice view on the surrounding area, even the highway!

We also found out that there was a Brothers Grimm museum in the vicinity and since I was out of luck visiting the one in Steinau An Der Strasse, this was as good enough excuse for me to visit this one, but as soon as we entered the building, we found out that everything was under construction. I don’t know what it is with museums and so on here on this Fairy Tale Route, but it seems that I keep on getting out of luck with these things, so instead of moping about it, we just did the next best thing … shopping!!!

I have to admit that we didn’t did too much of a good job, since after spending a couple of hours in the main street, we only had a handful of goodies, but still, it made for one hell of a good afternoon and early evening, that is, for two of us anyway coz my dad spend more time outside on a bench than anything else.

To make up for it, I treated all three of us with a nice dinner at the most beautiful named street “Schöne Aussicht”. I had seen a Mexican restaurant which also served some other more German like dishes, so this suited all three of us and after not too much of a discussion, we went for it and I must admit that I made one very good choice coz the food was yummy, the drinks were great and as soon as the sun started to disappear, it was time for the three of us to head back to our hotel.

Once we got back to our room, I did a bit of reading and updated a bit of my blog and although it was still not much later dan 10 PM, I decided I had enough fun for one day and went to bed. My parents however decided to have one more nightcap downstairs and believe it or not, I didn’t even hear them entering the room again, I must have been completely knackered after all that walking and shopping!

15/07/15 feeling like a princess for a day!

Today once again, we had an early start of the day coz unlike yesterday, we had to face another day on the road.

As soon as we got all geared up again with all of our essentials like GPS, maps and guide book within grabbing distance, we were more than ready to go sightseeing and today was kind of a special day coz along the way I had mapped out a few castles ruins, so in my book it was going to be all about the fairy tale beauties, except for the first one which was basically called a quack, but hey it’s all in the name isn’t it!

Our first goal of the day was Hann. Münden, which is said to be one of the most beautiful towns on the Fairy Tale Route and hence the reason why we we’re going to visit it. It was also my mothers number one choice, so instead of going for nothing else but beauties, we decided to do the first one with a beast … nope, that one is a joke of course!

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The thing that is true however, is that Hannoversch Münden besides being a beautiful town with half-timbered houses along the Weser river, is best know for its connection to the infamous Doktor Johann Andreas Eisenbart, who lived in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. This traveling physician has actually seen his reputation improve over time. During his lifetime, he was regarded as a quack whose cures were always permanent but nowadays he is seen as a gifted physician and surgeon.

As we walked through this town, almost everything pointed to the life and work of this infamous “doktor” and although we tried to lookup his grave in a small graveyard near such a cute little church, I didn’t find his tombstone anywhere, but than again, I am sure his spirit is still amongst all of us.

Next stop on our program of the day was a more exciting one, coz only about half an hours drive away from the town of Hann. Münden, you can find the most inspired castle of all times, Sababurg, the castle of sleeping beauty and one heck of a fine example of a castle ruin.

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I must admit that it was a nice sight for the sore eyes and second of all, I had never seen a bunch of Japanese tourists go wild like I did that morning … I think they'd actually thought that she was still living in that castle, whatever the case, it was indeed fun to watch.

Lucky enough, the castle of sleeping beauty isn’t a complete ruin so to speak coz it houses a hotel and even a restaurant, but the three of us were more interested in the beautiful castle garden and they even have a spice garden as well. If you happen to pay the 2 euro for the entrance to the garden, you can also go up one tower of which you have an amazing view of what one time had to be the main entrance hall with great fireplaces. All cleaned up, you still get that fairy tale feeling and that is what I love about this castle.

As we were leaving the place, the sun came out and although early in the morning we had bought some sandwiches in Hann. Münden to eat along the way, as soon as we were back at the entrance of the castle, we decided that the front lawn of this place was an excellent picnic location and as we sat down, a bunch of youngsters thought the same thing and joint us.

With the sun in our back, we drove onwards to Trendelburg, where another beauty awaited us. This time Rapunzel did her best to shampoo her hair, but luckily enough we didn’t had to climb up all the way to her room. It was possible to go upstairs, but since there was a group with small children in front of us, we let them get all the pleasure of hiking up the tower, the three of us however, went to the restaurant part of the building and enjoyed a cup of coffee outside on the terrace with an amazing view on the area.

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Back on the road again, we passed along a few scenic towns as well, like Oberweser, which is known for the fairy tale creature that I like so much, Puss in Boots, but also Bad Karlshafen with its castle ruin Krukenburg.

Instead of going for those towns, we decided to drive further up north and parked our car just outside the little town of Polle, known for that other inspiring beauty … Cinderella!

The Everstein castle ruins are located just outside the centre of town, on the high banks of the Weser river. The first mention of the castle refers all the way back to 1226 and although I know that Cinderella can’t be that old, before it became a popular castle ruin because of this lady, it was the home of the Everstein dukes who used the castle not only as their home but also a strategic point in guarding the crossing. This in turn mend that they had the right to take toll from the ships travelling the Weser and of course where there is money, there is war which ended into the ruins we know today.

Since the arrival of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, Polle is the excellent ruin for our beloved lady and till today there is even a chance to visit Cinderella’s room near the castle ruin, only when we arrived she wasn’t home, so we had to make do with visiting the ruins and enjoying the beautiful views on the Weser river, we can’t have them all, can we!

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As we drove further in the direction of Hameln, which was going to be our end destination of today, we also passed Bodenwerder, home of Baron von Münchhausen. I must admit that I had always found this to be a strange character and although I wouldn’t have mind visiting this town as well, in the end there were three of us and instead we drove further along the way towards Hameln, where we arrived less than an hour later.

Finding our hotel for the night wasn’t all that difficult and as soon as we checked in and dropped of our stuff in our room, I was more than eager to visit the town of the Pied Piper!

Since we arrived late in the afternoon, we were just in luck to see the end of the musical “Rats” which they play every Wednesday during the summer months and as the weather outside was still fine enough, the rats which were placed along the cobblestoned centre of the town, did their best to take us all along the most interesting buildings and sculptures throughout the centre.

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As soon as it got darker on us, we headed for a nice enough restaurant to have something to eat and even afterwards, we found a nice place for one or two nightcaps.

Luckily enough I didn’t had to follow the rats this time otherwise I guess I would have never find our hotel room again, I must admit as well that the alcohol got to me coz even getting up the stairs seemed to be a difficult task and to tell you the truth, even my parents weren’t that big of a help since my mother did nothing else but laugh, it seems that our family isn’t that great with alcohol, but after all, maybe that is not such a bad thing at all!?

16/07/15 almost at the end

Didn’t I say that our family wasn’t all that great with alcohol … it turned out right coz although my parents showed signs of fatigue in the early morning, I was the one that got out of bed with a splitting headache … OMG, this was not how I wanted to start the day.

Although I tried to wash away my sorrows, it just didn’t work, even having something into my stomach wasn’t the answer, so I turned to drugs and took a few aspirins. I must admit that it wasn’t a quick solution, but once we've got everything in the trunk of the car, I was able to function a little bit better than an hour ago.

Today we were going to drive the last part of our route and our final stop of today was going to be Bremen, the biggest city of them all, but not before we first visited Hessich Oldendorf, which was only about a 15 minutes drive away.

I must admit that I found some interesting information in my guidebook learning us that in this little town, numerous of sagas and legends were passed on between the brothers and other storytellers, but once we arrived at the scene, besides a few half-timbered houses and a church, there was nothing much to see. Maybe my headache had something to do with it as well, but after a short stroll through the center of town, we were on our way again only to stop at the next big town on our way to the north, Nienburg.

This town itself is very modern and although you can find your occasional old building spread around the centre, it is rather known for a small person which is called “Die kleine Nienburgerin” who is also the symbol of the town. In 1975 the sculptress Marianne Bleeke created a statue of the little girl on the occasion of the 950th anniversary of the town. From that period on, the little girl, who is the main character of this popular North German folk song stands proud near the Potshof and the song “I am the little Nienburg girl” rings out several times a day from the carillon of that same building.

I am not really familiar with this song, but I heard it once and it wasn’t too bad, if you ask my opinion, there are worse songs played every day on the local radio station.

Since I still didn’t feel all that well, before we headed out to the big city of Bremen, we first had a hot drink in one of the many bakeries and as soon as my parents were done deciding which pastry was the more delicious one, I went to the bathroom for another splash of water, not that it helped that much though and looking at my image in the mirror, I really can’t remember the last time I felt that miserable!

Back on the road again, I just gave the address of our hotel in Bremen to my dad and as he drove further along the route, I somehow fell asleep, only to wake up about 2 hours later when we entered the city of Bremen.

Unlike the days before, where we had a relax ride from beginning till end, we suddenly were faced again with the hustle and bustle of your every day city life and to be honest, I wasn’t really liking it, but than again … if we wanted to finish this Fairy Tale Route, we couldn’t but end in the city known for its most popular fairy tale of the Brothers Grimm, the Bremer Town Musicians.

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As we arrived into the city at 4 PM, loads of people were still up and about and thanks to the city map we’ve got from the friendly receptionist of our hotel, we were able to walk around the city without missing out on one thing.

Our hotel was ideally located smack in the middle of the city center and just across the main shopping street that lead all the way towards the old town with its cathedral square and statue of the musicians as well as the infamous City Hall and the statue of Roland, the main sights of the city, but furthermore we had a nice stroll along the city dikes where we even saw a Dutch windmill. Kind of strange and I don’t exactly had a clue what it was doing there, but it stood there like it belonged there, so who am I to complain about it!

As soon as it got a bit darker, we tried to find something suitable to eat, but now that we were in a big city, this all of a sudden wasn’t too big of a problem anymore, the main problem is what to eat coz there were just too many choices, but after a bit of debating, we just went for your typical German food and it wasn’t all that bad.

In the dark, we walked all the way back to our hotel and although my parents had one last nightcap in the bar of the hotel, I just said goodnight to them and went straight up to my room to have a nice hot shower and a goodnight’s rest.

17/07/15 the long ride home!

An early night really does miracles for the body and soul, my headache was gone and although it was raining outside the minute I opened the curtains, I was more than ready for another day.

Sadly enough today was also our last one and as soon as I finished packing my stuff, I met up with my parents at the breakfast table.

Checking out went smoothly as usual but as we wanted to leave the hotel for another quick visit into the old town, it started to rain even harder. Not really in the mood for walking in the rain, my mother insisted that we drove back home while me and my dad wanted to go further up north and visit the seaport of Bremershaven. Two against one is mostly a success, but when the young lady behind the reception buts in and told us that they expected heavy rains and even a storm at the seacoast, it was clear that my mum had won the battle.

As soon as we had gathered all of our stuff, we drove of and left rainy Bremen behind us and went on our way back home, but not before we had one last stopover in Oldenburg. Not sure what to expect, we just parked our car outside the city center and walked straight into a farmers market, which was actually a welcome change after seeing so many half-timbered houses.

The city of Oldenburg, although fairly modern, houses several museums but since my parents weren’t really in the mood for a visit, we just walked around the city and did some window-shopping instead, enjoyed a hot drink or two on one of the many terraces and although they could have easily sat down on that terrace for the rest of the morning, after a few hours, I was tired of looking at the same spot all the time and wanted to drive back home.

We left the Fairy Tale Route behind us and since there weren’t any exciting cities anymore which I wanted to visit, going back home was just the right choice.

Driving on the highway, I must say that I was glad to notice that it wasn’t all too busy, most of the traffic jams were on the other side of the road, but one hour into the ride, even we drove minutes behind a serious accident involving an expensive BMW and a truck. I guess I don’t need to tell anyone who won that battle! it looked really awful, by the time we arrived at the scene, a few ambulances were already there for the victims … it really gave me goosebumps at that moment and the only thing I could wish for is that we got home safely!

After driving for more than 2 hours, we had a short stop at one of the many roadhouses along to way to have a bite to eat and strangely enough, we started with cold and rainy weather in Bremen, but now being in the surroundings of the Rhine area, it was really hot and driving more south it got even hotter along the way!

By the time we arrived back home, it was still early in the evening, about 6 PM, but still the thermometer said it was 27 degrees outside … what the heck!?!

It seemed that at home they had quite hot weather today and since we still had a few hours of sunshine left, the three of us went to a local chip shop and enjoyed our last dinner of our holiday in the warmth of the sun … the ideal end for an amazing trip of which I am sure I am going to remember for a long time.
During this trip we had some highs but also not so good days, but in the end it was a hell of an adventure and strangely enough it also proved that traveling with your parents isn’t necessary always a bad thing!

Posted by Ils1976 03:05 Archived in Germany Tagged landscapes bridges churches art buildings people food water desert road_trip nature monument culture history hotel market town shopping adventure germany city holiday fun family music castle road sightseeing wine sights europe drinks bookings memories childhood tipsy viewpoint fairy_tale half_timbered_houses Comments (0)

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