A Glimpse of Southern Germany
I recently was lucky enough to take a group of travel agents away to Germany, and to share what this amazing country offers. We were there for a whirlwind 8 days, and visited Frankfurt, Rudesheim, Nurnberg and Munich.
The first thing we did when we arrived into Frankfurt, was to take a city tour. This was a great way to see all the sights at a glance and to get our bearings. Frankfurt is the 5th oldest city in Germany, and is a city where old meets new. After Frankfurt was bombed during the war, the city decided to restore the damaged old buildings and rebuild the destroyed buildings in a modern style.
We stayed at the Frankfurter Savoy, which is located in front of the central train station, and only a 15 minute walk from the heart of the city. There is a tram stop in front, and also a lively Irish pub, which made for some raucous nights! This is a good hotel if you are on a budget, or don’t mind a bit of a party at the pub, but if you’re looking for something quieter, this probably isn’t the area for you.
That night we headed out to try some local cuisine. We got the tram to an old part of town, called Sachenhausen, for dinner at Lorsbachr Thal. It was a traditional restaurant filled with locals. The food was great and the homemade apple cider was delightful …
The next morning we decided to visit the town of Rudesheim, which can be done in a day from Frankfurt, catching the high-speed trains. We caught the high-speed express train to Rudesheim, which like all things German, ran like clockwork. The scenery is quite unique along the way, passing a town called Schreber. There are many of these towns around Germany, built after the war, where blocks were designated to growing food for all the starving people. These days the blocks have been handed down and are still used to grow food, as the homes in Germany are small and don’t have backyards.
We arrived in Rudesheim and took the cable car to the start of the romantic walk at the Niederwald Monument, which lead to a beautiful walk along the Rhine River. We took a chairlift over vineyards and villages to Assmannshausen, where we had lunch at Hotel Zwei Mohren. Lucky I’m not afraid of heights!
Lunch was amazing, as was the local wine. One of the highlights here was taking a boat across the river to Rheinstein Castle. We were met by the owner of the castle and taken in to explore the grounds. This was amazing! Luckily, there was time for some coffee and cake – apple strudel of course – before heading back to Rudesheim. This is a great city to just wander around and shop and taste some local wines.
The food extravaganza didn’t end there. That night we headed to dinner at Breuer’s Rudesheimer Schloss, a traditional high end restaurant in the centre of Rudesheim. This restaurant is crazy busy all year round! There was a line all the way down the street to get a table.
The food was amazing! We had 5 courses served with wine made by the owners of the restaurant, but the highlight was at the end with a local desert called Rudesheim coffee, which is a delicious combination of local brandy, sugar and coffee, then set on fire and topped with whipped cream and choc sprinkles … so good! The restaurant had a local traditional German band playing and EVERYONE in the restaurant was singing along. Time then to catch the train back to Frankfurt after dinner.
The next morning we took the high speed train (travelling 250 km an hour) to Nurnberg, and took a city tour, which was way more than just a city tour. Nurnberg played a huge part in the war and was picked over all other cities to host the Nazi Party Rallies. Our tour guide, Johnny, took us to some historic sites and was a wealth of knowledge. Everyone really enjoyed this tour.
We saw where the Nazi rallies where held, and also visited the infamous courtroom 600 where the trial was held for the highest ranking Nazi’s, after Hitler and his right hand man, who had both committed suicide.
Most of the town is within the walls of the Old Town, and it’s interesting to just wander and soak up the history. The lovely town square was a great place to stop for lunch, complete with little markets and a busker playing western music with a huge crowd. Great atmosphere … and 3 euro beers! The afternoon was spent exploring and trying out the local beers in a traditional beer garden.
Our hotel, Hotel Am Jakobsmarkt, was a delightful little hotel just outside the city walls. It took about 15 minutes to walk into the heart of the city. We had dinner at the Zum Guldenstern, which according to our guide, is the oldest restaurant in Germany. It has been around since 1419 and is very, very traditional. They specialise in sausages.
The next day we were off again, this time to Munich. We stayed at the K + K Am Harras, which at first from looking at a map I was a little disappointed that we were staying further out of the city, but I was wrong. The service at this hotel is amazing, and the streets around this hotel are cute, quaint, and there are loads of cafes and restaurants. The hotel also has a lovely little courtyard, which is a nice place to sit with a drink and snacks after a hard day sightseeing. Directly in front of the K + K is an elevator which takes you down directly onto the platform of the train to take you into town. 3 stops and you are at Marienplatz!
The local train system in Munich is very easy. They have the Underground – U, and Overground – S. All stations connect between U and S trains and are easily identified. There are signs everywhere. The only confusing part about it is there are numerous exists per station so we just asked locals if need be. We found all the locals extremely nice and helpful, and, thankfully, didn’t have a problem with finding people who spoke English.
One thing you can’t miss when you’re in Munich, is a visit to the royal castles of Linderhof and, of course, the famous Neuschwanstein. Just something to watch out for – on many of the pre-booked tours, the actual entrance fee to Linderhof isn’t included in the tour price, and you have to pay it on arrival. It is currently 23 euros.
Linderhof Castle is about 2 hours drive from Munich, and was the one-time home of King Ludwig II. He started building this castle and Neuschwanstein Castle at the same time, but took to living an isolated life at Linderhof. Rumour has it that he was taken to a mental asylum because he was spending all the families’ money on building castles! Unfortunately you are not able to take photos within the castle, but it was as extravagant as you can imagine.
Then, we continued the drive to the fairytale castle of Neuschwanstein. You start in the little town below the castle, where you have the option to walk up the hill, which is a 15 to 20 minute walk with a moderate climb or wait in line for just as long to take a horse and cart up the hill, which takes much longer. It is a hefty walk for those that might not be to fit, so would definitely recommend the horse and carriage. For the fit, it is probably faster to walk, although it is quite a unique thing to do – how many times to you get to ride in a horse-drawn carriage, and watching the castle appear before you as you ride up the hill is magical. There is a great vantage point on a bridge behind the castle to take some wonderful photos of the entire castle and the surrounding area, so make sure you don’t miss this opportunity, as you can’t see the full castle from any other aspect.
For dinner that night, we did what you cannot miss when visiting Munich. We went to the hofbrauhaus. Such a German tradition, we had steins of amazing beer, pretzels and German snacks, while listening to traditional German tunes.
Alas, our time was over all too soon. Germany is a beautiful country, and it was an amazing trip full of unique experiences, and I got to see a lot of history and try some wonderful cuisine (and beer!).
Written by Amanda Barbuto, Infinity Holidays Sales