Early Friday morning, a friend and I woke up exhausted at a hostel in the heart of Dublin and embarked on our journey to Germany (which hopefully explains my absence on last week’s blogpost. I hereby vow to be more prepared in the future … but, yah know, Germany). After a ten-minute walk, a half-an-hour bus ride, and a two-hour flight, we arrived in Frankfurt and set off in our beloved rental car, Heidi, to see all we could squeeze in during our three-day stay.
Side note: if you’re planning on visiting multiple cities within a country, rent a car. You won’t regret it (for the most part anyway – Heidi was a blessing and a curse, but more on that later).
Having never been to Germany, I was completely mesmerized by its gorgeous scenery. Having been to quite a few cities and countries in Europe, I felt that, after a while, a lot of them start to look the same, especially when driving along the countryside. It’s like you’ve seen one field, you’ve seen them all. But not Germany. It was unique in it’s own way, with its mountainous treks, skyscraping windmills and towns that seemed to be naturally embedded in the land. Germany is a thing of beauty.
We started our trip off on the motorway towards Hanau, the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm. We visited this town solely for this purpose, because how can one travel to Germany and not think “Brother’s Grimm?” Had we more time, we would have traveled the German Fairy Tale route and really taken the obsession to another level, but I digress. Having walked paths they have (potentially) walked was more than enough for this dreamer of a reader.
Next on the list was Heidelberg. Here, we did the philosopher’s trail in order to see the picturesque view that was Heidelberg castle. Partially ruined, this magnificent castle is one of Europe’s most famous landmarks and was built as a fortress around 1300. The view here was absolutely stunning, and completely worth driving up the most narrow street known to man. The philosopher’s trail gives you a miraculous view of the entire city, and we were so blessed to have a gorgeous day to experience such a sight.
Making great time on the audobon (because guess what!? There’s no speed limit on the audobon. Going 140km/h and feeling like we were holding up traffic is a feeling I never thought possible), we arrived in Freiburg early Friday evening. We were fortunate enough to have my cousin and his girlfriend show us around this university town, and it took us in on the first night. Just walking around Freiburg, you could feel Germany seeping into your pores.
The next morning, we went into the market to check out the local scenery and tick off the bucket list item of eating black forest cake in the Black Forest. We may not have understood a lick of German while we were there, but we did learn the four most important words anyone ever needs to know while visiting Germany: schwarzwäld kirschtorte, flammkuchen, long rote, and bier (Black forest cake, Flammkuchen, Sausage and Beer). As long as you can order delicious food, you’ll be grand. Again, thank God for family … especially the ones who speak German.
After gazing up at the cathedral in the market (which, as we were informed, was the last remaining building left standing after the Second World War), and touring around the different carts throughout the market, we made our way up the hiking trails of the Black Forest. With lush forests, hills and valleys, the Black Forest covers an area just over 7,400 squared kilometers. After climbing to the very top of about ten different sets of steep stairs, we were rewarded with a view that allowed us to see the entire city stretched out in front of us. I can’t describe this kind of view in words, but these photos say thousands.
After hiking back down (and stopping at the beer garden along the way), we continued our tour throughout the city of Freiburg, stopping in chocolate shops, clock shops, as well as a pub or two (the night previously we indulged in a few German drinks, so we thought ourselves experts on the subject, and furthered our research as best we could). We made our way to one particular microbrewery called Hausbrauerei Feierling, which has the best German beer in town! Needless to say, we buckled down here for quite a while, and ended our night with gelato and good company (because, seriously, FOOD!!)
On our final morning in Germany, we left Freiburg and made it to Cologne, completely exhausted. With our flight looming, and our arrival late, we were still able to make it to the Cologne Cathedral and the Lindt Chocolate Museum. This gothic Cathedral was breathtaking inside and out, taking over 600 years to build and, much like the one in Freiberg, was the only building to survive the bombings from World War II. As the third tallest cathedral in the world, we were hard pressed to get a photo that fit the entire thing in one shot, but the ones we did manage certainly don’t do it justice. As it turns out, we only just missed an anti-Islamist rally in the marketplace outside of the cathedral that very same day, so it seems our tardiness may have worked out for the better.
As for the chocolate museum, what can I say, really ? It was a museum … of chocolate. CHOC-O-LATE. Best museum ever. It was like walking into heaven. Skipping about 75% of the actual artifacts and history lessons (our bad on that), we spent a good amount of time tracking down the lovely ladies who were handing out free Lindt chocolate on each floor, and receiving slightly dirty looks from the waffer girl at the chocolate fountain on our second go-around. The two most impressive rooms in the museum were definitely the “make your own chocolate bar” section and the gift shop. My only complaint/suggestion about this Schokoladenmuseum is that they should really have an open milk bar to even things out a bit. Seriously. Think about it.
Needless to say, a relaxing day in Cologne eating sausages and as much chocolate as we could consume was well deserved. As exhausting as it was, we were so thrilled to have made the trip. Germany is a hell of a place, more than I had ever expected it to be, and I can’t wait to return and discover more about it!