The Burgs and The Rhine

Trip Start Jun 19, 2008
Trip End Oct 11, 2008

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Where I stayed
Hotel Central Au Dom

Flag of Germany  ,
Thursday, October 2, 2008

Hello from Cologne! Patti is a little under the weather so unfortunately you are stuck with just Ryan. I warn you that spelling and commas are as alien to me as the German language, so bear with me. It has been a busy week since we last checked in... 8 days, 8 hotels, 8 different towns, 8 delicious gravy-soaked German meals, and 8 days of sipping German wine and beer. This traveling thing isn´t half bad...

We left our rudely yowling roommate in Nuremberg and continued on to Bamberg, Bavaria. This medieval town somehow managed to avoid being flattened by Allied bombs in WWII and offers an old town center filled with beautiful Renaissance and middle age buildings. The town is also perched on a river, giving Bamberg a Venice-esque feel, with tons of small stone bridges and old German Mansions perched just above the water. Most importantly (in my humble opinion) Bambergers have managed to merge two of the tastiest things known to man: bacon and beer! Thats right, BAC-O-BEER (also known as Raunchier if you want to get technical) tastes like bacon and beer. We spent our night in Bamberg washing delicious gravy soaked pork dishes with this amazingly bacony brew. If you ever make it to Bavaria, Bamberg is worth a stop for its beer alone.

Next, we headed off to Wurzburg; a town known for its vineyards. We spent the day hiking around, snapping pictures of cool old Gothic buildings and climbing up to the Wurzburg fortress for a panoramic view of the town. After visiting a local farmers market and the friendly neighborhood winestuben, we entertained ourselves at night by cooking, drinking Wurzburg whites, and playing cards at the local hostel (Amazingly Patti and I actually do have great days completely devoid of perilous adventure, mistranslation, and befuddlement). Next up was Rothenburg, an extremely cutesy medieval walled German town, complete with countless bus loads of 60+ tourists, hell bent on buying Cuckoo clocks and Christmas Ornaments. Rothenburg sports the world´s largest Christmas Shop, and Patti and I waded through mountains of glitter, shiny glass balls, and carved figurines to buy several souvenirs. It was quite an overwhelming experience. After the legions of credit card wielding grandparents boarded their double decker buses and headed off, Rothenburg became an incredibly charming town. This tiny, medieval, pedestrian city has remained completely untouched since the middle ages. As we strolled down back alleys and around the city wall, Patti and I had to constantly remind ourselves that we live in an age of cell phones and automobiles, not carrier pigeons and horses. Our final ´Burg´ was Heidelberg, yet another medieval German town that overlooks a picturesque river and is guarded by an beautiful castle-like Schloss. Heidelberg´s most prominent feature is a massive pedestrian shopping street, but it was Sunday so Patti and I found most everything closed. To be perfectly honest... we don´t have much to say about Heidelberg because we spent most of the afternoon/night sipping Guinness and cider in an Irish pub. We find that with 4 months of traveling, one must take a ``vacation from vacation`` every now and then...

The next day, we shook off our hangovers in Heidelberg and headed north to start our Rhine River drive. Despite it being cold and rainy the entire time, the last 4 days have been some of the most scenic of my life. As we drove along the river road, it seemed like an ancient castle and sprawling vineyard was around every corner. Apparently, most German nobleman with some spare cash and a couple of cannons in the middle built castles over the river to ´tax´ the friendly farmers and traders that used the river for transport. Not only did these nobleman get free food from the farmers, they also managed to extort enough money to construct massive vineyards that pump out some of the best wine in the world. It is also the beginning of fall here in Germany, so the scenery is dotted with a hundred different shades of red, orange and yellow. It is absolutely beautiful. Check out our pics. This said, there isn´t THAT much to do in the little German towns that border the Rhine. We spent the last 4 days idly strolling around tiny towns, sipping fine German wine, and eating deliciously heavy German food (unfortunately I believe Germany´s passion for gravy soaked fried goodness has caused me to gain back some of the weight I sweated off in Italy). We stopped in Assmanhausen, Bacharach (as in Bacchus, the god of Wine), Koblenz and now we find ourselves in Cologne at the top of the Rhine River. Cologne has a massive and beautiful old cathedral (it took 700 years to build!) and a bunch of cool little museums. It is our last stop in Germany so we plan on finding a beergarten and giving this country a proper Auf Wiedershen!

It is safe to say that Patti and I are Germany-ed out (If I eat another Schnitzel I might explode) and are looking forward to our adventures in Belgium and The Netherlands. Unfortunately, we probably only have 1 travel blog left before we make it back home to reality... but we are missing family and old friends and can´t wait to spend a day or two doing absolutely nothing and not going anywhere. Anyway we are only half way through our gap year and who knows what travels are on the horizon....
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