If you follow my site, Facebook or Twitter regularly then you know how much I love road trips. I am now on an epic 9-day road trip of Europe where I will be visiting a ton of different places in several different countries. I don’t know the exact route as it will be determined on the ground but I have just completed day one and can’t wait for more.
Have a look back each day as I hope to publish an account of each day as I go along. Of course this is always subject to change due to a variety of reasons including being exhausted. But fear not, I will post on each day at some point soon!
Here are the high lights of day one where I caught a train back from my friend’s wedding in Eisenach, Germany to Frankfurt. I hired a car in Frankfurt and got on the road. First stop Heidelberg!
Heidelberg is one of the best towns I’ve been to in Germany, period. It is so nice to walk around and has some of the best aesthetics in Germany. There is a charming old town with a great walking street. It has the beautiful Neckar River to set off the charming architecture. It has a square flanked by a big cathedral as many cities do but it has Heidelberg Castle and that’s why it’s so great.
Heidelberg Castle or the Schloss as the Germans call it is fantastic. It looms over the city and the Neckar River like a mother looking after her kids. There is a steep hike up to the entrance where you have to pay a few euros to enter but it is well worth it.
The panoramic views of the city are perfect. The castle itself is great with stunning architecture and different areas and levels of construction over the centuries since it was first built in the 13th century.
Walking down from the castle takes you down steep, windy cobblestone streets to the welcoming town below. There are plenty of places to eat or have a picnic along the river. The main part of the city is also very pleasant and manageable on foot.
Heidelberg I a definite don’t miss spot in Western Germany and the best town I have yet been to in Germany…don’t worry Garmisch-Partenkirchen, you’re still a close second!
Stuttgart was the second stop and I have to admit I wasn’t that excited to visit Stuttgart. I felt I had to just because it was there and sort of on the way to wherever we were headed but it turned out to be a pretty good move-as it usually does.
Driving into Stuttgart, it gets a little gloomy from the beautiful countryside along the auto bahn. Eventually you come to the Porsche Museum, which has helped make Stuttgart famous. We didn’t stop into the museum as neither of us cares much about cars but it was an impressive building.
As you go further you can’t help but think it’ll be a short visit to Stuttgart because there is nothing to see. Finally, as we were about to just cut our losses and head out we came to the town center and got out to walk around for a bit and discovered once again that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
The area around the main train station is pretty cool. There is a big walking street of stores of course but then as you move up there is a big park surrounded by two castles, the old and new castles.
Currently occupied by political people, the new castle looks something out of Paris and the old has a museum that you can visit inside. However, a festival that was being held around the park drew us in. The festival included amazing little wooden restaurants that sprouted up for the occasion.
Sausages, schnitzel and all other types of food, pretzels, breads and pastries filled the air with an awesome aroma that literally kept us around for an extra hour or so to eat. Old men in lederhosen were playing German music and it was a really festive atmosphere. It was a perfect afternoon in Stuttgart and a great representation of the city that gets a bad rap.
Strasbourg is a great city. It is also the seat of European Parliament and is located right at the German border with France. The city itself has a ton of German influence that can be seen in the architecture, food and ways of the people. However, it is a gorgeous place and clearly French.
Strolling around Strasbourg is one of the most pleasant cities I’ve had the pleasure of strolling. The canals are phenomenal and are more beautiful than Amsterdam and look more like Stockholm. The old city called Grande Ile is fabulous. In fact, the whole old town is a world heritage site.
The Strasbourg Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the best in Europe. In terms of shock value when you first see it, it rivals any in Europe for its imposing outside and in your face architecture. At night it’s even cooler as you can see.
It sort of resembles the cathedral in Cologne a bit but buries it in terms of location and I also like Strasbourg a lot better than Cologne. You can also walk up to the top of the cathedral but I warn you it is straight around in small, tight circles for some 300 steps. I got pretty dizzy. If you’ve ever walked up the Arc de Triomphe in Paris then you’ll know what I mean but this is a lot higher.
Strasbourg is also a great place to eat as you might expect in France. Patisseries, cheese shops and cafes line the streets and the smells are as good as Paris. We ate at a great spot recommended by the concierge at the hotel called Au Renard Prechant. Rumsteak Au Poivre to a tee!
I could have stayed in Strasbourg a few more days and will definitely come back. It is a great place to relax and experience French culture with a hint of Germany and the rest of Europe.
Check back tomorrow for a post on Day 2 of the trip as I post this from Lausanne, Switzerland.