Hello from Germany!
For the past six weeks, I have been living in Reutlingen in Southern Germany, travelling through verdant country sides and rolling hills swept with umber-roofed houses and ruins of stoic towers and castles. If you're planning a vacation through the dazzling south of Germany, make sure to add these locations to your list!
1. Visit the Historic Capital of Heidelberg
A shelled castle of centuries past, meandering streets both modern and old world charm: Heidelberg has survived centuries, morphing and evolving, yet retaining a definitive identity. While there, be sure to see the famous pedestrian bridge with its ornate gates, the student prison for the university (where Heidelberg's naughtiest students longed to stay for a night as a badge of honor for partying hard), and the local markets selling artisan crafts for reasonable prices.
2. Hike to the Schloss Lichtenstein
Nestled atop a cliff outside the very small town of Honau, the Schloss Lichtenstein is a castle that has survived centuries: layers of time and building material slowly merging to create the castle of today. Hike to the castle on a thin, winding path through emerald green forests dotted with spectacular wildflowers and expanses of rock. Expect a thirty to forty-five minute hike with steep inclines and inimitable views. Once on top, wander the grounds and walls and take pictures of the panoramic vistas of Bavarian countryside; it costs several Euros to enter and a few more if you would like to tour the inside of the castle itself. Before taking the meandering paths back down to the base, step into the restaurant next to the castle for a fresh meal or ice cream.
3. Tour the Beautiful City of Aachen
Aachen, named from the Latin word "aqua" for its miraculous underground mineral waters, is a marvel of modern day and history. Aachen is a city of fountains dotting squares and bronzed statues around every corner, a city in which houses from three consecutive centuries sit contently beside one another - with a courtyard featuring Roman pillars and arches at their front. The vendors flood the market square early with fresh Spagel (asparagus), Erdbeeren (strawberries), honey, and lavender. The scent of freshly brewed coffee wafts across the square. Spend a leisurely afternoon in the Carolus Thermen mineral water baths and leave with baby-soft skin and relaxed muscles. Tour the magnificent cathedral with indescribably beautiful mosaics lining the soaring ceilings and the Town Hall whose origins date back to Charlemagne - Aachen was his favorite city and he is buried in the cathedral.
4. Ride a Punting Boat in Tübingen
Tübingen sits on the Neckar river, its banks lined with vibrant parks and even brighter pastel houses. Take a tour via punting boat, rowed by gondolier-like men and women wielding long poles of bamboo. Tübingen's famous university sits on the hill, stately and beautiful and centuries old. For the best views of the city and the river, climb the bell tower of the Lutheran cathedral for a fifty-cent piece. Tübingen is everything you could imagine for a quaint Germanic riverside city, built over centuries, with a completely unique character.
5. Take a Ride Up the Rhine
Home to dazzling green hills dotted with castles and fortresses, the Rhine River streams through western Germany, flooded with a combination of barges and passenger boats. For the best views of the stunning countryside, board a passenger boat from one of the many cities speckling the banks of the river and find a seat on the top deck. Enjoy a leisurely glass of wine or beer and revel in the refreshing nip of a German breeze from your perch.
What are your favorite places to visit in Southern Germany? Let me know in the comments!
*All photos Courtesy of Author