I’ll wrap up our European vacation with a few pictures of each of the places we visited in Germany.
After Belgium, we took the train to Frankfurt, Germany. While we had a few train mishaps with missed connections, delays, and a few standing-room only legs, I am still a great fan of mass transit. You can make short trips with less effort and expense while enjoying the scenery and the downtime. No gas stops, potty breaks, or surly-Siri telling you to take the wrong turn.
We spent three nights in Frankfurt, and found it to be busy but tourist friendly. Many European cities are very difficult to navigate with a map and impossible without one. The lack of straight streets and convoluted intersections is partly due to transportation routes that evolved over hundreds of years via horses, wagons, and pedestrians. It is what it is, but don’t leave the hotel without some specific directions if you hope to make your way back.
We visited the area of Frankfurt that is what would be considered part of the original city, making it hundreds of years old. The buildings boast the architectural style for which Germany is famous. I know this area was heavily bombed during World War II, so some of the buildings have been rebuilt. There is a large square here, and they use the area for festivals and other gatherings, including a horn quartet that we heard playing during a prayer service.
A Protestant church on one side of the square is still active, and a Catholic church a few blocks away also holds services, as well has houses a museum. While the main religion of Germany would be considered Lutheran, thanks to Martin Luther, Germany was once the Holy Roman Empire, making it Catholic before the Protestant movement, known as the Reformation. That’s about the extent of my historical knowledge, so don’t quiz me on anything else.
We took two tours to better acquaint us with the city of Frankfurt and learned lots of interesting information. The first was a boat tour on the Main (pronounced Mine) River, which separates Frankfurt, kind of like Austin. We went under a lot of bridges and saw the skyline. The next day we took a bus tour and saw some residential areas and other landmarks. I liked Frankfurt very much, in spite of it being so busy. I think the people here were the friendliest we met. Here are a few more photos thrown in for good measure.
The beer was good and cold. The food was delicious.
After Frankfurt, we took the train to Heidenheim. We spent two nights there in a resort-like hotel. We stayed in Best Western Hotels the entire trip and were not disappointed in the quality of service or accommodations. Heidenheim is in southeastern Germany. It’s very hilly and noticeably cooler. I probably enjoyed this area the most. It is very scenic with lots of small shops.
Our hotel was next to an 800-year-old castle. The original walls of Hellenstein Castle are abandoned.
I like this chair sled. It would come in handy with my girls. Amelia likes to be wheeled around in style by her older sisters.
Behind the castle, a long trail winds down into the main street of Heidenheim. It looks deceptively peaceful, but about halfway down, the slope becomes steep and turns into steps. A lot of steps. We made it down, but just barely. Then, we had to climb back up. If only we could have had the Rocky soundtrack playing.
From here, we took a day trip to Augsburg where my dad had lived while in the Army in 1950-ish. He really wanted to see the area, but it was very cold and rainy that day. So we didn’t get to see much. It was the only day we had poor weather. However, we did find a great farmers’ market and had a great time looking around there, even in the rain. I thought Augsburg was very pretty and would like to go again.
The vegetables and flowers at a farmers’ market are absolutely fabulous.
I mentioned before that we were in Germany during Oktoberfest, which takes place in Munich. Augsburg is about 30 minutes from Munich, which made it an overflow town for all the activity. Yes, the men really wear lederhosen, and the women really wear the Dirndl dress. They even have them featured in department store windows.
From Heidenheim, we thought we would take a scenic train ride through the Black Forest and stay in Freiburg. Well, the train ride wasn’t that scenic, and the train was packed, so we stood for the three hour ride. It was probably the low-point of the trip. Lesson learned: Weekend trains are crazy packed. However, Freiburg is a very pretty, walker-friendly town. It also had a farmers’ market in a church square.
I’m telling you, I could spend an entire vacation touring farmers’ markets.
Freiburg has a river running near it, and streams have been diverted to run through the city. It’s so sweet seeing the kids pull toys in the water. I bet it’s hard to keep them out of the water during the summer.
From Frieburg, we took the train back to Mannheim to spend the night before we flew home. Mannheim is actually laid out in a grid, and is very easy to navigate. That was a relief after a long trip. I walked to a nearby park with fountains and took pictures.
That’s the whirlwind version of my trip. I spared you the rest of the 700 photos I took. Consider yourself blessed. As much as we saw and did, there was way more that we missed. Maybe another trip.