In June 2015, we travelled to good old Deutschland, hired a campervan from Paul Camper (awesome experience!) and set out to explore the South of Germany for two weeks (not that that was anywhere near enough time). The husband had his heart set on seeing the Alps so that’s where we went…
Although it’s been quite some time, the good thing is that I seem to finally have got my blog mojo back and am madly sorting (and deleting!) my stack of photos, probably because I know another big holiday is coming up soon. Looking at the photos again brings back so many memories, it was such a fabulous trip despite having some rather ordinary weather!
So, to kick things off, here are our Tops and Flops from our road trip around Germany.
Our road trip really was fabulous from beginning to end even though we were a bit unlucky with the weather and didn’t end up doing some things we had planned to do. So narrowing down our Road Trip Top 5 was a challenge but we’ve managed to agree on the following…
1. Camping at Campground Winkl-Landthal at the foot of the Alps in Bischofswiesen
Not remote or isolated but beautifully situated. A sparkling creek behind you and mountains in front of you as you wake up. Spectacular. You also get to enjoy free public transport while you’re staying there so we ended up just catching the bus everywhere!
2. Exploring Rheinfels Castle on the Rhine
The ruins of a medieval fortress perched atop the banks of the River Rhine. A labyrinth of passages, including underground, pitch black tunnels, super cheap admission (€5!), and the coolest toilets you’ve ever seen!
3. Stumbling across medieval Saarburg
Completely not on our itinerary but what a delightful little town situated along the River Saar. Crooked alleys, an old ruin overlooking the Saar and a town centre that calls itself Little Venice. Less rain and cloud cover, and it would have been perfect.
4. Searching for the Romans in Trier
One of the oldest settlements in Germany, Trier was definitely on our list and did not disappoint. We bought the pass to all the Roman ruins in town and spent the day exploring what would once have been magnificent Roman sites. You can easily spent two days in Trier if you’re into old things and scrambling about.
5. Eating our way through Germany
This was more the husband’s than mine (given my dietary challenges) but came as a total surprise to me! I’ve never seen him eat so much bread, cake, sausages, ice cream, and delight in it all! Germany’s cuisine is definitely way more diverse than most people think…
And then there were a few things that promised a whole lot more than they delivered. Fortunately, our Flop 5 ended up being only four!
1. Eagle’s Nest (Kehlsteinhaus)
To my shame, I’d never even heard of it before but the husband really wanted to visit Hitler’s mountain retreat because of some spy novel he’d read. And what a frustrating morning it was!
Except for the bus ride up and down the mountain – quite spectacular – it can be summed up as crowds, crowds and more crowds atop a mountain lookout. Plus it’s ridiculously overpriced (we found out later that you can actually hike up the mountain instead of going on the bus for €16 each) and Eagle’s Nest is literally nothing more than a restaurant and a beer garden. Not something we’re into.
I expected some sort of museum there or being able to walk around the chalet but nada. Perhaps if you go on one of the historical tours, the experience would be much better (I tried booking one but couldn’t get in).
So instead, visit the Dokumentation Obersalzberg museum (for a whole €3!) and explore the incredible underground bunker system built for Hitler (it almost made it into our Top 5!).
I did expect hordes of tourists for this one but not that we would arrive there at 12 pm and not visit the castle itself until 6 pm when the first available tour was on!
The castle itself is… meh, not that great (dark and dingy), plus again it’s pretty pricey and you’re not allowed to take any photos while inside. So instead, go up to the bridge, admire it from the outside and move on. There are much more spectacular castles and palaces to visit.
3. Triberg in the Black Forest
Home to Germany’s highest waterfall (I didn’t realise there was such a thing!) and proclaimed by my (trusty?) Lonely Planet as “leaves visitors reeling with superlatives”, Triberg utterly underwhelmed and had us thinking ‘great, we just drove two hours for no point at all’.
This one was on me since I had wanted to go. Triberg is choc-a-bloc with cuckoo clock shops, and whilst I have a thing for them, I couldn’t spot any particular tasteful specimens. Touristy and tacky, not quaint and delightful.
And you have to pay to see the waterfall! Just to walk there and stare at it. Needless to say we skipped it. Maybe we missed out but for €4 each I wasn’t desperate enough to find out. I’ve seen my fair share of (spectacular) waterfalls for free in Australia… Sorry, Triberg. (I found it so awful that I haven’t even got a photo to share.)
4. The Alps / Zugspitze
It’s not that we were disappointed with the Alps as such, it’s just that we didn’t get to see much of them. After our three days in Berchtesgaden, the clouds rolled in and never left.
Our German Alpine Road drive was pretty much a fog and rain drive so we ended up abandoning our plans and moved on towards what we hoped would be drier weather. We definitely want to return though and actually see the Alps!
Because of the weather, we also didn’t much explore the Black Forest so would like to go back there but at the top of our list of revisits are definitely the Alps!