Reflections on travelling in Germany

In the Germany we loved –
Dresden, what an amazing skyline and so much to explore.

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The Elbe River valley.
Cycling and walking in the Elbe River valley.

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Saxon Switzerland National Park.

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Quedlinburg – with all those wonderful framework buildings it’s no wonder it has a UNESCO listing.

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Freiburg with its wonderful student atmosphere.
The mountains, valleys and lakes in Bavaria.

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The Bodensee (Lake Constance) area.

Favourite meals –
Kingfish at Café Bar Lounge Sol Y Mar in Leipzig
Schnitzel at Feierling Brewery in Freiburg

Favourite drink –
Beer

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Great places to stay –
The apartments at Haus Königsbrücker in Dresden
Quedlinburg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber or any other small town or village.

Great places to eat or drink –
Café Bar Lounge Sol Y Mar in Leipzig, sit at a table or lounge on a couch and eat and drink from a low table, this place has a wonderful Moorish atmosphere.
Planwirkshaft in Dresden. Décor is reminiscent of the old east Germany but excellent food sourced from local suppliers.
Café Mezzo at Lister Meile 4 in Hanover. One of many excellent cafes in this part of Hanover.
The restaurant at Feierling Brewery in Freiburg, just across the road from the huge beer garden.
Lüdde Brauhaus in Quedlinburg. Excellent beer and a broad menu of traditional and modern meals to choose from.

Unexpected highlights –
Meeting some great people whilst sharing tables at cafes, breweries and restaurants.
The sensational but super expensive porcelain in Meissen.

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The massive Hohentwiel fortress at Singen.

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Saxon Switzerland National Park.
Travelling on the ICE trains with our First Class Eurail Passes.

What you must do when you travel to Germany –
Check out the museums and galleries in Berlin and Dresden.
Get out into the countryside and visit a National Park to walk or cycle.
Visit Cologne or Ulm cathedrals and climb their steeples.

Ulm cathedral (Munster)
Ulm cathedral (Munster)

Visit Berlin – we have twice before so didn’t go there this time.
Travel on a very fast ICE train.
Take a boat trip on the Rhine.
Visit the Zugspitze by cable car.

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Stay with a local – couchsurf, use Airbnb or if you’re lucky enough, stay with a relative to get a better perspective on daily life in Germany.

What you should avoid doing –
Riding over glass on a bike. Really stuffs up your day’s cycling.
Staying in Munich during the Octoberfest.

What you need to be prepared for –
A train to actually run late. It doesn’t happen often but when it does!!!!

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Ulm and the ultimate steeple stair climb!

After about an hour on the train from Stuttgart we arrived at the Ulm station. Not only was Karen’s cousin Oliver there but so too was his sister Sabine, a lovely surprise. We put the cases into the car and drove to a parking garage. From there we started to walk to the Münster. There were people everywhere. Apparently Ulm was hosting the Annual Einstein Marathon. To avoid the dedicated runners we even had to go over the track on a temporary bridge to reach the Münster square. It was a massive cathedral, it’s steeple being the highest in the world.

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We went in and walked around looking. Again the skill of the woodwork in the choir area was astounding.

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The stained glass windows were also a feature but many had not survived World War II, now replaced with plain coloured glass. After a good look around Oliver suggested we had time to climb the steeple. I paid for the privilege for Karen, Oliver and me. Sabine’s knees wouldn’t enjoy the climb! So off we went up, up, up, up! At a few points we came to landings and were able to take in the ever expanding but size diminishing view. It was a good chance to catch our breath as this was certainly a good workout!

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The landings were also a good thing as we had become a bit dizzy with the narrow circular staircases, even though they changed the direction at each landing. Finally we came to a point where the last section was visible. It was now a narrow central section in the middle, of course!

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After some discussion Karen and I braved it and joined Oliver in the final ascent of over 120 stairs to the very top. We encountered some other visitors coming down and it was very squishy passing each other. A breathtaking view in all ways awaited us and we felt we had done well in achieving the highest point.

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Our descent on the narrow central section also provided us with some squeezy passing points as other adventurous souls came up.

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We stopped for a while and took in the view and chatted. Oliver was able to provide us with information about what we were seeing down below. Sabine rang Oliver’s mobile and asked where we were, so that encouraged us into continuing the downwards windy trip. At the bottom we met Sabine and crossed the Münster square to a cafe where we celebrated our achievement with beers and hot chocolates.

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Daylight was fading but next we walked around the old part of the town past the impressive Rathaus and many old framework buildings, along the river and back to the car. It had been a short stop but thoroughly worth while!