German Castles, Belgium Flower Carpet and Amsterdam Canals. Part 1. Germany.
In mid August 2012 my husband and I went on vacation to Europe. We had 10 days for visiting major attractions of the chosen 3 countries, Germany, Belgium and Netherlands, including traveling time.
My heart demanded romance. Yet, there was a bucket list to see major landmarks, sometimes just for the sake of photos (don’t tell me you never did it before:-) So, I had to make a route to satisfy both of these requirements. We planned to see: Berlin, Neuschwanstein castle, Burg Hochenzollern (castle), Lichtenschtein Castle, Colmberg Castle, Rothenburg ob der Tauber (city), Burg Eltz (castle), Reichsburg Cochem (castle), Brussels and Amsterdam. We almost completed the plan with few exceptions: we skipped Lichtenschtein Castle and saw The Mercedez-Benz Museum in Stuttgart (accidentally).
The beginning of the trip was unpleasant. Weather pushed us almost one day back with our travel plans and we had to take 5 planes instead of 2 to reach our first destination city, Berlin. There lives my good friend, whom we used to work together back in Kiev. Since we basically lost the first day on the road, we could only meet for a short evening talk. Next day we had a 6 hour walking Berlin tour, which was absolutely amazing, but since I had a terrible jet leg, I could hardly follow our guide. I highly recommend this tour if you have more time, or if you are rested. But not straight from the plane. It cost us €15 and you can get information about it here. Here are the highlights of the tour:
Next day we had an early morning flight to Munich, from where we took a rented car to a famous Neuschwanstein Castle. This beautiful fairy-tale palace served as a model for the Cinderella castle in Disneyland. It sits atop cliffs and the view around is breathtaking. Typical Bavarian fields and small houses with lots of flowers on the windows. It was crowded as usual in August, so we only saw the castle from the outside. There was a huge line for tickets and we stayed there about half an hour just to discover that the next available tour of the interior was in three hours. Keeping our spirits high, we had a romantic ride up to the castle in a horse carriage, walked around and took pictures. The best full view of the castle is from Marienbrucke (bridge, that can be reached on foot). We were not turned off by the repair works, that were under way. The picture turned out quite good, despite some scaffolding. There are plenty cafes around and the meal is typically European, which was a feast for my palate.
Ready for new impressions, we were leaving crowds of tourists and majesty of the Neuschweinstein castle behind, to make another dream come true. I had a fantasy to spend a night in a real castle. So, when I googled castle-hotels before the trip, I found a 1000-year old castle, Colmberg. That was the biggest highlight of the trip and I recommend it for everyone, who is looking for peaceful relaxation, lots of nature views, friendly pet-like deer and a real night in an authentic castle with original wooden stairs and delicious meals. Tranquility of the surroundings there is intoxicating. Views are breathtaking. Feeling of coziness is addictive.
The next day we visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber, located within a 15 minute drive from Colmberg. It is considered a well-preserved Medieval City and it was traveling back in time: city walls with endless paths, motley houses with floral arrangements, lots of souvenir shops and aromas from the non-stop cooking meals were emanating from everywhere. We managed to squeeze a visit to the Criminal Museum, which had lots of artefacts of older times punishments and tortures. Some of them were rather hilarious, like an iron-made long construction, called ‘Witch catcher’. I was wondering, would I have had to worry if I had lived then?:-)
After Rothenburg ob der Tauber we hit the road for Burg Hochenzollern. We did not stay long there as it was getting dark. Just took a few photos near the cannon in the patio, enjoyed the views and had to decide where to spend a night. It was the only night that was not booked in advance. My husband picked up Hilton as he had some points to use for a free room. So, from ancient views and tranquility of the surroundings around the castle, to the contemporary urban whirlpool and the modern grandeur of the Hilton hotel in Stuttgart, – that’s how we finished our day. By chance, this hotel was located next to the Mersedez-Benz Museum, which we visited the next morning. It had a great collection of cars starting from the steam one to the most recent ones, and lots of historical stands. We have been to a races simulator, which was cool. Overall, it is a great place to see if you are a car lover.
Same day we continued our journey to see the last 2 castles on the bucket list. We thought we had seen the best views. We realized we were wrong when we were driving along the Mossel river with the views of mountains on one side and grape covered slopes on the other… I saw such views only in travel magazines… The road took us to a castle that was not seen from any road, Burg Eltz. It was surrounded by mountains, like a hidden gem with a small river nearby. It was the only castle that we managed to see from the inside. We were impressed by its architecture and history. After the tour was over, we enjoyed the views from the outside terrace, enjoying fresh mountain air and birds’ singing. Another gem was Cochem Castle. The views, both from the castle heights and from lowland, are paradise for photographers of all levels.
We drove to Bonn to spend a night at the hotel there. Next morning we had to catch the train to Brussels, Belgium, that departed from Koln. So, we took a short drive to the railway station, where we finally dropped our rented manual car, that fulfilled our dreams of seeing romantic, Bavarian Germany.
To our surprise, the railway station was in the immediate proximity with the famous landmark of the Koln, The Koln Dome. I was screaming happily that I had a chance to take several pictures there, too.
Read further Part 2.
Share and Enjoy