Written by: Jessica
Captions by: Diego

Unfortunately, due to the timing of our tickets, we did not have a lot of time in Germany.  Upon arrival in Frankfurt we worked our way through the spartan airport. Our rental car was lined up through Hertz and we spoke to them, grabbed the keys, and walked for about fifteen minutes to get to where the cars were parked.  The directions we were given was to look at our car and if we saw any marks that weren’t documented, were to talk to the staff person who would be there. Nobody was there. And yes, there was a mark: a huge gash in the driver’s side rear door.

Their definition of a scratch is much different from mine. That’s a gash to me.

Eventually, after actually calling out for and walking around to try to find this elusive staff person, we decided we would call when we got to the hotel in Baden-Baden. It was after 6 o’clock when we got there, to Hotel Etol. We had booked the room through Expedia which said we should pay for parking upon arrival. What was not mentioned: parking is so limited you have to reserve your spot! Since we were planning to leave so early in the morning, they let us stay in a spot anyways.  Basically, we traded the free breakfast for free parking.

Rather plain room, though we took this shot before we left. I keep forgetting to take a photo when we arrive to avoid showing our mess…

Once all this was sorted, we had a rush to get dinner and to our evening’s goal before that closed, so no call was made. No worries, you usually have 24 hours.

After a truly delicious dinner, we hurried over to Freidrichsbad Roman Spa, an old traditional bathing spa in the Roman style that still uses natural mineral water. After paying our entry fee we undressed and wrapped in towels in the locker room.  At first, we were a bit awkward, as we weren’t sure what to expect out of our experience.  What we knew was that it was a mixed sex bathing day and all bathing occurs naked! There were about 14 rooms we went through in the bathing process: the first was a shower, of course, and then there were various steam rooms, hot rooms, hot pools, body temperature pools, and pools so cold neither of us wanted to get into them!  Between some of the rooms they have you shower again, likely to remove yourself of the sweat from the steam rooms. As it was near closing, there were not a lot of people there.  Despite being completely nude we quickly lost our sense of being self-conscious, because everybody else is naked too, and nobody is staring. Diego and I came out of the experience, which ended with sitting on a lounger in a towel, enjoying a cup of tea, feeling refreshed and relaxed. Also: it was both cheaper and a much better experience than Blue Lagoon in Iceland. In a very different way, it was just as beautiful too, with statues and murals and intricate architecture to gaze upon while floating in the pools.

We went to Schneider’s Restaurant und Weinstube – they had a really cool atmosphere and the food was delicious.
The owners were a German couple (not shown). They both run around all over the place to make sure guests are taken care of. Highly recommend.
The spa took some getting used to but it was PHENOMENAL. It washed away so many worries from before (nearly losing our flight in London due to delays and having the rest of the trip be put in jeopardy).

The next morning, we checked out early and hit the road. We had a goal of driving through the Black Forest in the early morning light and taking some photos. The drive was gorgeous and definitely worth the detour.

The early hours of the morning. The Black Forest is a beautiful drive through nature and some of the older little towns.
These brown signs are everywhere! They showcase a historical, famous, or interesting sights that you can sometimes see from the highway.

We stopped in the town of Freudenstadt for breakfast.  Parking was a bit interesting, as it was hard to tell whether we needed to pay for parking or not, as the machine did not translate to English and my German is nowhere near good enough!

Breakfast was great and people don’t wake up early in Germany (to my surprise).
Apparently this little cake/breakfast shop was in Cake Boss!
The treats tasted as good as they looked.

Once we were out of the Black Forest, we were back onto one of the Autobahns crossing the country.  Diego hated driving in the cities as the roads are narrow and frankly terrifying.  The autobahn, however, has spoiled Diego for driving on US freeways forever.

My people – I have come home. This is about 130mph and I was STILL getting passed. Jessica took this photo, there’s no way I’m letting go of the steering wheel.

Our second destination was Rothenberg ob der Tauber, which is a very interesting old city.  It is one of the few cities that has medieval buildings standing without damage from the world wars.  We were able to climb up old fort walls and walk around part of the old town! We also went to the Christmas Museum- well, sort of. The museum is inside of a Christmas shop and you have to work through the shop to get to the exhibits. They closed those before we got there!  When we had made our plans, the opening hours listed were longer than what they had, apparently, updated them to be, and we hadn’t noticed. Still, we saw a lot of very traditional German decorations, and it was lovely.

Very German town and also very pretty. This town was visual inspiration for Pinocchio’s setting – though the story is Italian…
Another angle, the entry point.
A cool German building, not sure what it is but it looked interesting.
Though the museum was closed, the rest of the store area was open. This place is absolutely MASSIVE as this is one small section. There are decorations of every type and setting that you can imagine.
A very large tree. It felt like Christmas though it was February.
I don’t know what this is but we bought a smaller version and shipped it home.
A wall to protect the city. It’s been up for hundreds of years.
This is an old tavern (or blacksmith building, I forgot). We bought a small replica as a Christmas centerpiece.

That day we tried calling every number for Hertz we could. Their German office was apparently closed to customer service for the weekend. Roadside service wouldn’t help. The American office couldn’t support us with German rentals but provided numbers to try that we hadn’t been provided. Those were useless and stated the number was no longer in service. In sum: nobody had been there when we noted the mark to report it to, their office had apparently closed less than an hour after we left with the vehicle…and wouldn’t be open again until Monday, the day we were dropping it off. Cue anxiety: big gash on the car, not noted on paperwork, and no way to report it.

Again, the next morning, we hopped onto the Autobahn.  This time, we were driving to Munich, with a stopover at Neuschwanstein along the way. Neuschwanstein is one of the castles built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria, but it was never completed as he died before its completion. This is one of the most photographed castles in Germany due to its beauty. It is also one of the most crowded. We bought the ticket that gave us entry into the Kings of Bavaria museum (we found that to not be worth it) and a Neuschwanstein tour.  The tour was maybe 30 minutes of being rushed from room to room amidst a large tour group.  You couldn’t even see everything in the room through the other tourists. Despite that, the castle was beautiful.  In summation, if you want to see this castle, go ahead.  But, if you have time, don’t make this your only castle tour, as you will likely get more out of a less popular castle.

The castle that influenced Disney’s version. It was a cold day.
There was another nearby – the King’s summer home, apparently.
Up close and grandiose.
There’s a beautiful view at the top. It was difficult to get photos as this place is PACKED with tourists.
I wish I had a hat…My head was freezing, even after we walked for 40 minutes to get to the top.

The next morning, after checking out of our Munich hotel, we picked up souvenirs and then headed to the BMW museum. This was Diego’s addition to our trip. I frankly was not looking forward to it, but even I (who is completely ambivalent about cars) found it to be interesting. If you’re interested in cars at all, this is a definite stop to make! The tour was 2 hours long and provided a lot of insight into how cars were made, and we actually got to watch them assembled! At the end, we got lucky and a brand-new BMW was driven out of the factory for its test drive. We also got to see a lot of Rolls Royce and Minis, as they are also on display at BMW Welt.

Shown here: A car I cannot afford.
The inside is extremely well designed and showcases all BMW’s brands. All it did was make me feel poor (Rolls Royce all over the place).
At the top level. For anyone interested, you can actually customize your car in a dealership (US or otherwise), have it made here, and you can pick it up at the top level of the Welt plan for no extra cost (expect for your hotel and flight cost). You then drive it around Germany and drop it off on a specific dock to have it shipped back to your home country. All cars are customizable and they have hundreds of millions possible configurations. I wish we were given the option to take photos of the manufacturing plant, EVERYTHING is configurable for all the different options. Every car is truly unique.

That afternoon we did the almost-obligatory trip to Dachau Concentration Camp. Frankly, it was depressing, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I don’t believe that there is anything I can say to adequately express the atrocities that human beings are capable of doing to one another.  History books, especially American ones that are frankly date-based and present an American-centric viewpoint, do not give justice to the information we gleaned at Dachau.

This place makes you feel heavy and somber. It’s no joke.

Following our tour, we spun by the postal service to mail back some souvenirs we’d collected along the way, and then to the Munich Airport. After all that anxiety: they knew about the gash but had missed reporting it on our sheet.



3 Replies to “Germany”

  1. Beautiful pictures… castles, black forest…and the autobahn ! The BMW museum is incredible!
    Next Stop – Rome!
    Enjoy your trip!

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