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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Schwarzwald and Wine


These Germany posts have been tough to write! I wanted to come back and just spew everything that we saw and did because, honestly, we had kind of a hard time planning our own trip based on blogs and websites from afar. It's a little overwhelming though, right? Refer back here for the first post. We did almost two weeks in Southern Germany, starting with a few days in Munich and Bamberg. After that, we drove and ate our way through the Black Forest one piece of cake and one glass (bottle?) of delicious German wine at a time. 



Actually, first we stopped in Rothenburg (which is still in northern Bavaria). After taking the train and walking a ton for the first portion of our trip, we rented a car out of Bamberg and navigated our way southeast. We had read a lot about Rothenburg and it was pretty cool. Cobblestone roads, a lot of adorable little stores. The whole town is essentially a fortress, which was interesting to walk around. But, if I'm being totally honest, I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I should or could have. After spending almost 5 days in highly populated areas, I was ready to be back out in the woods and rural landscape that we are used to at home. That shouldn't discount Rothenburg at all because if you are the type that loves little shops and bakeries and old architecture, then this should top your list on places to visit. I think we enjoyed the gardens the most. You can grab a cold beer from the vendor at the entrance and find a spot to sit in the grass to enjoy. 

After a few hours exploring Rothenburg, it was full steam ahead to Schwarzwald. We stayed the night in Marxzell at Konig von Preussen and felt right at home. 



The exposed beams in our room were beautiful and, from what little German we learned and understood, the inn was renovated not long ago as a family business. Looking for a low key night, we went to a neighboring town for a short dinner and beers, then back to the room to get rested up for our journey along the Black Forest High Road. Knowing that we would be spending a lot of time in the car, we wanted to squeeze in a hike when we woke up. After another great breakfast (did I mention how much I miss German breakfasts?), we walked just across the road to explore the grounds of an abbey under reconstruction, then up a long path.
         

The Black Forest was very familiar to us. It reminded me a lot of the Northeast, but with more established hiking trails, that look more like they are used for every day commutes rather than weekend recreation. 



Once we were back in the room and cleaned up, we mapped our route for the day that would take us to Gengenbach. Up and over the Black Forest High Road in our Mercedes (side story: My husband was so excited to see that we had a red Mercedes at the car rental out of Bamberg. We didn't want to splurge on some fancy, fast car, but we went for one step above the economy option and crossed our fingers for something good. Well, it was fancy...but it was not fast! Safer and prettier than a minivan, but not sure the engine was much different. I cut the hatchback off in this shot so that it looked faster than it really was, for his sake. Someone with the turbo version pulled up behind us just after this picture was taken.)



One thing that we weren't planning for was all of the road construction that would be going on in the summertime. We ended up on more than one detour, which we were okay with - I think we ended up getting to see more than what we originally planned. After stopping to grab some bread and cold meat for lunch, we kept on plugging along to Gengenbach! Just in time for kafe und kuchen. 



After a walk around town, a slice of Black Forest cake for me, and some sort of cheesecake for my husband (Cheesecake in the Black Forest?), we were anxious to check in to our hotel. This was one of the hotels I was looking forward to the most, not just because it was a wine hotel, but because the scenery was gorgeous. Lots of vineyards, farm land, and walking paths. 




Pfeffer & Salz (Pepper and Salt) was a great break in all of the beer drinking. The afternoon and evening looked something like this: sample Simon Huber wines, unpack hiking boots, stash a bottle of wine in backpack, walk across the road to the vineyard, drink more wine on the hike up to this view:





We wandered through the vineyard trails, back down into town, and all the way to the local market to grab some dinner that we could enjoy back at the hotel. 


Unfortunately, we stayed the one night that the restaurant was closed, but the breakfast definitely made up for it. Hiking around in the vineyards above Gengenbach was definitely a highlight of the trip. The next few days were spent headed closer to the Bavarian Alps with lots of stops for wandering around. 




Next up is the start of the Alpenstrasse when the mountains get bigger and the beers get even better!

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