Germany : Travel tips from Michael
Reference map  of Germany

Altenahr (4)   -   Baden Baden   -   Bernkastel-Kues (5)   -   Black Forest (7)

Boppard (6)   -   Mainau (13)   -   Romantische Strasse (8-11)

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GER 1 - Altenahr   (on the Ahr river)   Reference map

Walk 7, Ahr valley Altenahr is a small village on the delightful Ahr river. It can be reached by train via a picturesque rail line which follows the Ahr river valley, or by car taking the Altenahr turnoff from the A61 autobahn.

Altenahr is the starting point of the 35km long Rotwein Wanderweg (Red wine walking trail), which meanders past the main red wine vineyards in this prime red wine region. You can do it by foot, bicycle or car.
If the 35km hike along the vineyards is too much for you there is a choice of 10 designated walking trails, varying in length from 3 to 10 km, which can be done from Altenahr.

The area is very popular in Spring, when the new leaves and blossoms come out, and again in Autumn when the yellowing leaves display a multitude of wonderful colours.

The place to stay can be no other than the magnificent 1,000 year old Hotel Zum Schwarzen Kreuz. They offer excellent budget price 5-day deals including breakfast and dinner. There is free parking.
Hotel owner Herr Mannsteadt is also well qualified to advise you on the best Spätburgunder reds of the region.
For campers there is an excellent Caravan park nearby located right on the Ahr river's edge.

Hotels - Photos - Map of the region - Map of Germany
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GER 2 - Baden Baden   Reference map

Allied forces Bombers in WW2 were instructed not to bomb Baden Baden, so this super elegant 19th century city is still fully as it was over 100 years ago. The city is famous for its spas, casino and elegant shops.
Famous Russian writers like Tolstoy, Chekhov and others used to write their books here, and gamble their money away. Therefore to this day in Russia the saying is : "If you have not seen Baden Baden, you have not seen the world! ".
Baden Baden : Kurhaus & Casino
I personally visit the city usually twice for a few days whenever I am in Europe, to enjoy the spas, restaurants, shops, stunning art museums and just strolling through this magnificent city.

Wallstreet im Hamilton on the Oos river My favourite Bistro is Wallstreet im Hamilton in the center of town and located right on the tiny Oos river.
They have imaginative Specials for lunch there every weekday, priced at only €6 to €8, and their regular menu is good and reasonably priced too.
But there are many other restaurants worth visiting, and of course don't forget the excellent bakery Peter's am Leo right next to Bistro Amadeus on Leopoldplatz.

By far the best place to stay is Hotel am Markt (limited parking), book well ahead, but if that is full nearby Hotel Bischoff is also a good choice. Both hotels are in the center of town and only a stone-throw away from the Spas.
The first time you visit Baden Baden it is probably best to take a taxi to your hotel, but on later visits take a bus (201 or 205) from the Railway station to Leopoldplatz. Both hotels are only a short stroll from there.

Hotels - Photos - Map of Germany
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GER 3 - Bernkastel-Kues   (on the Mosel)   Reference map

There is no railway line to Bernkastel-Kues, so probably the best way to get there is from Koblenz to Cochem by train, then on to Bernkastel by bus. But once there it is well worth the effort.
Bernkastel is the more touristic part of town, while right across the Mosel bridge lies the much quieter Kues.
Bernkastel on the Mosel
In Kues is also where you find the Historic Hotel Sankt Maximillian, run by the Nelius family. Daughter Sabine runs the hotel and restaurant, while father Peter remains in charge of the winery. The wine cellars are located right underneath the hotel, where every Friday evening a free wine tasting is put on for the guests.

On the walls of one of the Hotel Sankt Maximillian's corridors are a nice collection of Ofentafeln on display, some of them dating from the 17th and 18th century. Ofentafeln are decorated cast iron plates attached to the walls of Kastenofen, heating stoves located within a living room.

Gem cutter in Kirchweller, near Idar Oberstein It is a must to climb from Bernkastel up the hill to the ancient castle overlooking the Mosel valley.

You should also try the 6 km walk from Bernkastel over the mountain to Traben-Trarbach. But make sure to ask for specific directions first as the trail was not too well marked in 2008, when I did it and got lost.
From Traben-Trarbach you can take a cruise ship back to Bernkastel.

From the Kues News agency you can make day trips by bus to Germany's famous gem city Idar Oberstein or to the beautiful city of Trier.

Hotels - Photos - Ofentafeln - Map of the region - Map of Germany
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GER 4 - Black Forest   Reference map

Sankt Märgen, Black Forest I have been to the Black Forest now (2012) five times in the past 5 years and absolutely love it. For me it has it all : a smorgasbord of day-walks throughout the region with good public transport access to all of them, wonderful restaurants, excellent (and cheap) holiday accommodations, plus the nearby sophisticated University city of Freiburg, with cute narrow water channels running through its inner city streets.

Waldcafe restaurant My sister Wivica lives in Sankt Peter (only 20 km East of Freiburg) which for me has been a great base from which to explore the entire Black Forest region.
Sankt Peter features half a dozen great restaurants, one of them, the Waldcafe (with stunning views), only 50 meters from my regular holiday apartment at the Steingrubenhof (part of a dairy farm owned by Georg and Lydia Blattmann).

I have specified six walks in the Black Forest (with maps and photos), ranging from 6 to 9 km in length, all with easy access by car, bus or train.
Also recommended is a train ride on the Höllental Bahn, which runs from Freiburg to the Schluchsee. It runs through the narrow Höllental between Himmelreich* and Hinterzarten, famous for its legend : at its narrowest point of this gorge (only 7 meters wide at the top) a dear, chased by hunters, is said to have jumped across the gorge here successfully.
(* Hell and Heaven are not far apart here in the Black Forest!)

Hotels - Waldcafe - Photos - Walks - Map of St.Peter - Map of the region - Map of Germany

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GER 5 - Boppard   (on the Romantic Rhine)   Reference map
Boppard Boppard lies at the center of what is known as the Romantic Rhine, a beautiful stretch of this famous river with a number of castles on hill tops overlooking the water. Boppard has a lovely promenade along the western waterfront with many restaurants inviting you to have drinks or a meal overlooking the water.
The treacherous rock on which numerous sailors came to grief (mesmerised by the beautiful Lorelei "combing her long golden hair", so goes the legend), has long since been blown up to facilitate a safer passages for the ships.
But there are still regular cruises every day to visit this legendary spot on the Rhine.   You can also take a cruise Northwards to Koblenz or Southwards to Rüdesheim and Wiesbaden.

I have stayed on several occasions at Hotel Rebstock, located right opposite the ferry, which has comfortable rooms and offers excellent budget deals. The owner is a committed chef and his meals are served in a delightful Art Deco dining room.
Another good accommodation choice (only slightly dearer) is Hotel Günter which has free Wifi.

Boppard can be easily reached by train (from the station it is only a short stroll to the river).
Parking can be a problem, but there is free parking about 500 meters South of Hotel Rebstock at a Public car park overlooked by the main Police office.

Hotels - Photos - Rebstock dining room - Map of the region - Map of Germany
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GER 6 - Blumen Insel Mainau   (in the Bodensee)   Reference map

Flower island Mainau in the Bodensee
Grossherzog Friedrich 1 von Baden (1826 - 1907) purchased the island of Mainau in the Bodensee (on Germany's border with Switzerland) in the mid 19th Century and planted on it trees, flowers and other plants he collected from around the world.
The island gradually developed further over the following century and a half. It now truly represents one of the most significant flora displays in the world.

When you come this way, you should certainly make an effort to see it, for regardless the season the island just takes your breath away.   You easily can roam around for a full day. There are several restaurants on the island, so you won't be hungry.

There are numerous tourist busses visiting daily. Car parking is on the mainland. You can either walk onto the island via the road bridge, or take a coach at the entrance which drives you right to the center of the island. Electric wheelchairs are also available (but make sure to book one of these before you get there).

Photos - Map of Germany
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GER 7 - Romantische Strasse   Reference map
Moat around Dinkelsbühl

The Romantic road connects four Medieval towns in the SE of Germany.
It starts at Füssen near the Austrian border, then runs due North (leaving München to its East) to Nördlingen, Dinkelsbühl and Rotenburg ob der Tauber.

Füssen's main claim to fame is its vicinity to Schloss Neuschwanstein (built by King Ludwig 2, and replicated in Disney land) and Schloss Hohenschwangau.
I personally much preferred the stunning 18th Century breakfast room in Gasthof Zum Hechten (the place to stay) and Füssen's delightful Indoor Market.

Tiny Eger Creek running through Nördlingen Nördlingen is by far my preferred town of the four. It is far less touristic than the other three, and therefore has a real authentic atmosphere. It is also the sister city of Wagga Wagga (in NSW, Australia).

Nördlingen is located in the center of a 25 km diameter meteorite crater. It has filled in with earth over the millennia and now has a flat floor, but the crater's elevated rim is still preserved.
NASA astronauts trained here during the 1960s to get a feel for the moon's surface, but frankly I could not imagine much similarity with this typical rural environment and the moon's landscape.
However NASA gave Nördlingen, as a thank you for their hospitality, the Ries Crater Museum which is a great place to visit.

Rotenburg ob der Tauber Keiserhof Hotel Sonne is the place to stay in Nördlingen, and you will be in good company : four German Emperors, three Kings as well as Goethe have resided here before you.
You must certainly walk over the ancient wall around the town and when finished have a drink or meal in Cafe Radlos ('Cafe Desperate') it is a cute, quirky place.
There is also a nice indoor market and great Pizzeria in town, both under one roof, sharing the same large building.

Dinkelsbühl and Rotenburg ob der Tauber are pretty well preserved Medieval towns, but full of tourists. Nevertheless go and have a look, they are certainly worth a visit.

Hotels - Photos - Zum Hechten breakfast room - Füssen Indoor Market - Map of Germany
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© 2012 Michael Furstner