It’s crazy easy to travel around Germany, thanks to the trains. We had discussed renting a car, but the cost and the fear of my dad speeding down the autobahn made us pick the more convenient mode of transport. Thus, after our first day exploring Frankfurt, we took to the rails to visit some of the nearby cities.
Our first trip was to Fulda, which is about an hour away from Frankfurt by train. We did quite a bit of shopping while we explored the Christmas Market. It was a fairly small area, and eventually we moved on.
Not far from the Christmas Market was the church. The sheer size of it was amazing, and you were allowed to go inside and take pictures provided there was no events or sermons going on. Fulda’s church had the most gorgeous interior of every church we saw during our trip (not that the others were any slouches). Really, German churches make the churches I see back home look like high school gymnasiums.
From there we went to see the nearby castle. This ended up being a bit of a bust because the castle was closed that day. We could still wander the halls and the winter-dulled grounds, but we were unable to get into any of the rooms.
Fulda was a nice place, but nothing terribly exciting happened while we were there
Heidelberg was not in our original plans, but it came highly recommended to me by a barista at the Starbucks near my work. She insisted that if we were going to Germany, we had to see Heidelberg. I brought it up to my parents, and we booked a guided tour through the town and the nearby castle.
We didn’t take the train to Heidelberg. Our tour guide, an older gentleman named Rudy, met us at the main train station and drove us there, all while conversing with my parents about the various aspects of Germany. There was a lot of talk about cars.
It was about an hour’s drive. We parked near the Christmas Market, which was in a large, old fashioned shopping area. Our first stop was near the parking area, where we got to see a building that used to be Robert Bunsen’s lab. There was a statue of the man himself down the street from there, in the same spot where the Christmas Market began.
Rudy took us through the city on a path towards the castle that allowed us to see a lot of historical landmarks. We toured the church, he showed us some of the city’s older buildings and what they were once used for, as well as several memorials. Afterwards, we moved on to the castle.
Now, the Heidelberg Castle is a ruin. There was a guided tour that would allow you to see three rooms within the castle, but we chose not to go on it. We did, however, check out the wine cellar. Within was a wine barrel the size of a small outlet store, capable of holding over two thousand liters of wine!
Aside from the view, that was the part of the castle really worth seeing.
We headed back into town and got a late lunch at a nearby restaurant. Afterwards, Rudy took us to a few more locations before we split ways, giving us two hours to explore on our own before we met up at the Bunsen statue.
Food Item I Tried: This was my first experience with the gluhwein. Gluhwein is hot mulled wine, usually with a shot of something else in it. They come in cute mugs that you can either keep or return for a deposit. The gluhwein in Heidelberg was actually not too bad.
So, we walked and shopped. We found cheap alcohol to give as gifts—booze is so cheap in Germany, I could hardly believe it. The kind we picked up was gingerbread flavoured and came in cute bottles shaped like gingerbread men.
About two hours later we met up with Rudy. While he went to go get the car, my mom and I decided we ought to take a bathroom break before leaving town. As I left the stall, this exchange occurred.
Mom: Are you going to wash your hands?
Me: I was planning on it.
Mom: I wouldn’t use that sink.
And I swear to god I have never seen a spider quite like the monster that was sitting in the bathroom sink. It was only a little smaller than my fist, with long skeletal legs and black-and-red colouration. If this thing had been the size of a large dog, it wouldn’t have looked out of place in a fantasy video game.
Naturally, we had to get a picture. Except our camera wouldn’t work.
Now, we must have been a sight standing near the bathroom door, one of us intently watching the sink while the other fiddled with the camera, because a woman approached with her two children and gave us a curious look.
My mom told her that there was a big spider and the sink and that she probably shouldn’t take her little children in there. The woman peered in, got one looked at the monster, and sighed with a declaration that they were headed to the men’s room.
From there we met up with Rudy, drove back and returned to our hotel.
The final day trip from Frankfurt was to Rüdesheim. This particular area is located on the river and is home to several vineyards.
Now, I think of all the places we visited, Rüdesheim was my personal favourite. While its Christmas Market wasn’t the biggest, it was well-spread out and at no point did I feel crowded by all the other shoppers. The whole area we were in was all older buildings, and I’d found by that point that newer buildings didn’t have quite the same atmosphere when in the Christmas Market. When the sun set, the set-up had a great beauty to it, which the view from the river—when the river was in view—complimented.
While we were here, we went to the first of many medieval torture museums that we would see while in Germany. It was small, but there were a lot of interesting pieces to look at. From there, we bought gifts—music boxes, beer steins, ornaments—and continued to weave our way through the Market. We had more gluhwein—this time with Heidelbeer, some sort of berry—and some kinderpunsch (the non-alcoholic version of gluhwein, it basically tastes like hot grape juice).
Food Item I tried: Cake. Specifically, I want to point out cheesecake, though that wasn’t what I ordered at the café we went to for cake and hot chocolate. Normally, I dislike cheesecake. I find it too rich and I can only take a few bites before I feel sick. German cheesecake, however, is really, really good. It’s not too rich because they use something called quark instead of cream cheese. So while I didn’t actually have the cheesecake, I tried some of my sister’s and it was great.
Between the scenery, the decreased crowding, and general layout of everything, I really enjoyed Rüdesheim
We returned to Frankfurt for the night, ready to move out the next day. So, next week: Nuremburg: Gingerbread and A Severed Crow Head.