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September 6th 2013
Published: September 6th 2013
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Thurs 5th Sept Rothenburg to Fussen 168 miles

Up at 7.30am as another long driving day down the “Romantic Road” of Germany! They call it the ‘real’ Germany and was a brilliant invention of post-War tourism loosely based on an old Roman trade route from Wurzburg to Fussen. It promised us stretches of pillowy hillsides, cobblestoned villages, medieval walled towns, arched gateways, gothic cathedrals, baroque palaces and whimsical castles!

Definitely the highlight of the route was our first stop at Rothenburg ob der Tauber and a definite wow factor! Entered at the north gate ( I think!) and then walked on the wooden covered walkway to the south gate! Fine views of the red rooftops, pretty medieval houses and the old church towers. Amazing fortification of the city with three gates on the south side of the town and a whole array of tourist shops just tempting you in....and we couldn’t resist!!

Found a Christmas Museum which was wonderful – crammed full of lovely glass and wooden Christmas decorations –as well as beautifully decorated Christmas trees and all sorts of Christmas related items! (I could have spent a fortune!!)

We didn’t actually leave Rothenburg until 12.00ish and even then felt we hadn’t done it complete justice.

Drove on for a while to Dinkelsbuhl, that also looked a good place to wander about but we cheated and just had a quick drive through the centre before stopping for lunch!

Onto 9thC Nordlingen, which was built in a giant fertile basin caused by an asteroid 15 million years ago. The buildings are built out of the rock which contains millions of tiny diamonds made by the impact! We parked the van outside the old city as there was a 2.7metre height restriction tunnel and walked into the city and along part of the city walls, which were similar, but not quite as medieval as those in Rothenburg!

Nordingen had a more modern feel, with lots of new buildings in the Centre built in the traditional style, juxtaposed with the old half timbered buildings. Strolled back via the church to see if we could see any of the diamonds in the stonework, which appeared to be flecked numerous “diamonds”, and then walked back to the van.

As it was now 3.00pm we carried on along the Romantic Road (trying to ignore the smells of the muck spreading!) until we reached Schongau where the mountains loomed closer and the scenery immediately changed into alpine houses with masses of geraniums on their wooden balconies and lovely pretty cows with bells (I had forgotten about them!!) Stopped at Schwangau near the lake, in a Stellplatz which was much cheaper than Camping Bannwaldsee next door!

Fri 6th Sept

Caught the 9.35am free bus from the campsite into Schwangau and up to the Neuschwanstein Castle ticket office! Got our tickets – we were allocated Tour 441 at 11.25am in English! It was a half hour walk up the road, through the pine woods to the outside of the castle where we could admire the fantastic views of Forggensee and the valley below. They have a very good system as all the tours of the Castle are 5 minutes apart and the number of your tour is digitally put on the sign.....and when you see your number (441) you make your way to the gate and into the first entrance room where we then collected our English speaking Guide!

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside the castle – our guide caught someone from the previous group taking a photo and she shouted at her and made her delete it, so I wasn’t prepared to risk her wrath and do a sneaky pic!! However it was fantastic and full of baroque style rooms, a throne room (without a throne as the order was cancelled when the King died) with lots of paintings and gold and huge chandeliers and a wonderful singing room on the third floor.

The castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1868 and was built on the sight of two old ruined castles. King Ludwig had detailed plans drawn up and also plans to build an even more exotic castle which was never even started. Unfortunately, Neuschwanstein Castle was not completed because of his premature, sudden death in suspicious circumstances and he actually only lived in the half built castle for 172 days! King Ludwig was always considered flamboyant but the Parliament of Munich declared him insane and unfit to be King and took him to Munich where he was found drowned the next day, along with his doctor!

After the 35 minute tour of the Castle there was an excellent 10 minute film that showed the parts of the castle that weren’t completed and how it should have looked if they had finished it! A quick wander though the immaculate kitchens and then out to the Marienbruche (a bridge over the a deep gorge!) for an excellent view of the Castle.

Walked back down to Alpsee and had a short walk around the lake before deciding to get the bus back to the Campsite and drive over to Austria. Couldnt find the return bus stop, Tourist information was shut, so we paid out for a taxi back to the campsite.

On the road by 3.00pm and after a quick stop to see a waterfall drove over the Fern Pass with fantastic views of the mountains and valleys and aquamarine rivers and lakes. Stopped to get our vignette (8.30 Euros which allows us to drive on the Motorways for 10 days in Austria!) and then headed onto the E60 to get past Innsbruck. Jumped off the Motorway at Jnct 61 to Wattens and drove to Weer (16kms past Innsbruck) where we stopped at AlpenCamping.

Had a walk back into the village to see the church and a metal sculpture of Christ and then carried on a 100yds or so and had this fantastic meal at Schmalzerhof. It was absolutely delicious, excellently presented (Chris took a picture!!), superb service and very reasonable! I had pork medallions in a mushroom sauce with vegetables and short floor dumplings (kind of pasta/noodles!) and Chris had peppered chicken with cheese and potato croquettes and zucchini! Highly recommended!

Additional photos below
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18th September 2013
Neuschwanstein castle

A fairytale castle!

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