Germans have often asked me what the big deal is about Halloween. This should be required viewing for anyone who has to ask.
We got moving the next after waddling back from all that pork and potatoes and choucroute to our tiny hotel rooms. Check-out was pretty easy and over night parking at the parking garage across the street from the Hotel Aux Trois Roses was surprisingly reasonable — just 7€. After a dip into France, we arrived in Prussia.
See that little red piece of of irritation there? That’s part of Prussia, hanging out all by its lonesome.
This is the ancestral seat of the House of Hohenzollern, the family which rose to the power as the kings “in” and “of” Prussia, and became Emperors of Germany. Then a whole bunch of bad stuff happened, which you know about. But I remember visiting this castle, which is still privately owned to this day, in 1989 or ’90 and thinking “wait…we’re in southwest Germany. How is this place Prussian?” When you take the tour, donning the provided felt slippers over your street shoes to protect the flooring, the tour guide explains how the family grew and spread and rose to power.
That night we stayed in Ulm, really only because it’s about the half-way point between the Burg and our next stop at the very top and bottom of Germany. But Sarah found us a really great hotel/restaurant there through booking.com, which made it all the more worthwhile.
Heading further South and East from Burg Hohenzollern towards, we stopped in Ulm for the night at Hotel Restaurant Löwen. Sarah found it through booking.com. Our expectations were rather low, since we just wanted a place to sleep, and initially didn’t plan on eating there or exploring Ulm (native Franks and Bavarians had warned us that Ulm is not worth exploring), but I guess we were just lucky because this place was super. The price, at 112€ a night for a double with breakfast the next morning, was a little more than we like to spend, but just having cheaped out at Hôtel Aux Trois Roses, we could afford it. And it seemed like it was worth more than 112€ anyway.
Our room was very modern in design — lots of ultra-euro shapes and angles and surfaces, including a solid glass sliding door for entry into the bathroom, a fixed glass sprayguard half enclosing the shower cabin. When we asked about the WiFi network, the reception clerk apologetically handed us an ethernet cable (haven’t seen one of those in awhile!), because the signal wasn’t strong enough in our room. I thought that was a nice touch; usually you just get “well, it works in our Lobby…”
We ended up eating there that night and were very impressed with the atmosphere and attitude of the staff and quality and value of the food. This was my favorite breakfast spread of the road trip; a waitress came around to ask if we were sure we wouldn’t like some individually prepared eggs. And when I said “yes, thanks, one over-medium for me please,” she whispered in a mock-conspiratorial tone “Two is customary…are you sure you wouldn’t you like two?”
I like that. I’d stay there again for sure.
The location of this hotel is pretty great – right across one of the myriad bridges leading into the heart of the old town. The gentleman at reception was very patient with our questions and even let us check in early, as our rooms were already prepared. I find in French city hotels, the rooms tend to be very small, and Trois Roses lived up to my expectation. Our double room was dominated by the double bed. Affixed the wall at the foot of the bed was a set of two large shelves – one high for the TV and one low for a small suitcase. Given the tightness of the room, the suitcase shelf was an absolute necessity. My brother’s single room down the hall was similarly cramped. When I walked in, he said “It feels like an airplane.” He wasn’t wrong. Here’s the kicker – the bathrooms were of normal size!
The stay was comfortable enough and the breakfast and parking were NOT included in the room rate (69€ for the double, 51€ for the single). Which was fine – what fun is it to stay in France and not go croissant hunting? I would consider staying there again if we go back to Strasbourg due to the price – but a little more elbow room might be worth a little more cash.
We got started pretty early after the Winzerfest in Neustadt/Weinstraße. We checked out of the Deutscher Kaiser after a nice breakfast spread and drove over to France. It’s really not that far to the border — it only took about 2 hours (there were a few traffic issues; it should have taken about ninety minutes). Our GPS was pretty reliable, but we still drove past the hotel at least one time — maybe twice — on our “final approach.” Strasbourg is historically contentious; sometimes it’s German, sometimes it’s French. Sure seems French to me with regard to the traffic patterns and street signs. We sort of did the “Look kids, it’s Big Ben” drive-by thing while zeroing in on our hotel.
We had great luck with the weather in Strasbourg, too &mdash, that part didn’t change with the border-crossing. We dropped off our bags into our rooms (nice of them to let us check in early) and hit the pavement on foot for the obligatory Croque-monsieur lunch, splitting a pitcher of blonde beer between me and Colin as well (all remaining travel for that day was to be done on foot). Strasbourg makes a very pretty impression, with its tree-lined canals and bridges, and sorta-German Fachwerk architecture. It also has the sleekest-looking trams I’ve ever seen.
Click a picture in the flashy thing below to embiggen it, or get your slideshow on with it too, if you like.
We made an obligatory Cathedral visit and I got some shots of the stained glass that weren’t too bad. But this wasn’t the only impressive church in town: St. Paul’s first caught our attention, because it was visible from our hotel’s street. We would have gone in, but it was under massive construction.
All this tromping around in German France (or was it French Germany?) made us work up an appétit, so we consulted our trusty Frommer’s France book (2005 edition, but this place obviously doesn’t change so fast), and came up with L’Ancienne Douane for dinner. It was a huge restaurant with plenty of capacity, which made me wary, since it was obviously geared toward groups of tourist, but it turned out to not suck completely. We tried to get all fancy on the appetizer and Colin really got more than he bargained for in trying to get something specifc to the region without renouncing his avoidance of choucroute (Sauerkraut)…but that’s a post for another day. Suffice it to say that both and quality and quantity demands were more than exceeded.
I think living and working here, perhaps in some EU capacity, would be nice.
We were immediately intrigued by the logo. Who wouldn’t want to sleep over at Snidely Whiplash’s grampa’s house? As we rolled up into the Innenhof, the innkeeper, greeted us warmly from smoke break porch perch. She was extremely friendly — the kind of friendly that normally makes me suspicious, but this was genuine — and helped us out with some tips for getting to the Hbf to meet CN&D. There was apparently a SNAFU regarding our booking.com request for a third bed; she was only aware of two guests, but it all worked out swell in the end. I think we even got a sort-of-free room upgrade out of it.
The room itself was spacious and comfortable. I noticed it could have used a touch-up paint job in a few places, but for 120€ total for three adults per night, I can overlook that. The breakfast spread the next morning was nice. I’d stay there again the next time we arrive in the Heidelberg area by car (kind of out of the way for a train trip, but it’s still doable with the #5 or #23 trams out to Handschuhsheim).
It’s been a while since we’ve had a new post here on Ye Olde Regensblogge, but that’s not without a good reason. Sarah’s brother Colin came to visit for over a week and we’ve been busy giving him the Southern Germany Sampler. Sarah planned us a route and picked great places to see / stop / eat / sleep along the way, with never more than a few hours in the car at a stretch.
Here’s the route, roughly. We started in Regensburg and made our way counter-clockwise along the path below (more or less).
View Strasbourg and back in a larger map
The first leg was from Regensburg to Heidelberg to visit our pals behind the heidelbergerin blog and get their expert advice on Weinfests in their area — they accompanied us to the big party in Neustadt an der Weinstraße. But first we had to get to our hotel in Heidelberg. We stayed in the Handschuhsheim district of Heidelberg at the Deutscher Kaiser. Note: this image is not of our hotel; it’s a neat-looking medieval castley dwelling thing called the Tiefburg) We were impressed by the friendly and helpful innkeeper (she seemed to be a one-woman show on the day shift at least). The room we rented — a triple — was generous in size and well-equipped. It could have used a touch-up job of paint in a few areas, but for 129€ for three people and a nice breakfast the next morning, I really wouldn’t complain.
We snagged a tram from the Handschuhsheim neighborhood to the Heidelberg Hbf, scooped up the Heidelberger along the way, and tried to haggle with the DB people at the Hbf about an upgrade on our group ticket. No dice. But it still was a pretty good deal to get to Neustadt an der Weinstraße, about an hour away via S-bahn. When we got there, the parade was already in full swing, and it kept going strong until a good three hours later. Much wine was sampled, along with some cheese, and the requisite Fest Food: grilled stuff. Nice way to spend an afternoon with friends.
We spent the 20th anniversary of German Reunification in common song and spirit down in Munich with some pals who live there and were gracious enough to show us around. We’d been to Oktoberfest a couple times before, but kind of at random. It was a really fun time, though I have to say, a weekday late morning with real oompah music (as opposed to holiday weekend, with a party band) is my preference for next time. There was a little stress in getting to our reserved table on time due to some transportation issues (S-Bahn stopped running for some reason and we had to re-route), and once we got on the U4/U5 line to Theresienwiese, I started getting impatient (though not panicky) in the train and on the platform heading up to the Wiesn — but finding our table at the Schottenhamel tent made me feel better. And the prompt delivery of the main dish (liquid bread) made me feel a lot better.