Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 3: Schwarzwald

After a four-hour drive down Germany’s western border with France and a hop through the Schwarzwald towards Bonndorf…im Schwarzwald, we arrived at the final Ferienwohnung destination for this trip. The arrival was not without its complications, however; TWO of the little towns off through which we were supposed to drive on the last leg of the drive were closed to through traffic, causing us to scramble and miss our predicted arrival time by an hour. Fortunately, we kept the landlady in the loop and she was accommodating. Ha.

Bonndorf is a little town on the eastern edge of the Black Forest way down south, not too far from Switzerland. It is

  • a two-hour drive to Reutlingen to visit some dear ex-Regensburg friends (so nice to catch up with them)
  • a one-and-a-half drive to Friedrichshafen to visit the Zeppelin museum
  • a one-hour drive to Freiburg to do some on-foot exploration

The town is laid out over a bowl in the foothills with a quirky little parky-zen-garden thing down in the center and wide swaths of hilly farmland to the south. Foot- and bike paths crisscross these, and lead through the wooded area to the east of town. We took several long walks, soaking up the sun at every opportunity: rain was in the forecast many of our 8 days there and overcast skies on for the rest. And besides, after all that time in the car getting there and driving up and down the Rhine on the previous leg of this vacation, it felt good to move around a bit under our own power.

Notes for next time in the area:

  • Those little towns are serious about their speed limits. I don’t think I got any tickets via radar camera, but they were sure to be found in every little town (thanks Waze!).
  • Call ahead and reserve for dinner at those highly-rated-on-Trip-Advisor little restaurants that are open in the off-season. More than once we rolled up to find that they are still full-to-bursting and taking tables only by prior reservation.
  • Consider the public transportation options attached to your FeWo carefully. We were pleased to find a Konus Karte came attached to our stay, but having to learn the local bus system in order to make use of it was daunting. And getting to Freiburg, for example, would have taken twice as long as with our car. So maybe next time we’ll get a place in a town with a train station.
  • Speaking of driving: we opted to drive the B-roads most of the way back, through all those little towns. But they were adorable and we got the best fuel economy ever and despite catchin’ a draft out many a trucker’s backdoor [breaker breaker one niner] and taking 20% longer than otherwise, it was a much more enjoyable drive. And we had the time for it, so why not?

Southern Germany Sampler: Day Three — Burg Hohenzollern


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Burg_Hohenzollern_250x167.jpgWe 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.

Wait, what?

See that little red piece of of irritation there? That’s part of Prussia, hanging out all by its lonesome.

200px-Map-Prussia-Hohenzollern.pngPA121103This 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.

Hotel Löwen

The Joint

Klosterhof 41, Ulm-Söflingen, Germany, 89077
+49 (0) 731 388 588 0

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.

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Southern Germany Sampler: Day One — Heidelberg and Neustadt/Weinstraße

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).

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Tiefburg PA100944The 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.