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?

Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 2: Rheingau

We were originally going to head from Freinsheim across the South of France towards its Atlantic coast, but…Covid-19 happened.

Most of our winey traveller activities in Germany have been along the Weinstraße but there are lots more spots to visit for a tipple. Like the whole Rheingau. So, with a lot of the travel demand reduced in general and all regions of Germany back to school (whether in classroom settings or otherwise), the selection of Ferienwohnungen on short notice when all the relevant regions of France hit the Risikogebiet list was surprisingly rich. We picked out a Ferienwohnung in a former nuns’ home directly on the banks of the Rhine in Lorchhausen.

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Truth be told: that area has nice vineyards for hiking, but NOTHING else going for it. Fortunately, our FeWo had very convenient parking and the house was about 200 meters from the train station (and about 10 meters from the tracks, so it kinda felt like being at home in Regensburg). We used all three modes of transportation:

  1. vineyard hikes and
  2. drives around the area
  3. rode the rails with an RNV day ticket

in order to:

  • hit up a winery in Eltville-Erbach (buying directly from the vintner makes us feel extra cool)
  • walk along and above the Rhine in various towns
  • chill out in our FeWo with its nice Rhine views, watching freighters and a few cruise ships chug by
  • seize the opportunity for a fancy lunch when it presented itself, but otherwise ate a lot at “home” in the FeWo

Making use of the vacation apartment’s kitchen actually was more conducive to trying local wines than you might think. If you’re driving around, you can’t sample as much as you’d like. And if you’re town-hopping via train, carrying bottles around all day kinda sucks. Best compromise: hit up the supermarkets’ local wine shelf. They’ll have representative wines you can pack in your car, enjoy that evening at your vacation apartment and the next day you can buy more of the ones you like the most.

After four days of mixed weather in the Rheingau, it was time to head south towards the Swiss border, for … EIGHT days of mixed weather. Stay tuned!

Fall 2020 Vacation — Part 1: Freinsheim, Bad Dürkheim, and Wiesbaden

The annual Kulinarische Weinwanderung in Freinsheim didn’t happen this year (but you can relive its glory through our write-ups here, here, here, here, and here if you like).

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Corona squashed the big event in the town, but that didn’t completely shut down everything, so we went anyways. Couple reasons for that:

  1. Before the cancellation announcement, we got a Ferienwohnung in Freinsheim behind the biggest church next to the Rathaus by some fluke (last year, right after last year’s event and well before Corona was a concern for anyone), and we wanted to go back to it next year (we have since learned that it’s already rented out for 2021, so we put in our request for 2022).
  2. We just like that town an awful lot. Shout out to our ex-Heidelberg pals once again!

So we drove to Freinsheim, met up with our pal Snooker, and snarfed up the Saumagen and Weinkraut and Brodworsch and Zwivvelkuchl without 10k of our fellow revelers competing for our attention. Also, the weather kinda sucked, so maybe that was a silver lining. Still, for tradition’s sake, I took a selfie or two at my favorite spots on the Wanderung route.

Since the Weinwanderung was not happening at all, that gave us time to go check out Bad Dürkheim, an easy train ride further south from Freinsheim. We ate a nice lunch in a huge old wine barrel and strolled through the Gradierbau (“graduation tower,” ever heard of that? We had not!). Hat tips to old WEBMU pal Christie Dietz for the suggestions. We must have benefitted from the salty atmosphere, right? I mean, they wouldn’t have built it and maintained it all these years if it were good for nothing.

After our time in Freinsheim was up, we parted ways, but took a hint from Snooker to check out the Felsenkirche (“Crag Church”, set into a rocky outcropping along the river Nahe) in Idar/Oberstein before driving north to Wiesbaden to meet up with a friend there for Kaffee und Kuchen on our way to our Ferienwohnung in Lorchhausen.

Parte 4: San Valentino alla Muta

This is the final installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

The last part of our trip was a big change of scenery on the way back to Regensburg. Rather than going back the way we came through the mountains, we jagged west at Bozen/Bolzano towards Meran/Merano instead of east towards Brixen/Bressanone. The drive up through Bozen to the Brenner Pass is usually good for some oohs and ahhs, but the little towns along the route from Merano to San Valentino were adorable. It also took a lot longer than it looks on the map, because those are little country hillside roads getting you to Graun im Vinschgau, because those villages come with a speed limit of 50 km/h (≈30 mph) most of the way.

See what I mean?

Continue reading Parte 4: San Valentino alla Muta

Parte 2: Ravenna

This is the next installment of our road trip around Northern Italy in September 2019. You can catch up on

It was only a few hours’ drive from the outskirts of Venice to the former capital of the Western Roman Empire, Ravenna.

We’d been to the town before, but last time, it was dark, and cold, and difficult to navigate with our rental car. This time we arrived with plenty of daylight, parked the car once, and did all the exploration on foot. The weather was generally agreeable this time, too — though some fierce winds and a brief rain spell motivated us to spend a little more time under the awning at a restaurant eating piadine for lunch.

Some brief notes:

  • We stayed on the edge of the Altstadt in a cool (despite the dorky name) little boutique BnB called "M Club DeLuxe"
  • We bought the combo pass for the Basilica San Vitale, the mausoleum, Basilica Sant’Apollinare Nuovo — apparently they don’t offer just the mausoleum and Basilica San Vitale pass anymore, but it was worth it to us.
  • Watch out for tourists; there were more than we expected for the off season (second week of September)
  • Sarah reserved us a table for a very nice dinner in Ravenna at Al Cairoli: great quality, atmosphere (a table outside on a quiet pedestrian street), and reasonable prices.
Continue reading Parte 2: Ravenna

Parte 0: Italian Road Trip September 2019

It’s not every year that we get TWO trips to Italy. Last time our focus was Tuscany. This time was a mix of new and old destinations in Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, showing Sarah’s mom some stuff we knew, and some we didn’t. Clearly this is going to have to be split into several different posts. We took way too many pictures to cover it all in one post. Stay tuned for individual segments to follow.

The Route

Continue reading Parte 0: Italian Road Trip September 2019

How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

I find traveling is a set of skills that stays sharp when you do it often, but we’ve been on a bit of a travel hiatus. After spending a couple of weeks (a long stretch for us) in Mexico this January, we pretty much stayed put for early 2018. Besides, there was plenty that needed doing here. But the drought ended with a road trip to the Cinque Terre, on the northwestern coast of Italy, south of Genoa. In blundering ahead with our rusty skills, we missed a few points on the mental checklist. Here is what we learned so that you don’t have to: Continue reading How Not to Visit the Cinque Terre

A Long Weekend in Liège and Maastricht

We needed to get the heck outta Dodge. Well, I did. With no travel from Mallorca until last weekend, it felt like we hadn’t been anywhere in ages. Don’t get us wrong, we’re enjoying the new place. But a whole lot of work intensity and no change of scenery to break it up made for a very real need to escape for a bit.

So here’s what we did: Continue reading A Long Weekend in Liège and Maastricht

A week in Eastern Italy

October was a big month for us. Really big. Yuge Enormous, even.

  • We went on vacation at the beginning of October.
  • We moved from our beloved literal island in the Danube onto a figurative island in the city.1
  • I changed jobs and office buildings at work.2
  • We went on vacation again at the end of October.

It’s almost the end of November now, and it feels like we’re still trying to catch up from October. We’d planned this trip many months in advance, coordinating with my parents and their friends in several different countries, and so bailing or rescheduling it to let us concentrate on our impending move across town and adjustment to a working kitchen again was not an option. Not that we wanted too, anyways — after getting the details mapped out with the new landlady and previous tenants in our new place, it was good to get away from a stressy bit at work. Continue reading A week in Eastern Italy

  1. More on that later, maybe. []
  2. Same boss, same employees, but new, old, and different stuff for me. Probably no more on that, ever — here at least. []

Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back

Catch up on the previous episodes here:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Early on the morning of our departure from Naples, Rachel took a taxi to the airport and flew to Sicily to continue her adventures there. We started a long drive back from Naples to Regensburg, stopping overnight twice along the way. Continue reading Italy Road Trip May 2016, Part V: the Drive Back