Stacy+FelizeFinals-86.jpg

Hi.

Welcome to my travel blog.

I may tell you a travel story, share a list of things to do, an itinerary, or something totally irrelevant to travel, but beneficial for life. Either way, have fun looking around. This is my hobby and travel is my passion, so I can get away with contradicting the marketing strategies of the week.

I hope you find the information you need for your upcoming adventures. Maybe you’ll discover a few other things that’ll keep you coming back. (I would like someone to read my posts.)

Always feel free to comment and let me know if you have questions or suggestions. Please follow the GnG guidelines for commenting, which are: Be nice, refrain from cursing, and giggle a little - it’s good for the soul.

Grazie.

7 Dos & Don'ts When Traveling to Germany

7 Dos & Don'ts When Traveling to Germany

#1 Do buy a train ticket in advance to save money and have a reserved seat.

#2 Don’t buy a first class ticket, unless you’re okay with what you’ll get.

#3 Do get off at the right München/Munich train station. (see below for details)

#4 Don’t go to Germany and not eat traditional German food and drink German beverages.

#5 Do talk with people on the train - it’s a long ride and a lot of people speak English.

#6 Don’t just go to the tourist hot spots - venture out. Germany is filled with hiking trails, parks, castles, and wonderful small towns.

#7 Do visit the Stuttgart Zoo (includes an aquarium and botanical gardens).

Disclaimer: These are all my personal opinions, based on my experiences during the seven days I visited Eschenbach, Nuremberg & Stuttgart, Germany and the journey there from Vicenza, Italy via train.


I have always dreamed of spending Christmas in Germany. My imagination would take me gallivanting through the Christmas markets, admiring the wood carved ornaments, smelling the smoke from the fireplaces, stopping for a cup of hot cider and a warm pretzel, finding a fireplace to perch by, and I reveled in the thought of snow falling and Christmas lights twinkling.

“Man sieht nur das, was man weiß.”

The German quote above translates to “You only see what you know.” I only thought of Christmas markets because those are the magical scenes I’ve conjured up based on travel documentaries, movies, and people’s shared experiences. I went to Germany having done very little research on things to do. There was so little research done that I didn’t do an itinerary. Which is unheard of for me. Furthermore, I did no research on the language or the culture. I’m losing big time now. Occasionally I wing it, but only on special occasions. The reason I went to Germany in May is my husband was TDY and wanted me to join him for 7 days. Let it be said - I will be returning to experience some small town Christmas markets. I quickly learned that I enjoy the small towns like Eschenbach better than the large cities like Stuttgart.

A few days before leaving, I went on the Trainline app and booked a 1st Class train ticket to Weiden. I had some hesitations about booking a “1st class” ticket because I could see I’d be transferring twice and questioned if the 2nd and 3rd trains would be as luxurious as the first. I’m not bougie, but if I’m paying for 1st class, I’d like to have the luxury of first class the whole 8-hour ride not just the first 25 minutes (from Vicenza to Verona). When I transferred from Italo to DB, the standard of luxury went down a few notches. When I transferred from DB to ALX, the standard went down tremendously.

#1 Do buy a train ticket in advance to save money and have a reserved seat.

#2 Don’t buy a first class ticket, unless you’re okay with what you’ll get.

You may wonder what do I mean by “the standard went down a few notches” - here are some pictures.

Now that you have a visual, let me further explain. Italo offered food and beverage service like on an airplane, the seats were very nice, and it was clean. DB did not offer the same service, but housed a fantastic restaurant in the next train car and a spacious toilette (see pictures). ALX offered a 6-person compartment seating, no compartment food service, and I didn’t attempt to visit the toilette. I noticed it was rather hot in the compartment, then after everyone left I wondered if the temperature gauge was functional for adjusting the temp. I tried it, but I’m not certain it changed anything. The people had all left and I removed my coat and scarf. It’s a toss up.

Final Review: I love to travel by plane, train, automobile, tuk-tuk, boat, etc. Often times, I love the journey as much as the destination. The things I’ve mentioned above did not hinder my trip or the experience of relaxing on the train. The reason I mention them is that I did not get what I expected since I paid for 1st class. Next time, I will buy an economy reserved seat and maybe save 50€. All in all - the views from the train were GOD-mazing, I was comfortable for the majority of the ride, and I totally recommend taking the trains in Europe.

#3 Do get off at the right München/Munich train station.

I was to transfer in Munich for the last train ride to Weiden. I came out of the toilette and thought I was at München HBF (main station) and hurriedly got off the train. Sadly I was at München OST. These train stations are 5 stops a part and I had 18 minutes to transfer. I panicked and read “München”, grabbed my suitcase, and got off the train. I ran around the train station for at least 5 minutes trying to figure out which platform I should be on. Seeing nothing on the departure board, I went upstairs and asked the information desk where I should be. He told me I should be at the main station and to get on the train in front of me and go five stops. So I did. I was certain I would not make it on time. Thank God I got on the right train with maybe one minute to spare. Sighs. No wonder I was sweating in the 6-person compartment. Isn’t traveling fun? It shows you what you’re capable of; most importantly it provides you with stories to tell if you do it right or wrong. hehe

#4 Don’t go to Germany and not eat traditional German food and drink German beverages.

Those little Nuremberg sausages were legit. I haven’t eaten sauerkraut in ages. I also had the regular bratwurst with kraut and it was delectable as well. The beverages were hit or miss for me (due to allergies). The food was somewhat heavy, but totally worth it. I couldn’t go to Germany and just eat salad and fish. Speaking of fish, I had smoked salmon for breakfast while at Hotel Am See. I realize on the surface that sounds disgusting. It did to me anyway. I, like most of you, am open to trying new things. I’m so glad I did. I wanted salmon every day after, but we left the hotel 2 days later. {insert sad face} I will be back there in a few months and I’m already excited about the hotel restaurant. If you’re near Grafenwöhr, you must stop at Hotel Am See for breakfast, lunch, or dinner - it’s divine.

#5 Do talk with people on the train - it’s a long ride and a lot of people speak English.

I will continue to repeat this. I’ve found it to be one of the most rewarding aspects of travel - talking to people and hearing their stories. In the Taiwan post, I talked about a young man I encountered on the train. Once on the plane to Peru from Hawaii, I sat next to a man who had the same beliefs and passion as me. That was a long and interesting conversation. I was in complete amazement that God had put me on that plane next to that man. This trip a young lady joined me in the 6-person compartment and we had a great conversation which made that leg of the trip a memorable one. I would’ve stared out the window by myself or fallen asleep otherwise. Seriously - initiate conversation my friends.

#6 Don’t just go to the tourist hot spots - venture out. Germany is filled with hiking trails, parks, castles, and wonderful small towns.

While having lunch at Hotel Am See, we asked the waitress where she recommended we go within an hour’s drive. She said, “Pottenstein Castle.” In the picture below, it’s perched on the hill behind the small village. There is a trail to the right of the castle where you can see over the whole village, the mountain tops afar, and flat lands between. On the way to Pottenstein, I needed the WC, so we stopped at a tourist spot with a bathroom building. Then we see a sign that says “Devil’s Cave.” We make our way in and find out they were offering a tour 5 minutes later. It cost 5€ each. Although most of the tour was in German, we still enjoyed the descent. There was an ascent too, but I like the word descent when describing our cave visit because of the movie - The Descent. You must watch this adventure/horror movie.

While in Stuttgart, Felise found a park, called Höhenpark, for us to wander around. It was a beautiful, sunny day and this park was perfect. The tower in the picture is one you can climb. Once at the top, you can see a panoramic view of the city. You could pay 10€ to climb the TV Station Tower then leave OR go to Höhenpark for free, have amazing views, ride the train, pet/feed animals, eat waffles and ice cream.

We hit some tourist hot spots in downtown Stuttgart, but we also found these gems along the way. Let me know if you find other gems you’d like to share.

#7 Do visit the Stuttgart Zoo (includes an aquarium and botanical gardens).

I love to visit zoos and I love to take photos. If you only have time to do 1 thing in Stuttgart, Wilhelma Zoo is it. Allow yourself 3-4 hours to leisurely walk around and have lunch at the well-priced, self-serve restaurant - Amazonica. Maybe even take some family photos because the grounds are stunning. I will let the photos speak for themselves (all are on the same property).

Note: there are plenty of play stations for the kiddos and the entrance fee is 20€ for adults and 8€ for kids. They have a parking deck on-site. Parking is cheap - it cost a few euros for several hours.

This trip to Germany was an insightful one and I hope you find what I’ve shared with you useful. The next best part about this trip was the drive home via Austria…………..stay tuned, more to come.

Here is a link to Google maps of a list of these places mentioned and more.

Ropatis Are Trippin

Ropatis Are Trippin

Italy: Ten Day Itinerary

Italy: Ten Day Itinerary