Germany

Photography by Emma Krasov

AmaStella was the name of a brand new AmaWaterways ship I happily boarded for a 7-night river cruise from Budapest to Vilshofen a few weeks ago. With “Stella” (star) in its name and a rich, saturated with historical and cultural treasures of Europe itinerary, offered on the Melodies of the Danube cruise, I knew I was up for a treat. It was my birthday after all, and throughout the entire journey I was treated like a birthday girl I was! And so were all the other passengers on the ship…

We made fast friends, enjoyed shore excursions and lavish meals in onboard restaurants together, and were laughing often and toasting each other around our dinner table. At night, we were counting our lucky stars from a sun deck while our ship smoothly and almost imperceptibly was making its way along the mighty Danube.

AmaStella built 2016

Built in 2016 in Netherlands, the snow-white elegant AmaStella, with its advanced river vessel design, clean modern décor, twin balconies in most of its 79 staterooms, and only adult passengers on board for the late April trip, looked positively heavenly to me, whose one and only cruise experience before AmaWaterways has been chalked off as two – the first one and the last one! That time, years ago, I embarked on a gigantic ocean cruise that proved to be overcrowded, impersonal, and hardly relaxing. I remember staying in long lines to get off the ocean liner and back on it for every shore excursion. I still shudder at the memories of the liner’s swimming pools day and night filled with cavorting children; of the captain’s dance party attended by properly dressed couples as well as by young parents in their pajamas who came out with baby strollers and milk bottles to partake in the festivities; of the 24/7 eateries with abundant but tasteless food, and the overall feeling of vast and unfriendly place like a county fair on a cold rainy day… I didn’t think I’d be tempted to go on a cruise ever again.

Budapest Heroes Square

A chance encounter with an enthusiastic advocate of AmaWaterways first piqued my curiosity, then exited me with a possibility to travel in luxury on an all-adults cruise, seeing the most enticing sites of several countries and never dragging my bags from one hotel to another, and finally made me fall in love with the company’s truly wonderful ways!

Champagne on AmaStella

Dessert on AmaStella

Launched in 2002 by the former Viking River Cruise President, Rudi Schreiner, high-level travel executive Kristin Karst, and Brendan Worldwide Vacations founder and owner Jimmy Murphy, AmaWaterways with its substantial fleet of upscale vessels, several levels of walking tours onshore for more and less athletic participants, guided bicycle touring, and award-winning culinary program is rightfully considered the best in providing river cruises, and is touted as “the best value for the quality” by the River Boat Ratings and Evaluations independent site. “One gets the sense that management is constantly thinking up ways to appeal to a younger and more sophisticated clientele,” notes riverboatratings.com.

Lifesaver on AmaStella

Warm, helpful, attentive, personable, smiling – those are just the first-come-to-mind adjectives to describe the service on all levels of dealings with AmaWaterways. As always, before my trip I was roaming multiple air travel sites in search of a shortest, most affordable, most comfortably timed flight. Eventually, an AmaWaterways agent recommended a perfect flight that arrived in Budapest in time for my transfer to the river port, and it was all smooth sailing from then on.

Welcome to the cruise

Reception on AmaStella

Captain on AmaStella

The arriving passengers were greeted by the AmaStella team with a champagne reception and individual chaperons to take us all to our respective staterooms. The cruise manager introduced the crew, and the captain briefly described safety features before everyone was invited to a beautifully served welcome dinner.

Budapest Parliament at night

After sunset, the ship sailed past Budapest’s gothic Parliament building – the largest in Europe – on a special Illuminations Cruise along the city’s glittering riverfront.

At the Budapest market

Budapest SynagogueMatthias Church in Budapest

Next morning, on a Budapest guided walking tour, my new friends and I marveled at the bounty of the Great Market Hall overflowing with flowers, foods, arts and crafts, and many-many kinds of paprika. We explored the iconic sites of Buda and Pest that merged into one glorious city in 1873 on both banks of the Danube – from the vast Heroes’ Square and Hungarian State Opera to the historical Great Synagogue and colorful St. Matthias Church. Some of us climbed the 160-feet Castle Hill in Buda, others took a bus ride, but a great and unforgettable time was had by all!

Street art in Bratislava

In Bratislava, after a guided excursion to the Old Town Hall, St. Martin’s Cathedral, and the historic Main Square, we were singing in the rain and photographing each other hugging street art sculptures. I picked a bronze Napoleonic soldier, leaning on a street bench, who according to the urban legend woke up one morning too drunk to follow his regiment.

Detail of Imperial Palace in Vienna

Ankeruhr clock in Vienna

St. Stephen Cathedral in Vienna

Then it was a fascinating tour of Vienna with a knowledgeable and artistic guide who entertained as much as she educated us on the history of the former ostentatious capital of the Habsburgs’ Austro-Hungarian Empire. I picked a Special Interest tour titled Hidden Vienna and offered on the cruise itinerary as an alternative to the regular walking tour. Back alleys and secret spaces in existence since the Middle Ages took us to the Anker Uhr clock, Mozarthaus, and the underground catacombs of the St. Stephan’s Cathedral with mummified remains of the royals and bishops, and morbid rooms constructed from the bones of black plague victims.

That night, the majority of AmaStella passengers were enjoying a concert of Mozart and Strauss music onshore, but I was listening to Shostakovich’s “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” at the famed Vienna State Opera. While I was on a city tour, our cruise manager booked it for me, even though it was a last minute request and a full house – and this is a great example of the ways AmaWaterways treats its guests. I still don’t know how he managed to secure an orchestra seat for me in one of the most popular theaters on the planet on the day of the performance!

Durnstein

At sunrise, approaching our next stop at Weissenkirchen, I stepped out to my balcony at the precise moment when we were passing by the porcelain-blue baroque Stiftskirche, a cloister tower in Durnstein, considered the most beautiful of its kind in Austria. A Durnstein excursion followed, with local specialty apricot liquor tasting, and a tour of the spectacular Benedictine Abbey in Melk with a floor to ceiling gilded church – one of Europe’s largest monasteries and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Grein castle

The afternoon walking tour to the Castle Greinburg in Grein presented us with an opportunity to see Austria’s oldest residential castle with an extensive collection of historical artefacts, and the mysterious Sala Terena – a 1625 cavernous room decorated in its entirety with myriads of pebbles. A local dance ensemble performed folk dances for us in the castle chapel.

More excellent entertainment followed after dinner, with an onboard visit of the virtuoso trio of female musicians, La Strada, who performed an array of “melodies of the Danube” originating from all the countries located along the river banks.

1st of May in Linz

In Linz, where we appeared on May 1, the national holiday, besides the fascinating walking tour with a highly-skilled guide, we were witnessing a Labor Day/May Day parade of the local trade unions, with abundant red flags and pro-labor slogans.

Cesky Krumlov

Gardens in Cesky Krumlov

Among a variety of enticing onshore excursions departing from Linz on buses, bicycles, and on foot, I picked a half-day trip to the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic, nestled in the hills over the Austrian-Czech border. After a guided tour of its imposing, wonderfully preserved castle grounds, we were given some free time which I spent at the baroque gardens with emerald green lawns and patterned flower beds of flaming-red tulips.

St. Stephen Cathedral in Passau, Germany

Arriving in Passau, Germany, we visited the most opulent St. Stephan’s Cathedral with baroque and rococo architectural elements, and mind-boggling mural work.

Octoberfest in Vilshofen

Finally, in Vilshofen, a charming Bavarian town, and the last stop of our cruise, a private Octoberfest was presented to the AmaStella passengers in a large white tent spread out right on the dock. Live music and folk dancing were emceed by the local “beer queen,” and everyone had a chance to indulge in endless amounts of fine Bavarian brew. As if on cue, two white swans appeared by our ship, and lingered nearby, obviously attracted to the boisterous gathering.

Happy Birthday on AmaStella

That night, my new friends and I were dining at the Chef’s table in a special small restaurant onboard, feasting on a 10-course tasting menu that ended with a sweet surprise – my birthday cake, made of chocolate, nuts, and berries.

Next morning, we were saying goodbye to our wonderful hosts, to the beautiful and lucky AmaStella, and to each other. This weeklong adventure changed my opinion of cruises in general, but in particular I’m talking about the wonderful AmaWaterways – the stellar cruise company, sky-high above the rest.

More information at: www.amawaterways.com.

Photography by Emma Krasov

Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee in the north-western part of the state of Hessen is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site, and a part of the larger primeval beech forest massif spread out to the Carpathians Mountains on the territories of Slovakia and Ukraine. The so called “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” cover more than 50 hills of Kellerwald-Edersee National Park (5738 hectares), creating a green rippling “sea of beeches” under which in the deep shadows of dense leafage no other species of trees can survive.

4. Beech forest

The purely European phenomenon, beech forests growing on low mountain ranges, and interspersed with clear water streams, provided early humans with shelter, fuel, food, water, and building materials, and served as a habitat for dozens of species of wild animals. Without the impact of humans, the sturdy trees reaching up to 260 years of lifespan, would cover two thirds of the entire country of Germany, but due to the population density and the vigorous consumption of this natural treasure throughout history, only 7% of the prehistoric beech forests remain in Central Europe today.

At national parks, the motto is, “Let nature be nature,” and the new wilderness is now developing on the 90% of the Kellerwald-Edersee area without human interference.

1. Waldeck

On the map of Hessen, the Kellerwald-Edersee Park looks like a rough triangle with curved sides. The northern border of it is framed by a snake-shaped lake, Edersee, 27 kilometers long, created by the dam across the river Eder. Our group of avid nature lovers started exploring the park and the lake with a visit to an ancient castle, Waldeck, positioned slightly to the north, on a hill overlooking the town of the same name, and the abundant flowing waters of Edersee.

The castle was first built in 1150, and became a residence of the Counts of Waldeck, later turning into military barracks. Now a public property, surrounded by tall trees, and with a view of the lake from a stone terrace, it’s a favorite place for tours led by local guides, and outdoor wedding ceremonies.

A quaint 50-year-old cable car at the top of the hill still provides scenic rides in creaky little cars for two passengers over the tree tops to the lakeshore.

9. Edersee boat

Down below, at the small marina, we all got aboard a romantic round trip on the lake, with unparalleled views of the deep blue waters, wooded banks, the impressively high dam, and of course, the Waldeck castle on the hill with its wall crenellations and a round tower under a tin roof.

The most pleasant boat ride included a coffee break with a variety of creamy and fruity cakes – among them the famous Black Forest studded with plump cherries.

That night, after we walked through the gorgeous primeval forest along a small part of the 70-kilomenter trail Urwaldsteig Edersee to the town, we settled at the Ringhotel Roggenland Waldeck and dined on seasonal white asparagus with various accoutrements, offered by all German eateries this time of year.

3. White asparagus

Next morning, after a substantial breakfast included with our hotel stay, our group engaged in a thorough exploration of Kellerwald-Edersee Park with Deputy of National Park Jutta Seuring and an excellent, highly knowledgeable and entertaining Guide of National Park, Rita Wilhelmi.

Rocky slopes with exposed slate, humid canyons with roaring springs, and emerald beech brush under the old whimsically gnarled trunks surrounded our picturesque trail, while we were making our way from the northernmost park gate to the south. Half-way through the enormous park, we had a stopover at the Bathildishuette – a former hunting cottage – as if taken from a Grimm Brothers’ fairy tale.

Our nap-inducing picnic lunch on a sun-dappled lawn ended up with an arrival of a park’s covered wagon drawn by two docile horses – Fritz and Earl – furthering the fairy tale feel of the place.

Horses in the park

That afternoon, we spent plenty of time at the NationalparkZentrum Kellerwald – the information and visitor center, and a small architectural wonder – containing interactive exhibitions, a unique 4D-SinneKino cinema experience themed on park critters, and a charming GastRaum café with omnipresent masterfully decorated cakes for an obligatory coffee break.

10. Coffee break with cakes

After a supper of white asparagus (of which I personally never tire) with new potatoes and smoked ham, I couldn’t sleep thinking of all the day’s wonders, and excited about the next day promise – wild animals!

Our visit to the WildtierPark Edersee was everything I dreamed about, and more! All kinds of animals, indigenous to the beech forest were housed in spacious enclosures, where several species of the original inhabitants (sometimes extinct, and borrowed from other places, like Canada) regained a place to live. Wolf, lynx, wild cat, European bison, red deer, and wild horse can all be seen at the park today.

6. Wild boar in the park

A large herd of fallow deer roamed free, and could be approached and even petted. Wild boar with the cutest tiny piglets marked with horizontal lines on their velvety sides, were doing their dirt digging at an arm length.

Then the Raptor Flight Show gathered a crowd by demonstrating catchy tricks performed by golden eagle, Eurasian griffon, and various birds of prey – falcons, hawks, kestrels, vultures, and owls – gliding low over the heads of fascinated spectators.

5. Vultur in the park

11. Wild bird trainer in the park

I couldn’t abstain from lunching on wild boar skewers at the Bericher Huette park café, trying to stick to the natural environment of the beech forest…

After lunch, we got on a bus, and drove through the bright-yellow fields of rapeseed under the brilliant blue sky to the neighboring state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, to the Nationalpark Eifel whose motto is, “Forest, water, and wilderness.”

Eifel National Park – an area of 11000 hectares housing more than 1800 endangered animal and plant species – has a few distinct features of its own. First of all, Eifel is certified as the first Dark Sky Park in Germany. A famous astronomer, Harald Bardenhagen, presented to our group an entire lecture complete with a film on the dangers of excessive light imposed on Earth by one of the greatest inventions of our civilization – electricity!

Turns out, not all that shines is gold. According to the astronomer, there’s no completely dark sky in Europe anymore, since the dark side of Earth (at night) changed in the last 150 years more than in the preceding 3.5 million years. The light from the big cities, reflected by the clouds, travels for up to 200 kilometers, and interferes with the life of nocturnal animals and plants, and with the circadian rhythms of human beings. Besides that, lighted, gray sky prevents us from seeing stars.

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Luckily, Eifel Park has an area of near-complete darkness, where Milky Way can be seen in all its glory, and where the park conducts nighttime star-gazing hikes for its visitors.

Another special feature of Eifel Park is Vogelsang IP [International Place] – a repurposed former Nazi compound located on a hillside area of 100 hectares that was introduced and explained to us by the Eifel Park Communications Manager Michael Lammertz.

Used during World War II as a propaganda center preparing future rulers for the conquered Eastern European countries, the center partially maintains its historical appearance. On the gate towers leading to the main building there are two sculpted reliefs of an “Aryan” warrior on horseback – Eastbound, naked and armed, and returning to the West with bags of war loot from the “inferior” nations. Those plans weren’t going to materialize, as well as the 100-story building that was supposed to be erected over the existing 4-story grim stone structure.

Instead, after the war the site was taken over and used by the British military as a training area, then handed over to the Belgian military, and since 2006 Vogelsang has been used for civilian purposes. The International Place is now transformed into a multifaceted and internationally oriented exhibition, cultural, and educational center as well as conference and meeting place.

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After a day of exploration at the Eifel Park, populated by wild cats, beavers, black storks, grey herons, cormorants, and several species of fish in the low mountain streams and shallow pools, our group settled for the night at the Tagungshotel Eifelkern, and had another delightful white asparagus-centered dinner at the Schloss Schleiden restaurant, located in the cellar area of a historic castle.

The next morning, after a lavish breakfast at the Das Bauerncafe Morsbacher Hof restaurant that included everything from fish, ham and sausage to assorted cheeses, yogurts, and exotic fruit, we were about to discover one more distinct feature of Eifel Park. That was the so-called “barrier-free” nature experience park Wilder Kermeter allowing visitors with disabilities feel more comfortable moving around in the wilderness.

The tactile bronze model of the park and the dam on the river Urft allows the blind to feel the landscape of their whereabouts. There are benches placed 250 meters apart where people who have difficulty walking can sit and rest. All the information boards are printed in large raised type and in Braille and available in audio form. Many trails are wheel-chair accessible, and have disabled restrooms, parking places, and bus stops.

6. Trimobile

When our group decided to embark on a scenic bicycle ride along the river Urft to the lake Urftsee, with a stop at the bird watching station, I had to regretfully admit that I was a living proof that a childhood skill to ride a bike can be unlearnt… Little did I know that the barrier-free spirit of Eifel Park extended to my case as well. Within minutes, an EifelRAD truck arrived, loaded with bicycles for the entire group, and an amazing construction, called Trimobile for me.

As the proprietor Uwe Kolke explained to me, the Trimobile was designed for up to four people – two adults and two children. One person is at the handlebars, the other is sitting behind, and both are pedaling, while children can sit in their own chairs just enjoying the ride. When our group tour guide Soeren Hoika kindly agreed to steer and keep the entire thing in balance, I gladly took my place behind him, pedaling with all my might, and as a team we zoomed through the entire 10-kilometer route faster than the rest or our jolly group.

More information at: www.nationalpark-kellerwald-edersee.de and www.nationalpark-eifel.de.

Photography by Emma Krasov

There are dozens of cities and little towns along the so-called Deutsche Fachwerkstraße (German Timber-Frame Road) – a tourist route showcasing the traditional historical architecture developed in the 13th-19th centuries.

The Baden-Württemberg part of the Road is especially picturesque with thousands of timber-framed structures in stunning landscapes of rocks, gorges, and forests. With their characteristic wood-skeleton bases and curtain walls made of brick or clay, these houses vary in size, construction style, and the use of decorative elements, but invariably emit romantic charm and evoke the images of European fairy tales.

The regional timber-frame route in Southern Germany that stretches from river Neckar to Lake Constance is covered with fertile farmlands, vast forests, and green mountainous valleys studded with Alemannic and Franconian style buildings.

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Bietigheim-Bissingen at the confluence of the rivers Enz and Metter, unites two little towns in one. Surrounded by vineyard-covered hills of the Neckar Valley, the double town is steeped in more than 12 centuries of history, with Middle Ages and Renaissance buildings, often enlivened by ivies and climbing roses, abundant in the city center.

Besides the handsome half-timber city hall built in 1507, with asymmetrical tower, the round mayor’s balcony, and the external baroque stairway, Bietigheim-Bissingen has a 1536 family home, now Municipal Museum, Hornmoldhaus – a massive timber-frame building with thoroughly preserved period paintings decorating the inside walls and ceiling.

Contemporary art pieces adorn the streets and squares of the clean, well-kempt town. Here, in the middle of Kronenplatz I meet Ku(h)riosum – a wild-eyed Kuh (cow) created by sculptor Jürgen Goertz.

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On a side street I see a group of corpulent town gossipers Schwätzweiber by Karl-Henning Seemann.

On the façade of Villa Visconti there are many familiar faces – Mother Teresa, Columbus, Charlie Chaplin, and Stephen Hawkins. In front of the red brick façade is a sculpted portrait of Le Corbusier.

9. IMG_0524 copy Besigheim

In Besigheim – reportedly the most beautiful wine village in Germany, known for the local red wine trollinger, I have a gastronomical encounter of the most delicious kind. At a Swabian cuisine restaurant Ratsstüble I try maultaschen – delectable dough pillows stuffed with mixed meats, onion, and spinach. Their invention is attributed to the medieval monks of the Maulbronn monastery nearby. Presumably, on days of abstinence the monks were trying to conceal the meat inside the dough to hide it from the all-seeing eye.

11. IMG_0559 copySchorndorf

Schorndorf is called die Daimlerstadt (the city of Daimler). Gottlieb Daimler – the legendary inventor of the small high-speed internal combustion engine that gave start to the automotive industry – was born in 1834 in a timber-frame house on Höllgasse 7, where there’s now a museum dedicated to his family history and his engineering genius.

In Schorndorf, all tourist groups necessarily stop by a tiny crooked timber-frame house that dates back to 1730. The House on the Wall is literally tied to the ancient city wall built in 1265. While the city was growing and expanding, the new wall was built along its outer limits, and the old one was used by the industrious citizens to serve as a backbone for their newly built homes.

13. IMG_0605 copyEsslingen

Esslingen am Neckar has a recorded history since year 777, and the entire street of the oldest in the country timber-frame houses. One of them was built in 1261. More than 200 timber houses from the 13th to 16th centuries are crowded in the old city center around the majestic red-walled Renaissance Old Town Hall with the original astronomical clock.

One of the largest in Southwest Germany, the gothic Church of St. Dionysius, which is also a museum, still dominates the Market Square today. Its highlight – enormous awe-inspiring masterfully crafted stained glass windows.

In Esslingen I meet a tightrope walker – a contemporary sculpture visible above the city skyline. It’s called Arrival and symbolizes the medieval town’s tradition of newcomers supporting themselves for a year before being considered the citizens of Esslingen.

In 1486 the town council declared that the trade of Esslingen was based entirely on wine. Sekt-Kellerei Kessler, Germany’s oldest sparkling wine producer is located in a 1000-year-old former monastery building. Georg Christian Kessler, who founded his cellars in 1826, has learnt méthode champenoise from the widow Clicquot herself, whom he met while visiting Reims, France. Among other things, he learned from Veuve Clicquot the exact size of a champagne bottle – allegedly established by Napoleon who considered it a perfect size for a man.

Weinkeller Einhorn restaurant in one of the winding cobblestone streets of Esslingen serves Swabian specialties, accompanied by Pilz beer in ceramic steins.

1. IMG_0795 copyBlaubeuren

An incredibly blue body of water in Blaubeuren is called Blautopf (blue pot). It has a peculiar shade of blue that mostly closely resembles a color of blue eyes – just like Schöne Lau (beautiful water nymph) would have… She comes from a 19th century fairy tale written by Eduard Mörike who used to visit Blaubeuren (blue village), and was very impressed with the blueness of Blautopf. His heroine with flowing black hair, big blue eyes, and webbed fingers and toes, lived at the bottom of the pond, until one day she ventured outside to meet the locals and make friends with human women.

Blautopf is very deep (69 ft), funnel-shaped, and formed by an underground spring, coming from a giant limestone cave underneath Blaubeuren. Unsurprisingly called Blauhöhle (blue cave) it’s been discovered only recently; it’s extremely dangerous, and open strictly to the professional speleologists and divers.

On the banks of the Blautopf there’s a circular trail meandering through the leafy forest with limestone rocks sticking from the ground. It leads to a quaint old mill, reflected in the mirror surface of the pond, and a former Benedictine monastery founded in 1085.

Digging dipper into the area’s past, the Prehistoric Museum of Blaubeuren displays a small mammoth ivory figurine – the oldest ever found representation of a woman, approximately 42 000 years old, called the Venus from Hohle Fels (Hollow Rock Cave).

The medieval town center of Blauberen is one of the best preserved in Germany, with a 1425 timber frame Town Hall, a mill quarter by the river Blau, and hospitable little inns and shops lining the narrow cobblestone streets.

At a tiny local distillery, Brennerei Rößle, I meet a husband-and-wife team, Elke and Daniel Rößle who produce delicious schnapps and liqueurs made with the old regional species of apple, pear, plum, peach, and berries from 80-year-old orchards.

At the Ochsen Hotel restaurant, I enjoy a seasonal plate of white asparagus generously supplemented with sourbraten in mushroom gravy and new potatoes. Everything is more delicious with German beer!

18a. Margret biberach

Biberach an der Riß is a medieval settlement of weavers, tanners, and other craftsmen who lived in half-timbered houses lining the hilly streets. Here I meet “Margret,” the “wife of a master weaver.” Dressed in a period costume, she leads a walking tour of the restored neighborhood of Weberberg, where at the beginning of the 16th century there were at least 400 active looms.

St. Martin’s Church, built in 1337, one of the oldest in Germany, is called “simultaneous.” Originally Catholic, it was turned Protestant after the Reformation, but has been used by both denominations since 1548.

Like so many towns along the Road, Biberach has a burgeoning restaurant scene. Conditorei Café Confiserie Kolesch offers an enormous menu of cakes and confections, among them – chocolate cockroaches and other sweet bugs.

20. IMG_0847 copyPfullendorf robber

In Pfullendorf, located between Danube and Lake Constance, I meet a “town robber” dressed in colorful rags. He starts his walking tour of the town by the Upper Town Gate Oberes Tor, and introduces all the landmarks – Church of St. Jakobus built in 1481, Altes Haus, built in 1317, Steinscheuer – a stone barn from 1515 (a great illustration to the old German saying “stone-rich” referring to those who could afford it) and Rathaus, built in 1524. A stop at Restaurant Felsenkeller is a must. Among the signature dishes are seasonal asparagus soup and a whole ham baked inside a loaf of bread.

24. IMG_0999 copyMeersburg

Meersburg is a gorgeous lakeside town overlooking Bodensee (Lake Constance). Panoramic views of the sea-like lake and its vineyard-covered banks open from the old park that surrounds the baroque Schloss Meersburg.

Tourists flock to the town to engage in sailing and picnicking, or to take part in a wine-tasting session with a certified sommelier Karin Streng at the Staatsweingut Meersburg, and have a farm-to-table dinner at the neighboring Restaurant Gutsschänke.

The city center is a quintessential Timber-Frame Road town, with a cluster of historical buildings from all time periods. I’m here on a Saturday, and so I meet a wedding procession walking from an uphill church with festively tolling bells down Kirchstraße.

More information at: www.germany.travel.