Day eight and we are packed and ready for our trip around the country.
We wished Thomas a happy birthday and thanked them both for the warmest hospitality and their kindness to us. We really had not planned on staying so long but we so enjoyed their company and plans they made for us to see and go to places we would not have, had we not stayed the extra time.
But we must leave them to get on with their lives and we must use our rail pass to see this country in all its winter magic.
Our first destination Dresden.
It’s a picturesque trip through the German countryside passing green fields and romantic looking villages and towns on the way. The ICE train is easy to use and with a dining carriage should you need refreshments it’s a very pleasant way to travel.
We have booked two nights at Sax Imperial villa. It’s even more impressive when we arrive than the photos online and we feel we’ve hit the jackpot.
The tram ride here gave us a sense of how stunning Dresden is and the area we’re staying is gobsmacking with gorgeous mansions and buildings.
Our room is on the third floor and in the attic space, it’s big, clean, comfortable and even has a heated bath. There is a window on each side with views of a skating ring that is lit up at night.
We ventured over and were in awe of the space around the rink. Lots of great things for all ages to enjoy as well as the skating.
We treated ourselves to a delicious Italian meal in the town and walked around afterwards to get a feel for the town and walk some of that pasta off.
A very happy couple fell asleep excited for the next day.
We caught the tram into the city via a stop to try and sort out a SIM card we had purchased. It’s proving to be more of a headache than it’s worth so we decided not to spend anymore of our precious time on it and just enjoy the day.
To say Dresden is impressive is an understatement!
We were just floored by its beauty and majesty.
Returning into the heart of the city, we mooched around quite happily absorbing all the atmosphere and had a few tastes of things to eat before we decided to head back to our hotel to relax and prepare for our trip to Berlin via a stop at Leipzig the next day.
Dresden deserves more time and is one we will put on our want to return to list.
A fairly early start for us the next morning as we had a 9:13 am train to Leipzig, where we planned to stay from 10:30 am till 5:15 pm before getting train onto Berlin.
Leipzig turns out to be another picturesque city with Christmas markets all around the central heart of the city.
The train station is huge and had lockers so we were able to leave the backpack with most of our stuff in there and just trot around with our light weight day packs.
The station is also integrated with a fairly large shopping centre so good if you need anything before heading out into the cold and snow.
We had a great day wandering around trying different things to eat at the markets, checking out some old churches, looking at some of the shops as well as a few good breaks as it’s quite hard work walking around all day in boots and a million layers. We would definitely come to Leipzig again.
The train is just over an hour from there to Berlin and we found the local train we needed to our hotel pretty easily and were once again thrilled when we alighted to see we were in a beautiful part of Berlin with lots of restaurants and gorgeous wide streets. Our hotel is great and much better than we could have hoped for at the price, around €52 a night.
A hot bath to thaw ourselves out and a beer from the vending machine down the hall and we were ready to call it a day, another great day!
We didn’t rush the next morning and stopped at a bakery for coffee and croissant before taking to the street to walk to a few places we had circled on a map. But we came across a city tour bus that was such great value for three days and would take us to all the places we had marked on our map we signed up and hopped on.
We’ve been to Berlin before so some of the tourists must sees we’ve done, but we enjoyed driving past them again. We jumped off at the Christmas markets in Gendarmenmarkt, again at the flea market and finally at Schloss Charlottenburg for the Christmas markets there. Really beautiful locations for the Christmas markets once again and a little bit of snow helps the mood. We’ve been trying something different to eat each day so getting through most of the traditional German treats.
Even found a little Kiwi family at the market.
We got off the bus about 4:30 pm up the street from our hotel. It was already dark as sun down 4 pm. James saw a sign for a museum about the story of Berlin which was open till 8 pm so we decided we’d spend the last of our day out exploring the museum and taking the tour they offered to an underground bunker which was built in the fifties in the time of the Cold War and threat of atomic bombs.
Thoroughly informative and interesting museum and two and a half hours well spent. Time for home a bath and another beer from that vending machine before ticking that day off.
Woke up on Monday the 11th December and just couldn’t jump out of bed, my legs still felt tired, but after a little lie in we got up and headed off. Our second day of the city circle bus tour was going to be the purple line aka the Old East German line. After our fairly late start and had to travel on the yellow till stop 8 to catch stop 1 of the purple we then got off at the purple 2 to find brunch. Actually this turned out to be a really nice area and we took longer walking around here because it was such an attractive area to be in the Hackescher market area and you could also walk to the river area also which we did.
This tour takes you past the Berlin Wall memorial and also the east side gallery where around 100 slabs of the wall were painted on by famous artists after the 1989 reunification.
There are a ton of museums and art galleries to be seen here in Berlin and we have already decided that we will be coming back to Germany for a more extended stay.
We have planned to go on the tour bus tomorrow and check out the DDR museum, walk the top of the Brandenburger Tor and also the Victory hcolumn.
Having been exposed to the World War Two memorabilia on our tour of Russia and Northern capitals tour in 2012. We have mostly kept away from that line of sightseeing this trip.
We alighted from the tour bus in the dark although it was only 4:30 pm and strolled the beautiful Christmas markets near Kaiser Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche.
The cityscape around this area that leads to where we are staying is lit up with Christmas lights all down the centre of the wide boulevards and buildings lining them, it’s a remarkable scene and truly glad we got to see it.
Back home it’s bath, clothes washing and checking out the map for our day tomorrow before bed, oh and a beer too, this time from the supermarket.
Our last day in Berlin and we headed off to catch the bus earlier than the last two mornings after a breakfast at the hotel, which to be fair was good value at under 10€ each.
We got to the DDR museum and enjoyed a few good hours there. This is well worth the visit and plenty of information and had fun sitting in the Trabbi car with a simulator drive around East Germany, quite a few lol moments.
Next stop was to climb the dome on the Brandenburger Tor which is free, but when we got there we found out you had to make a booking 😦 oh well next time.
So onto the victory column and it’s now 3 pm and definitely the day is closing in, it’s dark by 4 pm now. 270 steps lead us to the top with some great views all round the city.
A little out of my comfort zone but doing ok till the wind picked up and I was quite happy to make my way back down again.
We took the bus round to the uniqlo store where I bought a neck muff like the one James bought from there the day before. It’s so much warmer and less scratchy than my Marino neck muff. Unfortunately on the way home I lost my grey beret but never mind I quite fancy one of those wool hats with the fur Pom poms on.
We stopped at Lidl a local supermarket and bought a six pack of water, a bottle of red, 3 cans of beer a large packet of chips and a bar of chocolate for €7.49, what a bargain.
We’ve really enjoyed Berlin again and definitely will be back. So so so much to do here.
Had our our private seating area on the train which with glass doors and windows on both sides gave us a terrific view of the countryside as we travelled from Berlin to Hamburg.
Fairly quick trip at about 1 hour 40 minutes and we arrived to snow/rain to a pretty ordinary part of the city as we walked to our accommodation just minutes away.
Once settled there we went off exploring and found that though we are on the wrong side of the tracks it’s only about 100 metres to the right side and some great historical buildings and Christmas markets stretching for quite some distance.
Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany and a big port city.
The Rathaus or council building is a big WOW and hoping to make the tour on Friday before heading black to Frankfurt.
James got his hair cut by a guy who travelled from Ghana at 23 on his own.
His parents were surprised when he called them to tell them he was in Germany! Umm yeah you think… He’s now 51.
Having a shared kitchenette at our hotel with only one other room we went and bought a few things to have over the next few days.
We spent the one whole day we had in Hamburg just walking around the city, there was plenty of things to see and lots of markets all through the streets and along the waterfront.
We walked around the indoor botanical gardens, waterfront parks, bombed cathedral ruins and had a pretty full day of it.
Back at our kitchen we cooked up chilli con carne with the rest of a baguette we’d bought earlier and had fresh fruit salad and yogurt after.
Our train to Frankfurt on the 15 th (our grandsons 9th birthday) wasn’t till nearly 3:30 pm so we packed up and left the big back pack in a locker at the station and headed off for our tour of the Rathaus which was spectacular. 647 rooms is pretty big and obviously we only saw a handful but really impressive.
We strolled around after the tour and were quite ready to sit down on the train when it was time to leave for Frankfurt. We didn’t see everything but we enjoyed our time.
Our wonderful friends Andrea and Thomas met us at the station and after a quick visit to Aldi we were home, eating dinner and drinking wine swapping stories of each couples past week.
It was a very sad farewell for us when the next morning they dropped us off so we could catch our train to Munich and our next adventures.
It was a very scenic and friendly trip to Munich as we shared our private compartment on the train with a lovely couple from the USA who were on their way to Nuremberg to catch up with friends for the weekend. They are based in Brussels and have an interesting life travelling the world as he works with NATO.
Now that we’re experienced with the German public transport it didn’t take us long to find our local train then bus needed to our hotel.
After settling in we went for a walk and found a shop to buy a few things and a Greek restaurant where we enjoyed a great meal before heading back to hotel for clothes washing, baths, internet searching and sleep.
It snowed most of the next day which makes everything pretty and we had a massive day walking around the city starting at Marienplatz. So many beautiful buildings etc that the day went fairly quickly and it was dark by the time we arrived back at our hotel.
Sooo Monday the 18th December was our day for Neuschwanstein Castle.
We had an early start leaving our hotel just on 7am. It was still dark but we were excited and looking forward to a great day.
It didn’t disappoint. Our tour was through Mikes bike tours, not that we took a bike, but a very comfortable coach along with 44 other people we had several great stops along the way. One to see King Ludwigs palace called Linderhof where he spent most of his remaining days and was found dead at 40 in the lake. The super enchanting town Oberammergau and of course the biggie Neuschwanstein.
Everything about this day was superb and the guide Sigmund was fantastic.
We ate the best apple strudel ever in Oberammergau and strolled the snowy streets taking in all the cute as a chocolate box buildings, lots of shops selling quality souvenirs and goods plus some lovely cafes and bakeries.
The scenery on the way was outstanding, with the Bavarian fields,villages, forests and alps all covered in icing sugar snow.
The Castle itself is set in the most exquisite setting and now having seen it wrapped in its winter coat will definitely be back to see it in all its other seasonal glory, whether that be spring, summer or autumn it sure to be a pleaser.
The bus left at 9 am in the morning and it was after 7pm when we returned to Munich. We went to Marienplatz and had fish and chips at the Christmas market before heading back to our hotel. Tired but happy yet again.
Tuesday 19th December, wow Christmas is so close and it’s really weird we have seen a trillion Christmas trees, decorations, drunk gluhwein, ate every kind of German Christmas food and gingerbread and we still don’t have a Christmas tree or decoration of our own or bought and wrapped a Christmas present.
We decided to use our last day of our German rail pass and go to Nuremberg for the day. WHAT A CITY! steeped in history and still with quite a bit of their walled city fortifications in place and a magnificent castle at one end of town this place is a spectacular eyeful for tourists. We spent several hours going through the castle and surrounding areas, photos just don’t do these places justice and every now and again I’d love to get a drone shot. :
The markets we glided through as we are back here on a stopover on the way to Prague. I did see there are some dungeons and a toy museum which also could be a couple of completely different sites to visit.
Pretty much called it a day as the afternoon started to settle into its closure and once we hopped off our local bus near our hotel ducked into an Italian restaurant right next door for some pasta before settling in to repack our bags and prepare for our move to next hotel as we meet the group we will be travelling with tomorrow night on our eight night Cosmos tour.
We look forward to sharing some time with other travellers for a few days.
After a day doing not too much except the Deutsches Museum and moving to the hotel our tour was leaving from it seemed to be 6pm and time to meet the tour director and other tour members for a quick run down on a few housekeeping issues for the trip. After the quick meeting James and I headed back to the Greek restaurant close by for our last meal. They treated us to a nip of ouzo at the end of our meal and wished us safe travels so that was a pleasant end to our stay in Munich.