I made it back to Tübingen this morning after spending the last two nights in Stuttgart. Here’s the first part of the Christmas trip…
The family got into Tübingen on the 22nd without any troubles. I met them in the airport with Lindsay, who was flying out on the flight they flew in on, and after getting the rental car and getting Lindsay to her gate, we all went to pick up the car from the garage and try to get to Tübingen. I say try because the garage was something of a maze, and trying to figure out the different signs in a car that was about to explode from all the luggage was a bit interesting. Things worked out well though, and after getting onto the autobahn, it was a straight shot into Tübingen.
We got checked into the hotel room at the Hotel am Schloss, a nice little hotel right in the middle of the Altstadt, at the foot of the castle. We got all our bags in the room, and went to walk around the Altstadt. I took them to get a Döner, something they all loved, and then to the coffee/tea/chocolate shop, wine shop, and a few other places, including the castle their hotel room looked out upon. That night, we had an excellent Swäbish dinner at a local restaurant, and then I went back to my dorm room to pack while they went to bed early to sleep off the flight.
The next morning, I went to the hotel to pick them up. We ate breakfast in the hotel, in a nice breakfast room with a view looking over the altstadt and a terrace that would be wonderful to eat on in warmer weather. Then we piled back in the car and got on our way to Colmberg and Rothenburg.
Getting to Colmberg was a surprisingly easy thing to do. Autobahn the whole way, and we made pretty good time. We got to the castle, got checked in, and made a quick tour of the castle before heading onto Rothenburg ob der Tauber. We wandered the medieval streets there for a time, enjoying the Christmas market, drinking our Glühwein, eating our bratwurst, toasted almonds, and crepes, and attempting to go to the medieval torture museum there, only to be thwarted by an early closing time. So we headed back to the hotel and proceeded to eat a most wonderful dinner. Lots of fresh venison, and everyone left the table stuffed.
The next day, we headed back to Rothenburg to see that museum. We wandered there for a couple of hours, and then got back in the car to head to Munich. Rather than taking the interstate the whole way, we decided to go the scenic route and take the Romantic Road, a route that passes through the countryside, winding its way through one medieval town after another. It was definitely the right choice to make, and we enjoyed beautiful scenery the whole way down.
We made it Munich in good time, and picked up the keys to our hotel, the Hotel Alcron, from a nearby restaurant since the front desk had closed early. The Hotel Alcron, while not the nicest hotel, has an unbeatable location in the heart of Munich, and the prices are quite affordable as well. There is a wonderfully rickety spiral staircase running up to the whole hotel. That first night, we ate dinner at the Weinhaus Schneider, a small restaurant around the corner from the hotel. We had a wonderful Christmas eve dinner, topped off with good wine and a great chocolate mousse for dessert, in what was one of the best meals of the trip. After the meal, we walked for a bit around Munich, admiring the gothic Neues Rathous in Marienplatz with its massive Christmas tree out front, and eventually ending up at the Frauenkirche, the Church of our Lady, the cathedral in Munich. The bells were ringing loud, signaling the start of the Christmas eve service, and so we wandered inside. There, we sat there and listened to the choir, accompanied by strings, singing through its carols, followed by a bit of the service, with heads craning upwards staring at the rows of massive columns stretching high above our heads. It certainly beat the service back home.
The next day was Christmas. We lazily got up and ate breakfast, then ambled around the town for a while. There is a surprising abundance of large European architecture in Munich, more than one would expect–one doesn’t equate huge architecture like in Paris, Rome, or Vienna with Munich, but it had its fair share. We saw many of the sights, but unfortunately, as it was Christmas, most places were closed. That evening, we ate a nondescript meal at the Wirtshaus zum Straubinger, then walked home, in the falling snow.
That next day, we had planned on going to see Ludwig’s castle of Neuschwanstein, but as we hadn’t realized that you had to get reservations at least 24 hours in advance, that idea was cancelled. So instead, we went to the Deutsches Museum, the German version of the Smithsonian. Inside are over 10 miles of exhibits, so you definitely had to choose. We visited the aircraft, spacecraft, tunnelling, physics, musical instruments, trains, and, my favorite, bridge building. An extremely interesting museum, and well worth the entire day we spent inside it. And we didn’t even see half of what’s in the place.
The next day, we hopped the train to Venice…