Destination Report: Bavaria, Germany

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My parents (in the North of England ) always said that the Romantic Road is the “Real Germany” with its medieval towns and half timbered houses on a route winding south from historic Wuerzburg and ending at the Alpine glories of Fussen and nearby Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria’s number one tourist attraction. I have been there at least 30 times, usually flying into Munich, which is worth a visit. There's wonderful shopping, restaurants, and a great selection of unique hotels. It is always an enjoyable visit. Brown road signs announcing Romantische Strasse mark the way. For 255 miles, the road passes through stretches of beautiful countryside, cobblestoned villages and the medieval towns of Bad Mergentheim, Rothenburg (with its world famous Kaethe Wohifahrt Christmas store) and Nordlingen. This is about as traditional, quaint and charming as Bavaria gets.

Bad Mergentheim is a spa resort and wine town along the Romantic road near Rothenburg. The city is surrounded by the gently rolling hills of the Tauber Valley and the vineyards in Markelsheim. Highlights include the picturesque old city with its well preserved half timbered houses, the castle of the Teutonic Order, three spa parks and a wildlife park.

Rothenburg is a romantic medieval gem and is one of the top sightseeing spots in the country. Artists have long taken inspiration from this medieval town whose skyline is quite unmistakable. With its winding alleyways and artistic treasures it is an ideal place to relax. Definitely take the “Nightwatchman Tour” to explore this unique town.

Kaethe Wohlfahrt’s Year Round Christmas Store and Museum is world famous and each time I go I say – I don’t need another Christmas ornament but I always find something I can't live without. It is magical, set up like a Christmas village, and you can see an extensive selection of German Christmas decorations. The wood carvings are magnificent. The German Christmas Museum is located above the store and shows the history of German decorations and traditions.

Nordlingen is a perfectly preserved medieval town and is the only town in Germany that is encircled by a town wall with a walkway. A stroll on this approximately 1.7 mile long fortification with its countless gates and towers affords splendid views across Nordlingen’s romantic labyrinthine lanes. Climb to the top of the Late Gothic St.George’s Church’s bell tower for stunning panoramic views.

Fussen is the southernmost point on the Romantic Road and is only an hour and a half drive south of Munich. It's the perfect spot to stay and explore must-see historic places. Strolling through the romantic center of the 700 year old town is delightful. Must-sees include baroque churches, the former Benedictine Abbey of St. Mang and the High Castle.

One important word of advice: wear comfortable flat shoes. You could break your neck if you try and negotiate your way around all the cobblestone streets in heels.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving yourself on the other side of the road, why not take a tour, which is of good value, less stress, and so much more enjoyable, especially since you will have English speaking guides. . Not only are there great year round tours, but also the tour in November-December to visit the German Christmas Markets. Two other options are one which goes to Austria, Germany, France and Switzerland, or one which goes to Prague, Vienna and Budapest. You can't go wrong with any one of these trips. The food, wine, atmosphere make this destination a good choice. You definitely save money by taking a tour.

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