Tag Archives | germany

Castles, Cars, and Compromise

We always get into the same fight about vacations – agreeing to do doing things we both enjoy. Usually, we have very different ideas about what to see and how long to see it. Rarely, do you find the perfect location for couples where ladies get their fix and men can do their own thing. After years of research, we have found the ideal place, and it’s in ….Germany?

Let’s talk romance first. Ladies, what is more romantic than a stroll through the lush woods and ending with a breathtaking view of a fairy tale castle? Berg Eltz Castle is perhaps one of the best kept castles in all of Europe. Its ideal setting in an enchanting valley makes for some great handholding and eye gazing with your prince charming. Once you arrive, park your car and take a short mile hike through the woods. As you walk around the bend you are given a postcard worthy vista.

Berg Eltz Castle

Berg Eltz Castle

If you are impressed with the exterior of the castle, wait until you step foot inside. The family owned castle, started in 1100s, was miraculous saved from destruction. Visitors are able to explore many of the over 100 rooms inside with original furnishings and authentic tapestries. Each room speaks to the history and way of life of medieval lords and ladies. The castle is also home to a treasury that features collections of fine porcelain, sparkling jewels, and weapons used to defend the castle.

The next stop on our castle quest is the Marksburg Castle. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Rhine River, Markburg offers romantic river views that will make any Downton Abbey devotee swoon. One part Romanesque and one part Gothic; the castle is one of the best preserved fortresses in Germany. The castle offers regular guided tours of the grounds and rooms. Beginning with a climb up the “riders stairway” the tour includes a visit to the grand banquet hall, the bed chamber, as well a rather macabre reproduction of a torture chamber. Marksburg conveys an understanding of what privileged life during the Middle Ages might have been like.

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Hotel Castle Liebenstein

 

After a hard day of castle questing, it’s time for a hardy meal and a good night’s rest. And where should a princess rest her crown? How about her own castle? Yes! Many small castles and noble residences have been converted into bed and breakfasts.   We stayed at the Hotel Castle Liebenstein (Castle Love Stone), which offers rooms with incredible views of the Rhine for only 125 euros a night.   This cozy bed and breakfast offers comfortable beds with Middle Age décor and a generous breakfast. This castle has its own tale of intrigue. Its twin sister is just a few hundred yards away. The two castles were occupied by warring brothers. Today, one is home to the bed and breakfast; the other is a delicious restaurant! We enjoyed both. It’s probably best not to bring up one whilst at the other. The entire area offers a number of castle stay choices limited only by your euro collection and imagination.

For the gents, let’s head a few miles up the road to Nurburg. The Nurburg area is a man-cation all by its self. Nurburg is home of one of the most challenging race tracks in the world, the famed Nordschleife (Nurburg Ring). With its 12 miles of 147 twist and turns, and steeped history the ring is the place to be for any auto lover. What’s wonderful about this course is you can actually drive it! For a few euros and a bucket load of courage away you go! While the ring is amazing, we found something even better. It is a well-kept secret that the same engineers that designed the ring, also made the roads in the Nurburg area! You just need a road Sherpa to help you find them, enter RSR Nurburg.

The Nurburgring

The Nurburgring

First, experts at RSR Nurburg set you up in your pick of a performance cars including: Alfa Romero, BMW, Lotus and even Ferrari! We selected the classic Ferrari 308; the perfect car for getting around the corners. You then begin your quest in search of the long forgotten Sudschleife or south track. Along the way we caught views of the main track, with a glimpse of infamous corners featured in Ron Howard’s film Rush.  The winding roads through the Eifel region not only help you appreciate the rich racing tradition of the area…but it is flat-out beautiful.  As an added bonus, our guide drove us by top-secret research and development facilities of Porsche, BMW, and Range Rover. This tour of the area is a must.

What’s best about cars, castles, and compromise? You can see castles and drive fast cars in a day, as the area is roughly 30 miles apart. Both partners can get what they want.

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11

Adventure: Horses that Walk on Water

Northern Germany has much to offer traveling couples, but this is one experience we never imagined:  riding on water!  The morning before our adventure, our good friends in Cuxhaven, Germany, took us down to the seaside and said, “Tomorrow we are going to take a horse ride across the sea to the lighthouse.”  We thought that something might have been lost in translation.  German is one of the languages where certain words take on different meaning in English.  Nothing could prepare us for the next day’s adventure.

In the morning. our wonderful hosts said, “We are going to the post office to pick up our horses.”  We chuckled and said we were game.  We bundled up as it was a brisk fall morning expecting the worst.  As promised, we arrived at the Wattwagen Poste (loosely translated Mud Wagon Post.)   The wagons double as tourist carriers and delivering mail.

 

Sea horses

Boarding our yellow “mud wagon.”

All Aboard!

We met our wagon master.  He was a chipper fellow and he instantly had all on board that spoke German in stitches laughing the entire trip.  Those of us that were Germaniclly challenged, just nodded and smiled.  I need to work on my Deutsche.  We climbed up the yellow elevated carriage and wrapped up in woolen blankets.  With a whistle and a snap of the whip, our driver encouraged our two steeds onward.  We crested the dike and lo and behold, the tide was out…letting us travel across the sea on dry ground!

Cuxhaven mud wagon

Headed our to sea in a horse drawn wagon.

 Yellow Wagons!

Our yellow wagon train headed across the sea!  The horses loved traipsing through the water puddles and little tidal streams.  There were bundles of sticks set every so often to mark the best path out to our destination, a lighthouse in the distance.

Wattwagen

Follow the sticks!

Along the path, there were elevated cages.  Our friends explained that these are rescue pods for the high tide.  If the water starts to rise and trap you between the island and the shore, you simply climb up one of these.  You have two options…wait it out or send up a flare.  Option two comes with a stiff fine and fee as a rescue boat is send out to deliver you back to terra firma.

Rescue pods

Rescue pods along the way. Rumor is there is some whiskey in the first aid kit.

 Neuwerk Lighthouse

Our journey across the water ended at the island of Neuwerk.  Population 39.  Is it really an island, if you can take a carriage to it?  The focal point of the entire island is one of the most quaint light houses we have toured.  For a small ticket (5 euros)  you are allowed to climb the circular staircase up to the top of the lighthouse.  What is most interesting, the lighthouse…and the entire island for that matter is officially a part of Hamburg, Germany (the city is 75 miles away).  Technically the lighthouse which was built in 1367 is the oldest surviving building in Hamburg.  For its age, the entire lighthouse is in very good shape.  The views from the top show the sea and Cuxhaven.

Neuwerk Lighthouse

Stairs of the Neuwerk Lighthouse

During the summer, you can walk around the island and see the farm. There is also a nice museum that explains the ecology of the area. After we had milled around for a time, our wagon master mustered us up again, we boarded our yellow carriage and headed back to the mainland.  It was a great day trip.

Hamburg horses

What a great day! Who knew we could walk on water?

Cuxhaven and Neuwerk are wonderful off the beaten path locations to visit as a couple.

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12

The Fighting Couple Takes On: The Nurburgring

You know those big booming voice-overs that do movie previews? Imagine one saying, “Faced with certain death. Two star-crossed lovers take on a sea of green… winding through twist and turns.” Ok…perhaps a bit over the top…

We are going to Germany!

Our next couple travel adventure is to the home to om-pa bands, lederhosen and a little known place called the “Green Hell” aka Nurburg, Germany. Our friends at RSR Nurburg have invited us to the Eifel region of central Germany for some romance and a little racing.

A little more about RSR Nurburg.

 

Here is a little preview of what we are in for:

 

Dont take our word for it.

 

 

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