SUMMER ROAD TRIP: BLACK FOREST TO ALSACE
We set off early Thursday morning from Berlin to drive down to the Black Forest Region of Germany – clear across the country. 23 hours of driving, 2,000 kilometers and 8 towns later, we can say with certainty that the region is absolutely breathtaking.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Located in Northern Bavaria, the village is known for its medieval architecture and panoramic views. The fairytale village is filled with historical museums, shops, and cafes to fill your time in between wandering the cobblestone roads. No trip is complete to Rothenburg without trying a Schneeball!
Our first two nights we stayed in Sasbachwalden, a storybook town tucked away in the Black Forest. We stayed at Hotel Engel Sasbachwalden, which is 250 years old. The recently updated modern rooms were lovely to return to after long days of hiking and sight seeing. We enjoyed a buffet breakfast with fresh fruit, smoked salmon and meats, delicious german bread, and fresh squeezed juices- all necessary for a day full of hiking! We spoke with a local guide who explained the region and showed us the best route around the Black Forest. One of the coolest, most unique parts about the region was the “Schnapsbrunnen,” or “Brandy Wells.” There are 10 in the region which hikers can follow along enjoying different flavors from plum, pear, grape, etc. They rely on a trust system where you drop 80 cents into the jar and taste different kinds. You find them in these wooden huts with cool water flowing through them like waterfalls. Be careful! They are delicious but strong and on a hot day make sure you take enough water with you.
The enchanting university town is in the Black Forest close to the lake Titisee where you can rent a boat and eat Black Forest cake! It’s a must to visit Münsterplatz near the dramatic cathedral and follow the little canals throughout the city. There is an old tale that if you step in one of them that you will marry someone from Freiburg! Escape into nature by hiking up to Schlossberg where you have gorgeous views of the city.
Right across the Rhine river and over the German border you enter the Alsace region of France with rolling hills of wineries and charming villages. Colmar is one of the larger villages filled with colorful half-timbered medieval buildings. The neighboring vineyards specialize in Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines and lie along the famous wine road, or La Route De Vins.
You can take in all the tiny colorful charms of the town from Schlossberg, just a short hike up from the main center. It’s free to walk into the old castle ruins where you get the best views of the village and endless wine hills.
High above this village sits 3 impressive castle ruins that are definitely worth a visit. The front of the town isn’t as impressive but the minute you walk past the old gates you seem to step back in time. The butterfly garden (Jardin Des Papillons) outside of the village isn’t to be missed – you’re able to walk around a huge atrium with giant colorful butterflies flying around. (*8 Euro entry fee)
We woke up at 5am before sunrise to wander around town before too many people were in the streets. This French town has German influences and is one of a kind. We sauntered around Petite France which is a UNESCO world heritage site. Grab a bottle of wine and cheese and find yourself a spot to sit and admire the jaw dropping Cathedral Notre Dame. We unfortunately only had the morning here before we began the long drive back to Berlin, but you could spend days exploring this off the beaten path destination.
Go straight to the baroque Aldstadt (Old Town) to start exploring the German town of Heidelberg which is located on the Necker River. There is a large castle perched in the hills looking over the town and can be seen from the other side of the river. Famous for the 14th century university, Heidelberg is a destination for people worldwide. Between getting lost in the small alleys or taking a boat down the river, there isn’t a shortage of activities here!