A note to any readers out there – Michael is tired of Bambi having all the fun, so he has decided to write up this blog entry – to make sure he accurately tells the story, Bambi is adding her own anecdotes in italics – readers beware….
Bambi and I woke up later than we had planned and set out towards a castle not far from our hotel in Triberg. We decided we would get breakfast somewhere other than our hotel as cold cuts and stale croissants are getting old. This should be pretty easy since bakeries are everywhere. As Bambi drives away from the hotel, my thoughts are on breakfast and nothing else, so I mention to Bambi, that we need to stop for breakfast soon because I just don’t do well when I am hungry (aka….Michael gets grumpy when he is hungry). A few minutes into our ride I point out a bakery that is open (right as we pass it) but Bambi just drives by and does not stop. When I ask why she didn’t stop, she shrugs and says she didn’t want to backtrack since we passed it…..ok. My quest now is to find something open (as my stomach growls like Chewbacca). It is Sunday, so not much is open. Almost an hour (20 minutes) into our trip and still no open café or bakery…I am starting to think we will not be eating breakfast today. Bambi makes a turn and I see a discount grocery store (Lord help us after the last Aldi experience) with a bakery attached to it. At first we thought it was closed because the store isn’t open on Sundays but we saw two guys enter the bakery, so we decided to be adventurous. We shared a slice of strawberry cake, a croissant, and an apple pastry along with two cappuccinos. My initial thought was that the bakery was going to be ok but not wonderful – boy was I wrong. Not only was the food great but the cappuccino was some of the best yet! Note from Bambi: Just because this single experience with a discount grocery store was a good one does not change my feelings about Aldi…..just saying….
With our first quest (and our bellies) fulfilled, I now navigate us to Burg Hohenzollern, a beautiful castle dating back to 1061 which has gone through many transformations, including a renovation a few years back. We decide to tell the GPS to route us using “Dynamic Routing” not having a clue what that means – why not live on the wild side? This route takes us through towns and small rural communities, so we got to see many beautiful parts of Germany that normally would not have been part of the trip. This route only added about 20 minutes to our trip but was well worth it.
Burg Hohenzollern is on the top of a mountain and overlooks several towns, so as we start approaching the majestic castle, we see many people stopping to take pictures. We try to take a few of our own but there just aren’t places to pull over so we just continue to the castle. As we try to get to the top of the mountain, an attendant stops every car to get the 2 Euro payment for parking. He waves us to a lot at the base of the mountain and my gut plummets as I think that that we are going to have to hike up this mountain which is very steep (like climbing Mt. Everest steep) and I have not recovered from the days of steep walking we have already done. We park and I notice a shuttle leaving our lot. Relief! I am not going to have to walk up a 50 degree incline to reach the top. We waited (and waited and waited) for any signs of the shuttle coming back and were disappointed when all other tourists just start walking up this hill. I decided that we would probably be up the mountain by the time any shuttle comes for us, but we start our walk up this hill and find it much worse of a walk than anything else we had walked since the path was rocky and full of holes (yet we are still being passed by 87 year old Grannies and families of 6 with two strollers and a backpack full of pretzels). About 1/3 of the way up the hill (mountain) a building appears in the clearing with a sign saying gift shop, tickets, and WC (bathroom) appears. Hooray! A sigh of relief comes over me when as see the traditional H (sign for bus/shuttle) by the gift shop. We take the bus to the top instead of walking, which would have taken us another hour (or twelve) to reach the castle.
Finally at the top, we see the most impressive entrance of any of the castles we have seen in Germany. This castle has several gates with draw bridges before you get to the main courtyard, and as you walk past the second gate there are little cubbies on the left and right side with gates and locks on them. The cubbies are barely big enough to have someone stand or sit, so we let our imaginations go wild and imagined them to be cells for prisoners.
We trek past the gate to the courtyard and see the most beautiful courtyard of any castle I have visited. In the middle is a row of nicely manicured flower beds, on the right side is a Protestant Church, and on the left is a much larger Catholic Church – all within the castle grounds. We take our time and tour the room that held the weapons and armor followed by a room with crowns, fine china, silver, gold, and historical documents on display. I was very impressed by the crown jewels, having no other to compare to but Bambi found them to be less impressive than the English crown jewels (more modest, which is a good thing).
We then walked around “secret” bunkers that were used to house the gun powder and had several rooms for the guards to be at the ready in case of an attack. In later years, these bunkers were used as bomb shelters and there are still “secret” passage ways that were used to get around the castle, some of which are still blocked by rubble from wars long ago and that nobody really knows where they lead.
By this point, we are hungry and decide to eat at the castle restaurant. As we head there, we are faced with two doors to get in and the only sign on them is in German. We don’t know which is which so Bambi decides to open the right door and interrupts a wedding reception – nice! Embarrassed (because the bride, groom, and about 30 angry Germans turn to look at her), Bambi quickly closes the door and we head in the other door. We decide to eat traditional German food (sausages), so I pick the traditional wedding sausage with potato salad and Bambi picks the sausage and lentils meal. It was good but I am done eating sausages (that’s what she said). That is all they seem to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Full of sausage, we walk around the castle grounds a bit more, taking in the wonder and filling up our cameras.
Our next adventure for the day is in the town of Tubingen, a college town not far from Stuttgart that is known for their half-timbered houses. As we start walking around, the first thing we notice that it is very busy for a Sunday in a small town (everywhere else has been dead and that was during the week). We also notice, to my dismay, the amount of graffiti on the walls of beautiful old half-timbered houses dating to the 1700’s. Why would anybody graffiti something of such beauty and make the town look dirty and unsavory?? We walk into the center of town and find a hustle and bustle we have not seen in any of our small town stops. Many cafés are open, serving coffee outdoors and people are eating and drinking, just enjoying the nice weather, company and the refreshments. We see tons of people walking around with ice cream cones, so we find the most popular of the many ice cream shops. Bambi and I decide to share a cone, to my disappointment, and order an orange yogurt gelato in a cone. This gelato was the best I have had in years! We stroll around a bit more and hit the road back to Triberg for one last night.
We arrive at Triberg a couple hours later (after some speed driving on the Autobahn) and decide to try the Italian joint in town for dinner – Pinocchio’s. We started off with a Caprese salad which was simple yet delicious with the best mozzarella cheese – yum! The menu has a lot of good things, but we both go for the combination dinner that had baked gnocchi, lasagna and tortellini. It is very hot with a crunchy layer of cheese. The meal to be very simple, yet delicious. At first we were worried since we arrived at the restaurant around 6:30 pm and found that we were the only ones in the restaurant, but it turned out great (though, at this point, Bambi would kill for a big glass of sweet tea).
We head to the hotel to hit the pool and maybe sauna (if no one else is using it – afterall, Germany does have that dang naked rule). The pool ends up being colder than we thought it would be, so we head to the sauna and find it empty. Woo-hoo! Bambi and I head into the sauna in full bathing suits, which is considered rude, and enjoy the dry heat for 2 minutes until I just can’t take it anymore. But bonus…..no nekkid Germans!