If you are looking for some sun in Germany, head to the state of Baden-Württemberg, popularly known as SouthWest Germany. I did – and experienced much more than just warmth and glow in the region.
With temperate summers and gorgeous springs and autumns, the state could rank as one of the best places on the planet to fall in, and stay in, love. It is the land of the Black Forest, hills, rivers, castles, palaces, museums, cobbled streets, universities, shopping, casinos, spas and coffee shops. Walk, hike, cycle, row, drive, climb – these are just some of the ways to get around and savour everything on offer.
I was in SouthWest Germany for a week recently – it may have been a whirlwind of a trip covering five towns but it was enough for me to give it top rating. And not surprisingly, I made a promise to myself to be back with more time on my hands.
What was my itinerary like? Here is an overview of places I visited – stay tuned for detailed posts.
* Stuttgart: The state capital houses the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Porsche museums and is a must-visit for a roadie like me. Its inner city quarters with antique shops, artisans’ workshops, cafes and quaint wine taverns were just the kind of sights that get my senses tingling. Adding to my excitement were the street markets in the Schillerplatz (the old city centre), buzz in the Schlossplatz (Palace Square), train rides, hop on – hop off bus tours and the brilliant cafes and restaurants.
* Tübingen: It was delightful walking around the undulating streets of the town, browsing through the university town’s history. ‘Punting’ on the Neckar river is a must-do for everyone as is a visit to the Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace; few will recommend the latter since it is a few miles out of town. I was lucky that my visit coincided with the entertaining Umbrian-Provençal Market; this street market is put together annually by trades and crafts people of the twin towns of Aix-en-Provence in France and Perugia in Italy.
* Karlsruhe: I was lucky once again to be in town to see the light installations on the Karlsruhe Castle, an impressive structure surrounded by gardens you would want to make a home in. A visit to ZKM, the Centre of Art and Media, took me back to the earliest days of consumer computing while offering a glimpse of what the future holds. Another town where you just keep walking and discovering.
* Baden-Baden: This is the spa capital of Europe, and I ensured I got myself some treatments – much needed after being on the move for five days. The nearly 200 year old Casino Baden-Baden is a charming place, and could well be the setting of a future James Bond flick. The town was in festive spirits, with live music performances in gardens and market squares; you know where my evening was spent.
* Heidelberg: One of the most beautiful places on the planet, surrounded by hills and forests and the Heidelberg Castle perched up above. A university town, I visited a student’s jail – never knew such places existed at one time. A ride on the solar boat, Neckarsonne, gave me a good sense of the town during my short visit. The trip ended with a Bohemian themed party where I stood out for not being dressed for the occasion.