I’ll take an aperol spritz and an apple flammkuchen, Danke. (scroll for a photo gallery)
No matter where you go in Germany, you will soon find that it is a home away from home. The sights are ethereal and there is a simplistic beauty to the architecture. Each town has something unique to offer you from the narrow cobblestone streets, to the hearty portions of schnitzel. You never feel like there isn’t something to explore or discover.
My base was Ramstein, Germany in the southwest part of the country. From here it is only an autobahn or train ride away to get to the Frankfurt Airport or – my aesthetic – the Rhine River Valley. In the town of Ramstein, I had my first true German pretzel, many a cappucino, and of course…Italian gelato. I arrived in Frankfurt late at night after an eleven hour flight from Portland, OR so I spent the night in the city of an airport. The trains end at midnight so you have to make sure you aren’t stranded in the middle of Germany in the middle of the night!
Later into my European adventure, my sister and I drove to the Rhine River. There are countless towns that you can arrive at that harbor cruise ships at regular intervals.
The trick is to go early in the morning, when the fresh light illuminates the hillsides and offers a truly fairytale sight.
You can choose between countless ruins and castles to explore, so research all of the different styles, architects, and building dates (as the age of some of these structures will put perspective on the history you are standing on) to see which you connect with the most.
My exploration began at the Rheinfels Fortress. The foundations of the castle was build around 1245 where it was initially used as a residence building for nobility. Later on it was renovated into a fortress to withstand attacks from 1479 to 1692 as it was the only military fortified structure on the left side of the Rhine. It fell to french troops who obliterated the original fortifications into rubble, leaving it abandoned until a Prussian influence arrived in the valley and rebuilt Rheinfels in 1834. What is left from that Prussian era is what you can walk through today!!