The Grand Tour of Germany
I’m hardly an expert when it comes to Germany, but I definitely have a great appreciation for the geography, the food, the culture, and, of course, the cars. So when it comes to seeing as much of Germany as possible, we’ve got a kick ass plan in place. For 17 days we are going to galavant across Deutschland. From the heart of Bavaria, to the slopes of the Alps, to the banks of the Rhine, to the northern coasts and everywhere in between.
So just what do all those little pegs actually point to? Well let’s have a look!
Munich is the heart of Bavaria. Not surprisingly, it’s also the heart of Bavarian Motor Works and your first stop in picking up your dream car. We’ll be enjoying the Hofbräuhaus, the museums, a tour of BMW Welt, and the delicious food. You could spend a week or more in Munich and still find exciting and interesting things to do. A return trip is a definite.
And, of course, Munich is where we’ll be picking up our brand new 335d.
From Munich, it’s a short drive south to the seat of some of the most majestic mountains in the world: The Alps. Reutte is just across the Austrian/German border and is a gorgeous little town. We plan on using it as a home base to launch our journey through the Alps. From gondolas, to hiking, to Castle Neuschwanstein, this picturesque town is the perfect home base. We’re staying at a gorgeous, family-run bed and breakfast and couldn’t be more excited for this part of our journey.
After leaving Reutte, we’ll be making a brief stop in Stuttgart, Germany as we make our way to Strasbourg. Stuttgart is home of the world famous Cultured Code, whose software helps keep my brain from turning to mush. They also tell me there’s a really old TV tower in Stuttgart — sounds exciting.
After Stuttgart we’ll finish off our journey to Strasbourg. Strasbourg is an interesting city — like many border towns, it’s a city with an identity crisis. Many Germans I’ve spoken to consider Strasbourg a German city that just happens to be in France. I’m sure there are more than a few French folks who would beg to differ. With its geographic location at the base of the Rhine and its cultural diversity, it’s no surprise that this town’s name literally means “Town (at the crossing) of roads”.
I’m very excited to explore this gorgeous city. Between historic sites, museums, great restaurants, and the seat of the European Parliament, there’s plenty to do in this culture-rich town. We’ve managed to secure a room with a direct view of the Strasbourg Cathedral.
After spending some time in France, it’ll be high time to get back to our German vacation. Traveling up the Rhine for a while, we’ll be stopping in the small German town of Bacharach. Now don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this small place before — we certainly hadn’t either — but everything about it seems to be the perfect place to launch our explorations of the Rhine, the Mosel, and Burg Eltz, one of the oldest and best maintained castles in all of Europe.
Bacharach sits directly on the Rhine, nestled up against the gorgeous mountains that line its banks. We’re staying at a wonderful little bed and breakfast that I hope to share more about once we actually arrive there. Rest assured, we’re damn excited about this stop. This is one of the most beautiful and historically significant regions of Germany. Top it all off with a drive on the Nürnberg race track, and this promises to be one of the most special parts of the trip.
Hot on the heels of Bacharach, we’ll be making the short journey to Köln. Of all our stops in the trip, this is (regrettably) one of our fastest. We’ll only be in Köln for a single day. There’s a lot we’re going to have to try and fit in. From the Cathedral, to Roman ruins, to some wonderful Kolsch beers, we’ll have our hands full. Although it’s a pretty common theme, I wish we had a full week to spend here.
Alas, this will merely be a quick stop as we prepare to head to…
The heart of Deutschland. It’s hard to contemplate any first trip to Germany that didn’t also dedicate a good portion of time to one of its major political and cultural centers. The evolution of Berlin in the past hundred years is as much a story of German resurgence in wake of two world wars as it is a personal story of a country divided by Communism. In many ways, Berlin is still recovering from this period in its history, but it’s doing so in a wonderful and successful way.
Johanna and I are lucky enough to be able to spend a healthy amount of time in Berlin. We’ll be there for a full four days (though we could probably stay much longer and still have tons of sights to see). On a hot tip from my parents, we’ll be doing some exploration of Berlin by boat, which is apparently a great way to do it. Aside from that, we’ll be doing the usual tourist thing. Thankfully, we have two wonderful German friends who will be meeting us in Berlin and will probably save us from being overly touristy.
From Berlin its off to the small German beach town of Kühlungsborn. To be honest, I know very little of Kühlungsborn. What I do know is that the same friends who will be meeting us in Berlin will be taking us to their beach condo for a few days of rest and relaxation. After all of the driving and sightseeing, this may be just what the doctor ordered at this point in the trip. It’ll be nice to slow down for a bit.
Finally, Johanna and I will make our way to Hamburg — the final destination in our journey and the ultimate drop off point for my BMW as it begins the long journey across two oceans.
Hamburg is another unique German city, combining the high class glamour of Germany’s entertainment industry with its working class roots as a center for shipping. Hamburg is also fairly unique in the extent to which it is a very modern German city, though not by choice. Hamburg was one of the targets of Allied retaliation after the Blitz, and was burnt to the ground as part of Operation Gomorrah in 1943. While a tragic note in the long history of this shipping city, Hamburg rebuilt after the war, creating a beautiful, modern city with wide streets and ample public transit.
Hamburg is a center of great food, great entertainment, and beautiful rivers and lakes. We look forward to taking advantage of all that Hamburg has to offer.