Sven and Andreas' vacations – Published for friends at Wordpress :)

Day 14: Nürnberg – Karlsruhe

Early out today… breakfast at 0800 as our train left Nürnberg around 0930 for a tour through through Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg towards Karlsruhe.

After a very nice last ever breakfast in this MARITIM hotel, we joined Nürnberg Central station where our train was put in service today – perfectly on time. We had one of the new concept trains called INTERCITY 2. It is a double-decker train, approved up to 160 kmh (=100 mph) with five carriages only. The connection ran from Nürnberg via Crailsheim, Aalen, Stuttgart, Pforzheim to Karlsruhe on regional tracks that were planned and constructed as such in late 19th century or shortly thereafter. Only shortly, between Stuttgart and Vaihingen, we joined fast track infrastructure.

Unfortunately, we had some delay developping on our ride as the train conductor reported some problems with one of the IC2 carriages. That lead to a 40 minutes stop in Schorndorf. Luckily, Deutsche Bahn was able to fix it eventually and we were able to continue our ride without further issues.

After arriving at Karlsruhe Central Station, we took a taxi to our hotel KAISERHOF which is situated close to the core city center. We took some refreshments and went out for lunch right away – on a terrace in warm and sunny 29 degrees Centigrade. We continued our visit at the ‘Badisches Landesmuseum’ located in the castle of Karlsruhe. For four Euros entrance fee, we did not miss the opportunity to climb the staircase towards a gallery on top of the castle tower where we were able to take some nice panoramic pictures of the surroundings. In the background, we were able to see the hills of the Pfälzer Wald, Odenwald, Black Forest and Vosges – latter ones already in France – as Karlsruhe lies in the Rhine rift valley. Finally, we took a short stroll through the ‘Schlosspark’ before taking some rest in our hotel room.

To close the day, we went to a tapas bar close by – called BESITOS – where we had authentic Spanish food, wine and cocktails to celebrate the last evening abroad on this year’s trip.


Day 13: Münster – Nürnberg

The original plan was to go to Cologne and visit Little Bretzel – but as he was not present and the train connections were still somehow impaired after the flooding events in the weeks before, we decided upon a destination change. We found a good replacement in Nürnberg that we visited already last year. The train connection was realised from Münster via Hamm, followed by a direct ICE connection to Nürnberg, taking all over around 4h30 of planned travel time.

A little incident on the high speed track between Kassel and Würzburg – fault of a switch – caused some 30 minutes delay as we were hold back in the train station of Kassel-Wilhelmshöhe. Otherwise the train ride was again uneventful. For the third and last time during this INTERRAIL trip, we went on this particular high speed track with a velocity of 250 kmh (=155mph).

We took a room in hotel MARITIM, close to the train station which – as we learned – is going to shut down in mid August as the building was sold to another owner and the lease contract was discontinued. We particularly liked this hotel in Nürnberg – next time, we need to look for a different place.

After some short refreshments we took a walk through the city center in fantastic summer weather and visited the historical Handwerkerhof where we took lunch – Nürnberg sausages with a hump of dark franconian beer. We continues through the city and returned to Hauptbahnhof. After a short ride with S2 (three stops direction Southeast), we arrived at Dutzendteich, a Park-Stadium-Lake area where we wanted to visit a creepy historical site – the so called Zeppelinfeld. At this site, the Nazi party has constructed a large area for their ‘Reichsparteitag’ events. It is as big as twelve full sized football fields. Thinking about all of the cruelties these people have done between 1933 and 1945, we visited the site in silence, took some photos for documentation and returned to Nürnberg’s inner city.

We took another circle through the ‘Innenstadt’ of Nürnberg, this time on a path which we have taken yet before retiring at our hotel as it was already late.

Two train videos have been taken, one of an arriving ICE2 double traction service in Hamm, one of a passing S-Bahn in Nürnberg:

Day 12: Bremen – Münster

After a great breakfast and a short swim in the PARKHOTEL outdoor pool, we checked out and walked the short distance to the Central train station of Bremen.

Today’s direct connection by Intercity train brought us in a bit more than one hours traveltime to the city of Münster. We have chosen this place as we wanted to learn more about the ‘Westphalian Peace treaty’ from 1648 which ended the 30-years-war in Central Europe. We have learnt quite a lot about it via several documentaries in ARTE television, however, seeing the sites in person is always somehow more touching and lets visitors understand the issues, the history, the success and the loss of war and land much better.

After checking in our hotel KAISERHOF just opposite of the Central train station in Münster, we took a walk into the city center of Münster to see the ‘Friedenssaal’, the place in the old town hall where the peace treaty was actually signed 373 years ago. You can really feel the history made in this building – with all paintings of the participants distributed in the room – Swedish, Spanish, French, Dutch, Roman Empire, Venetian, Bohemian, Bavarian, Clerical representants from both sides, etc.

We continued in Münster’s Stadtmuseum to gather more information about this period of history – and to learn more about the city that was also part of the Hanse.

For dinner, we have been looking around as we did not want to reserve any special place. Eventually, we found a Peruvian restaurant called ‘La Costanera’, located beautifully in a little side path next to the river Aa. What we did not know – it was the National holiday of Peru and loads of Peruvians gathered there to have dinner, drinks and fun. We enjoyed a lot our Spanish speaking company and stayed until close to midnight before returning to our hotel by taxi.

Day 11: Having a Rest Day in Bremen

The spa facilities of PARK HOTEL in Bremen were open – a very nice surprise for us as many others of hotels in different federal countries of Germany had to be closed due to the Corona pandemic.

So we decided to take a rest day in the hotel spa. The SPA’RKS environment in our hotel was absolutely magnificent. It offered several fitness, training and sports rooms with machines and sport appliances as well as the Pool and Sauna area. The outdoor pool has been 20 meters long and contained different water massage applications that the users were able to activate themselves.

The best of all was the Sauna environment – typically for Germany to be used without any clothes on, only a large sauna towel is required (provided for free by the friendly hotel staff). It had two steam baths and two saunas. Additionally, we had quiet resting areas and feet baths available. Due to sanitary distancing rules, the jacuzzi and the snow chamber had to be closed unfortunately. You can imagine that we enjoyed it like little purring cats. As you can understand, we took no photos in this environment.

In the evening, we went out for a walk after reserving a table in a tapas bar in the Schnoor quarter of Bremen. The AIOLI restaurant offered a great selection of Spanish food and drinks that was very enjoyable and of good quality. The restaurant owner – from the Netherlands – was very kind and served us personally together with his international team. We enjoyed our stay very much and will certainly come back, a very nice place indeed.

On our walk back to the hotel, we decided to  follow the Weser river northbound and turn right after the train bridge into the direction of our hotel. We were passing some new office quarters and eventually the park north of the central train station.

What a nice Rest Day in Bremen – spontaneous decisions are simply great if they work out as such!

One video of a train passing the Weser bridge:

Day 10: Bamberg – Bremen

Waking up in Bamberg City Center was some sort of brutal this morning. Exactly at 07:02 in the morning, a City Cleaning troop started to service the flowers on the Regnitz bridge. Shouldn’t be a problem, I would like to say in general – if the guys would not have operated a petrol consuming water pump on their service vehicle, five meters away from our hotel room. From silence in dreams to a horrendous and unstandable noise in a second… and it ran the whole two hours just underneath the hotel windows. Just terrible organisation by the city authorities and not a very good advertisement of Bamberg that just welcomes back their tourists. Just an advice: Doing this job from 10 to 12 would have been advisable. You just don’t do it in the core city center at this time.

After a good breakfast, we took a walk through Bamberg’s old town. Church influence, Christianity and Catholicism is ever present in town – monuments, house decorations, fountains speak a lot about this in Northern Bavaria’s episcopal city. It definitely has its charme and due to minimal destruction in World War 2, the core inner city is well preserved, it is worthwhile taking pictures at every corner.

After checking out, we walked towards the Central train station to take our train to Bremen. Changing trains twice on such a trip with pretty tight change schedules is always a bit risky – but we made it eventually, even on time.

Our hotel in Bremen has been the PARKHOTEL, located in the city park, just North of the Central train station. As we planned to stay in Bremen for two nights, we booked a suite – and got a super marvellous room, the ‘Shanghai Suite’ in the main building.

We reserved a nice dinner table in the RATSKELLER of Bremen where we had – once again – a lovely table in a separee room that had still the old decor and intimate feeling of the Hanse days, a very lovely place.

After the dinner, we walked back to the hotel and finished the day in our suite – opening a bottle of wine on the balcony, enjoying the great time and ambiance that our room presented to us.

Two videos from the Regnitz bridge in Bamberg:

Day 9: Weimar – Bamberg

After another splendid breakfast in Hotel Elephant, we went prior to check-out for a walk through the Ilm Park in Weimar, followed by a path through the city that does not cover all the tourist sites and has an alternative look on the city.

Our train ride today consists out of a short ride to Erfurt, followed by just a 45 minute high speed trajectory to Bamberg – which was completed uneventfully.

We checked in at Hotel Brudermühle in the core city center, just next to the Regnitz river.

Just after arriving, we wanted to take a walk around – however, we saw a tourist bus stopping just merely in front of our hotel. We took it without even thinking further. It took us up to Schloss Altenburg that sits above Bamberg. We had a great view around. Also a theater play for children took place while we have been there – Ronja Räubertochter. Back in town, we descended at Bamberg Dom and explored the city center by foot a bit more. We decided to take an early dinner and got a table for two at the Schlenkerla beer garden.

Pretty tired after being well served with food and beverages, we continued our round and retired to our bed after taking the last in our hotel.


Day 8: Exploring Weimar

Exploring Weimar is anything else but just a sight seeing tour. You need to be ready to be confronted with any kind of thing – from politics, through Philosophy, art works in music, architecture and literature – up to crimes against single people, groups, races, religions and humanity.

Weimar is diverse – has always been, is today and as far as I can see, it will be in the future.

After seeing Goethe’s garden house yesterday, we chose to visit four museums today – all with a different perspective and theme.

  • Bauhaus Museum
  • Nietzsche Archive
  • Neues Museum Weimar
  • Gingko Museum

Bauhaus has been a rather short lived trial to build up a ‘New Style’ in teaching and put in service of craftsmen’s ship. Architecture, art design and production after World War 1. Coming from designers as Van der Velde and Gropius with their rather distinct socialist mindset, it was a wave of new thinking, revolutionizing, designing and restarting mass production of individual goods in Germany. This went from houses, things of daily life use to rooms, chairs, tables, art pieces up to the organisation how to give training to achieve these ideas. Nothing was really forbidden, so many substreams were formed – even introducing different religious formats for professors and students – called masters and trainees. Unfortunately, this created a lot of friction with other people – who were thinking that a more nationalistic approach would be better. Eventually after five, six years Bauhaus was discontinued due to the raising political pressure – and some years later, even prohibited under the NS regime.

For me, Bauhaus has been very courageous for the 1920s and showed a forward, future directed vision. Things are in use today that Bauhaus claimed first. I would even claim the sentence ‘Without Bauhaus principles, today’s IKEA furniture would not exist’ as my true own opinion. Clear as well that they did not have loads of friends during this time. It was only a question of time until backward thinkers and people with a view towards the past took over and removed/prohibited those ideas.

We continued by having a look at the Nietzsche Archive. Another very interesting personality and philosopher at the end of the 19th century. His ideas were bright, under discussion and thought towards the future. However, Nietzsche became sick and developed a mental disorder the eventually killed him – the year 1900 saw his passing in Weimar. His sister, who cleverly took custody of all of his belongings, writings and ideas has then done something very awkward. She changed certain pieces as such that it could be interpreted as if Nietzsche was predicting the NS time with its racial, religious and human crimes due to the dominance of the Aryan race. This has clearly not been in the interest of Nietzsche at all – but has put his sister in position of power and economical success during the NS time. Even the highest level were communicating and visiting her. In the archive, original telegrams and letters of Hitler and Mussolini are on display. The contradiction is interesting. It needs to be noted that the inner design of Nietzsche’s house has been completed by Van der Velde – later connected with Gropius and the Bauhaus style.

After some ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’, we continued our museum visits at the Neues Museum. Many sculptures and pictures of contemporary art are on display here. Very enjoyable to see and enjoy.

On the way back to our hotel, we have been passing many pictures of witnesses – inmates of KZ Buchenwald – depicting the brutality of the NS regime and architectural modifications of Weimar during this time.

We shortly dropped in the Gingko Museum and bought some remembering pieces for this incredible stay in this charming city. With the brain full of positive, negative, intriguing and sometimes even sad impressions, we retired and took a lovely dinner in our hotel to close the day.

Weimar is a ‘must visit’ for me. In today’s perspective, it is a true European city with a lot of developing history, mind changing thoughts and a requirement to walk through the city with an open eye and ear all the time.

A clear indication that we need to come back to this town.

Tomorrow, we continue to Bamberg.

Day 7: Leipzig – Weimar

After waking up and having an excellent breakfast in the STEIGENBERGER hotel, we took a short walk through the City Centre of Leipzig to visit Thomaskirche and the Bach museum.

Inside Thomaskirche, in which Johann Sebastian Bach directed many of his sacred cantate pieces as Thomaskantor, you can also find his tomb. Directly next to the church, there is a large Bach monument and his museum which is worthwhile visiting.

Afterwards, we checked out and proceeded to Leipzig Hbf to take the train towards Weimar.

After an hour of uneventful journey with changing trains in Erfurt, we reached Weimar on time and walked some 800 meters to our hotel ELEFANT. We checked in and got a lovely suite which was delicately arranged.

We refreshed ourselves shortly and set out for a walk through Weimar and its park along the river Ilm. There, we found the garden house of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which we visited. The audio guide we got was very good – also available in other languages than in German.

After taking a short rest on a park bench, we continued our walk along the river Ilm and found our way back into the city center. Close to the National Theater – which was key during the agreement on a constitution for Germany between WW1 and WW2 – we have taken a ride on an observation tower above Weimar that gave us a vast overview upon the city and its surroundings.

Eventually, we closed the day in the LAVA restaurant, followed by a Gin Tonic at the hotel bar.

Day 6: Ostseebad Binz – Leipzig

We can’t leave the Baltic Sea behind as such – hence a bath in it at 0730 in the morning was obligatory and very lovely. We enjoyed our stay in “Strandhotel Arkona” very much – great site, lovely people, charming environment.

After breakfast, we checked out and boarded our ICE3 train to Leipzig. Today, a direct train connection taking 5h20 of travel time. In comparison, this is quite long – mainly due to the absence of any fast track infrastructure in the North East of Germany. Up to Berlin, we hardly achieved 130-140 kmh velocity, only after Südkreuz stop (one of three stops in Berlin), we reached 200 kmh (=125 mph) for a while.

After arriving in Leipzig, we walked to our hotel, the STEIGENBERGER Grand Hotel Handelshof, in which we reserved a suite for one night. We got the one called “Gustav Mahler” in the fifth floor. The hotel management arranged prior to our arrival some pastry (Leipziger Lärche) and a bottle of Cremant de Loire in our room – very enjoyable reception indeed!

For dinner, we arranged a splendid meal in the Ratskeller of Leipzig.

Afterwards, we took a little walk through the old town of Leipzig, passing Thomaskirche, Altes Rathaus and Nikolaikirche before settling down at our hotel bar to close it with a traditional Gin Tonic.

Day 5: A day on the beach – Ostseebad Binz

A rest day on the beach was planned…

– and we enjoyed like little cats. Meow, meow… 🙂

Very easy indeed if you have a room in a hotel that sits in the first row on the beach, a room with a view on the sea and with a service of the “Strandhotel Arkona” team that has been absolutely exceptional.

Just have a look…

Excellent and calm organisation during breakfast and dinner – both included in the room rate. High availability and wide choice of food offers from Vegan arrangements towards traditional fish and meat dishes, including fruit and local specialties. Not to forget the dessert section, the wide range of offered bread and the selection of beverages. The international restaurant team – we counted at least seven different nationalities – was running the service precise, efficient, fast and with a touch of empathy that pleases every single guest with his/her needs and requirements. You can clearly see the signature and experience of the F&B manager, Mr Remler, who is speaking several languages himself and can accommodate any international guests at ease.

Just as an example, I would like to mention a Cuban/German family that we met – heartily welcome in fluent Spanish, the husband in his wheelchair with enough place to move around easily in the full barrier-free restaurant and hotel. Just great!

Representing the service employees, I would like to mention two – Tanja (beverage services in the restaurant) and Martin (bar service in the late evening) – as representation for the whole team who have shown their dedication towards us, their distinguished guests. Just great to see this in international perspective.

It has been professionalism as it needs to be – as it is requested by guests and as good gastro culture requires it.

Means eventually, when we come back to Binz in one of the next years, we fully know already where we will stay and which room we will book – in “Strandhotel Arkona” in a room with a view to the sea.

After dinner, we took a short walk on the promenade and closed our day with a traditional Gin Tonic (while speaking some Spanish and Euskara) before dozing off in calm with an open window – just listening to the waves hitting the beach line.

Day 4: Hamburg – Ostseebad Binz

Today, we have taken the train from Hamburg to Germany’s biggest Island: Rügen.

After once again a great breakfast in our hotel in Hamburg, we packed up and checked out. The kind hotel crew of ‘Europäischer Hof’ was very helpful again with some questions we had.

First, we took S21 from Hauptbahnhof to Bergedorf where we boarded the Intercity train. The ride was very comfortable and spaceous. Unfortunately, still due to the bad weather events last week, our train needed to take a detour and arrived 45 minutes late. We had great seats with a table – and the people charge was pretty minimal.

After checking in with ‘Strandhotel Arkona’ – same as I had booked during my stay here in Binz in 2018 – we took a short rest in the room, followed by a playful refreshing bath in the Baltic Sea just in front of the hotel.

We took dinner in the hotel as it is included in the room price. The restaurant chef spoke fluent Spanish with us which I enjoyed a lot – as he has been working on the Islas Canarias and Costa del Sol earlier. Buffet service with high quality food was offered for starters, salad, main course and dessert. We enjoyed a glass of Störtebecker dark beer with it. Lovely service indeed!

After dinner, we took a short walk through Binz, visited the pier and had some cocktails in town while listening to some nice live played Piano music.

We will stay two nights in Binz. Tomorrow, a day on the beach is foreseen. The weather is calm and partly sunny, the sea water has 22 degrees. We are all set for a relaxing day.