You’re almost certainly going to love it, when you come across a route named The Romantic Road, or “Romantische Strasse”.
The Romantic Road, Germany, conjures up thoughts of hearts and flowers and chocolate box houses. Traditions here are still strong. Surely, locals, drink jugs of home brew, dressed in lederhosen and dirndl!
We were ready to get our wheels turned, in the direction of Würzburg and the start of this 460KM route South, through Bavaria to Füssen.
Germany is one of those countries that seems to skip past the average British traveller in their Motorhome or campervan. However, don’t be fooled by those, that miss this superb part of Europe.
Boasting much better Summer’s than the UK. Germany notably, is also blessed with beautiful scenery, incredible rivers and lush vineyards.
Thermes (more of those later!) provide relaxation. More importantly, a really brilliant Stellplatz system, makes motorhome parking so easy.
Germany really is a hidden little gem. Of course, if you prefer English Breakfasts and beer on the beach in Benidorm, maybe, it won’t be the place for you!
Let’s begin as we take to the Romantic Road, Germany.
The Romantic Road Begins
Firstly, were the historic towns of Tauberbishofsheim and Lauda Konigshofen, in the Tauber Valley. Most interesting, vineyards surrounded these pretty towns. Proving, a good start for the first section from Würzburg.
Taking time to have a wonder and find our feet, we parked up for the night at a brilliant Stellplatz, at Merzig and Das Bad Therme.
If you haven’t been to a German Therme, ask yourself, “why not”?! They are just fabulous darlings…..take me there right now, the memories are just flooding right back!!
So, what is a Therme exactly? Think a swimming complex, with more emphasis on relaxation, than actual swimming and you won’t be far off. Maybe, a spa is the best description.
Most have several natural hot mineral pools, ranging in temperatures from super cold to extra hot. A larger, main soaking pool, in the great outdoors, allows relaxation until late at night. What’s better than a soak under the stars?
Mix this with treatment rooms (usually bookable and extra), a Sauna, steam rooms and a variety of other physically, beneficial pampering opportunities. You’re certain to feel like you have a new body, by the time you head for the exit.
Now, the super added bonus of a Therme, is that many have a Stellplatz attached, that’s dedicated parking for your motorhome.
The Romantic Road, Germany, has a really excellent system of Motorhome parking, very similar to Aires, so finding a place the stop the night is pretty easy.
Sleeping like a baby after our relaxing mineral soak, we headed off the next morning to the amazingly beautiful Weikershiem Palace and gardens.
First mentioned back in 837 and taking over 100 years to complete, it’s a wonder of architecture from Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic designs. A colossus of palatial splendour.
Onwards to Rothingen and Creglingen, the latter being the first main town on this Romantic Road route. There’s a Jewish museum here, housing details of it’s strong Jewish links. The grim realisation too, that in the 1930’s, this was the first town to begin the murder of it’s local Jewish inhabitants. Including members of the local council.
The highlight so far for us on the route, came at Rothenburg ob der Tauber. One of the oldest on the Romantic Road, this medieval, fortified town was just fantastic.
With all great things, come rather large numbers of people! Coach trips flock tourists here in peak season. Our July trip was no exception. Glorious weather, a lovely atmosphere from the Summer sightseeing folk brought all the trimmings, of a welcoming German tourist hotspot.
Another Therme beckoned for the night at Bad Mergentheim. In this part of Germany, the name “Bad”, meaning bath, almost certainly means a Spa complex will be present.
Spa waters were first found in the 1800’s, it’s now the largest Spa resort in the region. It’s a great way to have a good soak rather than a quick campervan shower!
After stopping the night beside a fishing lake at Feuchtwangon, we moved through Dinkelsbühl and on to Nördlingen. Impressively built in a crater, caused by a meteor impact. Never expecting, The Romantic Road, Germany to have a crater but even more unusual, they had built a tower out of the rock!
Onwards to Harburg and its hilltop fortress, making a good place for a break, before stopping at Donauwörth. Most importantly, known as the junction to the Rivers Danube and Wörnitz.
A Reminder of the Holocaust
A Stellplatz next to a small fishing lake at Freidburg, provided our parking spot for the night. A heartbreaking diversion from the Romantic Road, took us to Dachau. The most moving visit lay ahead, to the memorial of the Dacau Concentration Camp.
Situated within the town, it’s hard to believe what went on behind the walls in this otherwise, seemingly normal neighbourhood. Opened in March 1933, Dachau became the model for all future concentration camps and was the “school of violence” for SS officers.
Walking the now deserted, but relatively intact camp huts and cold brick buildings, we could not envisage the despair, that those inmates must have felt.
It’s one of those unbelievable situations, where trees are in full leaf among birdsong and blue skies. Those grey images of horror, are somehow never seen in the reality of colour.
200,000 people were imprisoned here in total. 41,500 were killed at Dachau before its liberation, by American troops in April 1945.
We could only walk through in silence, imagining what others must have gone through, on the same ground we were now walking on.
Grateful for the freedom we often now take for granted, we felt thankful for all we have.
Rivers and Rolling Hills
Re-joining the Romantic Road at Landsberg am Lech, this pretty town, boasts a cascading river, flowing over gently sloping weirs of the River Lech. It’s an important crossroads to Munich and the glorious other regions of Bavaria, along with the route to Lake Constance.
Our night stop at Schongau, beside the swimming pool was our last stop, before hitting the final stretch South to Füssen. This fortified town is in a region known as “priests corner”, due to the flurry of little churches that scatter the countryside.
Driving on in the morning, the scenery became more Alpine in appearance. Fields of green, grazing cattle, rolling hills, majestic mountains and cycle paths that went on for miles.
By the way, you can cycle this route of the Romantic Road, seeing the superb German cycle networks, even we found it an appealing gesture!
The Ultimate Fairytale Castle
Next, was the most awesome sight! One we’d been waiting for, the whole trip! If you’ve seen the Sleeping Beauty castle of Disney (that’s the one at the start of the films), then you’ll know what to expect, from this incredible fairytale castle, of the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria.
It was when Walt and his wife visited Bavaria, Walt had the idea for his own castle. Once you cast your eyes on Neuschwanstein Castle for the first time, you know why.
It’s situated in Schwangau and is one of two castles, the other being Hohenschwangau, where King Ludwig grew up. As the day was passing us by, we decided to drive on to the end of the road and Füssen. A charming, character town and final destination South on the Romantic Road.
There’s a choice of Stellplatz here. So we parked up at one, that just happened to have a washing machine and showers. A perfect place to do the chores and take a powerful shower, out of the van.
We walked into Füssen in the evening, when the rain clouds opened and the mist settled in, we got soaked! The weather had been pretty scorching hot, so we couldn’t complain. But, we’d been hoping for clear blue skies for our visit to the Castle the next morning.
Up with the larks, we drove the short distance back to Neuschwanstein. This is big tourist territory, bus loads of tourists flock here from miles around. Including day trippers from Austria and some of the big cities of Germany.
An early start meant the car park was relatively quiet and short queues at the ticket booths. This place is huge, the walk from the ticket booth is around 40 minutes, although there are buses to take you if needed.
The castle interior is just as incredible, as you’d imagine it to be, a guided tour takes you on a journey through its history and the connection between the King and composer Wagner.
The exterior was featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and more recently, The Monuments Men. Detailing the true story of the recovery of stolen prestigious art pieces. Taken from museums across occupied Europe and hidden here by the Nazi’s during WW2.
It’s a fascinating place, in the most beautiful location. When the tour was over, we headed out to explore the grounds. Photograph’s, from a cute little suspension bridge, named the Marienbrucke, gave views back across the castle.
With clouds still lingering, but rain thankfully cleared away, we managed to get a good view back, to the king’s masterpiece.
It’s The End of The Road
It was a perfect end to this Romantic Road, Germany. As we’d headed South, it was quite fitting to finish our trip, at the most romantic of settings. A fairytale dream and if ever there was a castle to epitomise the magic of Disney, this was it.
No wonder Walt took his inspiration from Neuschwanstein, we all need a sprinkling of magic and we’d certainly found it on the Romantisch Strasse!
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