I wrote this and then decided to look back at another story about Germany. While the first paragraphs are more or less the same (unintentional), they are not less true. I found it funny that I still had the same thought after all that time.
But here you go with the new story.
Do you know the feeling? You only go and see touristic attractions at home when you have a real reason. A visitor from abroad, maybe an event. We rather fly to the end of the world and back, spend thousands on plane tickets, while real beauty is often right in front of our doors.
I’m very prone to that as well and don’t at all want to sound like a smartass, but ever since I went on a trip with my friend Hasan from New Zealand around the south of Germany in 2017, I’m trying to see more of my home country of Germany whenever I can. Climate debates and CO2 balance in mind, this might not be a bad thing anyway.
Germany in general is very underrated. I don’t know how often I’ve talked to travelers who are avoiding Germany on a European trip, basically saying it’s boring. Newsflash, it actually isn’t. Especially if you like beer, architecture, cool major cities like Hamburg or Berlin, meat and sausages (that is actually a cliché as there’s so much more), driving at 250 km/h on the highway or at 320 km/h inside on or our ICE trains. Rumors have it that the trains have to be that fast, simply because they are always late…but that’s just a rumor…It’s also more than just Oktoberfest (which I personally don’t like at all) and wearing funny Bavarian Lederhosen or Dirndl. It’s actually quite offending to 90% of the Germans to be reduced to that, even though it has been quite fashionable to have these and wear them to local Oktoberfest’s, which have been popping up everywhere around the country for some reason.
This year, I had some time to spend as I was in-between jobs and was put on garden leave. More blogs will follow about that (Algarve and Edinburgh), but it also gave me enough time and maybe a sense of boredom, that I started visiting places in Germany again. Starting with the area around Stuttgart in the Southwest, where I was visiting family and thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to see what else is there.
My nephew acted as my tour guide and we took off in my car, trying to catch a good sunset around the Hohenzollern Castle. As there was plenty of time, we turned right and went on a quick detour to what I can only call an oddity really.
In the small town of Rottweil, far far away from any major city with a skyline and about 3-3.5 hours away from the next highest buildings in Frankfurt, you see a 246 meter high tower pointing up in the sky. If you’d call that the middle of nowhere, you might actually say something nice. ThyssenKrupp, a major industrial giant with headquarters in Essen, built the tower in 2015 for 45 million dollars as a research facility and to test new elevator systems. As of now it is the third highest building in the country. We couldn’t really find a good viewpoint on it, but if you do, let me know in the comments!
Located about half an hour from the ThyssenKrupp tower, you’ll find the beautiful Hohenzollern Castle sitting on top of the 855 meter high Mount Hohenzollern. It is actually the third castle built there in 1846-67, as the two earlier castles were both destroyed in attacks. You can read about the history under the link. To take good photos, there are a few viewpoints marked on Google Maps, but we went to this one here as you get a really good look at it. Be aware that it is further to the castle than you think and I actually used a 100-400 lens for a couple of shots. These were taken in early May, which was not the best time to get the sun right behind or next to it during sunset.
The first thing most people ask me, is if the Lichtenstein Castle is actually located in the tiny country of Liechtenstein. No, it isn’t! But, if you want to see a few nice shots from that country, just click here!
Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein) is a privately owned tourist attraction built in Gothic Revival style in 1840–1842. The modern castle was inspired by the novel Lichtenstein (1826), but thhe ruins of the medieval castle (that inspired the novel) are a few hundred meters away. The name Lichtenstein translates as “shining stone.
A few weeks later, I got up quite early and drove about 2 hours northwest of Frankfurt to the beautiful Moselle region. The valley of the Moselle river is an endless highlight reel of castles, beautiful medieval towns and nature. I was actually unhappy at some point that I didn’t bring more time or made this a two day trip.
The reason for going there was mostly Eltz Castle. I spotted a few images of it on Instagram and in a photo book I purchased last year and was totally drawn to it. To be fair, I’ll need to go back. My pictures are nothing like the images I’ve seen and I’m jealous. So the bucket list includes a foggy morning with nobody around and maybe one of these self portraits while running towards the castle on the old bridge. Ok, that would just copy what I’ve seen and I should come up with something better.
The castle – and I think that is f’ing cool – is owned by the same family that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago. Again, if you want to read more about it, just click the link. For me, this is one of the most beautiful castles I’ve seen and it takes me right back into fairy tales or medieval movies. It’s definitely worth a visit, even though a bit out of the way of everything. Pic 1 below is actually not a drone shot in case you were wondering. There are viewpoints around and you can get a good look at it. Drones are not allowed there.
On the way back from Eltz Castle, you almost pass the little town of Cochem. This was another one of these images you see here and there, so I took the detour and stopped for a couple of shots and something to drink. Most known for the picture below and the imperial castle on the top of the hill, it is a little 5000 inhabitant town with a nice medieval flair. I really like the colored buildings and with better light, I think you can make them shine in your photographs.
The last trip was just a day trip to Braunfels and Wetzlar, which are located about an hour north of where I live.
Braunfels also has a nice castle and came up when I looked through a book about Germany the other day. Being on the timber-frame road of Germany, you know what you’ll get when you go there. I like timber-frame buildings and for me these would be the image I’d pick if I only had one image to show Germany. We got lucky as there was a big Vespa scooter event and besides beautiful buildings and a castle, we also got to see very nice scooter. I have on myself and can’t get enough of them for the last 27 years now. Yes, I’m older than 27 in case you were REALLY wondering.
The castle is actually best viewed from outside of town, as it sits in the middle of town on top of a hill and therefore is hard to put in a single photograph. It was actually quite dangerous to take the shot, as I had to stand in the middle of a road and cars where driving quite fast. But hey, my 20 readers need to get some good pics! We couldn’t find a better spot, but I think if you spend some more time and walk up a hill in the woods, there might be something there!
Wetzlar is almost next to Braunfels and this was a very spontaneous visit. Best known for Leica cameras and microscopes, Wetzlar actually is quite a nice town and the old town area is fun to walk around in. Also dominated by timber-frame buildings, Wetzlar has a huge cathedral which was built in the 12th century.
As it was quite hot that day, I can report that they have very good ice cream as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the Leica museum, which is also a bucket list item. Especially since it is that close by. I’d love to shoot a Leica camera one day, but as long as my picture sales are that low, this will stay a dream!