Carnival Parade in Stuttgart

Carnival Parade in Stuttgart, Germany

Whoever thinks Germans are serious and have no sense of humor obviously hasn’t been to the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart.

This was only my second carnival parade in Germany, but I was surprised at how different it was than my first Carnival Parade in Grosselfingen, a small village only an hour from Stuttgart.
Happy girls at Carnival parade in Stuttgart, GermanyThe carnival parade procession consists of just over 2000 participants and they all seemed very jovial, which was different than many of the solemn faced participants in the Carnival Parade in Grosselfingen (except for the drunk guys).  I was also pleased to see a lot of female participants in the carnival parade as there wasn’t a single one in the Grosselfingen Carnival Parade.
Carnival parade costumes in Stuttgart, Germany

The costumes were also completely different than the costumes seen in the Carnival Parade in Grosselfinfen.  While I really enjoyed the wide variety of costumes seen in the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart, my favorite costume was from the Carnival Parade in Grosselfingen, shown on the left.  How can you beat towering multi-colored flowers?

Carnival parade in Stuttgart, Germany

I loved the many masks seen at the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart.  Normally the masks are scary looking meant to scare away winter, but most of the masks I saw were very happy.  Perhaps they are taking ng a “killing them with kindness” approach to winter?  Either way, the masks were my favorite part of the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart.  I will be writing more about the masks in an upcoming post.

Carnival parade masks in Stuttgart, GermanyCarnival parade masks in Stuttgart, Germany

The Carnival Parade in Stuttgart is big, but by no means the largest in Germany, so I was surprised to see that there were not that many floats, the one below was the most elaborate, and it was a treat with people swinging from it, but  the rest were very simply done.  Most of the Carnival Parade consisted of people dressed up, walking, which while still interesting, is different than what I’m used to in Canada, where the floats are the stars of the parade.
Crazyfloat at Carnival parade in Stuttgart, Germany

There were also lots of bands, which you also see in parades in Canada.  I enjoyed the eclectic music selections ranging from everything to traditional carnival songs to “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves.  It definitely got the 200,000+ specatators if not in a dancing mood, then in a swaying mood.
Carnival parade band in Stuttgart, Germany

Politcal statements are more popular in the larger parades along the Rhein, such as in Cologne or in Mainz.  My Swabish friends proudly tell me that is one reason why carnival is better in the state of Baden-Württemberg.  There were only 2 political references (that I saw) in the carnival parade in Stuttgart, but the one was a rather low blow  with the Governor of Baden-Württemberg telling the mayor of Stuttgart that they deal with protesters of  Stuttgart 21 Project ( a major railway project that has been sparked with controversy and protestors)by pepper spraying them – a reference to an event that happened several months ago with tens of thousands of protesters which left one man blind.
Carnival parade politics in Stuttgart, Germany

Interesting there was also anotherCarnival parade jeep in Stuttgart, Germanycontroversy in the Carnival Parade.  Can you guess what it is by the photo on the left?

Stuttgart is headquarters to Mercedes and Porsche, both of which have large prominent museums in Stuttgart and Germans are very proud of German cars.  There was a collective gasp of horror among us as people saw the offending Jeep.  My Russian friend and I burst out laughing at the “controversy.”

I was pleased to see one of my favorite museums in Stuttgart make an appearance, the Pig Museum!  When I later asked J.P. why there was no float for either the Mercedes Museum or Porsche Museum, his response was “Because everybody knows about those museums, nobody knows about the Pig Museum.  Hopefully participating in the Carnival Parade resulted in a few more admissions.  It was kind of hard to miss a gigantic pig!
Carnival parade pig in Stuttgart, Germany

While there were many differences between the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart and in Grosselfingen.  One thing was the same, there were a few crazy people drinking, but to be fair the participants in the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart were only drinking beer.  In the photo below, the girl on the right holding a microphone, drinking a beer was actually a reporter and drinking beer between takes. Too funny!
Carnival parade in Stuttgart, Germany

Children candy at Carnival parade in Stuttgart, GermanyAnd lastly, if you read my First Impressions of a Carnival Parade in Germany post, you may remember that I was feeling very sorry for German children, who were being given buns, pretzels and sausages with only the smallest quantities of candy being handed out.  I am happy to report that children at the Carnival Parade in Stuttgart scored big time!  So much candy was being thrown out that we were getting pelted with it.  I even managed to score a few pieces!

What are your impressions of carnival?

See more places to visit in Germany.

Stuttgart Lapidarium – One of Stuttgart’s Quirkiest Attractions

Lapidarium Statues Heads in Stuttgart, Germany

The lapidarium is one of the quirkiest attractions in Stuttgart.

I felt like I should know what a “lapidarium” was, but I confess that I didn’t before reading about it. According to Wikipedia a lapidarium is “a place where stone monuments and fragments of archeological interest are exhibited.”

Lapidarium statues in Stuttgart, Germany

The lapidarium in Stuttgart has 200 such monuments ranging from sculptures to remnants of buildings destroyed in the bombings of WWII. Despite this, I was surprised to find that the lapidarium was an idyllic place based on an Italian Renaissance Garden. The monuments were displayed in an open air museum, on Karlshöhe as part of a park. There were lots of trees and birds chirping.

Lapidarium Wall of Monuments in Stuttgart, Germany

In many ways the lapidarium reminded me of My Favorite Attraction in Stuttgart. I was in awe of how both attractions (the lapidarium and my favorite attraction in Stuttgart) managed to bring alive the historic and architectural elements of Stuttgart that was largely destroyed in the WWII bombings. As a result of the bombings, and perhaps not surprisingly many statues were missing pieces:

Lapidarium dog statue in Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Many of the statues were missing pieces. On this statue part of the dog’s left leg is missing.

But perhaps it’s better to be missing part of a leg than what this one was missing:

Lapidarium man statue in Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Look closely….Can you see what’s missing? Hint, most men would be horrified to lose this body part.

One of my favorite artifacts in the lapidarium was this door and window:

Lapidarium portal and window in Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The artifact above dates back to the mid 1300s and is from an old stone house – as indicated by the sign on the left. I loved the signage of the monuments displaying the age of the monument and sometimes even the building it came from, or the significance of the monument. The signs really helped bring the monuments to live.

Lapidarium Signage of artifacts in Stuttgart Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Concerts and literature events are also sometimes held in the lapidarium. I think it would be a unique venue for such an event so I’m keeping my eyes open for an interesting event.

Our visit to the lapidarium, only lasted about 30 minutes, but I really enjoyed it and admission was free (although donations are accepted). After that we headed up the stairs on the east side of the lapidarium further up Karlshöhe to the Beer Garden where traditional Swabian food is served. Not to mention it has one of the best views of Stuttgart:

View of Stuttgart from the Beer Garden above the Lapidarium in Baden-Württemberg, Germany
View of Stuttgart from the Beer Garden above the lapidarium

I would highly recommend a trip to the lapidarium and the beer garden on the hill above it (Tschechen & Söhne) in Stuttgart. The lapidarium is such a quirky attraction, yet it really brings some of Stuttgart’s history alive in such an interesting setting. And I think at least one trip to a traditional German beer garden should be on every visitor’s list. All in all, an interesting way to spend a couple of hours in Stuttgart.

The lapidarium is located at: Mörikestraße 24/1. It is only open between May – Sept on Wed – Sat from 2 – 6 and on Sunday from 11 – 6. Admission is by donation. For more info see the official site at: Städtisches Lapidarium (in German only, but you can translate the page).

Have you ever been to a lapidarium? What were your impressions? If you haven’t gone would you consider going to a lapidarium?

See more places to visit in Germany.

Tram World in Stuttgart, Germany

Party tram on display. They were previously available for rent in Stuttgart, but not today

Tram world in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Tram World (Strassenbahnwelt) is a museum documenting over 140 years of streetcar history with over 60 restored trams.

It seems a bit out of place considering that Stuttgart is home to two rather large automobile companies (those would be Daimler (Mercedes) and Porsche). But once I became aware that Stuttgart was the first city in Germany to provide mass transit in 1868, it made more sense.

Model with horses at Tram world
A model of one of the earliest trams used in Stuttgart dating back to the late 1800s.

I really didn’t know what to expect from Tram World, but when the opportunity came up for a guided tour in English with the Met Club (an international club based in Stuttgart) I figured why not? Our volunteer guide was wonderful and enthusiastic as he explained that the first trams were pulled with horses and that the drivers sat outside for 12 hour shifts, often in freezing temperatures.

early tram on display at Model with horses
One of the early trams used in Stuttgart.

Unlike today, riding the trams in the early days was a status symbol, something only the upper-middle class and the rich could afford. The poor couldn’t afford the price of a ticket and were stuck walking.

Horses were used to pull the trams until 1884 when they were replaced by cog wheels, which involved the driver having to change every time he reached the end of the line, enabling the tram to go back in the opposite direction. By 1891 the Stuttgart trams were all running on electric wires, much to the great relief of the tram drivers I’m sure.

Old tram on display at Tram world in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
This tram may look familiar if you’ve been to the Czech Republic.

Trams are expensive and when trams need to be replaced Stuttgart often sells trams to other countries, especially the Czech Republic, so if you’re wondering why there is German writing in your tram car in the Czech Republic, now you know why.

Party tram on display. They were previously available for rent in Stuttgart, but not today
Previously party trams were available for rent in Stuttgart, but not today unfortunately.

One of my favorite parts of visiting Stuttgart Tram World was seeing the party tram. It used to be available for rent by large groups, who could often been seen dancing in the tram as it worked its way through the streets of Stuttgart. Unfortunately it’s no longer available for rent. However, it is possible to take a vintage ride on Sundays in Stuttgart or host your own celebration at Tram World. It used to be a former tram depot, complete with tracks and markings on the floor. It’s the perfect ambiance for a tram museum, but a wedding or other formal event? I’m not so sure. I enjoyed my visit much more than I thought I would. It’s worth nothing that this was in large part to our volunteer guide who was passionate about keeping the history of trams alive. Had I just gone on my own, I wouldn’t have gotten as much from it.

Stuttgart Tram World is definitely not as slick as the Mercedes-Benz Museum, but the museum has character and I didn’t realize how little I knew or had admittedly thought about trams until my visit.

My favorite museum in Stuttgart though remains the Pig Museum, the largest in the world.

See more places to visit in Germany.

Hiking in the Black Forest in Germany

Castle Ruins in Black Forest, Germany

I absolutely love hiking in the Black Forest!

I get excited every time I see the Black Forest getting closer and closer. This past weekend it was my turn to choose a hike. When I told J.P. that I had found the perfect hike, he got a smile on his face and said “Let me guess, we’re hiking in the Black Forest to a castle.” What can I say, I’m predictable. But this time, he wasn’t quite right – this time I choose a castle ruin, not just a castle -Ruine Hohenschramberg. Hmmm…that will show him!

Castle Ruins in Black Forest, Germany
Visit Ruine Hohenschram while hiking in the Black Forest

It was a rainy day for hiking in the Black Forest, but fortunately for us that meant that we had the whole castle ruin to ourselves! I couldn’t believe it, a whole castle ruin all to ourselves! J.P. was less impressed, pointing out that it was likely because Ruine Hohenschramberg isn’t all that well known (you won’t find it in any Lonely Planet book), it was pouring rain and Hohenschramberg is located in a small town. “Details, details” I dismissed with a wave of my hand. We have a whole castle ruin all to ourselves!

Sausages and Potato Salad in Black Forest, Germany
Sausages and potato salad at the hut while hiking in the Black Forest

After enjoying the castle ruins we continued hiking in the Black Forest and headed to a marked hut which our hiking book said was famous for its sausages. What it didn’t say was that sausages were the only thing on the menu and I’m not much of a sausage person. Nonetheless, it hit the spot and the potato salad was delicious. After we dried off a bit, we headed back out hiking in the Black Forest. We were soon soaked again, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, it’s not everyday a girl from Canada gets a castle ruin all to her herself.

See also:
Hiking in the Black Forest (for another hiking in the Black Forest adventure)
Farmhouses in the Black Forest
Hiking in Germany

Castles in Germany: Hiking to Hohenzollern Castle
Hiking the Swabian Alps [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Canadian Habits in Germany

Canadian Habits in Germany - mounted-police are part of Canadian culture

I’m a big believer of the old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, but there are a few Canadian habits that I just can’t shake in Germany and yes, that includes thinking that red really is the best colour for police uniforms as it is the traditional color of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (R.C.M.P) and yes that also includes spelling “colour” with an “u”, the Canadian way.

Canadian Habit #1:
Saying “no thank you” (but in German of course). Germans typically just say “no”, saying “no thank you” is considered very polite and not necessary, but my mom taught me well and I can’t just say “no.” To my Canadian ears it sounds so rude, even though it is perfectly acceptable in Germany. Besides, it provides comic relief for the Germans as evidenced last night when the cashier at the supermarket asked if I wanted my receipt, I replied “no thank you” and she and the other two people standing in line couldn’t help but giggle. Glad that this Canadian habit gives some Germans a small chuckle, because it’s not one I’m likely to break anytime soon and I guess it’s better to be overly polite than rude.

Canadian Habit #2:
When I see someone, the first thing out of my mouth is usually “Hi, how are you?” Believe it or not this is considered a slightly strange question in Germany. Germans don’t ask how you are, unless they REALLY want to know. They don’t see the point of the North American answer “fine thanks, and you?” If they ask how you are, they really want to know and don’t just want a one word answer. Most of the time, they don’t really want to know, so they don’t ask. This seems simple enough, and I actually like it, since most of the time in Canada when we ask “How are you?” we really don’t want to know about your sick dog or how you ran out of breakfast cereal, or had a fight with your husband…We are only expecting a one word answer. Having said, that, it’s a hard Canadian habit to break. Fortunately J.P. says that Germans understand that this is a U.S./Canadian habit and don’t take offense to it, although it bewilders them of why we would ask a question and only expect a one word answer.

Canadian Habit #3
Saying “nice to meet you” when you first meet someone. This seems harmless enough, but is usually not done in Germany. Ever pragmatic, the German logic goes, “I just met you, how do I know whether it’s nice to meet you or not? I need to get to know you, then decide whether it’s nice to met you or not.” I love this perspective and in North America, when we say this, we don’t really mean it (after all we’ve just met you), it’s just a figure of speech. I actually like that Germans mean the words they say, much more so than we do in North America. I’m getting better at this one, in part because of the awkward silence that follows after saying “nice to meet you” (I swear sometimes I can hear crickets). Instead I try to say it after spending a couple of hours with someone, when I can confirm that it was indeed nice to meet them.

Of course, I have many other Canadian habits that I just can’t seem to shake either, but those are another story…What habits do you have that you can’t break when traveling/living abroad?

You may also be interested in:
Food and Drink in Germany Vs. Canada

Berlin Wall: Confessions of Why I Was Disappointed At First

Berlin wall germany

I’ve waited almost two years to see the Berlin Wall, one of the most epic sights in all of Germany.

So it was hard to ruffle up any enthusiasm when this was the first glimpse I had of it:

berlin wall
My first disappointing look at the Berlin Wall.

This lack-luster, ordinary wall is what I had eagerly anticipated for almost two years?  This puny wall is what divided a country for 28 years?  I couldn’t hide my initial disappointment from Julian, our well educated docent from Context. He led us on a three hour tour of the wall and took us to the viewing platform at the Berlin Wall Documentary Center.  It was there that it became apparent that there was more to this “puny” wall than meets the eye:

Death strip of the Berlin Wall in Germany
A recreated “death strip” that separated East Berlin from West Berlin.

Getting over the wall was only the first hurdle.  The would-be escapees then had to make it through the “death strip” which was surrounded by guard towers with guards who had orders to shoot. The estimated 5000 would-be escapees had no place to hide.  124 of them didn’t make it:

Would be escapees over the Berlin Wall in Germany
Memorial photos of East Berliners who died trying to escape.

All notions of this “puny” wall were washed away.  But I still couldn’t help noticing the lack of graffiti.  The graffiti that the Berlin Wall is so famous for was missing.  You know the ones that East Berliners created in protest of the wall?

Graffiti on the Berlin Wall in Germany
Graffiti was only found on the west side of the wall.

Graffitti on the Berlin Wall in Germany
Not so fast. Julian explained that graffiti was only found on the west side of the Berlin Wall.  Defacing the wall in East Berlin would have resulted in severe punishment by the communist state.  It made perfect sense once he explained it and debunked yet another myth in my head.

Berlin Wall in Germany
The Open-Air Exhibition is free and worth seeing the wall in its various states.

Slowly, it dawned on me, the Berlin Wall in itself isn’t impressive. Its significance lies in the oppression it represented, until change and growth broke out – 28 years later.

berlin wall_trees

Thank you to Julian from Context for our complimentary tour. As always opinions expressed are my own. Context Travel offers three hour tours of the Berlin Wall. Guides provide an extensive history and you will visit numerous sites relevant to the Berlin Wall.

Also check out expat Adam’s Things to Do in Berlin and Simon’s journey to nearby Potsdam Sanssouci Park:  A Photo Tour.

See more places to visit in Germany.

All Aboard the German Emigration Centre

The German Emigration Centre (Deutsches Auswanderer Haus) in Bremerhaven in northern Germany is one of the most interesting museums I have ever been to anywhere in the world! It simulates the journey taken in the late 1800s through the 1900s by German emigrants seeking a better life in America. All aboard!

Each person is given a German emigrant boarding pass of a real German emigrant who made the 8 day journey to the U.S (which got shorter as time went on). I was given Martha Hüner, a young single woman who had relatives in the U.S. and big dreams of making it rich as a house keeper. Many German emigrants who made the journey were poor, unemployed and were seeking a better life in the U.S.


The first stop is the enormous ship, where plasticized figures wait for the large looming boat. Most impressive are the noises. The port was a busy place and standing among all the figures and luggage with the boat in the background and all the noisy seagulls and people chattering that I actually felt like I was the one emigrating. Here I learned that all of Martha’s friends and families came to send her off on her journey.

Next visitors “board” the boat.

Then it’s off to the third class cabin where most emigrants were based. Conditions were tight. Five people to two narrow mattresses, with often 100 people in a small room. If passengers didn’t have a family of five, they slept next to strangers. There were no windows in third class and when conditions were rough, passengers had to stay in their rooms. The stench from the sea sickness is said to have been wrenching and passengers were often forced to stay there for several days at a time in rough seas.

Second class was much nicer with each person getting their own bunk. Unfortunately most German emigrants couldn’t afford second class and the majority of them had to rough it in third class, where they were later joined by Irish immigrants who also normally stayed in third class.

In later years, the journey became shorter and conditions much more comfortable, with only 4 people in a room.

In this room, visitors swipe their German Emigrant boarding pass and learn more about their German emigrant.

After a long journey emigrants waited here at the U.S. Immigration Office where their fate is decided. First they had to see a doctor, and pass a several minute exam ensuring they weren’t carrying infectious diseases.

Upon passing the physical inspection, emigrants faced bullet fired questions from U.S. Immigration Officials. If an emigrant hesitated too long on any question, they would be pulled into a separate room for more intensive questioning. Fortunately, most emigrants passed. In the above photo, visitors test their knowledge of their German emigrant and see if they are allowed entry into the U.S. Fortunately I had paid attention and passed the test and was able to begin a new life in the U.S.

Martha’s father had predicted she would marry an American cowboy, instead she married another German emigrant. They opened a bakery in New Jersey and ran a modest business in a Czechoslovakian neighborhood, but when WWII started the Czechs boycotted their store and they went bankrupt. Soon after, Martha’s husband died. She then found work as a housekeeper for a well-to-do family, a position she held for ~20 years. In her old age she had a stroke and decided she was homesick and came back to Germany to live with her sister. She died in Germany. The letter above is a sign of the times – note the “Russia Zone Germany” address.

The German Emigration Centre does a realistic job of showing visitors what the German emigrants faced and by having my “own” German emigrant, I felt very connected – something that I don’t feel very often in most museums. Along the way, I kept hoping that things would turn out OK for Martha and was silently rooting for her. Americans with German ancestry would find the German Emigration Centre especially interesting. I went with four other Germans and we all found it fascinating. Unfortunately their German emigrants didn’t fare as well as Martha did. Unfortunately the American dream wasn’t to be realized by all emigrants.

You may also be interested in: The World’s Largest Pig Museum

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: One of My Favorite German Christmas Markets

Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the best-preserved medieval towns I’ve ever been to!  It’s an 800-year-old town on the Romantic Road situated approximately halfway between Munich and Frankfurt.

The main square in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
The main square
Snow coming down over the church in Rothburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
Snow coming down over the church

 The defence towers and city wall that encloses much of the city makes it feel like you are stepping back in time.  Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the epitome of medieval romance.

I loved Rothenburg ob der Tauber when I was there in April a couple of years ago.  And was excited to return to visit its famous Christmas market, the Reiterlesmarkt (Rider’s Market).  The Rothenburg ob der Tauber has a long tradition dating back more than 500 years.  Its name comes from a messenger riding a horse.

Christmas Market in Rothburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

In medieval times it was believed that otherworldly messengers would appear and float through the skies carrying with them the souls of the dead.  Not a very Christmasy thought!  Fortunately times have changed and today the mystical messenger is now considered to be a friendly messenger and is welcomed.  The messenger makes his appearance on the first day that the market opens (at the end of November).  I missed this by a week, but locals tell me it’s worth seeing.

Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

Also not to be missed is a visit to Käthe Wohlfahrt, which is self-described as “the most exceptional Christmas specialty store in the world.”  It just may be with its 30,000+ assortment of Christmas decorations on offer! I was certainly impressed with all the monkeys on display:

Upon entering I heard one American teenager declare “This is the coolest store I’ve ever been in.”  Even if you’re not there to buy, it’s worth a look with its Christmas village illuminated with over 130,000 LED lights:

Later on,  I overheard an elderly English lady declaring it to be “Christmas heaven”.   It’s definitely enchanting!  There’s also a Christmas museum upstairs, which takes visitors through the history of Christmas.  Käthe Wohlfahrt and the Christmas Museum are both open year round, but really get into full swing come December.

What really makes the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market alive is its atmosphere.  I feel like I’m slipping back in time a few centuries as I sip my white mulled wine (different from the usual red mulled wine that you find at other Christmas markets) so be sure to try it.

The only difference is that as I head back to Hotel Rappen Just outside the Würzburger Tor (one of the city gates), I fortunately don’t see any criminals left to hang as their punishment for their crimes, as I may have seen in medieval times.

I turn up the heat and crawl under my cozy covers, shivering at the very thought of how cold it would have been back in the middle ages when there was no heating.

Perhaps there is no time to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber like the present – when I can have the best of both worlds!

View Larger Map
For more information see the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Tourismus or Bavaria Tourismus Marketing.

Castles, Cycling and Climbing in Prien am Chiemsee


Prien am Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany

Prien am Chiemsee is famous for Schloss Herrenchiemsee (Herrenchiemsee Palace).

It’s King Ludwig II’s largest palace and is based on the Palace of Versailles.  In my opinion Neuschwanstein has nothing on Schloss Herrenchiemsee!  It’s  incredibly ornate, and even on its own island – don’t worry, there’s a boat so you don’t have to swim over.  Schloss Herrenchiemsee is one of my favorite castles in Germany and I highly recommend checking it out (more details coming in an upcoming post).

Prien am chiemsee Schloss Herrenchiemsee in Germany

Seeing as how I had previously visited Schloss Herrenchiemsee on several occasions, I was eager to see what else I could do in Prien am Chiemsee.  Electronic-biking (e-biking) seemed like a great option for exploring the country side.  E-bikes still require you to work, but they give you a little extra oomph.  You decide how much help you want by adjusting your settings.  My husband and I rented our bikes from additive bike and had a choice of two different models.

Additive bike at Prien am Chiemsee, Germany

We stored our water in the specially designed  additive bags, which are basically like a backpack for your bike and off we went through the rolling country side around Prien am Chiemsee.

Prien am Chiemsee landscape in Germany

Several hours later we returned famished for our picnic lunch.  It’s been years since I’ve had a picnic but there are so many perfect picnic spots around the lake, like the Prienavera Beach.  We promised ourselves that we will do this more often.


Bellies full, it was off to Kletterwald (Climbing Forest).  I’ve done different versions of this in Italy and in Austria, and LOVED it.  It was J.P.’s first time and he was intrigued.  There are a total of 13 different courses, each course having several challenges.  They vary in difficulty, starting from courses that are low to the ground and aimed for children as young as 4 years old and up.  Watching 10 year olds move through the courses was like watching monkeys – they were fearless and fast moving.

Climbing forest Prien am Chiemsee, Germany

Being just “slightly” older than 10, I moved somewhat slower and less gracefully.  And while I consider myself to be reasonably athletic,  two hours and four courses later, my arms were shaking in exhaustion.  Each of the courses we did was challenging with the Tandem Course (where you have to work with your partner) being one of our favorites.  The Climbing Forest had kicked my but AND I hadn’t even done the two toughest courses – yet I couldn’t help smiling.  It was daunting but exhilarating to look at a challenge and think “I can’t do it” to “I’ll try” to “I’m doing it” to “I did it!”

Now that my arms have stopped shaking, I’m thinking about the two toughest courses that I have yet to conquer….and hiking the Kampenwand, the most picturesque peak around the Chiemsee – without the help of a gondola of course.

Prien am Chiemsee is only 90 km south from Munich, but we felt like we were miles away.  It was the perfect getaway from Munich.

Know Before You Go to Prien am Chiemsee:

  • Prien am Chiemsee is easily reached by train or auto.
  • 6 night packages can be arranged from 127 EU (what a great deal!).  Contact Prien am Chiemsee Tourist Information for more info.
  • Reserve your additive e-bike in advance to ensure availability
  • Prien am Chiemsee is known for its local cuisine, especially fish so you can plan your own picnic using local food
  • Allow at least 2 hours (more is better) for the  Kletterwald (Climbing Forest)
  • Check with the Prien am Chiemsee Tourist Information for more ideas about what to do

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Thank you to the Priem am Chiemsee Tourist Office for hosting me.

See more places to visit in Germany.

Nuremberg Christmas Market: What to Really See and Do

Nuremberg Christmas Market in Bavaria, Germany

Nuremberg Christmas Market in Bavaria, Germany

The Nuremberg Christmas Market is Germany’s most famous and one of it’s most traditional markets.

That also means it’s a popular attraction, drawing in over 2 million visitors from Germany, Europe, and even Japan!

I went to the Nuremberg Christmas Market for the first time last year.  I thought it was nice, but overcrowded (avoid going on a weekend if possible).  I went again this year and really enjoyed it, in large part because I went with locals who showed it to me through their eyes and I really enjoyed it!

Here’s What To Really See and Do at the Nuremberg Christmas Market:

Visit the International Christmas Market

Besides the regular market there’s also an international one with 14 of Nuremberg’s sister cities.  Cities are represented from Nicaragua, Czech Republic, Italy,  and from all over the world.  My favorite was the Cuba stand where we were treated to an impromptu salsa demonstration!  Any guesses which city/country this wooden booth belonged to?…

Booth from Atlanta, Georgia at the International Christmas Market in Nuremberg, Germany

Atlanta, U.S.A!

Meet Christkind

Me hanging out with the Christkind.
Me hanging out with the Christkind.

Christkind was the traditional giver of gifts.  Not surprisingly children love meeting the Christkind.  I had the opportunity to meet her as well and she was lovely.  Maybe we’ll even be BFFs.  Then again, she might be kinda busy at this time of the year.  The Christkind first appeared at the Nuremberg Christmas Market in the 1930s.  She now appears at other  markets throughout Germany as well.  Children can visit her every afternoon at Hans‑Sachs Platz at 2.30 (arriving on the main market square at 3 o’clock).

Meet the Prune People (Zwetschgenmännle)

The famous Prune People, which you can buy in Nuremberg.
The famous Prune People, which you can in Nuremberg.

The Prune People are some of Nuremberg’s most famous residents and can be found going about their daily life.  Locals have a saying “If you want someone in your life who doesn’t cause you any trouble, get a prune person!”  Good advice!  Prune people are for sale at many vendors.

Children’s Christmas Market

Children decorating gingerbread cookies.
Children decorating gingerbread cookies.

This is one of only a few in Germany.  Even as an adult I loved it.  There are rides including an old-fashioned carousel and it’s even interactive!  Children can make candles or decorate Nuremberg’s famous gingerbread cookies!

Eat What is Quite Possibly the World’s Best Gingerbread

Nuremberg has a long-standing history with gingerbread.  You can read about it at A Medieval Treat from Nuremberg.  It’s such an interesting story that I wrote a whole post on it.

Nativity Scene Exhibit

Nativity scene exhibit
Nativity scene exhibit

On the way to the Children’s Christmas Market is a nativity scene exhibit on the left side, hiding behind the wooden stalls.  Many people miss it, but it’s worth a quick look.  I loved this one with all the animal figurines.

Take in a Concert

All the churches have frequent concerts during the Christmas market and there’s a stage set up in front of the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) where school choirs and big bands perform.

Drink from the World’s Largest Feuerzangenbowle

Feuerzangenbowle, according to Wikipedia, is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine.  All I know is that it is some seriously strong stuff!  I’ll stick to my mulled wine!

Tour Nuremberg in a Stage Coach

This was so much fun and surprisingly comfortable!  The stage coat is a 1939 replica that takes guests through Nuremberg’s cobble stone streets.  I felt like I was stepping back in time even without a lady in waiting waiting for me. Tours last about 10 minutes and leave from across from the fountain in the main square.

Learning more about the history of the Nuremberg Christmas Market really brought it to life for me and made it meaningful, much more so than when I walked around clueless last year.  And besides, it’s not everyday that I get to be BFFs with Christkind…even if it is only in my imagination.

Visit the official Christkindlmarkt in Nuremberg for further info.  You may find that visiting just one market is not enough (I’m a bit of a fanatic myself), in that case check out the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market and My Favorite Christmas Markets in Munich.

Thank you to Nuremberg tourism for their tour.  As always, all opinions expressed are my