The summer vacations might still be a couple of months away but for most parents in India, Jan and Feb are the times when they plan their summer holidays. 3 friends have already asked me to share with them my itinerary of my trip to Germany and Austria last year so I thought, why not put it down in a blog post (I anyway never got around to editing the vlogs from that trip). My husband and I have always traveled by ourselves with me planning everything – the destination, the itinerary, the hotels / apartments etc. Since the last 4 years, though, my elder son has been calling the shots on the holiday destination and then I plan the trip keeping everyone’s interests in mind. Last year, being a Bayern Munchen fan and having studied a bit about the Holocaust in school, he was very eager to visit Germany. Read on to know more about my itinerary…
Berlin (3 nights)
Our holiday started in the German capital of Berlin. More than the children, I was excited to see this city – a city I had read about in countless books by Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett and others. When I plan the holidays, I never schedule anything for the first day – that is the day of just checking in, exploring the neighbourhood where the hotel / apartment is, having lunch at a cafe, buying milk, juice, fruit from the supermarket (if we’re staying in an apartment) and generally getting a feel of the place. In the evening, once the hubby and kids have their batteries charged after a good nap, we usually find a park where the boys can play and hubby and I get some relaxed couple time.
The remaining two days are for all things touristy. The hop-on-hop-off bus in most European cities is a great way to explore all the must-see places. I really like the fact that they have a special channel for children too so even kids get to learn a bit about the places that they are seeing. There is loads to see and do in Berlin, especially things concerning the Holocaust so it’s up to each person to decide what they’d like to see / do. If shopping is your thing, then you must check out Kurfurstendamm which has all the high street brands. Needless to say, the boys and hubby went gaga in the massive Adidas and Nike stores. About an hour away from Berlin is a Designer Outlet which has some great brands at great prices. We actually ended up spending the entire of our 3rd day there.
Würzburg (1 night)
The “Romantic Road” is a route through adorable medieval towns in Germany that look straight out of a fairy tale. It is a very popular route for road trips but we decided to use public transport. viz, the Romantic Road coach that starts from Würzburg and goes all the way to Füssen. It has halts at several towns along the route and you can choose to break your trip for a stay at any of the towns along the route.
From Berlin, we took a train to Würzburg to spend one night there since the Romantic Road bus starts in the morning from there. However, one night is simply not enough at this adorable town with it’s quaint 500 year old bridge. The town square bus bustling with activity the day we reached with a Farmer’s Market and carnival-like festivities to mark the arrival of spring. What amazed me was the crowed on the bridge – throngs of people with glasses of wine / mugs of beer in hand just chilling listening to the street-side musicians, breaking into impromptu dances as though it was one big party. Curiosity got the better of me and when I asked someone if they were celebrating a festival, I was told that every evening was a festival in fine weather – the citizens came to the bridge to meet up friends and chat over a glass of wine / beer to enjoy the weather! How amazing is that!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber (2 nights)
The reason why I decided to have a 2 night stay here rather than at any other town was because of the “Night Watchman tour” which sounded like something the kids would enjoy. And they did enjoy it indeed.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber too, has a town square with cobblestoned streets, a town hall, a church and several little cafes everywhere. We loved walking through the town, climbing up to the top of the church tower for an amazing view and of course, the Night Watchman tour which was a fun little history lesson on how the townspeople lived in the medieval ages, how Rothenburg ob der Tauber was saved from total destruction during the second world war, etc. The boys really enjoyed it as well and I highly recommend this experience. Oh, and if you’re a chocoholic, don’t miss the Lindt store and cafe here.
Munich (3 nights)
After 2 nights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, we took the Romantic Road bus to Augsburg from where we took a train to Munich. (We wanted to visit the Neuschwanstein castle but elder son was unwell from the previous night and so decided to skip it. )The German countryside is absolutely beautiful and we passed by several story-tale villages and towns with halts at some of them too. By the time we reached Munich, it was late evening so all we had time for was a stroll around our hotel and dinner before hitting the bed.
Allianz Arena – the home stadium of Bayern Munchen was the main reason why we planned this trip and that was what the boys were most eager to visit. Unfortunately, there was no match during our stay there so the boys had to contend themselves with a stadium tour and needless to say, the LOVED it.
As with Berlin, there’s loads to see and do – the BMW World, Olympic stadium and museum, Munich Residenz to name a few – but since each family has different interests I’m not going to write down any “must-dos”.
Salzburg (3 nights)
After wonderful Germany, we took the train to Salzburg, Austria, birthplace of Mozart. I would have loved to spend a full week in this beautiful city but we had to make do with 3 nights. One of the highlights of our stay here was the trip to Hallstatt, a lakeside town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We also loved playing in the snow at Untersburg, the magical fountains at Schloss Hellbrun (where the boys got soaked and absolutely loved it!) and the trip up to Hohensalzburg , among other things.
Vienna (2 nights)
We reached Vienna in the afternoon and by this time, the boys were totally fed up of seeing palaces and “architecturally beautiful buildings” etc so we simply went to the Prater and had fun on the rides there. Since they totally revolted against any “sight-seeing” our last day in Vienna was spent shopping at Stephansplatz. Not that I complained about this 😉
So that was my 14 day itinerary through Germany and Austria. No matter where you go and how hard you try, you can never fit in every single thing that you want to see / do within the time limit that you have and you are bound to miss out on something or the other. My advice would be to just enjoy whatever you manage to fit into your schedule. Also, this is a holiday and hubby, kids and I hate getting up early on holidays (unless it’s to catch a flight or something). We have a leisurely breakfast and leave the hotel / apartment around 10:30/11am. If you prefer to wake up early, then you can certainly fit in more things in a day.
Another tip – don’t get carried away by over-hyped places or by people saying “You’re going there, you HAVE to see this”. Use your discretion and plan according to your interests. My boys weren’t interested in the Sound of Music tour so we skipped that and opted for Hallstatt instead. After all, it’s your holiday and these are going to be your memories. 🙂