April 27th, 2023
Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia, and the most populous member state of the European Union. It is situated between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, and France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west. The nation’s capital and most populous city is Berlin and its main financial centre is Frankfurt.
Various Germanic tribes have inhabited the northern parts of modern Germany since classical antiquity. A region named Germania was documented before AD 100. In 962, the Kingdom of Germany formed the bulk of the Holy Roman Empire. During the 16th century, northern German regions became the centre of the Protestant Reformation. Following the Napoleonic Wars and the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, the German Confederation was formed in 1815.
Formal unification of Germany into the modern nation-state was commenced on 18 August 1866 with the North German Confederation Treaty establishing the Prussia-led North German Confederation later transformed in 1871 into the German Empire. After World War I and the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the Empire was in turn transformed into the semi-presidential Weimar Republic. The Nazi seizure of power in 1933 led to the establishment of a totalitarian dictatorship, World War II, and the Holocaust.
After the end of WWII and a period of Allied occupation, in 1949, Germany as a whole was organized into two separate polities with limited sovereignty: the Federal Republic of Germany, generally known as West Germany, and the German Democratic Republic, East Germany, while Berlin continued its Four Power status.
The Federal Republic of Germany was a founding member of the European Economic Community and the EU, while the German Democratic Republic was a communist Eastern Bloc state and member of the Warsaw Pact. After the fall of communist led-government in East Germany, German reunification saw the former East German states join the Federal Republic of Germany on 3 October 1990—becoming a federal parliamentary republic.
Germany has been described as a great power with a strong economy; it has the largest economy in Europe, the world’s fourth-largest economy by nominal GDP. As a global power in industrial, scientific and technological sectors, it is both the world’s third-largest exporter and importer. Germany is a member of the UN, the EU, NATO, G7, and more. It has the third-greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world.
The flag colours of black-red-gold were the former colours used by the Holy Roman Empire. At the time, the colours represented: out of the blackness (black) of servitude through bloody (red) battles to the golden (gold) light of freedom.
Diesel price: €1.70 and up per litre which is about $7 USD per gallon
EU License plate letter: D
Beer: so many different kinds like: Weihenstephaner, Erdinger, and Beck’s
After crossing the non-existent EU border from Czechia, we only drove about 15 km / 8 miles to a free aire where they offered power, water, dumping and there were bathrooms/showers if you went into the town hall next door and got a key; can’t beat that really. We appreciated having power as it was still quite cold at night so we could use our heater instead of the gas furnace but we did not use the additional facilities.
No tunnels today.
Sidebar: Germany has no toll roads, lots of autobahns (freeways) and they are excellent roads – the best we’ve encountered in Europe.
So Friday morning we pushed on to get to Munich. Looking at the map we saw that we were not too far from Darmstadt, where Frank & Antje live (our fellow sponsors of KEGS). As a joke, we sent a WhatsApp message inviting them for happy hour in Munich.
Well, a couple of hours later, we get a message saying we are enroute but the traffic was bad! Fran thought they were kidding until she receive another message saying they were coming to Munich for Antje’s father’s family birthday weekend and yes, really could meet us for a beer!
We had decided to join a “free” walking tour today as we didn’t see all that many things to come see here in Munich, but of course, could not pass this “beer mecca”. The forecast was for rain and just before the tour began, it did begin to sprinkle and did so on and off the entire 2.5 hours. The tour was led by a young American fellow named, Brett who’s been living here for several years. We met him and a group of about 20 in the Marienplatz square at 10:45.
Munich has both an old town hall (which actually looks newer) which you can see on the right part of this photo (the white building) and the new old town hall which is ginormous and looks older is and main part of this photo:
After doing introductions, we all watched the glockenspiel clock on the New Old town Hall. Now when the clock goes off, there are two separate scenes played out in this show; the upper show plays first and is a jousting match; the second and lower one, is the Coopers Dance – warding off the black plague.
Brett was pretty good at making our stops in places out of the rain, which we were grateful for.
Over 60% of Munich was destroyed in WWII and had to be rebuilt. Unlike other German cities, Munich chose to rebuild the city the way it used to be before the Nazis, based on photos and archives keeping much of its character and charm. Due to lack of funds, many buildings were rebuilt just using concrete and painted for decoration rather than using actual brickwork.
The first stop on the tour was the former cow and livestock market square where the Lion Tower is also located:
followed by the Farmers Market which is very large and hard to get photos to do it justice:
A historical spot, the only one where the Nazis were discussed, was the “Weeping Women” plaque representing the shortage of men in Munich after WWII and how the women were an important part of rebuilding the city. The party that eventually became the Nazi party was formed here in Munich. Brett gave us a lot of information here about how this city is dealing with its past.
Then it was on to the world famous, Hofbräuhaus (this has been replicated in Las Vegas though we’ve never been):
Here after speaking, Brett gave us a ten minute break to go to the rest rooms, get food and drink etc. Doug got us a huge pretzel to share. It was delicious.
We learned a lot from Brett and like most of these walking tours, you don’t go inside to see much but learn a lot about the city and where to check out later on your own; this beer hall was a must to return to for us (Fran had been here in 1995 and it look pretty much the same!).
We stopped outside St. Peters for more information and getting here took us across the highest point in the city. Didn’t even feel the climb!
Here is a close of up of one of the windows in which you can see a cannonball that was embedded here in 1795. This part of the church was destroyed in WWII and when it was rebuilt, they re-embedded this cannonball!
We stopped under cover at the National Theatre with its large square out front which contained a statue of Maximillian I. When his son got married, a two week long party was held and repeated annually – this eventually became Oktoberfest!
We made a stop at the Residenz, a huge former palace that is now a museum with a large courtyard.
The final stop was right near the subway station we’d arrived downtown at, Palais Preysing of which the front was a memorial to Bavarian warfare.
The yellow church on the same square:
We’d been chatting with Antje and it was decided we meet at 5 at the Marienplatz square and go for a beer. Our tour ended before one and we walked back to the Hofbräuhaus for a beer and more pretzels.
This place has long tables that generally seat about ten and no reservations can be made. You just walk up to a table with some room and ask to join whosever sitting there. So we did just that; a German family of three allowed us to sit with them. Only the father spoke some English but they stayed with us for about 30 minutes before leaving.
We ordered a beer each – one litre for Doug, half litre for Fran and caught the eye of the bar maid selling giant pretzels to share another one. These sell for €5 each.
We then were joined by four young Brits who were part of a stag weekend. Liam, Bruce, Matt and Tom sat with us a while, bought Doug another beer (Fran declined), and when the groom, Dave, dropped by they all left.
A little while later, a young Finnish couple asked to join us. We sat with them, (Assi and Esa) for about an hour. Doug ordered a third beer before we left to get some air before meeting our friends. The Hofbräuhaus holds up to 3500 people (over three floors) and gets pretty loud and very warm. Servers are running around constantly, sometimes holding up to ten large beers at once! You can order food here but Brett had advised it was not very good so we didn’t – that could have been a mistake as all we ate all day was pretzels!
It was 4:20 when we left the Hofbräuhaus and walked around a bit before going back to Marienplatz. Doug went to find a restroom and Frank and Antje arrived right on time. They find the Hofbräuhaus too rowdy and prefer the Augustine beer so they took us to one of that beer hall; similar format, but smaller and quieter. Doug unfortunately was not feeling so great by now having had three one litre beers (!) and little food. He spent about half the hour we had with them, in the restroom. Fran had a beer with them and he drank an apple juice type drink.
We parted ways and it was just beginning to get dark around 7:15. On our way back to the subway, we saw the tall Frauenkirche:
then passed through a pedestrian alley that went right through a champagne bar: H’Ugo’s.
When we got off the subway it was raining quite hard and that continued until about ten. We are so happy to have a warm and dry “home” to sleep in on these kinds of days!
Today we received some bad news from our cellphone provider that has been so awesome to date: EE is discontinuing free roaming in the EU! Oh well we had a good run of over a year at great prices so, as they say: “all good things must come to an end”.
It was a two tunnel day.
Next morning after checking the forecast, we pushed on to the Black Forest Region through Baden Baden because the rains we going to hit that area by Monday. As we drove out of Munich we passed by the 1972 Olympic stadium:
We crossed the Danube River once again! We saw lots and lots of fields of solar panels and a few of wind turbines. We hit traffic at times but it was never as bad as the traffic going in the other direction. We saw 3 and 4 km long queues of traffic heading into Munich. We then figured out this is a long weekend here in Germany: May Day is a national holiday.
Baden Baden is the location of a former Canadian air force/army base back in the 20th century. Fran’s aunt and uncle were stationed here back in the 70’s but the base closed in the 90’s and became a local airstrip. The town is all about baths and spas and is pretty touristy but it’s also the start of the Black Forest High Road – about 65 km / 42 mi to Freudenstadt.
After 300 km / 200 mi the exit off the highway to Baden Baden was closed – with NO warning so we had to detour around on our own an extra 20 km and had to drive through the town itself.
Fran had found a dirt/grass parking area a few clicks on the other side of town for us to park for the night. It has no services at all; just a cell signal but it was pretty quiet; about 7 other motorhomes joined us over the course of the evening.
Today’s tunnel count was eight.
We awoke to full sun but by the time Doug returned from his long run, it was clouding over and the higher in altitude we drove, the colder that wind got. It wasn’t strong really, just cold.
Now the Black Forest is very famous so we had to check it out. To us, being Canadians, we have to admit, it was not that thrilling. The road reminded us a bit of the windy Sooke Road from Victoria and at times when you could see something in the distance, there was no way to stop and actually see it because the pullouts had too many trees. Much of the forest is coniferous but there are probably 35% deciduous trees as well and being up at 1000m / 3000’ many of them we just beginning to bud so not that green. The highest peak in the Black Forest National Park is Hornisgrinde at 1164 m / 3820’.
The Black Forest is a large forested mountain range in the southwest of Germany, close to the borders with France and Switzerland. It is the source of the Danube and Neckar rivers.
Roughly oblong in shape, with a length of 160 km / 100 mi and breadth of up to 50 km / 30 mi, it has an area of about 6,009 km2 (2,320 sq mi).
Historically, the area was known for forestry and the mining of ore deposits, but tourism has now become the primary industry, accounting for around 300,000 jobs. There are several ruined military fortifications dating back to the 17th century.
We stopped at one area that had a ski run and a bobsled track but since we’d done one of these back in Slovenia, we opted not to do it here – partly because it would be quite chilly flying down a track in this weather!
Views from a lookout that was actually not blocked by trees:
The next stop was to see Lake Mummelsee which was described as glacial but seeing how there no glaciers left in this area and the water was not the right colour , it’s not that scenic to us as Canadians! It’s pretty touristy as well.
THE MUMMELSEE LEGEND
The Mummelsee have its mysterious name from the lake. They live in its unfathomable depths in a magnificent, crystal castle. It is surrounded by magnificent gardens, where the blood-red coral grows next to the fragrant water lily. The little mummies are lovely, charming figures of delicate, slender growth and rosy beauty. Every night they rise to the surface of the dark waters, performing a lovely dance to the sound of instruments or hurrying with the spindle to the nearest houses in the valley.
Once upon a time, the Mümmlein often came down into the valley to the farmers and woodcutters, helped in house and yard or looked after the children when the women were busy in the fields. Early in the morning they were already there. But as soon as it was night and the stars were in the sky, they all had to be back in the crystal castle at the bottom of the lake. This was what they had been ordered to do by their king. One of the beautiful lake damsels became fond of a young farmer’s son from Seebach. When the fair was again held in the valley, the mermaids came down to the inn where the dance was taking place. The little mermaid, who was fond of the farmer’s son, danced one dance after another with her beloved. There was no other girl as beautiful as she was, and none could dance so gracefully and easily.
When it began to darken, all the damsels from the lake returned to their crystal castle. Only the one mermaid could not part with her beloved. Only one more dance she wanted to do. She thought it would be night earlier down there in the valley than up in the forest. But she danced another round and another.
Suddenly it struck ten o’clock on the tower. Now the mermaid realized her carelessness. Her heart sank. And she pulled her beloved out of the hall into the open. Silently she hurried with him up the mountain forest. When they came to the lake, she spoke in a sad voice: “Now we will probably never see each other, because I will have to die. Wait a while longer on the shore. If blood rises from the depths, I have lost my life; if not, I shall soon be with you again.” She took a willow rod and struck the water three times with it. The water parted and a marble-white staircase appeared, leading down into the crystal castle. Behind the little mill the water closed again. It was dark night, and no wave was moving. Then a small dark wave rose from the depths of the lake. It was the blood of the poor little mouse that had to die for his love.
Outside the gift shop, we saw black forest cuckoo clock (Fran’s aunt had one of these black forest cuckoo clocks in her house:
We continued down the road to the small town of Kniebis and parked to take a stroll. It wasn’t all that cute (as we’d read) and upon turning around we did spot some cloister ruins from the 13th century that looked cool.
as well as a maypole out in front of the church:
The end of the this most scenic section is in Freudenstadt where we went to a camping aire to use the dumping and filling faculties. We had another aire in mind for the rest of the day/night that offered power but no dumping hence the extra stop.
We arrived in Glatten around noon, got one of the two remaining spots of four total and after getting power set up, we had breakfast. While parking is free here, power is €1 per 1000 kw – upon arriving there was till 800 kw left but using the heater and the toaster for breakfast, ate that up fast! Doug put in another euro and realized we only had one more euro coin left and the machine will take nothing else.
After breakfast Fran went for a walk with a mission to get more euro coins. Being Sunday, almost nothing was open – not even the gas station convenience store – you had to purchase gas only with a credit card outside. She passed an ice cream shop that was open but the lady said she only had one euro coin so that was a bust. There was one other place open: an outdoor beer garden – of course, this is Germany! The young man manning the cash box had eight euro coins and gladly changed them for four two euro coins so we’re back in business.
We had a very quiet night and next morning made our way to the border town of Kehl and parked at the train station at no charge. Of course, there are no services. We went for a walk to the McDonald’s for Wifi and then chilled the rest of the day. It rained for a while, sometimes very hard and then it was dry overnight.
We passed through one tunnel today.
Tuesday, morning we caught the train across the Rhine into Strasbourg, France so as not to have to pay for parking there. (details in next post) and upon returning we crossed into France.
In Southern Germany we drove a total of 694 km / 431 mi.
Fun facts about Germany will come when we leave Germany for the last time….