A Weekend in Salzburg, Austria – September 2014

The last stop of Eurotrip2014 was Salzburg, Austria! Salzburg has long been on my travel wish list, and I was very happy to travel here!

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We rented an apartment in Apartment City, which was a great location just off the Getreidegasse, between the Altstadt and the University area.  Gorgeous views from the apartment!  In addition to the views, there was a beautiful old church that turned into what appeared to be a drug-fuled, underage rave on Friday…luckily it stopped at midnight, and went right back to a church on Sunday morning!  #clubchurch

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We arrived on a Friday night, and our first stop was Augustiner Bräu Mülln – also long on my wish list!  Augustiner Bräu is a brewery and beer hall, serving delicious, delicious beer and housing a variety of stalls selling food.

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On our first full day, we toured all of Salzburg’s best sites, including the Mirabell Palace Gardens, Mozart Square and residences, the Salzburg Cathedral and the Festung Hohensalzburg.

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We also stopped for coffee, breakfast and the famous Sacher Torte at Cafe Sacher.  The cake was decadent!  Bucketlist  – check!

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After hitting the “must see” list, it was finally time for shopping on the Getreidegasse!  The Getreidegasse is a pedestrian-only shopping street abounding with international chain stores, restaurants and tourist shops selling Mozart balls and countless other Mozart paraphernalia. In addition, to shopping, Getreidegasses is quite picturesque, as all of the stores, including the McDonalds, have metal signs displaying a picture of their wares, harking back to the time when the masses were illerate.  The street was so picturesque, I returned early Sunday morning to take pictures without the crowds.

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My favorite shop on Getreidegasse was a small shop called Spirtuosen Sporer.  Sporer is a family-owned liquer store, selling countless varieties of flavored brandy and schnapps – from pine to edelweiss to blackberry – since 1903.  We tried a variety of samples and all bought bottles to take home.  Plan accordingly, Sporer is closed on Sunday and closes at 5 on Saturday.

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Later that evening, we dined at a delicious restaurant – Bärenwirt.  his may have been the best schnitzel I had on the trip (close with my Hallstatt schnitzel), and this was certainly our best meal in Salzburg.  Our waitress spoke perfect English and was extremely friendly.  The mean ended with a complementary bowl of gummy bears!

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Our final day (SAD), began with a stroll down an empty Getreidegasse for pictures and then a visit to the famous Cafe Tomaselli for some truly delicious coffee!

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After, we set out for what was one of the most fun events of the trip!  We walked about 30 minutes to the Stiegl-Brauwelt, or the Stiegl brewery, for a brewery tour!  This is truly a great brewery tour and it is one of the best I have ever taken.  The brewery also has a restaurant, beer garden and a fabulous giftshop!

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We ended the trip on a touristy note by a Mozart dinner concert at the Restaurant St. Peter Stiftskeller.  The performance was very good and the location was gorgeous.  A good way to end the trip!

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I was very sad to leave, but we had a great time in Salzburg!

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24 Hours in Hallstatt, Austria – September 2014

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Hallstatt, Austria was our third stop of Eurotrip2014, and Hallstatt was quite possibly my favorite place on the trip!  Hallstatt is a tiny village in the Salzkammergut lake district in the middle of Austria, historically known for salt production, and recently known for tourism (and for the knock-off replica in China).  I added Hallstatt to our iteniary based on a picture that I saw two years ago on CNN’s travel photo of the day – seriously.  Random, but Hallstatt totally lived up to my expectations.

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Our trip was quite short – only 24 hours – and it took some effort to get here.  Specifically, we left Munich around 1 p.m. and took the train to Salzburg (about 2 hours).  From Salzburg, we took a different train to Attnang-Puchheim (about 50 minutes), where we changed again to a local (read: slow) train to Hallstatt.  Once at the Hallstatt train station, we took a boat, the Stefanie, across the lake to the town of Hallstatt.  This took a grand total of about six hours.  Hallstatt was worth it, but the trip can be difficult.

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We arrived just as it was getting dark.  The boat ride across the lake was beautiful, and I think we all fell in love with Hallstatt on that boat ride.  We found our hotel, Gasthof Bergfried, pretty easily, checked in and set off for one of the best dinners of the trip!  Note – if you arrive late (like after 6:30) call your hotel and let them know.  Hallstatt is very much a morning/day town and most everything except restaurants close at night.  We called ahead and our hotel left directions and keys to the room for us.

Now, on to my favorite dinner of the trip!  We dined at Gasthof Zauner based on TripAdvisor recommendations.  It was delicious.  The meal started with complementary bread with two butteresque spreads – a potato-based one and a pimento cheesy one!  For mains, I ordered my favorite, the schwineschnitzel, which is pork schnitzel.  The schnitzel was so, so declicious here.  YUM!! Everyone else got pork medallions in gorgonzala sauce, which was also decision, but everyone agreed that mine was the best!  For dessert, we split the famous (and HUGE) Salzburg dessert, the Salzburger Nockerl.

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Before dinner, we stopped by the local Spar (a European grocery chain), which must be the best small grocery store in the world!  The Spar had a great selection of souvenirs, Austrian candy (including Mozart balls for less than in Salzburg), bacon-wrapped hotdogs  and a wine bar with Austrian wine (who knew?!).  Yes, a wine bar!  I lost Dan for a few minutes, and I found him at the wine bar!  The owners were really nice, too!

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For our only day in Hallstatt, we woke up early to head up to Rudolfsturm – where my CNN picture was taken!  Note, Rudolfsturm is the only lookout point in Hallstatt, but there are several more a short bus ride away.  Make sure you know what you are looking for before getting on a bus!

Rudolfsturm is directly above Hallstatt, very close to the entrance of the salt mine (which we skipped).  To get to Rudolfsturm, you take a funicular to the top of the mountain.

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The entrance is right behind our hotel, Gasthof Berfried, and you can follow the “salt mine guy” (above) to the funicular.  To go to the salt mine, continue following the “salt mine guy,” other wise head right up to the Rudolfsturm.  Rudolfstrum has an awesome lookout point with great views!  For an awesome picture, wait for the tourists to clear out (it will happen!) and take a picture of just yourself at the tip of the lookout!

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Rudlofsturm also has a restaurant and outdoor beer garden/tables.  When we went the outdoor dining area/beer garden was closed for food due to bad weather, so we just had drinks outside.  Prices were pretty reasonable!  My attempts at recreating my CNN photo are below!  The middle one isn’t bad!

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After visiting Rudolfsturm, we walked around town, tried the local Hallstatt Bier, shopped and had a great day!

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LOGISTICS

Rudolfsturm

Salzbergstraße 1

4830 Hallstatt • Austria

Phone: +43 (0)6136/8811-0

info@rudolfsturmhallstatt.at

Stiegl-Brauwelt

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On our last day in Salzburg, we took a tour of the Stiegl Brewery!  This was such a fun experience, and I am so glad that we did it.

The brewery is about a 30 minute walk from the Altstadt.  We used the GPS on my phone to ensure we were on the right track, and the walk was much, much easier that I anticipated.  Actually, I had worried about this activity since I started planning our trip.  It was very difficult to find much information on the brewery in English on the internet, or in other blogs or travel books.  In any case, it worked out great!

We called the morning of and confirmed the time of the English tour, which was at 14:00 when we visited, and I think there is only one English tour a day.  Upon arrival, we went into the giftshop and purchased tickets for the tour (€11,00/person).  Easy!  Before the tour, we had a quick lunch in the restaurant and checked out the grounds, including Stiegl’s own maypole.  So cool!

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The tour started with a very “euro” 360 movie, proceeded through the making of beer and ended in the Stiegl museum.  The tour was great and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves beer, or who is in the area and has not had a chance to tour a brewery, since beer is such a part of the culture in this part of the world.  The tour ended with a tasting of three beers of your choice, which equated to a little over a 1/2 liter of beer, and a free gift.  For our gift, we had the choice of another beer to take home (in a bottle), a magnet or a lapel pin.

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The three beer sampler was served in the outdoor beer garden, where Dan finally got to smoke his Cuban!  We left around 16:30, and the entire event lasted about four and a half not-rushed-at-all hours.

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LOGISTICS

Sitgel-Brauwelt

Bräuhausstraße 9

5020 Salzburg

Tel. +43 (0)662-8387-1492

The brewery is open on Sunday.

The website seems to have improved A LOT from when I was researching this.  I think they may have read my comment card!

Bärenwirt Salzburg

In Salzburg, we dined at a delicious restaurant a short walk from our apartment – Bärenwirt.  This restaurant is just up the hill from the Altstadt on the way to Augustiner Bräu.  We walked by this restaurant earlier in our trip, and we were so glad that we returned!  Dan and I dined on pumpkin soup, a meat platter, schweinschnitzel and German chocolate cake. YUM!! This may have been the best schnitzel I had on the trip (close with my Hallstatt schnitzel), and this was certainly our best meal in Salzburg.  Our waitress spoke perfect English and was extremely friendly. The meal ended with a complementary bowl of gummy bears – so cute!  When the waitress saw that we were excited about the gummy bears, she gave us some extras in a to go bag!

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Bärenwirt also claims to have “the best friend chicken.” Craig tried it, and he seemed to like it.  Growing up in Virginia, it was hard for me to get on board with this.  However, it seemed like a valiant attempt.

LOGISTICS

Bärenwirt Salzburg

Müllner Hauptstraße 8

5020 Salzburg

Tel +43 (0)662 422 404

We didn’t make a reservation and were able to walk-in around 8 on a Saturday.

Munich During Oktoberfest – Eurotrip 2014

The second stop on Eurotrip2014 was Munich, Germany (or München, in German) for Oktoberfest, and just because we love Munich!  Munich is the capital and largest city in the State of Bavaria in the South of Germany.  Munich (and the whole of Bavaria) has a very specific culture, and is very proud of that culture. Think beer, leiderhosen, pretzels – that’s Bavarian!  This was my third trip to Munich, and I was very excited to hit a few places that have long been on my wish list, but that I had not previously had time to visit.

Visiting Munich during Oktoberfest is a beast in itself.  Munich is extremely crowded and much of the city is focused on Oktoberfest – meaning some attractions will be closed all together, such as tours of the major Munich breweries, or on certain, unspecified days (to allow its employees to enjoy Oktoberfest with family & friends).  Weekends are the most crowded.  When we visited, we got stuck walking to our hotel for about an hour while the Costume and Rifleman’s Parade passed.  It was cool to see, but very unexpected.  Most attractions, aside from the brewery tours, will be open for most of Oktoberfest, so if you keep a flexible attitude you will be fine.  Also, hotels book up extremely early (AT LEAST 6 months in advance).  We booked our hotel in February.  Be guided accordingly.  You DO NOT want to be stuck at Oktoberfest without a place to stay!  I also recommend confirming the opening hours of all must see attractions, tours, etc. before leaving home and buying transportation before arriving in Munich.  Trains, planes and buses book up, too!

Enough warning, Munich is a great city anytime, and especially during Oktoberfest!  Per usual, our first stop was the Hofbräuhaus for lunch and beer!  Hofbräu is one of the large six breweries in Munich (along with Löwenbräu, Augustinerbräu, Paulaner, Hacker-Paschor and Spaten), and certainly the most famous in the US.  Dan is a big fan of the Hofbräuhaus because they have a lot of pork dishes that are not very expensive.  Actually, none of the food at Hofbräu is very expensive – its a solid budget option.

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We had planned to go shopping after lunch, but all of the shops were closed on Sunday (take note – all shops in Munich are closed on Sunday).  Instead, we checked out another famous beer hall, Augusinerbräu, which is also one of the big six Munich breweries.  This was my first visit to Augustiner and I really enjoyed it.  Augustiner had an atmosphere similar to Hofbräu, but was decidely less touristy.  We drank beers, listened to the band and made some new friends.  After Augustiner, we went to bed to prepare for Oktoberfest!

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Our other non-Oktoberfest day in Munich  was dedicated to the city and its history.  First up was one of my favorite places in Munich, the Viktualienmarkt.  The Viktualienmarkt is a huge, open-air market in the center of Munich.  Its open everyday and contains stalls selling crafts, food, wine, beer, candy, you name it.  We shopped around for a bit and lunched on traditional Bavarian food & fancy focaccia sandwiches.  The Viktualienmarkt is free to visit and it makes for great souvenir shopping and eating!

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After lunch, we had a busy afternoon, two tours and the Residenz…ready, set, go!  First up was Sandemans Free Walking Tour, which is a free, three hour tour of Munich that hits all the highlights, including Frauenkirche (inside & outside below, including the Devil’s footprint!), and gives a very decent historical overview. I  did this tour on one other occasion and it was good both times.  You can make reservations online.  Also, you should tip your guides!!  We tipped €10/person, but thats up to your discretion.

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We left the tour after about an hour and a half to tour the Residenz Museum.  The Residenz museum is the former palace of the wealthy Wittelsbach family, who ruled Munich for many, many years (huge influence!).  There are many rooms and gardens to visit, and you could really spend hours here!  We walked through the palace rooms, but regrettably did not see the Cuvilliés Theater or the Treasury.  I guess that will have to wait to 2016!  My favorite rooms were the Ancestral Gallery and the Antiquarium (below).  I also enjoyed the outdoor gardens, which are free!

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After rushing through the Residenz, we had a second tour at 5:00 with Mike’s Bike Tours (adjourned from Sunday due to rain…).  The tour started at 5:00, lasted about 2.5 hours and visited a few places that I had been wanting to see, namely the Munich surfers and the English Garden.  I had heard a lot about this tour, and was really excited to take it, but it was not that great and I do not think I would recommend it or take it again.  The surfers were really cool, though!

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Dan hates bike tours…191

Pryor loves bike tour guides…

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We ended the evening at the Residenz Weinstube, as recommended by our Mike’s Bike Tour Guide.  A good choice for inexpensive Bavarian fare!

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Here are some final, favorite pictures of Munich.  See you in 2016!

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Note – this post only pertains to Munich during Oktoberfest – not the actual Oktoberfest.  Stay tuned for my Oktoberfest post!

Have you been to Munich?  What were your favorite things to do and eat?  Any great day trips?

Philosopher’s Walk

Upon recommendation from our Heidelberg Castle tour guide, we went directly to the Philosopher’s Walk after visiting the Castle and town to try to catch the Castle at sunset from the Walk.

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The Philosopher’s Walk is a well-mainained path that runs from the newer part of town and ends with steep stairs down to the Alte Brücke (or you can turnaround if you are mobility inclined, or just want to avoid the steps!).  Our castle tour guide recommended starting the tour in the newer part of town so that we would be looking at the castle the entire walk (and not back at the castle), but we started at the Alte Brücke, because it was closer to the Castle, and ended in the new town, very close to our dinner spot – Dorfschänke!

The stairs near the Alte Brücke are not scary (I hate heights!) or that tough, but it was steep – bring water.  At the top of the hill, there are great views of the Castle and the old town.  The path is pretty level after the hill and ends in the new part of down after walking by some gorgeous homes.

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The Philosopher’s Walk is entirely free.  However, it is not worth it at all if it is raining.  I would allow at least an hour for the entire Philosopher’s Walk.

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Philosopher’s Walk

Heidelberg Breweries

Dan and I love beer.  And, wherever we go, I always research local breweries for us to visit.  There are two in Heidelberg (that I could find): Brauhaus Vetter and Kulturbrauerei.  We tried both on a Saturday afternoon.

Our first stop was Brahaus Vetter – home to the world’s once strongest beer, the Vetter 33.  Vetter is on the right side (walking toward the bridge) of the main street connecting the Church of the Holy Spirit and the Alt Brücke.   It was pretty easy to find.  Vetter has an inside bar and seating area and outdoor tables along the street.  There is no beer garden per se.  We sat inside as all of the outdoor seats were full.  Bummer!  Vetter served about 4-5 beers on tap and our waitress explained each to us in detail in English.  I ordered a half-liter of the Oktoberfest.  It was very good, and tasted like an oktoberfest beer should.  Dan ordered the Vetter 33, which is not nearly as strong as its made out to be.  The Vetter 33 is served in a snifter type glass and is very dark.  Dan liked it, but I did not!

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We also ordered a round of snacks at Vetter.  Dan ordered the “game” sausage and I ordered the fried cheese with cranberry sauce (so predictable).  Both dishes were ok.  However, the potato salad served with the sausages was execellent!  Our waitress was really nice, and even let us take our water glass to go (they charged for all water) as long as we promised to return it, which we did.  If you really want to purchase a glass, Vetter sells a variety of glasswear with their logo.  I purchased a half-liter stein to take home.  Great souvenir.

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After Vetter, we walked about seven minutes toward the castle to Kulturbrauerei.  Kulturbrauerei is a little more tucked away; it is located down a side street past the castle and the Red Ox Inn.  We found it pretty easily, but were using the GPS on my phone…

Kulterbrauerei is attached to a hotel and has a large outdoor beer garden and a large indoor space.  Kultur appeared to be having a wedding reception while we were there, so only a few of the outdoor tables were open to the public.  I guess we got lucky that any were open!  Like Vetter, Kultur had about 4 beers to choose from, but the waitress was not good at explaining them to us.  I ended up trying their “seasonal,” which was simply descirbed as “seasonal” and nothing more.  We asked. Several times.  It ended up being a marzan.  The beer was ok, but I really don’t like marzan style beers.  I was hoping for another Oktoberfest!

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In the end, we spent a fun afternoon at these two breweries.  The beer at Vetter was more my style, but I preferred to drink in the beer garden at Kulturbrauerei.  I guess you have to try them both!

In addition to these two breweries, the town if full of pubs and beer gardens serving generic beer, localish beer, cokctails and local wine.

Have you been to Heidelberg?  What were your favorite beer spots??

LOGISTICS

Brauhaus Vetter

Steingasse 9 – Im Schöneck

69117 Heidelberg

Tel: 06221/165850

Kulturbrauerei

Leyergasse 6

69117 Heidelberg

Tel.: +49 6221 502980

Schloss Heidelberg

Our first stop in Heidelberg was Schloss Heidelberg, or Heidelberg Castle in English!  We got really lucky.  It was supposed to rain, but when we arrived it was warm and sunny.  We went right up to the Castle as soon as we checked in to our hostel, just in case the weather changed.  I would recommend doing the same; if rain is forecasted, take advantage of any sun to visit the Castle, as its largely open air.

The Castle is located above the Altstadt, and there are two ways to get up to the castle – walk or take the funicular (an elevator/train that goes up the side of the mountain…err, hill).  We opted to walk.  The walkway is paved and consists of a series of steps.  I had to make a stop on the way up to catch my breath (and I blame the jet-lag/dehydration from the free trans-atlantic vino…), but it wasn’t a bad walk.  In reality, the walk is steep and not recommended for the mobility impaired, but it is most certainly doable for able-bodied adults.  The finicular costs €6 and includes admission to the castle grounds, so its effectively free.  Take your pick!

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When you get to the top, you can walk around the outskirts of the castle for free, but to enter into the true castle “grounds” and/or the interior of the castle, you have to buy a ticket.  You can purchase the tickets on the spot from the gift shop at the top of the hill.

While the castle is “ruined,” I thought it was in pretty good shape and there is a lot to see!  There are two options to see the actual castle – € 6 to walk around the castle grounds (included with funicular ticket) or €10 to take a guided tour of the interior AND walk around the grounds.  We decided to take the English tour of the castle, which started at quarter-past every hour.  Our main motivation was to see the interior, and this tour is the only way to see the interior of the castle.  The tour lasted about an hour.  It was good.  The guide told a lot of history about the castle.  It was also interesting to see some of the interior rooms – they were decorated nicely and it shed some light on the Castle’s history.  I would certainly recommend the tour, but I wouldn’t consider it a “must do,” especially if you are short on time or cash.  Note – there are no pictures allowed in the castle interior.

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After our tour, we went to see the Great Tun, which is the largest wine vat in the world.  The Wine Vat was HUGE and it used to be filled with a mixture of different types of local wine – yuck!  Note – there are two large wine vats, make sure you make it past the first one to see the really large, old wine vat!  There is also a wine bar right next to the Great Tun selling local wine and wine flights at a very low cost.  For example, I ordered a local red wine flight for €7.  The pours were very heavy and the bar tender explained each type of wine in the flight.  She even asked us about our preferences when putting together the wine flight.  What a great deal!  Craig had a reisling flight, which he enjoyed as well.  The wine bar also sold glühwein (a spied wine, served on ice this day, but usually warm) and a souvenir tasting glass (filled with wine for €3), which we all had to have!

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We decided to try to make the Philosopher’s Walk around sunset, per our tour guide’s recommendation, so we missed the Apothecary Museum (located in the castle grounds with free admission).  When walking out of the Castle, be sure to leave time to take in the great views from the Castle. We must have taken 100 pictures of the town.  Such a gorgeous part of Germany!

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LOGISTICS

Heidelberg Palace

69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Some notes – there is a cafe or two on the castle grounds serving snacks/lunch.   I recommend taking some water with you to the castle.  There is a lot of walking.  You do not need reservations for the cafes on site or the wine bar at the Great Tun.  It’s all very casual.

Dorfschänke

Dorfschänke was our first real meal of the Eurotrip2014, and it was so delicious!!  It remains a strong contender for best meal of the trip!

The restaurant is located in the new part of town, only a few blocks from where the Philosopher’s Walk ends (or begins…depending on where you start…we started the Philosopher’s Walk at the bridge end and ended just in time for dinner near Dorfschänke).

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We did not have a reservation, and we were immediately seated outside at our request.  Our waiver spoke perfect English and was very helpful in explaining the menu to us and their specialities.  Dorfschänke’s main speciality is Flammkuchen, which is a pizza-type meal that comes in savory and sweet flavors.  Yum!

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We started with local beers that came from a town about 15 kilometers away.  For dinner, Pryor and I split the savory flammkuchen, which was topped with tomatoes, bacon, veggies and cheese – and probably a few other delicious things.  It was AMAZING!  We also split a local pasta stuffed with cheese.  Unfortunately, we did not get a picture.  But, believe me, it was also amazing!  Dan and Craig ordered the cordon bleu schnitzel and they seemed happy.  For dessert, we split the sweet flammkuchen (pictured above).

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All in all, this restaurant was so delicious  I would recommend it to anyone in Heidelberg!

LOGISTICS

Dorfschänke

Lutherstr. 14

69120 Heidelberg-Neuenheim

0 62 21 – 41 90 41

Notes – When we visited, the crowd seemed to be mostly locals.  I would recommend calling ahead for a reservation in busy season.

Schnitzelbank

We dined at Schnitzelbank on our final night in Heidelberg.  Schnitzelbank is a small restaurant/wine bar in the Altstadt. It is tiny (but oh so charming), so make a reservation. We called the day of and got their final reservation. The specialty is obviously schnitzel! They have schnitzel in veal, pork, chicken and turkey. I ordered the pork in a mushroom sauce and it was very tasty. I also tried the turkey schnitzel in a dijon sauce, and that was tasty, as well (but also not fried – booooo). Dan ordered the schnitzel cordon bleu. That was fried and delicious; Dan won the dinner game!  All of the portions were big and came with some delicious sides.

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Schnitzelbank is a also a weinstube (a wine bar) with local wine von fass (on tap!)! Schnitzelbank had an extensive wine list and the waiter – who spoke great English – helped us choose some delicious, local wines! To my lovely surprise, reisling can be dry, and red (who would have known?!), and Germany makes some good, red wines that are not super sweet! If you are in the Heidelberg area, you should definitely check out a weinstube! Wine seemed more important to the people here than beer (a change from Bavaria!), and we were happy to participate in the tradition.

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LOGISTICS

Weinstube Schnitzelbank

Bauamtsgasse 7

69117 Heidelberg

+49 6221 21189