Just in time for Dan and my third Oktoberfest, here is my take on the greatest beerfest in all of the world! We will be there the second week and are also attending the Cannstatter Volksfest in Stuttgart! Prost!
In September, Dan and I embarked on Eurotrip2014 – an eleven day trip to Hiedelberg, Germany, Munich, Germany (our biennial Oktoberfest trip!), Hallstatt, Austria and Salzburg, Austria with his brother, Craig, and our friend, Pryor. We hosteled it up and traveled by train – just like college…kind of. So much fun!!
Our first stop was Heidelberg, Germany for two days and two nights. Heidelberg is a town on the River Neckar in South-West Germany, about an hour from Frankfurt and three hours from Munch. It is in the Baden-Wurttemberg state, has a large university and is right in German wine country! Because so many people have asked, I will go ahead and tell you that I choose to weekend in Heidelberg first due to its proximity to the Frankfurt airport and Munich, and then due to the castle and generally hearing that the town made for a nice stop. The main focus of Eurotrip2014 was obviously Oktoberfest, but I wanted to see another town in Germany, as well, and Heidelberg fit the bill! Mark Twain’s review didn’t hurt either!
After settling in and checking into our sweet hostel, Lotte – The Backpackers (it was seriously an awesome place to stay and so inexpensive), we went straight to Heidelberg Castle – the one must-see attraction in Heidelberg. The Castle has gorgeous views of the city. We took the guided English tour, which allowed us to see the Castle’s interior and gave us the history of the castle.
After touring the interior and the outdoor grounds, we stopped for a wine tasting at the Great Tun, aka the largest wine vat in the world, which just happens to be in Heidelberg Castle. Viewing the Great Tun is included with your castle ticket and a wine bar has been set up next to the Great Tun offering wine flights at a great price. Three heavy pours of local wine for €7!
After our wine, we made our way down from the Castle and walked across the Alt Brücke to the Philosopher’s Walk to try to catch the Castle at sunset. As promised, the Philosopher’s Walk had some great views, although I am not sure the views are any better at sunset.
For dinner on our first night, we dined at Dorfschänke, which was very close to the end of the Philosopher’s Walk (or beginning) in the New Town. This was our first real meal of the trip, and it was so delicious!! Their speciality is Flamkuchen, a local pizza-type dish in sweet and savory. We tried both! YUM!
We got really lucky the next day – it was scheduled to rain, but it turned out to be a perfect day – sunny and in the seventies! Heidelberg is such a gorgeous town. Beautiful sceneray, beautiful flowers everywhere. We took some great pictures while strolling through the town!
We started the day at Cafe Gundel for coffee and breakfast (well, cake).
After breakfast, we toured the the Church of the Holy Spirit, which, aside from the Castle is the centerpiece of the town. There is a little market near the church on saturdays, but we slept through it… We went stright up the Church’s bell tower to take in the town views from the top. The walk to the bell tower was steep and very narrow, but the views were lovely. Totally worth the €3! We also checked out the inside of the Church, which dates to the 1400s and is loaded with history and rotating art displays.
After touring the Church of the Holy Spirit, we spent the rest of the day shopping in the Altstadt. Some of our favorite finds were: Schneeballin (a round dessert from a few towns over), local beers at Brauhaus Vetter and Kulturbrauerei and the gummy bear stores!
Schneeballen! I had the champagne one!
Gummy window displays! A cake, soccer game and Oktoberfest-themed gummies!
We also visited the Heidelberg Monkey near the Alte Brücke. Touching it is supposed to bring good luck or something like that…It just seemed like a dirty monkey to me. We all took pictures, but its really just a tourist trap.
And, finally, one last picture of the castle at night! Until next time, Heidelberg!! We had such a great time!
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).
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!
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).
All in all, this restaurant was so delicious I would recommend it to anyone in Heidelberg!
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Notes – When we visited, the crowd seemed to be mostly locals. I would recommend calling ahead for a reservation in busy season.
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.
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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Cafe Gundel is a lovely little bakery in Heidelberg, very close to the stairs/funicular to the castle. The first thing you will notice its its dreamy window display! So pretty! I had to stop in! To order at Cafe Gundel, you simply walk in and order from the small bakery counter. Everyone spoke perfect English. Cafe Gundel serves breads, sandwiches, quiche, and all sorts of desserty goodness. You can pay at the counter and take it to go, or you can sit in the adjoining, table-service dining room (inside only, outside is a different restaurant…don’t make that mistake). If you decide to eat-in, the bakery counter will give you a small ticket that you take to a table of your choice. A waitress will be around shortly to take your drink order, and she will bring your bakery goods with your drink. For my visit, I ordered a cappuccino and a fabulous blueberry cake – for breakfast! Oh, vacation! Dan ordered the quiche, and I had to try a bite. It was also very good (although much less exciting).
Craig ordered an interesting sweet for breakfast. He ordered a Heidelberg speciality – a chocolate square with layers of chocolate on the inside and an edible stencil of the castle on the top. YUM! What a great spot for a quick, inexpensive meal!