Recently, I embarked on a month long dream vacation, across 6 different countries in Europe as a size 28. Hopefully, my stories and advice will convince people out there of all shapes and sizes to put some miles on their passports!
Germany had always been a dream of mine as my maternal grandmother was German and convinced me to take German in high school so she’d have someone to practice with. My German, however basic, would help me along the majority of this trip as German is spoken and understood in Austria and Switzerland as well. Sometimes, just knowing a few words and phrases can excite and ingratiate the local people.
We arrived in Frankfurt mid morning, after over 15 hours in the air and one very long layover in San Francisco. We rented a car and headed to our first destination, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This medieval town is incredibly famous for being along the Romantic Road as well as being a personal favorite of travel guru, Rick Steves. The town is on a bit of a hill, and the paid parking lot is at the bottom of the hill. The walk into town is a bit of a huffer/puffer but doable for sure with breaks. There is loads of shopping and about a dozen restaurants with outdoor seating. We were there in May and the tulips were in full bloom.
Now, in one of the stores the storekeeper called me a ‘Schweinhund’ as I walked out the door. This is a severely offensive slam in German meaning “Pig-dog”. I mention it, because it was my first interaction with a German person and really broke my spirit a bit. The good news is, I went on to meet and interact with dozens of locals who all treated me with respect and kindness. My first day on a highly anticipated vacation – and I had to be name called… Wow. Not ideal, but by the end of the day I was over it (mostly). I definitely didn’t let it ruin my whole trip – because she was the miserable person at the end of the day, not me.
The majority of Germany is flat and easy to traverse. We stayed over night in Munich and did much of the city on foot. The key was getting a hotel in the center of the main areas we wanted to explore. This for me, of course, meant I was a short walk to the world famous Hofbrauhaus. I found the food here good enough and the beer quite satisfying and delicious! Seats are benches at shared tables and if you don’t seat yourself immediately, a waiter will eventually grab you and find a table in their section for you to sit at. In spite of a crappy waiter the second time we came here, this is still well worth the time and money. The atmosphere is unparalleled.
Driving in Germany was awesome. People are methodical and respectful and efficient on the road. Pass on the left and get out of the way of people going faster than you. Really, that’s it. No passive aggressive, toxic masculinity bologna to deal with. It was refreshing to give and receive mutual respect and kindness on the road, especially after 10 years of driving in Los Angeles where it’s all “Me, me, me” all of the time. I rented a full sized car as I was aware that cars in Europe are generally smaller than the cars of America. Most people have compact vehicles and I wanted to be comfortable. I ended up in a nice Volvo with plenty of space for me and my luggage.
We drove through the Black Forest in Germany and stopped in several towns including Triberg and Titisee. I did a short hike out to the famous waterfalls of Triberg and it was easy enough with a slow and steady pace. Some German Chocolate cake and one Cuckoo clock later and we left the Black Forest to spend the night in Meersburg. This was one of those towns that blew my freaking mind with its beauty. We stayed down by Lake Constance and due to shortness of time, regrettably did not visit the famous castle.
The following day I went to Neuschwantstein Castle… but that’s another blog..