Germany and Alsace was awesome! I’d wanted to see Germany for a really long time, and it was great to finally see it. My first real pen pal was a German girl I bunked with at Space Camp (yes, I’ve been a massive dork my entire life). Talking to her about life in Germany was totally fascinating, and it made me want to go. Also, my dad’s side of the family is German, and I’ve always had an interest in family history and origins. We did drive through the part of Germany where my family comes from, and it was cool. It made me wonder why my ancestors ever left!

We started the trip in Munich, and it ended up being one of my favorite cities in the world. The food is a bit heavy and meaty for my tastes, but the beer was fantastic. Luckily, we stayed busy walking and biking around the city to burn off the excess caloric intake! There was so much history, beautiful architecture, and green space. We rented bikes one day and biked to the western edge of the city to see Nymphenburg Palace, and then to the Olympic Park and the English Garden. The weather was mostly good, save for a few rainy hours on our first day there. The people were also incredibly lively and friendly, which was totally contrary to what I’d heard about Germans. On our last night in Munich, we ended up in some random tiny bar with a bunch of middle-aged Germans with whom we ended up singing and dancing. Let’s just say our activities were fueled by at least a little bit of alcohol.

After 3 days in Munich, we rented a car and drove to Strasbourg. It’s a lovely old city with great food and architecture, and it was nice to break out my somewhat rusty French. Luckily, things came back to me quickly. It really came in handy when we spent time in the smaller Alsatian villages later on in the trip. We took a riverboat trip through Strasbourg, visited the cathedral, drank amazing beer and wine, ate our weight in tarte flambée, and visited museums.

From Strasbourg, we went to Obernai and then to Eguisheim, both of them small towns along the Route des Vins in Alsace. The bulk of the wine produced there is Riesling and Gewurztraminer, and it’s quite good. Eguisheim in particular really captured our hearts. The pictures we took there (forthcoming) were really stunning. It made a good base where we could hike through the hilly vineyards or take small day trips to other cities in Alsace.

We then drove on to the Mosel Valley, dropping our car off in Koblenz and taking the train to a small town called Cochem. Cochem is right on the Mosel River, and was perhaps our favorite stop on the trip. In three nights there, we ate more amazing food, drank more amazing wines, took two long bike trips (one day to Moselkern and Burg Eltz, the other to Beilstein), and explored the town of Cochem. The views in this town were incredible. To put it in perspective, we had a full view of the castle perched above Cochem from our bathroom and bedroom windows. The front windows looked out over the Mosel River and the surrounding vineyards. One could do worse!

From Cochem, we took the train to Frankfurt so that we could make an easy getaway the next morning. Initially, we’d expected Frankfurt to be somewhat of a disappointment, but it was actually a nice place to spend a night. The art museum by the river is pretty nice, there’s a nice cathedral, and the more residential neighborhoods are leafy and charming. We had dinner at an apple wine pub, and the food definitely didn’t disappoint. At our table was a very interesting German guy who spoke fluent English, and our conversation lasted for nearly 2 hours.

I’m already hoping to go back again, with a few new sights in mind and repeat visits to others. We managed to have a fun and relatively affordable trip that provided just the right balance of fun and relaxation.