6,500-kilometers from our home in southern France to the top of Germany, back down to the bottom with many stops in between, then home through the French Alps.

Lindenfels in the Odenwald, an old favorite.

We were happy to be back in Deutschland where we lived and worked for many, many years.  We saw old friends.  We made new friends. We visited old haunts and new places. And, we enjoyed culinary favorites – great beer and wurst.

German pretzel, bratwurst and sauerkraut — the best!
Too many days like this.

The down side:  weather (mainly gray) and traffic.  We moved to France for sunshine, and after a month of mainly depressing, grim weather, I think we made the right decision—despite sweltering last summer.  On those legendary autobahns with sections where there is no speed limit, we encountered too many “staus” (traffic jams).

No speeding on this autobahn.

First stop: two towns in northern Germany from whence my ancestors hailed long ago:  Cloppenburg and Vechta.  We were not overwhelmed with either.  We could not even find a Gasthaus for a beer and bratwurst in Cloppenburg, only pizzerias and all manner of ethnic restaurants. Unfortunately this seems to be the trend throughout the country.

Bremen’s historic market place, above, and the Town Hall, below, sparkling at night.

blog.bremenOn to Bremen which is overwhelming with its fairytale perfect Markt Platz.  We stopped in Bremerhaven to check out its famous Emigration Center and fascinating museum.  We used their computers for some ancestor research. One could spend hours, days, on this project.

The 110-meter high glass façade of the Elbphilharmonie tops the brick block of an historic quayside warehouse.

We moved on to Hamburg which has grabbed headlines worldwide with its glittering new landmark, the Elbphilharmonie, an astonishing structure which has been in the works for more than 13 years, grossly surpassed cost estimates with a final price tag of $843 million, and has sold out the 2,150 seats for each performance in its Grand Hall for more than a year.


Hamburg, Germany’s second largest city and largest port, is all about water. The open waters of the North Sea are 65 miles from the maritime city, but it’s water that imbues the city with a distinctive, enticing flair.  We took a harbor cruise, and a cruise on the city’s two lakes, the Binnenalster (Inner Alster) and Aussenalster. (Outer Alster).blog.nsea3

To experience the North Sea, we traveled on to the coastal resort, St. Peter Ording.  I had hoped we could bike along the dikes.  Rain.  Downpours. No biking for us. However, between the deluges we managed a few invigorating beach walks.  The North Sea winds make the Mistral seem like a gentle breeze.


Wismar and Stralsund, two cities on the Baltic in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (part of the former East Germany), were next on our agenda.  Both are medieval treasures which were about to crumble before reunification.  They are now restored

Architectural treasures in Stralsund.

jewels.  “But, it is thanks to our (western German) money,” a friend in Stuttgart reminded me.   Wismar’s ancient churches are a marvel.  Stralsund has a wonderful new Ozeaneum musem, in addition to its antique structures.

Wismar’s gabled facades are popular with filmmakers.

I will be writing articles for the magazine German Life on many of the places we visited, including an article, “Lodging in Noble Homes.”  These are homes still occupied by royalty, friendly nobles whom you can meet, even dine with.  We stayed at three such homes/castles, and had delightful times with the owners, all of whom encounter monumental expenses to keep their royal residences intact.  Income from tourists helps with expenses.

Schloss Luehburg in northern Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. After reunification, the castle which had been seized by the East German government, was purchased by a private owner. Below, Mrs. Calsow (von Bassewitz) bought back the home of her ancestors in 2010. More info:
Luehburg Schloss owners Wolf Christian and Dorothee Calsow (Duchess von Bassewitz) with faithful friends. She gave up the title when she married.
Schloss Ludwigseck near Bad Hersfeld in central Germany (Hessen), has been in the von Gilsa family since the 15th century. More info:
Duchess Tanja and Duke Thilo von und zu Gilsa live in Schloss Ludwigseck with their four children, two castle dogs and cats.
Schloss Hohenstadt, east of Stuttgart, has been in the von Adelmann family for almost 500 years.  More info:
American Duchess Anne von Adelmann gained her title when marrying Duke Reinhard. Here with their two  young daughters.  They also have two castle dogs.

More photos from Germany below:

We had a tour of Stuttgart’s controversial, monumental building site: Stuttgart 21 which aims to put the city’s train tracks underground.
Distant relatives in Stralsund?  Koester is my maiden name.  The owner was not impressed.
Strandkorb (beach basket) offers refuge from those fierce North Sea winds.
Hamburg’s city hall.
Visiting old friends in Darmstadt.
And old friends in Auerbach.
Plenty of interesting photo opps on the North Sea

Coming soon, the Maldives and more on Germany’s noble families and castles. If not already a Tales and Travel follower, sign up (upper right). Your address is kept private and never shared. 

Please feel free to comment.  Click below, scroll down to Leave a Reply and add your thoughts.  


23 thoughts on “SEPTEMBER IN GERMANY”

  1. Love your articles and out of all the beautiful places you visited I must say that little town of Auerbach is so special!!! Love you both and glad you had a fabulous trip!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Leah and Robert,
    See that the autobahn has become even more frightning than in 1996. Thanks for the interesting trip through Germany. Had not relialized you were of German origin

    Thanks for sharing MARLENE W.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ans thank you, Marlene. It’s a real joy to hear from you. The autobahn these days is slow — too many cars. We love Germany and are always delighted to go back. Now we are ready to go back to Africa…maybe Tanzania, one of your favorites as I recall. Greetings to Tootsie.


  3. Despite the rain, I know you and Bob had a super trip, Leah! Norm and I have really been missing Germany (and we say that from sunny Florida, lol)! This was so interesting to read, and great pix!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Despite the gray weather, I’m seeing lots of gorgeous photographs with great luminosity! Also happy to see that at least two large dogs-in-residence are de rigueur for all castles! Which means I’ve made the first steps in becoming a châtelaine! Congratulations on a lovely blog post!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Leah, I love your descriptions and photos of Germany. Such beautiful old buildings. And your photo of the traffic in Germany made me laugh. I remember when George and I drove from England to Baden-Baden and had to cope with the very fast drivers! Cheers, Jane Pickering.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to hear from you, Jane, and I am happy to know you liked the post. When there is no traffic and no speed limit, many drivers whiz by like rockets. Back in the good ole days of my youth with my precious Porsche 944, I used to drive like that too. It was thilling.


  6. Hi Leah. I enjoyed your wonderful description of your travels in Germany. My grandparents on my mother’s side came from Maas linen in Westfalia Germany . My great grandfather worked on a whaling boat out of Bremer haven. I was really pleased to see these places from where my ancestors came, but where I have never went. Thanks again. I live your Tales and Travels. We are in Prague for autumn but back to Luberon in January 2018. Hope to see you when we return. Sandra Eddy.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Always enjoy tagging along with you, this time especially impressed with the architecture! And what a special treat to stay with royalty! Good to see you both looking so well, thanks much for the journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My mother’s grandparents came from Hamburg area and I’d love to trace them back. Can’t find out anything about them! I’ve heard Germany has a good genealogy site there … On my to-do list …. Yes, pretzel looks great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure abut Hamburg, Kathy, but the Emigration Center in Bremerhaven has a research room with computers to access old records. As said, it is time consuming, but can be fascinating.


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