I’m just back from two very enjoyable weeks in Southern Germany. This time, we travelled through France; starting in Cherbourg and passing by Rouen, Paris, Metz, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe and Stuttgart: a journey of 13 hours. On the way we encountered violent rainstorms, beautiful rainbows and a wonderful “supermoon” as it rose over the fields of Verdun.
A big highlight of the trip was our trip to the Mercedes Benz Museum in Stuttgart. It’s a wonderful place to go, even if you are not a big car lover. Daimler AG has an amazing history. In 1885, they developed the first automobile: a contraption that looks more like a horse carriage than a car; and in short order they were manufacturing everything from motorcycles, to tramcars, busses, vans and trucks. It’s a company that is still going strong after 130 years: an incredible achievement.
Next up was Ulm, the birthplace of Albert Einstein and the city with the world’s tallest steeple, the view from which is superb, if a little unnerving. As for Einstein, his family left Ulm while he was still a baby and the apartment itself was destroyed in the War. All that remains of Bahnhofstrasse 20 is a nondescript memorial not far from the railway station.
A day later we were relaxing by the shores of Lake Constance, the great alpine lake shared with Austria and Switzerland. We spent the day between Überlingen and Meersburg, finally taking a ferry back to Friedrichshafen. Above us, a lonely Zeppelin meandered across the lake – a relic of a bygone era.
The weekend gave me a chance to go up in a glider: taking off from Berneck, high in the Swabian Alps. It was wonderful, and not a bit uncomfortable. In Germany, kids as young as 14 can get a gliding license. It’s often the first stop on the way to becoming a pilot.
Next up was Nuremberg, a city of great fascination to a history enthusiast like me. It was here where Hitler’s great rallies were staged, and here where the remnants of his monstrous regime were picked apart for all the world to see: his henchmen called to account for their crimes. I wish I could have spent more time here, as the city itself has so much to offer, from a grand medieval castle to a fascinating transport museum among many other things. Next time.
The next day I went to Tübingen, a famous university city just south of Stuttgart, home to many intellectual heavyweights such as Kepler, Hegel and Alzheimer. With its many alleyways, nooks and crannys, it’s wonderfully picturesque and captivating.
And then it was over and I was driving back across the German and French countrysides, heading once again for home. The night we left Cherbourg, I caught the most arresting sunset of my life to date. A fitting ending to an marvellous trip.