I made a mistake and I was all the better for it.
What was supposed to be a short one-hour layover, turned out to be a day inside a storybook. While booking a connection back to the states, I realized there was a time gap–a large one. I was stuck in Frankfurt for 24 hours and set off to check off another item on my YOLO (You Only Live Once) list–driving on the autobahn.
It is said that the journey is half the reward. On this trip along Germany’s Romantic Road, that was never more true. Speeding along the highway, idyllic hamlets were set along rolling hills on this smooth Germany highway. And if you take the time to stop, you will step back into history and into a storybook.
The Romantic Road was Germany’s first tourist route, set up in the 1950’s to improve the economy and draw U.S. tourists. Families of American soldiers were drawn here for visits and it is now a popular route for people from all over the world.
Situated outside of Frankfurt on the way to Munich, there are many cities to see, each with its own luster. I stopped for the night at the medieval town of Rothenburg with a stay at the Romantik Hotel where the hostess was as charming as the hotel. Be prepared to pinch yourself. With streets so clean you can eat off of them and a fortress surrounding the town, you will probably never feel safer or more in awe of the Germans for their attention to detail. Every street is lined with stores that bring out your inner child: candy shops with all the colors of the rainbow, toy shops with whirling scenes and miniaturized worlds and the smell of baked goods wafting through cobble-stone streets.
Here are some other cities to explore along this historic route:
Augsburg: Fugger city, puppet theatre
Bad Mergentheim: Castle of the Teutonic Order (Deutschordenschloss)
Dinkelsbühl: historical old quarter
Füssen: Hohes Schloss Castle, St. Mang Monastery,
Nördlingen: Ries Crater Museum and Rail Museum
Pfaffenwinkel: The Wieskirche Pilgrimage Church (UNESCO)
Rothenburg: medieval townscape, Christmas Museum, Crime Museum
Schwangau: King Ludwig castles, festival hall
Würzburg: Marienberg Citadel (Festung Marienberg), Residenz Palace (Unesco)