October 1, 2014 – Seventy-two hours in a place may seem like quite a chunk of time, but it passes so quickly. As a huge fan of weekend trips, I am bringing you a new series, Weekend Travels, which highlights all of the things I recommend to see/do/eat during a weekend vacation in whatever location!
A couple weekends ago (sorry for the delay!) I traveled to southeast Germany to visit my former exchange student and long-lost sister, Xenia. It had been two years since we’d seen each other last, but it felt like just last week. Anyone else have a friendship like this? It’s honestly the best.
My weekend started off rocky after an early Friday class and almost missing my train since there are so many different train stations in Paris – I was literally the last person on board… But as soon as I stepped off the train and Xenia ran toward me with arms open, my day turned for the better. It didn’t hurt that she had a little one-year-old mop-like puppy that was incredibly happy to see me as well.
[Spoiler Alert: Get ready for a lot of pictures]
Friday night, we walked around Mannheim, which is quite a beautiful little German town. Xenia made dinner and we caught up over a glass of red wine.
Saturday morning was another early wake-up call. We drove (yes, on the Autobahn) up to Heidelberg to explore the town. I fell in love with the colors and architecture, as well as the food – German cuisine always makes me a bit nostalgic for my grandma’s cooking!
|The famed Autobahn!
|The colorful buildings just get me, everytime
|Statue selfies have become my thing
|My lovely lunch date
|The most delicious Bratwurst
We trekked up to the castle overlooking Heidelberg and admired the ancient building, stopping into the German pharmaceutical museum (it was free, why not?) and taking plenty of pictures at the scenic outlooks.
|The Heidelberg Castle
|So green and beautiful!
After an exhausting day of walking and sightseeing, I took an (accidental) two-hour nap. Tourism is tiring, okay? That night, we ate a light dinner of our favorite food group: cheese, and then went to meet Xenia’s friend for wine at a patio bar. Very relaxing, and much needed!
The next day brought another castle, this time the Haardt castle in Palatine country, with Xenia’s father tagging along.
|Delicious German breakfast that Xenia made for me
|The street where my grandpa was born!
We hit all of the scenic spots before descending down the mountain again to eat an early Sunday dinner in the most adorable, authentic German town of Neustadt an der Weinstraße! I got a wine steak with onions and potatoes, which I was told is very traditional to the Palatine region.
|Xenia’s puppy, Tosca, wanted to spend all day snuggling
|And of course, I coudn’t leave without getting a real, German pretzel – yum!
After saying goodbyes and double-checking that I had everything, I boarded my train back to Paris. I never thought I’d truly enjoy visiting Germany as much as I did. Perhaps it was because the culture is so close to home or because a weekend with Xenia was long-overdue, but I highly recommend taking a trip to Heidelberg – the town is just magical!
Tips for Traveling to Germany:
- Print your train ticket & be sure to arrive at the train station 20 minutes early!
- Lookup a few keywords in German – it always makes the experience better
- Ask for the local dish, but when in doubt, bratwurst it out
- Wear your walking shoes and bring a light jacket (it rains a lot)
- Be sure to try a German breakfast, it’s delicious!
- Go to that random museum and learn something new
- You will automatically be served sparkling water; if you don’t want this, ask for tap water
- Eat a pretzel