Exploring Austria and Germany’s Romantic Road

Written by Angela Brya.

In recent months, my husband Greg and I have been quickly getting acquainted with the routine of family travel; or should I say, traveling as a family. We have had two extended vacations, which is not necessarily typical for traveling with a family. My daughter, Lauren, is getting broken in at the young age of 1 ½ and becoming quite a trooper.

We rung in the new year in Germany. We spent 10 days traveling through Southern Germany with a quick jaunt to Austria. We started our trip visiting a few of the cities on the Romantische Strasse, or as Americans would say, The Romantic Road. This area is one of the most scenically beautiful, but also one of the most overrun attractions in Germany. The road begins in the Imperial city of Wurzburg and winds its way south to the little town of Fussen at the foot of the Bavarian Alps. The region is known for its folk traditions, Old World charm, narrow cobblestone streets, and half-timbered architecture.

Rothenburg-od-der-Tauber is one of the most splendidly preserved medieval towns in Europe. Rothenburg dates back in written records to 804 as Rothinbure. Inside the walls of this 13th century city, the town is preserved and relatively untouched by untouched by the passage of time. One stop you must make is shopping at Kathe Wohlfahrt, one of the largest Christmas shops you will ever see. It is absolutely beautiful!

Next, Dinkelsbuhl is a town that was built in the 10th century. Still surrounded by medieval walls and towers, Dinkelsbuhl is a town that retains its quite, provincial attitude in spite of great hordes of tourists who visit during the spring and summer. The cobblestone streets are lines with fine 16th century houses, many with paintings and carvings and paintings depicting biblical and mythological themes. If Rothenburg and Dinkelsbuhl are not enough, the road comes to an ends at “Mad” King Ludwig’s fantastic Neuschwanstein Castle. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to enjoy it.

On our way to Salzburg, Austria, we made a stop a Dachau, a concentration camp, 10 miles from Munich. Dachau was the first German concentration camp. It was built on the grounds of a former ammunition factory in 1933. Countless prisoners arrived at Dachau between 1933 and 1945. A registry shows more than 206,000 people were imprisoned here, although the exact number is unknown. Upon entering the camp today, you are faced by three memorial chapels-Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish.

Behind the Catholic chapel is the main camp road lined with poplar trees, once flanked by 32 barracks, each housing 208 prisoners. Two barracks have been rebuilt to give visitors insight into the horrible conditions the prisoners endured. There is now a museum in the building that once contained the kitchen, laundry, and shower baths where the prisoners were often brought for torture. Photographs and documents show the rise of the Nazi regime and depict the persecution of Jews and other prisoners. The tour of Dachau is a truly moving experience.

One of my personal favorites of our trip was our visit to Salzburg, Austria. The view from the old city to the new city looking across the river was absolutely breathtaking. We took a tour of the Salzburg Fortress, which is set on top of a hill that overlooks the whole city. It was a marvelous sight. They have many different city tours. We opted to venture out on our own, but did see several famous “Sound of Music” sights, such as the catacombs, the church, and the fountain. Mozart’s birthplace is in Salzburg and the home he grew up in has been made into a museum. There was not enough time to see it all!

This was a memorable trip and we saw many wonderful cities and attractions. Even when you have a family you can enjoy the luxuries of traveling to new and exciting destinations. Just think of the culture and the history your child will have. When you are ready to plan your next trip, contact Classic Travel to help customize your trip of a lifetime.

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