German Diaries Day 4 – Bad Mergentheim, Heilbronn and The Black Forest

It was finally time to leave the comfort of the Romantic Road and venture onward to the legendary Black Forest; driving on the infamous Autobahn we had heard so much about. We had a very long day of driving ahead, so I had planned a few pit stops along the way to break it up. The first was the lovely little town of Bad Mergentheim.

The weather was brilliantly clear and the sun even managed to finally peak it’s head out and give us a little warmth. I am a fan of cool and wet weather but having a little sunshine was a nice change. As we walked around we really got to appreciate the peace and quiet. Being a weekday, most of the streets were empty and left it free for us to wander at our leisure. We only planned to stop for a little while as we still had a long way to go and wanted to have enough daylight to explore Baden-Baden later in the day. So we just stuck to the essential task in any new town; finding a good coffee shop to get something sweet.

As we walked through the doors of Webers Paneria, a cafe in the centre of town, we quickly found a table and decided on a hot drink and whatever pastry I could find at the counter. This turned out to be the wrong choice. Apparently in this particular cafe you are supposed to fill out an order card and they take the order at the table. No wonder they looked at me so strangely when I was waiting by the counter. Luckily, I found a super tasty pastry that I pointed out while the lady patiently explained that I needed to wait at my table.

I tried to get her to tell me what the pastry was called, so I could share it with you, but clearly my ears were failing me and after the third attempt I gave up and asked her to write it down. Then, if you can believe it, I couldn’t even read her writing…doh! Thankfully after a little research, and help from some Facebook friends, I found out it was called Dinkel-Nuss Stange (literally a walnut pole). Sweet pastry filled with walnuts, twisted and then covered in a sugar glaze. Sehr Lecker!!

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Preparing for the next stop on the journey

Pastry happily sitting in my tummy, we hit the road again. This time it we were to venture onto the Autobahn. Up until I had been making a conscious effort to avoid it because I was so nervous about driving in busy traffic, on the “wrong side” of the road. I bit the bullet and just jumped on, crossing everything I had and hoping for the best. Surprisingly it was really easy and we had no problems. In England a motorway is almost like an invitation for everyone to go nuts and just drive however they want. In German it is a lot calmer, even without the speed limits. I did have a lot of fun pushing the tiny Fiat 500 to 180km/h (approx 110mph) until the petal was flat to the floor and the speedo had frozen. I thought that was pretty good considering the size of the car; although I did have a wind behind me to help push it that high…

Autobahn
Pushing the Fiat 500 to it’s limits!

With the wind in our sails (or whatever the automobile equivalent is) we arrived at Heilbronn ready for our lunchtime pit stop. To be completely honest, I hadn’t done a great deal of research about this town, I had just seen that it was at roughly the right place on the map to split our journey. I’m not a very fussy guy so as long as I got some food and could find a toilet I am happy. The canal was pretty and it had a cool tower at the end with a sculpture on the top; very interesting. As we walked through town we also found the astronomical clock on the town hall which is definitely worth a look.

As it was lunchtime my main priority was to find some food. Ok… I know that my priority is always food, but let’s just pretend that I’m like normal people that doesn’t think about food every second of the day, shall we? I had my heart set on a Currywurst (sausage covered in ketchup and curry powder or a curry sauce) as we hadn’t found one yet on the trip. Years ago, I went on a school trip to Ravensburg and we had some great Currywurst, so I couldn’t go to Germany again after so long and not have another could I?

We found a really small place that Google assured me came highly recommended. Google lied! The food was OK (if that) and it was all a little grubby. We even got barged off our table by a man with a pint of beer because he wanted to play the slow machines. It made it worse that we had just walked through the massive food hall in the shopping centre and seen loads of amazing sausage. I can’t really be too unhappy though as I think this was the only meal we had the whole trip that wasn’t great.

Currywurst

Sausage gone, the Black Forest was calling. Our destination was Waldhotel Forellenhof, situated just outside the famous Baden-Baden. According to my knowledgeable fiancèe (who is basically like a walking Wikipedia) this town is where all the rich wives of businessmen and footballers come to shop and enjoy a spa treatment. I am usually the travel guide on holiday, after all the intensive research I do beforehand, but I always have to bow to her encyclopedic knowledge of basically everything!

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Our first steps in to the Black Forest

Our first taste of the Black Forest was everything I hoped for and more. As the motorway drew closer we saw the tree line suddenly appear on the horizon, stretching as far as the eye could see in both directions. Leaving the motorway we made our way through a few small towns and villages, surrounded by beautiful scenery and nature on all side. One town in particular, called Gaggenau, caught my eye as a particularly lovely town. We didn’t have time to go back and visit but I would love to go and explore more if we got the chance to go back.

Waldhotel Forellenhof
Hotel Trout Farm

Clearly my German education, in preparation for the holiday, was seriously lacking when it comes to food; which is a massive oversight considering my appetite. I didn’t realise, until we went for a wander around that the hotel was called Forellenhof because it was built next to a trout farm (Forellenhof literally translating to trout farm). Makes sense really when you know that. Luckily in every room in hotel was a booklet on all the history of the hotel, local area and tourist attractions you can visit. Apparently the hotel was the set of a 1960’s sitcom,called Der Forellenhof should you be interested. I haven’t managed to watch it yet but I can only imagine it is a German version of Fawlty Towers. I found a link to an episode on Youtube here if you want to check it out.

If you don’t know what Fawlty Towers is, then you are seriously missing out on some classic John Cleese magic and need to change that right now! Here is a link to a Youtube compilation; alternatively it is available on Netflix (in the UK at least).

Before we did any more exploring it was finally time to rest on our balcony… I know, someone is doing well. Next time I will tell you all about our evening in Baden-Baden and a tasty trout based dinner. Make sure you follow me here and on Instagram (@pillar_to_post) so you don’t miss a thing.

Ciao for now!

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