Day 1 - Wednesday, April 17: Overnight flight
Late afternoon departure from Toronto for Frankfurt on a non-stop flight of Air Canada. Dinner and a light breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2 - Thursday, April 18: Worms
Early morning arrival in Frankfurt. A private coach will be waiting here to take us via the Autobahn into the Palatinate region, straddling the Rhine to the south of Frankfurt. Our destination is the historical city of Worms, associated with the legendary Song of the Nibelungs, Charlemagne and other medieval emperors, and Martin Luther; together with the neighbouring city of Speyer, Worms is also listed on
UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites because of their important role in Jewish history and culture. Arrival in Worms, and as it is likely to be too early to check into our hotel, we tour the town’s major attractions, the impressive Romanesque “imperial” Cathedral, the Luther Memorial, the ancient Synagogue (reputedlyGermany’s oldest), and the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Europe, in
use since the 11th century. Then we check into the centrallylocated first-class Dom-Hotel (http://www.dom-hotel.de). This evening, welcome drink in a typical tavern, followed by dinner in the hotel.
Day 3 - Friday, April 19: Worms
After breakfast, we motor to the nearby university town of Heidelberg, everybody’s favourite German city, tucked between the banks of the Neckar River and its huge
ruined castle on top of a steep hill. Here we will first focus on the Altstadt, the historical city centre, bisected by the lively Hauptstraße (main street), allegedly the longest pedestrian shopping street in Germany; major sights are the old university
on Universitätsplatz, the Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit), and the old bridge across the Neckar River. Then we visit the huge castle, a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site, to inspect the world’s biggest wine barrel and to enjoy fabulous
views of the old town and the river below. After some free time for shopping and individual exploring, dinner in a Kneipe, a traditional student tavern, before we return to our hotel in Worms.
Day 4 - Saturday, April 20: Freiburg
Departure fromWorms after breakfast. We head for the town of Speyer and visit the fine Romanesque Cathedral that served as mausoleum to medieval German emperors (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/168), another monument with UNESCO World Heritage Site status, as well as the mikve, a Jewish ritual bath dating back to the 12th century. Continue to Maulbronn Monastery, yet another UNESCO site, described as “a Cistercian monastery founded in 1147, still surrounded by fortified walls, and considered to be the most complete and best-preserved medieval monastic complex north of the Alps, and featuring an exceptionally interesting water-management system with reservoirs and a network of canals” (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/546). In late afternoon, we enter Germany’s very scenic Black Forest. Late afternoon arrival in Freiburg, the very attractive urban hub of the Black Forest and one of the “greenest” cities on earth (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2008/mar/23/freiburg.germany.greenest.city). We will stay in an “ecological” hotel, the Green City Hotel Vauban (https://green-city-hotel-vauban.de/en). Dinner in a typical restaurant.
Day 5 - Sunday, April 21: Freiburg
A full day of leisurely touring in the bucolic hills and valleys of the legendary Black Forest! Our program will include a visit to a traditional workshop manufacturing cuckooclocks and other typical artefacts; the lovely lakeside resort of Titisee; the Feldberg, the area’s tallest mountain; and the belvedere of Schauinsland, with spectacular views of the Rhine Valley, Alsace, and the Vosges Mountains to the west and, to the south, the Swiss Alps. We finish today’s program with a leisurely walking tour as well as some free time in Freiburg, crisscrossed by little streams bringing fresh water from the nearby hills and featuring an impressive Gothic Cathedral as well magnificent old merchants’ houses. No group dinner this evening.
Day 6 - Monday, April 22: Schwangau
Departure after breakfast. We enjoy more wonderful Black Forest scenery as we
motor to the town of Donaueschingen to see the Donauquelle, the source of the Danube. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Source_of_the_Danube). On to Lake Constance, a vast and beautiful body of water separating Germany from both Austria and Switzerland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Constance). In the village of Unteruhldingen, we visit a reconstructed village of lake dwellings built on stilts, dating backnto the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, that is, to 4.000-850 BC; this is one of the “Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps” that are collectively classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1363).
In the afternoon we enter the Allgaeu Region, a.k.a. as the Bavarian Alps. Our destination is the picturesque village of Schwangau near the town of Fuessen, the southern terminal of Germany’s Romantic Road. Dinner and overnight in a traditional Bavarian inn, the Weinbauer (/www.hotel-weinbauer.de), located within view of
one of the world-famous “fairy-tale castles” of “Mad King Ludwig”!
Day 7 - Tuesday, April 23: Schwangau
Today we tour what is described by the Michelin Guide as “the exclamation mark at
the end of the Romantic Road,” the very romantic “fairytale castles” of Bavarian King Ludwig II, a.k.a. “Mad King Ludwig, including a visit to either Neuschwanstein, perched high on a hill, OR Linderhof, another architectural marvel surrounded by fabulous Alpine scenery; these “dreams in stone” are featured on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today, group lunch OR dinner.
Day 8 - Wednesday, April 24: Schwnagau
A full-day tour of Bavaria’s lovely countryside, including Alpine and pre-Alpine
meadows and marsh landscapes that have been placed on UNESCO’s tentative list of (natural) World Heritage Sites, such as the Ammergau. This exploration will include visits to the Wies Pilgrimage Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/271), the world-famous, and very picturesque, Passion Play village of Oberammergau, and the imposing baroque church of Ettal Abbey. In late afternoon, we return to our hotel along a scenic road through the Austrian Alps, via the town of Reutte. The rest of the day is at leisure. No group dinner this evening.
Day 9 - Thursday, April 25: Wurzburg
Departure from Schwangau after breakfast. Following the
Romantic Road, we motor via Landsberg, where Hitler was imprisoned after his failed “Beerhall Putsch” and wrote Mein Kampf, to Augsburg. Already founded by the Romans, this city experienced its golden age during the late Middle Ages and theRenaissance, when it was a major centre of finance, personified by families of bankers such as the Fuggers; the city also played an important role in the history of the Reformation, as reflected in the “Augsburg Confession” of 1530 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augsburg_Confession). Our local sightseeing program will include Town Hall Square, Maximilian Street with its magnificent merchants’ homes, and the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social housing complex, founded by the Fugger Family in the early 16th century. In the afternoon we continue to Dinkelsbühl, one of the prettiest of the medieval towns along the Romantic Road, featuring impressive ramparts pierced by four city gates, a baroque castle, a fine late-Gothic church, and plenty of beautiful traditional wood-framed houses. After our visit, we continue to the historical university city of Würzburg, nestled in a meander of the Main River and surrounded by vineyard-covered hills such as the legendary Steinberg. Dinner and overnight in the centrally located first-class Hotel Maritim (https://www.maritim.com/en/hotels/germany/hotel-wuerzburg/hotel-overview).
Day 10 - Friday, April 26: Wurzburg
Morning walking tour of Würzburg, with sights such as the medieval bridge across
the Main River, decorated with statues and offering views of the Marienberg Fortress on top of a vineyardcovered hill, the wonderful Romanesque Cathedral, and the Residenz, the exuberant baroque palace of the prince-bishops who used to rule this city, decorated by superb frescoes by Tiepolo and classified as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site. Afternoon free to shop and/or explore on your own. This evening, dinner of traditional Franconian specialties in a typical restaurant.
Day 11 - Saturday, April 27: Wurzburg
Excursion to Bamberg, a city that earned UNESCO World Heritage status in its
entirety because it has managed to preserve the appearance and atmosphere of the centuries stretching from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, when it was one of Germany’s major commercial and intellectual centres (https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/624). Architectural and artistic witness to that illustrious past are the Town Hall, situated on a little island in the Regnitz River, the impressive Cathedral with tombs of emperors and popes, the episcopal palaces, and “Little Venice,” a cluster of picturesque fishermen's houses from the 19th century along the banks of the river Regnitz. We will of course also pay our respects to the city’s most famous burgher, a masterpiece of Gothic sculpture known as the “Bamburg Horseman,” considered the first monumental equestrian statue since classical antiquity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamberg_Horseman)! Return to
Würzburg via some of the area’s famous wine villages, such as Volkach, whose wine has traditionally been marketed in round bottles (later to be imitated by Mateus!) known as Bocksbeutel and served in big glasses called Römer. No group dinner this evening.
Day 12 - Sunday, April 28: Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Departure after breakfast. We motor east to Nuremberg, for many centuries one
of Germany’s outstanding commercial and cultural centres, conjuring up names such as Albrecht Dürer, but also associated with the evil dictatorship of the Nazis, whose infamous party rallies were held here in the 1930s - and whose postwar trial was held here. Visit to the picturesque Old Town, carefully restored after the destruction
wrought during WW II, the Dürer House, the Nazi Party Rally Grounds
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_party_rally_grounds), and the German National Museum, the largest museum of cultural history in the country (https://www.gnm.de/en). In late afternoon we leave Nuremberg and drive to the medieval walled town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, unquestionably the most beautiful and interesting jewel along the Romantic Road. We stay in the charming, centrally located first-class/four-star Hotel Eisenhut (https://www.eisenhut.com/en). Today, lunch OR dinner.
Day 13 - Monday, April 29: Rothenburg ob der Tauber
A full day to enjoy the medieval atmosphere and superb architecture of Rothenburg! In the morning, leisurely walking tour of the town, including sights such as the Market Square with the Renaissance Town Hall (Rathaus), the Councillors' Tavern (Ratstrinkstube), and St. George's Fountain; the city fortifications, including walls, gates, and towers; the attractive Castle Garden, with great views of the Tauber River Valley; the Plönlein, a small square considered to be one of the most photographed spots in Germany; and the St. Jakobskirche (Church of St. James), containing a masterpiece by the famous 15th-century Würzburg sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider. The rest of the day is at leisure. Auf Wiedersehen-dinner this
evening in the restaurant of our hotel.
Day 14 - Tuesday, April 30: Return flight
After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Frankfurt Airport in time for
the departure of our non-stop return flight to Toronto with Air Canada.