September 2019

For a web-based copy of this newsletter, click here

 

About Intimate France — We travel every spring and fall to Europe's most beautiful destinations. Our small groups (usually eight travelers, never more than 16) guarantee you the utmost in personal service and attention to detail. Learn more about us or contact Intimate France.
 

Rothenburg ob der Tauber — Germany's prettiest town?

 

A photo essay

GERMANY 2020 – RIVERS, CASTLES,
ALPS AND THE ROMANTIC ROAD

 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

If you're down with charming villages straight out of Hansel & Gretel, you'll love the western part of Germany. Here you'll find towns chockablock with stone and timbered buildings, intact city walls and a thousand years (and more!) of history.

 

Germany's Romantic Road (a post-World War II invention aimed at getting the attention of American visitors), Bavarian Alps, castle-studded Rhine River and meandering Mosel River, watched over by steep vineyards, are like something out of a fairy tale.

 

A lucky few will be along as we lead Intimate France's tour to Romantic Germany, May 17-29, 2020.

 

Take a look at what this magical part of Europe has to offer.

 

WATERLAND: Saarburg's old town is divided by this cascade.
 

Saarburg is a perfectly preserved medieval village almost unknown to Americans. Even many Germans don't know of its many delights, including a stream that surges through the town center in a series of cascades. We begin our Romantic Germany tour in this lovingly preserved town.

 

PORTA NIGRA: Roman gate in Trier, a city founded by Celts.
 

Not far from SaarburgTrier lies on the right bank of the pretty Mosel River and can claim to be one of the oldest cities in Europe — it dates back at least to 150 BC, when the Celtic tribe Treveri settled here. Pottery fragments found here go back even earlier, to the neolithic (new stone) age.

 

MEDIEVAL GEM: The main square of Trier is a delight.

 

Trier's core centers around Hauptmarkt, the city's largest market square. The plaza is encircled by well-preserved townhouses that create a mixed cityscape of Renaissance, Baroque, Classicist and late Historicist architecture overlooked by the tower of St. Gangolf's church. The red 15th-century Steipe building is a particular eyecatcher in this colorful mix.

 

BURG ELTZ: ThIs fine castle overlooks the Mosel River.

 

The castle of Burg Eltz was built 850 years ago and has remained in the same family's hands ever since. It is privately owned but in a special arrangement with the German government, it is open to the public. Some seasoned travelers believe Burg Eltz is Europe's finest castle.

 

HALF-TIMBERED: Bernkastel-Kues, charm everywhere.

 

The twin Mosel River wine towns of Bernkastel and Kues are small but absolutely packed with timbered houses. These 600-year-old structures were built at a time when engineering practices weren't up to today's standards. The result — many of the houses lean drunkenly against their neighbors. Marktplatz is the medieval heart of Bernkastel-Kues and considered among the best-preserved in Germany. Here you'll find row after row of adorable, gabled, half-timbered houses, some dating to the 1400s.

 

CULINARY MECCA: Schnitzel heaven in pretty Cochem.

 

Germany's cuisine may not inspire the same awe as a fine meal in France, but you can dine very well indeed if you know where to look — and we do! A fine breaded schnitzel, still sizzling as it arrives at your table, is delicious, and even more so with some fruity Riesling from the Mosel Valley. In Cochem this store specializes in only the choicest schnitzel.

 

BACHARACH: Rhine River village is made for wandering.

 

Bacharach sits on a particularly scenic stretch of the Middle Rhine Valley. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and deservedly so. From here, you can spot castles on many hilltops (the Rhine was long a frontier and thus heavily fortified) and enjoy a ramble through cobbled streets lined with timbered houses while looking up at vine-covered hillsides. Germany has many enchanting villages from the medieval era, but this is the one Victor Hugo singled out, calling it the "land of fairy tales, covered with legends and sagas."

 

 HOHENSCHWANGAU: Hunting 'lodge' for Bavarian royalty.

 

South of the Rhine Valley, the Romantic Road threads through many romantic villages indeed. After leaving the fine town of Augsburg, it arrives at the end of the road — Füssen. Here you'll find a castle built by "Mad" King Ludwig in the 19th century, and another, older castle, Hohenschwangau, built by Ludwig's ancestors. Our Romantic Germany tour visits this castle as well as the one associated with Ludwig, the fairy-tale Neuschwanstein.

 

LINDERHOF: This is King Ludwig's most livable castle.

 

Linderhof, deep in the Bavarian Alps, was designed as a residence, not a showpiece (as was Neuschwanstein). The idea was to invoke the graciousness of France's Versailles palace — a goal that many today believe was achieved. Although the weather in this part of the Alps never gets overly warm, Ludwig left nothing to chance — he had an artificial cascade built to flow directly toward the massive window of his sleeping chamber — a 19th century version of air conditioning.

 

TRAVEL TIDBITS AND THOUGHTS
— MOSTLY ABOUT ITALY

Needpix.com photo

The ubiquitous oil and vinegar on Italian tables. More

 

By George Nevin

Founder-owner, Intimate France

 

Continuing with our roundup of travel quirks, puzzlers and oddities, today let's consider a wide range of tidbits from Italy, including wheeled suitcases in Venice, salad dressing on Italian restaurant tables and some of the many things that the law says you can't do in The Boot.

 

Wikimedia Commons

No wheels in San Marco Square? No problem.

 

Thanks to CNN, I learned of a no-no that came into force a few years ago but still has visitors to the beleaguered city of Venice baffled and fuming.

 

According to this article, tourists are forbidden to roll wheeled suitcases through the streets and over the umpteen jillion canal bridges of La Serenessima (that would be Venice's today-possibly-outmoded moniker).

 

CNN reports that, "For locals, long tired of plastic or hard rubber wheels rattling past their windows as they try to sleep, (the ban) will come as a welcome relief. The new rules ...  will require luggage to be transported on quieter air-filled tires."

 

Or, of course, tourists could just carry their bags.

 

CNN says that violators are subject to a fine of €500 (close to $560).

 

This is all part of an attempt by the leaders of Venice to reduce the impact of the city's 20 million-plus visitors each year.

 

 

Wikimedia Commons

Lounging on Venice's canal bridges — totally verboten.

 

In the same vein, this article details 15 things that visitors to Italy may be surprised to find against the law.

 

For starters, it notes these prohibitions, all of which apply in Venice:

 

• Picnicking on the streets.

• Swimming in canals, or even dipping a toe into canal waters.

• Stopping on the top of a bridge.

• Riding a bike or even walking a bicycle.

• Wearing a swimsuit in the city center, or going without a shirt (this is a no-no in Rome as well). This goes for both women and men.

 

Elsewhere in Italy:

• Hikers on Cinque Terre's famed inter-village paths had better lace up with appropriate footwear. Flip-flops are not allowed.

• "Slovenly eating" will get you into trouble anywhere near one of Rome's signature fountains.

• In Florence, snacking on the streets during regular meal hours is forbidden. City authorities believe that at those times, people should sit somewhere and eat a proper meal.

 

Wikimedia Commons

On Italian restaurant tables, oil and vinegar are king.

 

Thanks to globetrotter Sherry Ott, we are encouraged to ponder the fact that restaurants in Italy don't serve their salads with prepared dressing.

 

Sherry posits that European restaurants in general want diners to make their own, but my experience is that the practice is usually confined to Italy (or places with a pronounced Italian influence, like the Dalmatian coast of Croatia).

 

She writes: "When ordering a salad, don't expect the waiter to ask for your choice of dressing. Salads are dressed with oil and vinegar only — and the two bottles normally sit on the table of every restaurant."

 

Though Sherry missed the mark when it comes to salad dressings in restaurants in France, she did hit on one truth — French waiters won't ordinarily ask your dressing preference. Most salads come with a tasty vinaigrette, perfectly prepared and portioned.

 

See more of Sherry's musings here.

 

                                                                                  

 

 

WE'RE ENROLLING FOR 2020

 

Our Intimate France 2020 tours are accepting enrollments, and some are close to filling. See the lineup below or on our website: www.intimatefrance.com

 

If you want to join one of our small groups, early action is advised — as most tours max out at eight travelers, they can fill months in advance or even a year or more. Already, our Burgundy-Alsace (spring 2020) and Languedoc, France (fall 2020) tours are approaching their limits.

 

Charming wine village of Eguisheim, Alsace, France.

 

Burgundy-Alsace, France,
May 3-15, 2020

                                                                                  

 

Overview, Bacharach, on the Rhine River.

 

Romantic Germany,
May 17-29, 2020

                                                                               

 

 

Pilgrimage village of Rocamadour, France

 

Dordogne, France,
Sept. 6-18, 2020

                                                                               

 

After dark, Cité of Carcassonne.

 

Languedoc, France,

Sept. 20-Oct. 2, 2020

                                                                                  

 

ARCHIVED E-NEWSLETTERS 

 

• JULY 2019 —  QUIRKY THINGS AROUND EUROPE 

• MARCH 2019 —  BORROMEAN CATS PART II

• FEBRUARY 2019 —  BORROMEAN CATS PART I

• NOVEMBER 2018 —  THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

• JULY 2018 —  THE SOUTH OF FRANCE

• MAY 2018 —  CURRENCY IN EUROPE 

• DECEMBER 2017 — JUST BACK FROM BASQUE 

• NOVEMBER 2017 — JUST BACK FROM DORDOGNE

• SEPTEMBER 2017 — HOTEL MONEY GRAB

• JULY 2017 — THE LATEST TRAVEL SCAM

• APRIL 2017 — DORDOGNE'S NEW CAVE REPLICA

• FEBRUARY 2017 — BEST OF EUROPE PART II

• JANUARY 2017 — BEST OF EUROPE PART I

• NOVEMBER 2016 — MEDITERRANEAN SPAIN

• OCTOBER 2016 — LANGUEDOC, S. FRANCE
• SEPTEMBER 2016 — SWISS AND FRENCH ALPS

• AUGUST 2016 — PROVENCE, FRANCE

• JUNE 2016 — BURGUNDY AND FRENCH ALPS