I had the opportunity to attend a last minute training class in Wiesbaden, 2-3 hours from Stuttgart. I knew nothing about the area, but ended up having a great time with things left over to do that we did not have time to see. Taking class time into consideration during the bulk of the day, five days is more than enough, sans work, in this area. Fortunately, spring-forward in Germany happened the weekend prior and gave us an extra hour in the evening of light – it was glorious. Very odd weather for March too, but definitely not complaining. Bring on the sun, the sooner the better.
With the advice of local-based colleagues, we headed to the Rhine river for a must-do boat ride.
A Rhine River cruise is really a cheap ferry or hop-on/off boat that goes along the river’s edge stopping in different ports every few minutes. The route we took was about an hour round trip from Assmanhausen (yes, that is the real name of the town) to Bingen and back. It was a weekday, plus off-season so we were the only ones on the entire top deck of the boat. We grabbed a glass of local white wine and the captain let us ring the bell on the boat when we docked at the end. So much fun.
We drove after the boat ride along the water to Ruedesheim am Rhein to ride the cable car up the wine hills. If we had the full day, we would have hopped off the ferry there and back.
You can see the cable car from the street so we headed that direction, parking in the center near the tourist office, and walking about 10-15 minutes. We stopped in the marktplatz to go in Sankt Jakobus Kirche along the way.
Of course, we got to the cable car (Seilbahn Rüdesheim) just as the last round was going up, so there was no round coming back down, meaning we had to walk to get back to the car from the top. It was an easy walk down through the vineyards and thankfully, a beautiful day.
At the top, the Niederwalddenkmal is a monument built in the 1870/80s to commemorate the Unification of Germany and the Statue of Germania which make prime spots enjoy the view.
There is also a restaurant and beer garden overlooking the valley called Am Niederwald to grab a beverage or a tea (with rum) before heading back down. It is the first time I’ve seen someone get rum with tea but, when in Wiesbaden. The cake was a little dry.
The walk back down took about 30 minutes since we of course stopped for photos along the way. It is not a hard walk, there is a good path down to town through the vineyards.
For dinner, we parked (very hard to find parking) in Wiesbaden, for thai food (so excited, first time having thai in at least a year) at Thai Banyan Restaurant which had huge portions and was absolutely tasty.
The next day it was still sunny so we were told about a beach – meaning sand along the river, man-made with beach chairs on the Mainz Kastel strand. We stopped and parked too soon and ended up in Mainz Altstadt propper instead, accidentally. The main attraction is the famous, huge cathedral, Dom St. Martin. It closes at 6 pm so we were a few minutes too late and it was closed unfortunately to go inside. The square is really cute with restaurants and the theater center just off the square.
Back along the river, the row homes were a reminder of those you’d see in Chelsea, NYC – gorgeous, right on the water. The main way along the water is also a bike path – we were surely going to be hit by a biker whizzing by as we tried to take pictures before the day was out, but we made it. There is a New Orleans themed restaurant and bar on the water near the modern city hall building and the Hilton Hotel, called The Big Easy that had happy hour and benches outside with a view of the water and passersby. It was a good stop for a cocktail before heading back to the hotel for our thai leftovers. Of course, we passed by the strand beach area as we are driving out. – Next time. It looked really cute.
We originally had planned to go to Mainz, but since we did that already, we aimed for a new town. As we were heading out of class, someone mentioned a city I had wanted to go to during this time of year that is famous Easter festivals. I had no idea we were only about an hour from there. Unfortunately, the fest happens only on weekends, not on a Wednesday, but it was still well worth it to make the drive there. It was compared to us as being cuter than Rothenburg ob der Tauber though the jury is out there. All those old German towns are cute in different ways and all worth a stop in our opinion.
Michelstadt is a walled medieval city between Darmstadt and Heidelberg. Buildings date back to the 10-12th century there. The Rathaus (city hall) is the coolest timber building and wine cellar that was built in the 1400s with a decorated well and cafes covering the square when you enter from any of the side streets. The Michelstadt Castle and Thieves Tower are best viewed outside the square walking through a passageway over an adorable bridge to the English gardens. Easter is everywhere in the town, with eggs in trees, wells and garden areas. The wooden painted bunny band is a great photo opp too in front of the Rathaus.
For a glass of local wine and a panna cotta, we stopped at Weinerei which had outdoor seats and a cool underground cellar vibe inside. It was across the way from where we ate dinner at the local brewery, which also made spirits too, called Michelstaedter Rathausbraeu. Typical German menu but good food and outdoor seating.
Our last night, we drove up to the Monastery – Kloster Eberbach about 30 minutes away, followed by a restaurant in another town about 20 minutes from there, for the best schnitzel in Germany.
Park at the gift shop first for a wine tasting (50 cents per taste and the cost goes towards the purchase of bottles if you buy anything). The wine was different than the local wine flavors in the Stuttgart area with smoke, fruit, and herbs. We of course bought 2 bottles. From there walk down the hill to the ticket office entrance to the monastery. They do take credit in the shop and ticket office. It cost 9 euro for entrance.
The place is a huge Romanesque/Gothic abbey that was deconsecrated in 1803, but continues to make wine. There is a restaurant there too which looked fancy but a good experience if you arranged a private group tour of the cellars first then had dinner. The cellar areas were the best part, seeing the huge old equipment in the stone areas and barrels lit by candles.
Driving to dinner fromt here, we stopped on the way for photo opps overlooking the vineyards and also came upon the cute town of Eltville, which has a tower on the water. Of course the castle/tower part doesn’t open till April so we were just a few days early, but the town was a great stop for a walk with wineries, old timber houses and a path along the river.
Moving along for dinner in a non-pretty area in Walluf, the restaurant Baumstammhaus has parking out front or at the grocery store next door. We sat inside since it was chilly, but there is an outdoor area in the back too. The muppets also have a home in this restaurant which is odd but hilarious. The food was amazing, We all got the gigantic schnitzels and it was worth every bite.
One things for sure, we all look forward to out next schedule work-trip to Wiesbaden! We will be back.