A Walk on the Romantic Side
Würzburg and its surroundings (part II). As the second day arrived, we wanted to make the most out of it. Still tired from all the walking of the previous day, going to the next town by boat seemed to be a relaxing option. In fact it was… you barely need a few minutes to get to Veitshöchheim by train, while it takes about an hour to sail there, something really enjoyable.
The landscape is traditionally Southern German, there are vineyards and beautiful houses on both sides of the river, people practicing all kind of riverside sports. Parks full of children playing, couples picnicking, elderly walking or riding bikes.
Veitshöchheim, a town as beautiful as a doll’s house
Happy Feet. The first thing you must try is the Spa trail. Once you arrive in town, get off the boat and turn left, keep walking for a while till you see a small trail made of different kind of terrains to stand on; those will massage your feet. So take off your shoes and be ready to walk on sand, stone, earth, wood and leaves. When you’re done, enter into a freezing (and I mean Arctic freezing) cold spa pool and walk on small stones, making a few turns around a central axis. When it’s time to get out, feet and legs feel so light and fresh you will feel like doing the whole thing again.
With our feet fully restored, our tummies started asking for attention. The local Leberkäse sandwich, quite similar to a sausage in taste, is just quick enough to keep on moving. There is more to visit: the rest of the village and the Summer Palace with its outstanding garden.
Summer Palace and Rococo Garden. Veitshöchheim, a municipality in the district of Würzburg, lies on the right bank of the river Main. Mostly known for its characteristic Bavarian buildings, as well as for the Schloss Veitshöchheim, built around 1680-82, the magnificent Summer palace of the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg. The wonderful yellowish construction is surrounded by a Rokokogarten, an enchanted green labyrinth full of exotic plants and fruit trees, vineyards as well as statues and all kind of fountains.
Between 1755 – 1779, the gardens were redesigned with lakes and waterworks, and filled with allegorical sandstone and seashell sculptures. Today, it is possible to get lost in the shadows of the bushes, to sit on a bench and read a book. Later on you can leave the complex through the backdoor gate to reach the train station. Catch the train back to Würzburg just there.
If by any chance it’s really too sunny and you cannot see the screen to buy your ticket, don’t you even think of traveling without one, just ask for help and help will be granted: German people are amazingly helpful!
We finished our day in the place that changed my view on Germany. I’ll go back in time, but just a bit, I promise.
Since I landed in Stuttgart, I felt completely overwhelmed by the German attitude towards tourists. I speak no word of German. (I studied some Germanic philology at the University, and I can associate some English for some written words: great for signs and maps, but when someone speaks German to me, I’m a dead!). Well, to my surprise, everyone was helpful in all possible ways. I was obviously helped at the Tourist Office, and I was expecting that. But during my first afternoon, I received aid on the streets as well as in the Library (Stadtbibliothek), where an old nice man, who declared “I barely speak English” helped me, in perfect English, to set a pin code and place my backpack in a fully automatic locker with instructions in German; stayed there to make sure I understood and remembered the pin and to reassure me that my backpack was still going to be there once I returned. Needless to say, it was. Also the librarians printed all the material they found available in English for my blog… Even feeling sorry and apologizing since there wasn’t much!
When it was time to take the subway, a woman helped me with an automatic machine to buy a ticket, once on the platform she saw me to the correct train. Once at destination it was really dark, a young guy showed me the way to the bus station by walking there with me, “since it’s dark, late and I’ve plenty of time left, let me show you the way“… And those were just the first hours. I brought home many stories like these, just see the picture of my friend buying the train ticket.
However, what happened inside the Residenz is something that goes beyond language barriers, something that still gives me the goosebumps, that filled my eyes with tears. For some reason, when we arrived, the English visits had already been booked up, so we could only do the German one. Chiara would be my interpreter for the important parts and I’d pick up all the rest online. At the Residenz, now a World Heritage Site, the experience was pure emotion: I heard meaningless German words, buy the eyes of our guide conveyed meaningful feelings. He spoke words of pride I could truly feel.
In March 1945, just a few weeks before the end of the Second World War, a devastating air raid destroyed 90 % of the old Würzburg. Almost totally burning the Residenz. Rebuilding the Palace was a remarkable achievement from the point of view of the craftsmanship involved. Würzburg was brought back to its feet as well, the pride of our guide, was the pride of the city and the pride of a nation. A pride to be seen on the streets where there are signs to remember the story of the country as well as the Holocaust. Memory is alive, nothing has been forgotten. Then I saw a Synagogue somewhere; I was at peace.
I warmly advice you to pay a visit to the building with a guided tour since it’s really worth the time and the fee (about 7 euros) to learn every detail about the Entrance Hall, the Vestibule and Stairs with the Frescoes. Do pay a visit to the Mirror Cabinet, where thousands of mirror pieces were put together again, completely rebuilding the chamber after the bombing (a marvelous work of art and craftsmanship, and of love as well), take your time to admire the pinks and the greens of the ceilings at the Imperial Hall, stroll around the French gardens.
If you ever decide to tour the Romantic Road starting here, this is the first Palace you’ll see. It’s no Cinderella palace as Neuschwanstein, but I bet emotions are stronger.
We finished our evening in Würzburg eating traditional food and having beer by the river, my bus back to Stuttgart was an early one on the next day. Our dinner was delicious: Flammkuchen, a South German dish composed of bread dough rolled out very thin and covered with crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons and Kaiserschmarrn for dessert, a fluffy shredded pancake served hot with apple and plum sauces, and sometimes with ice cream.
The last walk by the river ended too soon. Of course I will miss my friend, our chats at night, our walks, and lunches and dinners, and pictures and so many things done together during these flying days. I just want to be back to Würzburg, and do the Romantic Road by car and with my kids as well. I feel Germany has made a long way and has a lot to teach us.
I guess writing this post took me very long because the Jewish part of me is still trying to make peace with the German part of me (I have a German grandma and I am a converted Jew… however my grandma’s German last name appears on Prague’s Jew Ghetto list of people deported to a concentration camp, so it’s a mess, plus her last name is an equal to “Smith”, too ordinary to get back to my origins.)