California Globetrotter


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Castles in Germany

Castles & Palaces in Germany - California Globetrotter (2)

Germany certainly has no shortage of castles perched upon hills overlooking many scenic rivers and valleys.Castle spotting is definitely a favorite past time while driving through the country on a road trip. Some castles are as romantic as any homeless romantic could possibly imagine and even inspired Walt Disney, some are unique and no less impressive while others lie in ruins but still hold a special charm.

Some are called a ‘Burg’ and others are called a ‘Schloss’. So, what’s the difference, you might ask?

A Burg:

is usually a fortress that was built for protection during the Middle Ages by the nobility. During this time, things were unsteady and turbulent, so the nobility needed protection from unwanted visitors. In the beginning, these Burgen (plural) started out as just a watch tower where people took refuge and gradually, over time expanded the towers into a strong, steady and fortified “castle” accommodating those seeking shelter within.

A Schloss:

is much more elegant and romantic than a Burg as these were generally built after the Middle Ages and usually were built as a residence for the nobility. They were not constructed to be a fortress for protection against outsiders. This was because the turbulent times from the Middle Ages had relaxed a bit and the nobility no longer felt the need for massive fortresses for protection. Instead, the nobility built these palaces for to impress, as is seen immediately upon entering the Grand Hall of many palaces. Continue reading

Schloss Lichtenstein - California Globetrotter


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Schloss Lichtenstein

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Chances are, unless you live in Germany or are addicted to Pinterest, you have probably never heard of Schloss Lichtenstein. Located in the Schwäbish Alb (the Swabian Jura mountains) not far from Ulm or Tübingen, making it a great day trip from either town.

Known informally as “The Little Brother” to Schloss Neuschwanstein, it can be easily overlooked, but it has just as many charms and romance as any other castle, just without the hordes of tourists!

Compared to many other castles in Germany, this castle is a relatively young castle. Technically, there has been a castle here since around 1200, however it was destroyed twice – once in 1311 and again in 1377. A new castle was built about 500m away but soon fell into disuse and ruins. It wasn’t until 1840 when the castle would be redesigned, renovated and built up further by Duke Wilhelm of Urach who was inspired by the novel Lichtenstein written by Wilhelm Hauff.

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Blaubeuren's Blautopf - California Globetrotter


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Blaubeuren’s Blautopf

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You know when you’re scrolling for hours upon hours on Pinterest because you.just.can’t.stop? Ya, that happens to me quite often! And one of those days, I found a pretty picture of a small house with bright, turquoise water and I knew I had to pin it. I never thought I would actually make it there, but there it sat for a long time in my Germany Bucket List on Pinterest.

I saved it because I knew one day I would find a reason to go. Well this weekend, we finally decided to take a little road trip (3 hours away – which is like an eternity for Germans and therefore should actually be turned into a weekend vacation, but us Americans can get’er done in a day) to see Schloss Lichtenstein. Not wanting to just go to the castle, I searched through my Germany pin board for things which might be near the castle we could squeeze in, not far from either Ulm or Tübingen.

Low and behold: the small town of Blaubeuren.

Now, I assumed this would be a ten minute stop, snap a picture and get back in the car and continue on to the castle.

Nope. How wrong I was…

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The Medieval Wine Town of Esslingen am Neckar - California Globetrotter


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The Medieval Wine Town of Esslingen am Neckar

IMG_4073When Americans think about traveling to Europe, they have an image in their heads of fairy-tale like towns that will transport them back to a time long since gone. They imagine towns with cobbled-stoned streets, colorful half-timbered buildings and perhaps a Knight in Shining Armour. But many don’t realize, nor can imagine the wrath of destruction that destroyed so much of Germany during the Second World War. However, there were a few towns and cities that managed to escape the fury of one of the most ruinous wars Europe had ever seen. The small town of Esslingen am Neckar is just one of those perfect examples of medieval towns that escaped unscathed.

Just a short train ride away, or even a quick 15 minute drive from Stuttgart, Esslingen am Neckar is a town few have ever heard of. But have no fear, it’s worth every ounce of effort to make it to this adorable little town.

Nestled in a valley surrounded by endless rows of vineyards along the Neckar river, Esslingen is the epitome of historic German towns. Continue reading

Top Places to Visit in Germany! - California Globetrotter


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Top Places to Visit in Germany!

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If you’re considering traveling to Europe, you should definitely add Germany to your Bucket List! Germany certainly has plenty of castles, fairy-tale villages and places of wonder that really need to be seen, drooled over & shared!

I receive a lot of people who always ask for some great suggestions of places to visit in Germany. So now, I share with you my favorite destinations in Germany, and even a few I hope to make it to!

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Heidelberg Christmas Market - California Globetrotter


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Heidelberg’s Romantic Christmas Market

Heidelberg Christmas Market - California GlobetrotterAfter having lived in Heidelberg for a year while I studied abroad, I am continuously drawn back over and over again. It’s one of the most beautiful towns in Germany. During the Christmas season, the town comes alive with sections of the Christmas market spread out throughout the entire town. From the minute you step off the bus at Bismarkplatz to Karlsplatz are endless adorable Christmas huts filled to the brink with Glühwein, chocolates and gifts for all!

There are Christmas Markets all over Germany and the rest of Europe, but if you honestly had to choose one that was the most magical, the most romantic and the most Christmasy, I would say then you should go to Heidelberg! For me personally, no other Christmas Market has ever lived up to my expectations as much as Heielberg’s. Buuut, maybe I’m a bit biased as it was my very first when I studied abroad here for a year during college.

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What is the Difference Between a Burg and a Schloss? - California Globetrotter


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What is the Difference Between a Burg and a Schloss?

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As a little girl, I always dreamed of living the fairy tale life as a princess in a beautiful castle perched upon a hill, with my long locks of brown wavy hair flowing over the castle window waiting for my prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet. Oh wait…that’s Rapunzel. Things like that don’t actually happen in real life, but that’s what we grow up thinking about if you come from the US. We don’t really have castles in America. I say that as a general statement, as there are “castles” in America, which are more like big fancy schmancy mansions. Hearst Castle in California is a great example of a mansion house being called a “castle” built by a newspaper millionaire in the early 1900s and is nothing compared to European castles.

Ever since I first came to Europe in 1999 for the first time with my family at the young impressionable age of 14, I have seen an endless amount of different castles in many different countries. My father always used to tell me that I was living in a fairytale and I better come back to reality. But how could I when real life fairytale castles DO exist!? Now, I just imagine my tiny apartment as some tiny castle overlooking the road with tall double white doors that open to a gate as my “balcony” which I imagine opening and singing to all the fluttery birds to come to my window like a scene straight out of Cinderella.

But here in Germany? I’ve seen castles that have left my jaw dropped on the floor in awe and other castles that are simple and not nearly as romantic. But then I realized, none of the castles are actually called a “castle”. Here, they have different meanings and while wandering around the ruins of an old castle the other night near Regensburg, I asked my German boyfriend what the difference between a “Burg” and “Schloss” is and our conversation west like this: Continue reading

Burg Hohenzollern - California Globetrotter


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Burg Hohenzollern

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Perched high upon the top of a mountain in the Schwäbisch Alb, built for strategic defense against intruders, sits the Burg Hohenzollern. Built first as a fortress in the 11th century, it has been destroyed and fallen into ruins only to be rebuilt a third time, in it’s current form.

The difference between a Burg and a Schloss is that a Burg is built for protection against invaders while normally a castle is built for comfort and beauty, such as the case of a 10-month siege by the free imperial cities of Swabia in 1423. The first castle built here was possibly known as the “Crown of all Castles of Swabia” and was known to be the “most fortified house in all Germany”. Continue reading

Ulm & Wiblingen Monastery Library - California Globetrotter


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A Day Trip to Ulm on the Hottest Day of the Year

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This past weekend has been a scorcher! Temperatures have climbed up to 99F/36.5C. People are swarming the local pools, eating ice cream as fast as they can and hiding in the shade. Unlike us, we decided to spend the afternoon driving in our new air conditioned car.

We made a day trip road trip, first checking out the Wiblingen Monastery Library just outside of Ulm before stopping for lunch and a quick walk around through the town of Ulm. Afterwards, we drove further west to wander around the Burg Hohenzollern. Continue reading

Schloss Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival - California Globetrotter


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Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival

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Autumn is my favorite time of year, when the air gets crisp and the leaves start changing colors. I can start wearing my mustard orange scarf to go with the season. The sunflowers in the windows of shops start changing to pumpkins and fall leaves.

Thanks to Pinterest, I discovered a fun festival in Ludwigsburg, just outside of Stuttgart. A pumpkin festival! Starting in early fall and lasting through to early November, the Ludwigsburg Palace has a long-lasting, fun & flavorful pumpkin festival that is both interactive and thrilling to stroll through!

Everything is orange and pumpkin! And I looove pumpkin everything! Luckily, I had a friend living in Stuttgart at the time, so we drove over to see her and check out the festival. There, you will find the Ludwigsburg Palace which is surrounded by lots of beautiful trees, which I can imagine being incredibly beautiful when autumn is full blown. Every year, they have a Pumpkin Festival with different events each weekend. So naturally, we decided to go!

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