Bavaria, the largest state in Germany, has a lot to offer – mountains, lakes and vibrant cities. 2010 boasts notable anniversaries and is the perfect time to visit
Oberammergau is a small picturesque village, with the painted houses typical of this area, and is situated 62 miles south of Munich. This year sees the performance of the world famous Passion Plays (www.passionsspiele2010.de). The plays have been performed every 10 years since 1634, and today attract visitors from all over the world. The first play was to celebrate the fact the village had survived war, poverty and plague and the villagers pledged to remember this by re-enacting the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Then, the play was held in the graveyard on the graves of those villagers who had died. Tradition states that only villagers are allowed to act in the play and today over 2,000 villagers are involved. Oberammergau is a beautiful village that has lots to offer the visitor in the surrounding area, such as the alpine town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the Zugspitze Mountain or the castles of King Ludwig at Neuschwanstein and Linderhof.
40 years of the Bavarian Forest National Park
Leaving nature to its own devices − this is the philosophy of the Bavarian Forest National Park. Visitors are very much welcome and invited to experience the exciting processes which take place during the redevelopment of a forest wilderness. You will be enchanted by an unspoilt low mountain range landscape of which up to 95% is covered by forest. Besides extensive woodland areas, the national park offers mountain peaks with fascinating vistas of nearly endless forests which cover the mountain range, crystal clear mountain streams and Lake Rachelsee, the park's only glacial lake. A network comprising more than 300km of well-signposted hiking routes, nearly 200km of bicycle routes and about 80km of cross-country ski runs give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beauties of the national park's characteristic nature, both, in summer and in winter (www.nationalpark-bayerischer-wald.de).
60 years of the Romantic Road
The Romantic Road is Germany’s most famous and oldest travel route and along the 400km you can take in spectacular scenery, mountains, cities and fairytale castles. The route stretches from Würzburg in Franconia to Füssen in the Allgau, or put another way, from the wine trails of Franconia to the beers of Bavaria. The route passes through 28 towns and cities and all of them worthy of a visit. My favourites would be the picturesque small towns of Donauwörth and Dinklesbühl, with their pretty fresco-painted buildings and cobbled town centres. The larger medieval walled town of Nördlingen is a worth a stop and a walk around the walls themselves and in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, another medieval town, its imposing town hall dominates the centre.
Augsburg is a city with a 2,000-year history and the Maximilianstrasse is considered by many to be one of Germany’s most beautiful boulevards. At the southernmost tip of the route is Füssen, a small town near to the fairy tale castle, Neuschwanstein, which was the model for Disney’s castle. The route's anniversary celebrations start in Rothenburg on 8 May and finish on 10 October in Bad Mergentheim. Check out the website for the route and details of the celebrations www.romantischestrasse.de. If you want to relax as you take in the sights then a good way is the organised coach tour, details on www.romanticroadcoach.de, the coach runs daily and prices for one week are around 133 euros.
175 years of railway in Germany
It was on 7 December 1835 that the first steam engine, The Adler, made the inaugural journey from Nuremberg to Fürth. Many people do not know that The Adler was in fact British built, and its driver William Wilson went from Britain to drive the engine on its maiden voyage. He liked Nuremberg so much he decided to settle in the city and did not return to Britain. The centre of the jubilee exhibitions is at the Railway Museum in Nuremberg, where The Adler can still be seen today. Here you can see a fantastic history of the railway, with trains new and old, from The Adler to the ICE trains of today. This is sure to bring out the child in anyone. There are many events being held from late spring and details can be found at www.tourismus.nuernberg.de.
As for Nuremberg itself, the many sights make sure that no visitor will be bored. From the German National Museum, Albrecht Dürer's House, the New Museum for Art and Design right through to the Documentation Centre Party Rally Grounds, over 30 museums offer exhibitions on a wide variety of subjects. If you prefer outdoor exploration, take a look at some of Nuremberg's many historical buildings such as the Imperial Castle, which is particularly impressive. Nuremberg's churches and fountains are also well worth a visit.
200 years of Munich Oktoberfest
First held to celebrate the marriage of Ludwig 1 to Princess Therese, this has grown into the world famous beer festival that it is today. Over six million people visit annually and this year there are extra events planned such as the horse races that were part of the early years of the celebrations. To ensure that everyone can enjoy this fantastic event the Fest has been extended by an extra day at the beginning and the end.
Huge beer tents are full of people enjoying themselves, drinking beer, dancing and singing. There is also a huge funfair where you can ride the rollercoasters, get dropped from a huge height or ride the ghost train, but I would recommend that this is done before you start drinking the beer! The Oktoberfest beer is very strong so it is important that you enjoy the fabulous food on offer in order to soak up the beer. You can munch on bratwurst sausages, crispy pork knuckles, roast ox or try the “Wies’n Hendl” – delicious half roast chicken with crispy seasoned skin. This is one festival I would not recommend for the family. More information can be found at www.oktoberfest.de.
For recommended hotels in the National Park try Torbrau, a centrally located hotel, with friendly staff and prices from 149 euros including breakfast. The Holiday Inn Nuernberg City Centre's convenient central location puts the quaint Old Town's shops and restaurants on your doorstep, as well as the sights of the old town and the railway museum is just a few minutes away.
Bavaria is a great family destination and with so much to offer this year especially, I would highly recommend you give it a try.
For more information on the Oktoberfest see www.insidersmunich.com