One of my main New Year’s resolutions is of course to explore and photograph more beautiful places around our planet, but I also want to make a commitment to go on more adventures closer to home. In Europe, and in our own country. There are so many enchanting places on this earth, that are not necessarily halfway across the globe. A few months ago I started an adventures list. A lot of my inspiration – both in terms of travel destinations as photography ideas – comes from Instagram (follow me here). Every time I’m excited by a photo of an amazing place I’ve never heard of before it goes on the list. And currently I’m following a lot of German photographers, and man, I had no idea that our neighbor to the East has so much GORGEOUS scenery. So my adventure list has been filling up quickly with a lot of destinations in Germany. That’s why I was very excited to cross a few of those places off the list on our first trip of 2017 to a beautiful region called Hunsrück-Hochwald.
We rented a lovely little A-frame cabin in South Germany with our newlyweds friends B&B, and prepared for a wonderful winter weekend in Hunsrück-Hochwald. We got lucky because a few days before our arrival, the area had seen some snowfall. And what is a winter weekend without snow, right? Everything looks so much more magical when it is covered in a soft layer of fog and snow. And if it’s going to be crazy cold anyway, at least I want to walk my frozen feet in the snow instead of the rain.
This picture perfect castle is located near the small town of Wierschem. It was built in 1157 and is still owned by the same family. How cool is that? The castle was built on a rock in the Eltz Forrest, and it’s only a short walk from the parking lot. It was super cold and a bit slippery when we made our way out there, and you can’t see the castle until the last few meters of the trail. But when you turn that corner, it appears right in front of you in all its glory. This is what fairytale castles look like.
I can’t remember if I visited this castle as a kid, but for some reason it felt very familiar. Maybe because I’ve seen so many pictures of it on Instagram lately. But as I jokingly said before: maybe – just maybe – because I used to be a princess in a previous life. Since my ancestors are from Russia, I used to imagine that I was a descendant of Anastasia, the Russian princess that went missing. I have no shame in admitting that. A girl can dream right?
Pretty much in the middle of nowhere, near the tiny town of Mörsdorf, one of Germany’s newest attractions was openend in October 2015. And it has quickly become one of the most visited sights, especially in the region. The Geierlay bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Germany with its 360 meters. It is built 100 meters above the Mörsdorfer Bachtal, and it is only accessible by foot or bike.
You can access the bridge for free, but you have to pay a few euros for parking. The parking lot is 1,7km away, so it’s a short walk to get to the bridge. The first time we made it out here I went by myself, because we didn’t have any coins for the parking meter (hello Germany, it’s 2017) and the husband stayed in the car. I ran from the car to the bridge on an icy path because the sun was setting – you know at 4 pm – and I had to get to the bridge with at least some light. I was, however, treated to a pretty epic sunset.
When I finally got there I was just a tad too late, but the cool thing was that the bridge was basically empty. I was there all by myself. And with the fog and the darkness slowly moving in, it had a very magical vibe. I don’t know what it is, but I truly have a thing with suspension bridges. Is that weird? No, right? Right?
Two days later we got back in the middle of the day, and although it got icier it also got a bit more crowded. Those final few meters before you actually get on the bridge may have been the scariest part, because it was so damn slippery. The first thing we saw was a girl in heels (HEELS!) doing a perfect bambi on the path down. Luckily her boyfriend grabbed her in time, which made the performance even more perfect. Please people: be sensible when it’s icy. We don’t want to see you die. Many thanks. Anyway, I highly recommend to make a stop at this cool bridge.
Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park
Since we came out to Hunsrück-Hochwald for a winter weekend, we were set on doing some hiking in a snowy white winter wonderland. We were very close to one of Germany’s newest national parks so we decided this was the place to go get lost. Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park was openend in 2015 and I think it can definitely make some progress in its marketing activities.
There’s not much information to be found about this new park. We had no idea where we could park the car or if there was some sort of visitor center. Even the nice lady at our reception desk struggled to give us some good tips. She actually looked a bit scared when we told her we wanted to do some hiking there. “By yourself?”. Uh yes. I can’t help but wonder what she knows that we don’t (wolves, bears, mutant deer?)… Anyway, if you think “Google knows all”, you’re wrong: not even Google Maps knows where it is. Talking about off the grid. In the end – thanks to a good old paper map – we drove to a parking lot close to the Keltischer Ringwall near the village of Nonnweiler. In case you want to go: check the coordinates. You’re welcome.
There is a – very confusing – map at the parking lot, but since we are four experienced hikers we thought we’d be alright. WRONG. Or maybe not wrong, but man, for a country so well organized as Germany, you’d expect some well thought of trails, WITH signs. And let me remind you: it was opened in 2015, but nobody thought of decent signage? So yeah, we got lost. A thousand times. It was a great hike though and the only other people we saw on the trail were two guys and their dogs. We had the forest to ourselves, which is always cool.
After a few hours of walking in a wonderful winter wonderland we made it back to the car. Such a great hike! There’s nothing that I love more than getting lost in nature – especially if we have good friends join in on the fun. And we definitely got lost…
Schnitzel & Beer in Trier
Yes. Germany equals heavy meat dishes and beer, am I right? So after our into the woods adventure we figured we’d earned a decent meal and a beer. So we drove to Trier. I’ve been to Trier before and it’s such a lovely and quaint city, with lots of beautiful historic buildings.
The most famous structure in the city is the Porta Nigra (Black Gate) which dates back to the Roman era. Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire, and the gate was built somewhere between 186 en 200 AD. Another fun fact: Trier is the oldest city in Germany, and also the oldest seat of a bishop north of the Alps. I bet you didn’t know that! What can I say: everyday is a school day.
The central square was still decorated with festive Christmas lights which completely attributed to the fairytale vibe. We had dinner in a decent restaurant on the square, Zum Domstein. If you’re looking for a cozy vibe, large beers, and some sauerkraut or schnitzels, this is the place to go.
The main draw of our lovely little cabin, was the fireplace. Every second we were in the cabin, the guys did their job by keeping the fire burning. Maybe they took their job a little too seriously because it was so freaking hot in that cabin. Especially that night we used the stone grill for dinner… (No worries people, we combined it with champagne to keep it classy.)
We had so much fun on our couples retreat to Hunsrück-Hochwald. Drinking amazing wines, playing games, getting lost in the woods, and having great conversations all around. Let’s do it again sometime guys!
Next week I’m going on a last minute solo adventure to Fuerteventura for some yoga and surf. Stay tuned!