When your friend works for Adidas at their headquarters in middle-of-nowhere, Bavaria, you’ll inevitably find yourself flying to Munich to pay your respects.
You’ll also find yourself renting a car and driving two hours north on the autobahn, listening to terrible German radio on your way to a small town called Erlangen, where said friend is living on the edge of the countryside.
And when you have another friend who gets to fly standby because she works for JetBlue in New York, she might decide to join the trip too. So you drive to Erlangen train station to pick her up, then you have lunch and beers together at Kitzmann Brewery, founded in 1712. Ah, beer.
My friend’s part of town is really tiny. Five minutes drive from her place is a real working farm with a little storehouse where she buys seasonal fruits and vegetables, eggs and fresh milk straight out of a vat. Yes, vat milk.
You just tally up the total, write it in the notebook and throw your euros into the money box, then collect your change.
So what’s there to see and do there? Well, you can do a lot of outlet shopping for workout clothes, if that’s your thing. Adidas and Puma are both headquartered the next town over in Herzogenaurach. There are Nike and Reebok outlets too.
Other than that, just enjoy the regional beer. One night, the three of us drove to the city center for kellerbiers at Steinbach Brau, a popular local brewery.
Another night we ate at Polster (above), a middle-of-nowhere bed and breakfast. There, we had beers and too much German food, including this massive pork shoulder we couldn’t finish. Don’t even ask about the tennis ball-sized potato dumpling.
The night after that, we ended up at Steinbach Brau again for more kellerbiers plus German food. And that’s pretty much all we did in Erlangen. During daylight hours, we hit the road to explore…
The plan was pretty simple: Rothenburg on Saturday, Bamburg on Sunday, then Wurzberg on Monday. Beer in Rothenburg and Bamburg. Wine in Wurzberg.
Rothenburg is quaint and loaded with history, but it’s also pretty touristy. We wandered around quiet alleys and poked our heads inside the Christmas ornament shops and German stuffed animal shops. The only problem is a furry little owl can be priced at 50 euros, and a single Christmas ornament can cost about the same.
You get sucked right into that tourist mindset, believe me. We were casually browsing locally-produced linens and before I knew it I found myself seriously contemplating an expensive tablecloth.
The highlight of our day in Rothenburg was walking — no, hiking — downhill from the city center to a hidden beer garden by the river called Unter Den Linden. The lowlight, naturally, was walking back up that hill to sober up before the drive back to Erlangen.
Another highlight was a mindblowing pumpkin soup at the restaurant of Flair Hotel. It was pumpkin season, so it was on just about every menu. The soup was so tasty (garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil) that I ended up ordering it everywhere we went.
Sadly our day in Bamburg was completely uneventful due to rain, so we sat inside with all the other weekend tourists drinking the legendary smoked beer at Schlenkerla Tavern, where you can order a pint starting at 9:30am. The place was constantly packed.
Finally we headed to Wurzberg, a picturesque town well-known for producing quality wines. The one thing everyone does in Wurzberg is stand on the pedestrian bridge and enjoy a crisp white wine for 4 euros.
You line up at the Alte Mainmuehle, pick your poison and pay a deposit for the wine glass. Then you find a spot on the bridge to lean against and rest your glass. It’s possibly the most gorgeous outdoor wine bar in the world.
We dragged ourselves off the bridge to have lunch at a random German restaurant. Then we dropped into the Buergerspital wine shop for a wine tasting before heading back to Alte Mainmuehle for a last glass of wine inside the restaurant.
It had gotten chilly by sunset but you can see the crowds on the bridge still going strong. Looking at this view, I’m so glad we saved Wurzberg for last.