The Sunny Side of Germany Offers Countless Reasons to Smile
SouthWest Germany, namely the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg is bordered by France on the west, Switzerland to the south, Bavaria to the east and Hesse to the north. The Black Forest, Lake Constance (the Bodensee) and cities such as Heidelberg, Baden-Baden and Stuttgart are jewels in the crown of SouthWest Germany. With 2,329 hours of sunshine annually, Baden-Wuerttemberg is Germany’s sun-drenched Land of Smiles.
Although relatively small, about 150 by 100 miles (250 by 160 kilometers), SouthWest Germany packs in more cities, towns, traditions, recreational facilities, world-class arts, industrial sites, activities, and attractions than other, much larger German states. SouthWest Germany is the birthplace of the car. In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler invented the first real petrol powered engine. But it was Karl Benz who received the first patent for a gas powered car in 1886.
SouthWest’s seven major cities range from urban metropolises like modern Mannheim, Karlsruhe and Stuttgart to the smaller, more intimate cities such as Freiburg, Heidelberg, Constance and the resort city of Baden-Baden. Smaller resort towns include Badenweiler, Friedrichshafen and Meersburg on the Bodensee.
Given all of the sunshine, Baden-Wuerttemberg boasts Germany’s finest orchards whose fruits are also distilled for excellent liqueurs made from cherries, apples, pears, apricots, peaches and plums as well as straw-, goose-, raspberries and currants. Although SouthWest Germany’s Baden and Wuerttemberg wine appellations are lesser known, they offer many of Germany’s finest Rieslings, and white and red pinot wines – blanc, gris, noir and meunier, as well as Lemberger, Trollinger and even Cabernet. These are so good they usually are consumed at home by connoisseurs or at the winery. SouthWest boasts the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in all of Germany. French and Swiss culinary influences on local cooking traditions elevate and distinguish Baden and Swabian regional cooking.
Excellent breads, plentiful vegetables, fresh-water fish from the countless lakes and Black Forest streams, as well as meticulously prepared smoked meats and select meat cuts are keynote SouthWest Germany’s cooking. Pure aquifers’ waters make SouthWest’s locally brewed, small-batch beers unique. These rarely are exported. The Danube rises in SouthWest Germany. A tiny stream at first, Europe’s longest river links Germany and Austria with the Balkans, Russia, and the Near East. The Rhine provides a massive waterway for important freight traffic and passenger travel beginning at the Baden-Basel corner of SouthWest Germany. The Neckar, also rises here traversing the region flowing south to north carrying freight from the interior Alpine Foothills to the massive Mannheim river port.
Castles and palaces, large and small, abound in SouthWest Germany: Heidelberg, Schwetzingen, Mannheim, Hohenzollern, Sigmaringen, Ludwigsburg, Karlsruhe, Meersburg, and along the whole length of the Neckar River, just to name the largest. Likewise countless villages and hamlets still showing their medieval architecture and remnants of city walls are a treasure trove for history buffs.
Three major theme parks – Europa-Park Rust (in the Black Forest), Tripsdrill (northwest of Stuttgart) and Ravensburger Spieleland (near Lake Constance), offer rides, shows and entertainment programs for all ages. Professional sports teams offer soccer, basketball, ice hockey, German handball in the cities. Fast track car races at Hockenheim Ring are a stone’s throw from the auto’s birthplace.
Museums devoted to cars, clocks and crafts showcase SouthWest’s creativity, workmanship, innovation, artistry and notorious attention to detail. The first cuckoo clocks were made in the Black Forest back in the mid-18th century. Top world-class opera, orchestral and choral concerts, ballet in great concert halls, castles, and opera houses, splendid church concerts and smaller ensembles abound throughout SouthWest Germany. So, too, pop and rock events as well as musicals and jazz and folk festivals.
There is plenty of physical recreation to be enjoyed in SouthWest Germany: hiking, cycling, mountain biking, sailing, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, water sports, skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and curling, as well as golf, tennis, squash, horseback riding and much more. Wellness and spa treatments date back to Roman times in the SouthWest. SouthWest Germany’s has a vast array of accommodations. They range from campsites to motels, cottages, B+B’s, pensions, guesthouses, and every style of hotel, including youth hostels and one-star super economy rooms to five-star international luxury hotels, manor houses and castles. SouthWest Germany offers a good night’s rest for every budget, from starving student to tycoon traveler and everybody in between.
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