During the Roman settlements in what is Germany today, they have built a limes, Limes Germanicus to be precise, to defend their territory to the east. In that approx. 570 km long defensive “wall”, a tiny section of 70 km, leads down south from Main river approximately south of Aschaffenburg. It was called Odenwaldlimes, best seen on the map of...more
I came across this very unusual custom when I read a book about hiking in Odenwald. On one of the photos these strange “tomb poles” and I knew I had to find them. The custom of adding these to graves seems to date back to pagan times when the dead were laid out on wooden planks to protect them against evil spirits on their last journey. Later they...more
I love to get out of the house and into the woods especially if it is a new set of trails. After looking over my maps of the Odenwald area I decided to hike along the ridge line between Hemsbach and Weinheim. While the weather wasn't the greatest as least the rain stopped by the time I got to the parking lot and didn't start up until I was already...more
Interested in seeing a couple of castle ruins but also getting in a little bit of exercise? If so, then this is a good hike for you. The two castles you will see are Alsbacher Schloss and Aurbacher Schloss both located on the western edge of the Odenwald nature park and about 40 minutes south of Frankfurt. The total distance for this hike is less...more
Once upon a time there were two giants who lived on two hills; one on the Felsberg, the other on the Hohenstein. One day they had a quarrel and began throwing boulders at each other. The giant from Hohenstein had the advantage of many more stones to throw, and soon the giant from the Felsberg was buried in a sea of rocks. Today that spot is known...more
In our quest to see the sites of the Odenwald, we planned an outing to Höchst im Odenwald. The town has a number of interesting sights nearby. Our initial plan was to follow the Obrunnschlucht, a unique trail that has many small model houses and castles along the way, followed by lunch at the local brewery. We found the parking for the trail on the...more
Located in the heart of the Odenwald, Michelstadt is a wonderful little village full of half-timbered buildings. The town dates back to Roman times when nearby Roman settlements guarded the limes. In the middle of town is the unique Rathaus (Town Hall) – the day we were there a wedding was taking place so we were not able to go into the building,...more
While Lorsch is part of the Bergstrasse, it is on the other side of the A5 and B3, making getting there a little more time consuming. But getting to Lorsch was easy - just off the A67 west of Bensheim. For us, it wasn't far at all from home so we took a day to tour this town. We didn't have any problems finding parking; in fact, we got a spot on...more
Seeheim-Jugenheim, a pair of small villages sitting side-by-side along the Bergstrasse, is a great place to spend the day. For hikers, the Bergweg winds through the hills that nestle beside the towns and meander down into town, giving wanderers ample opportunities to stop for lunch or an ice cream. The Bergweg actually runs the entire length of the...more
We returned to the Odenwald and specifically to see Burg Breuberg and explore this interesting looking castle near Höchst im Odenwald. Before we left home we checked out their website so we’d know some of the history and what to expect when we got there. Burg Breuberg was built with sandstone in the 13th century and today is still one of the best...more
If you only have time for one short hike, you might consider visiting Tannenberg castle ruins up in the hills behind the Lufthansa training center. The ruins sit high above the town of Seeheim-Jugenheim and provide spectacular views on a clear day. To get there, from the center of Seeheim, take Ober-Beerbacherstrasse towards the hills. Just as you...more
Here is an excellent hike for those who are interested in history and geology. It is 11 miles long but can be cut a little shorter is you take a side trail and involves two hills to conquer that are not bad if you are in decent shape. You should start the hike at one of the nature parking lots on the road up to the Auerbacher castle. I wouldn't do...more
In southern Hessen, this café has a fame. Bernd Siefert, the owner, has won several medals in pastry making and also the world championship some years ago. He is very active in marketing his products and the café in Michelstadt, wrote several books and gives seminars about anything related to pastry. On the first sunny weekend in March 2011, spring...more
Darmstadt:When I am in Darmstadt this is a place I like to go and have lunch. It's right at the market square, in the ground floor there is a bakery and upstairs there is a café , where you also have a light lunch. This is not a restaurant with a large menu, more a bistro type of place. They have a lunch menu, which always includes at least one...more
The small town of Dossenheim, just outside of Heidelberg, has an Italian restaurant which is much better than average. It's in the (very) small shopping mall there, on the first floor - second floor to Americans- and looks like any other Italian place. We had heard good things about it and wanted to try it.Walking up the stairs we heard a barrage...more
Dossenheim - Schwabenheimer HofSchwabenheimer Hof is a part of Dossenheim, a little village outside the town at the river Neckar. A few farms, a few houses, lots of fields, a lock and a very good restaurant, Zum Anker - To the Anchor, that's all.Built in 1738, this restaurant used to be the place where men and horses hauling boats could rest, the...more
This is an Asian restaurant in Viernheim,Bergstrasse. They offer all sorts of Asian meals, but their specialty is the Mongolian buffet. I don't know if it's really Mongolian, probably more a sort of mix from many Asian cuisines. (They also have French Fries, not very Asian, but an all time popular for kids.)There are several kinds of vegetables,...more
In the Fuerstenlager in Bensheim Auerbach there are two restaurants, one pretty expensive, the other a small, comfortable place. This used to be the guard station for the duke and his family. No full meals are served there,only some snacks and a good selection of freshly baked cakes , also soft drinks, coffee, beer and two of the regional wines....more
Getting around in the Bergstrasse is easy since it is nestled next to an Autobahn (A5) and a parallel road that runs directly through the towns – the B3. Additionally, the train goes past the towns on the Bergstrasse, although it doesn’t stop at all of them. Between Darmstadt and Alsbach, there is a tram that runs every half hour or so and the Alsbach train station is just a short walk from the final tram stop. You can check the actual times and locations at the DADINA website and a maps of the tram routes for the northern part of the Bergstrasse can be found at the DADINA Linienpläne page.
Getting into the Odenwald is a bit tricky if you don’t have a car – but the buses do run. Of course, having access to a vehicle makes it much easier to get to some of the wonderful trails that are a bit out of the way. The bus routes and times can be found at DADINA’s Fahrpläne page.
By car, you can enter the Odenwald on several roads, although not every town on the Bergstrasse has an access road heading east into the Odenwald. Eberbach, Seeheim-Jugenheim, Auerbach, Bensheim, Heppenheim, Weinheim, and Schriesheim all have roads that will get you into the Odenwald. Because the roads wind through the hills and small towns, it is helpful to know where your destination is and enter from the nearest town. Using the A5 or B3 to get to that town – you can do it the slow way if you are interested in just seeing the beauty of the Odenwald, but if you plan to park and spend the day, then you don’t want to waste all your morning getting there and the quicker way is to enter nearest your destination.
There are also roads that run north-south between Darmstadt and Heidelberg farther east into the Odenwald. Again, it is good to know where you want to go and enter closer to that location if you have specific plans other than just driving through the Odenwald.
Two statues are standing in the centre of Viernheim, a man and a woman. They were both local people, but really different from each other. The man was homeless, wandering through the area, working occasionally. He was generally well liked for his good humour.People only knew him by his nickname "Linsefranz" - "Lentil-Franz". I don't know why, maybe his favourite meal were lentils? He lived from 1871 to 1950. This is the only statue of a homeless man I know.
The other statue is that of a nun, pushing her bike through Viernheim. She was working in the local hospital and was mostly known for her relentless pursuing of her aims. When she needed money to help the poor, she would stop every member of the city council, no matter where she met them, and ask for money, and she usually succeeded. For her work she was given the Federal Cross of Merit, a high medal in Germany. She lived from 1902 to 1986.
Both statues are standing in the very centre of Viernheim, close to St Aposteln.
I have already written about these caterpillars on my Mannheim page, but since I came across a cordoned off area in the woods near Bensheim I want to warn you again. The oak procession spinner is a harmless butterfly, but its caterpillars are highly dangerous. They have tiny, poisonous hairs which they shed when they feel threatened - and they feel threatened very easily!. These hairs are blown away by the wind cause a very bad rash on human skin.
This is why it's so difficult to destroy their nests, since it has to be avoided that the hairs get blown away.
This year there were too many nests for the pest control to deal with all, so some parks, swimming pools and one school had to be closed for several days. The kids didn't mind the school being closed, but they would have liked to go swimming.
I'm speaking from personal experience, which is why I immediately turned around and walked back when I saw this sign.
This was a recent lovely find thanks to Carolina who wrote about it on her website. In the northern part of Odenwald, very near the famous Frankenstein Castle which is said to have inspired Mary Shelley to write the famous story about Mr. Frankenstein, is a group of stones which are magnetic. They are of the same rock formation as the surrounding...more
I came across this little fairy tale path when I looked up hiking paths near where I live. The moment I saw these cute little buildings and monuments I knew that I had to find them and walk through that little gulch. It was difficult though because it is not well signposted in the nearby town of Höchst (im Odenwald). But with the help of a map I...more
Went for a long hike on a nice (fairly nice) November day to work off Thanksgiving dinner and to see what I see. I started off at the Nature Park parking lot in Brensbach and took the blue square trail to the north and ended up in Otzberg (about 4 miles). The Vesta Otzberg is located at the top of the hill but fairly easy to get there. The Vesta...more
Do you like to play Tarzan? In the Kletterwald in Viernheim - a tree climbing experience - you can do just that.I haven't done it yet, as I feel I'm too old, but it's a great favourite for kids and young adults.
I even heard about a grandma who did it as a birthday treat!
You get a helmet and a rope with snap-hooks and then you can start climbing up ladders, to platforms or bridges high up in the trees. Or you can swing down on a rope and really pretend you're in the jungle.
I like to and watch, maybe one day I'll get the courage to do it myself.
Three hours of climbing are 10 Euro for children, 12 Euro for students and 15 Euro for adults.
Update May 2009:
We had four young US visitors and took them climbing.I didn't join, but I watched and listened, and I was very impressed by the organization. The safety instructions were given in English. This took a long time, almost 30 minutes. There is a low training area, on which everybody has to do a trial climb while the instructor is watching closely. Only when you have shown that you understood what to do you are allowed on the trees.
I was really impressed and our guests loved it.
One more word of advice: Use the bathroom before you start climbing up there.
Equipment: Don't wear your best clothes. All the equipment needed is provided. Cell phones/mobiles, any jewellery and anything else which may fall out of your pockets is best left at home.
Each year on the 1 May there is a big hiking (or lets better call it walking) in the vineyards between Heppenheim and Zwingenberg. With friends I go each year. Starting in my hometown Heppenheim we walk to Bensheim to the Kirchberghäuschen and stay there to have some wines ... It is always fun!more