Welcome to Kaiserslautern! You Should Know This… Post #2

Welcome back! As with Post #1, we have three more local bloggers that want to tell you what you need to know. If you didn’t see Post #1, check it out to read about getting started with your travels, traveling with kids, and staying healthy while you do it.

We will start Post #2 with some inspiration from Rebecca McKay, a local blogger by way of Malta. Next, our pal Karla from “A Little Piece of Germany” hopes to inspire you to take one of her favorite day trips. Last, blogger Kelley Lovely gives you a great vacation idea that you probably won’t hear from anyone else. Here we go!

Travel Inspiration by Rebecca McKay

Follow Rebecca at Yours Truly Rebecca on Facebook or at www.yourstrulyrebecca.com

Some may find European travel quite daunting. But it doesn’t have to be!

The best part of traveling in the EU is that you get to experience various countries, culture, and cuisine without flying for hours.

You’re in Germany eating all you can eat schnitzel and fancy some tapas? All you need to do is get on a flight (Ryanair is my fav) and you’re good to go. No visas or paperwork required.

You can also travel by car around Europe. You’re in Belgium and want to experience the Tulip Fields in the Netherlands? All it takes is a couple of hours and you’re there!

Traveling in Europe is very easy. Simply grab your passport, your things and get ready to explore!

Ring Tour in Rüdesheim by Karla

Follow Karla on Facebook at A Little Piece of Germany

Here is an easy day trip for newcomers, couples and even families with younger children. Take in the beautiful sights of a couple Rhine River towns by spending a few hours doing the Ring Tour!

Tickets can be purchased at the Seilbahn Rüdesheim cable car station. Just to note, there are 3 starting points for this ring ticket: Rüdesheim am Rhein (20 min from Wiesbaden), Assmannshausen, or Bingen am Rhein (depending on which way you want to start and finish). The Ring Tour is a self-paced, round trip (therefore called the ring tour), which includes cable car and chair lift rides, hiking and a ferry ride. The first part is a cable car ride up over the vineyards to the Niederwalddenkmal Monument, which overlooks the Rhine River valley. This impressive monument was built in the 1870’s/80’s to commemorate the Unification of Germany. Along with beautiful views, there is a snack bar, an outdoor seating area, and drinks available, if you choose to take a rest before the hiking begins.

When you are done taking in the monument and overlook views, there is roughly a 4.4-km hike through a pretty wooded area, to get from the monument to the village of Assmannshausen. This is an easy hike and very do-able for younger children as well as older adults. Take your time and stop to enjoy the lookout points along the way.

Following the hike, you will take a chair lift down into Assmannshausen. The ride going down is breathtaking as you come over the hills and out of the woods. It lasts long enough to take pictures and enjoy looking around over the valley. Leaving the chair lift, there are choices of restaurants or stores to look at and when ready, it is then just a short walk to the Pier 3 to catch the ferry ride back to Rüdesheim am Rhein (approx 30-40 min on the ferry).

If you choose, there is also the option to first get out at Bingen am Rhein. If you do hop off in Bingen am Rhein and have kids along, the Spielschiff – play ship – (located right by the Vinothek Bingen am Rhein restaurant) is a good place to let them burn off some energy for a bit. When in Rüdesheim, be sure to check out the popular narrow lane – Drosselgasse – and meander through the cobblestone streets to look at the shops and restaurants. If you want to see a quaint and charming German town, Rüdesheim is a good one to walk around, do a little souvenir shopping, or sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine or a beer!

The Ring Tour is a great way to see some amazing views and some parts of the smaller towns along the Rhein River ~ good outdoor activity!

Weekend Edition: Renting a Self-Drive Boat in France by Kelley Lovely

Follow Kelley at www.itsalovelylife.net

For a unique and relaxing vacation, consider renting a self-drive boat in France! Just a 90-minute drive from Kaiserslautern, you can hop aboard a boat with several cabins and meander up and down the canals. From the water, you can enjoy the scenic French countryside, stopping wherever you please to explore charming villages. There are several different companies that offer various types and sizes of boats in locations across Europe, including France, Germany, and Italy, but for our first excursion we chose to stay a little closer to home.

We drove to Lutzelbourg, a quiet, picturesque village close to the French-German border. After spending the morning exploring the castle ruins overlooking the town, we ate a simple lunch at a little café by the river while we waited for the boat to be prepared. Our rental came with a single bike, with the option to add more if wanted. We spent some time riding up and down the river while my husband (our designated captain for the weekend) finalized paperwork and got a quick lesson in operating the boat and navigating the locks.

France has an extensive series of canal waterways throughout the country, made navigable through a series of locks. A “lock” is simply a device used to make a river easier to navigate or cross land that is not level by raising and lowering boats. The locks in Alsace-Lorraine operate daily unless otherwise posted during daylight hours, so we spent most of our mornings riding through the canals, lying in the sun and waving bonjour to cows as we floated past. In the afternoons, we explored the tiny villages along the river, either stopping in for a bite or a bottle of local wine, or discovering that there were no tourist accommodations and simply enjoying the scenery or peeking inside old churches. Each evening we found a place to tie up for the night and went into town for dinner. Afterwards we’d enjoy the sunset, and end the night on deck with drinks beneath the stars.

The boat was equipped with a small kitchen area and adequate dishware with pots and pans for cooking a few simple meals. We brought eggs, cheese, fruit, cold cuts, pasta, and plenty of snacks with us in a large cooler that we stored under the floor space of the kitchen, choosing to reserve the small fridge onboard for keeping our water bottles (and, more importantly, champagne supplies) cool at all times. One morning we found a small bakery and created an Instagram-worthy breakfast platter to enjoy. If you haven’t had a fresh-baked, flaky croissant for breakfast aboard a boat in provincial France, it’s safe to say it’s worthwhile (and surprisingly accessible!), carb-filled experience.

Weekly rentals can cost several thousand dollars, but we stumbled on a short-term deal and paid around $1,000 for a four-day, three-night rental (including fuel and a small fee to bring along our dogs). Most companies nearby offer frequent discounts, so keep an eye out.

It was a great trip, worth a repeat!