While those on the East Coast consider Hawaii a long…
Hello! This is my first travel report as a travel agent at Plaza!
We flew from NYC to Dusseldorf, then to Stuttgart. I paid a little more for the upgrade and it was well worth it for the extra legroom. The flight was only 7 hours long, and seemed to go very quickly!
We sleepily arrived early morning in Stuttgart. After a little confusion with the German language train lingo, we successfully made it into Stuttgart’s main station. We met up with our contact, Lena, and got our rental car. Then we were off in our cute little stick shift to our hotel!
If you are not used to a stick shift make sure to request an automatic. A standard is standard! I haven’t driven a standard in 20 years so it was fun and just like riding a bike. We all laughed as we jerked down the road shifting gears! Say hello to the Americans!
We were able to drive ourselves safely to the Arcotel Camino. There was a nice welcome from the front desk and they let us check in early to our room. The hotel itself is not quite what I would call luxurious; but the staff is helpful, the rooms are clean, and the beds are comfy! It is more of a business traveler’s hotel with modern simple décor. However, it’s close to the city center in Stuttgart and the complimentary breakfast the next morning was perfect before we hit the road.
We did enjoy The Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart and a short guided tour through the lively town square. We would have loved more time at the museum. It is a beautiful building that holds great history of the Mercedes automobile industry; which the Germans are so very proud of. They also have a Porsche museum, so it’s a great city for the car enthusiasts!
Day two and we are rested, fed and off to Heidelberg. It is a 2 hour drive on the autobahn reaching speeds of at least 120 kilometers! Not for the faint of heart! There are only 2 lanes and people drive fast! Needless to say, we made it safe and were able to check in early again at Hotel Europaischer Hof. Now this a hotel I could get used to! It’s the only 5 star hotel in Heidelberg , and is absolutely stunningly beautiful on the inside. Upon arrival we were upgraded to one of their three apartment suites. Their suite has 2 rooms and 3 baths with a pull down bed and couch. Perfect for families traveling with children. The service is impeccable and everything you would expect from a 5 star hotel.
This year marks the family run hotel’s 150th year Jubilee celebration. The passionate, fashionable and friendly owners oversee all of the day to day operations, which includes greeting all of their guests at breakfast! Their pride in the hotel really shows from the rich, luxurious décor, to the personal attention each guest receives. They truly treated us like royalty and I wish we could have stayed longer.
Getting a private guide to tour the city all day was extremely enjoyable. With all of Heidelberg’s cobblestone streets, stone buildings, hidden alleyways, fountains, Gothic churches and friendly people; I can now understand the t-shirt saying, “I Left My Heart in Heidelberg!”
We started our tour at The Student’s Prison which has a unique story behind it that captures the cities uniqueness and charm. We toured the churches and walked the bridge. We walked through little alleys and stopped for a cappuccino and a strudel. Our guide also took us to the oldest chocolate shop, The Studentenkuss, there we met the great niece of the original owner who greeted us and gave us some goodies.
We ended the tour at the romantic Heidelberg castle on the hill full of fairytales, amazing views of the city, and the world’s largest wine barrel! Guests can enjoy lunch, wine and ice cream at the castle and take a leisurely stroll back down from the castle into the city or ride the tram down.
Heidelberg ended up being our favorite city we visited in Southwest Germany and I would highly recommend visiting this beautiful, quaint, bustling little city on the Neckar River.
We spent the next few days driving all over Southwest Germany through some picturesque countryside. The weather was just amazing, it very much lived up to its known slogan-“The Sunny Side of Germany”!
One of our favorite preferred hotels in the Black forest, Hotel Traube Tonbach sits right in the middle of the Black Forest boasting a rich family history and still run by the Finkbeiner Family. They have 4 restaurants including the 3 Michelin star restaurant Schwarzwald. I am pretty sure I can say, without a doubt, that our dinner here was the best dinner I have ever had in my life! The staff was unpretentious and explained all the entrees and starters we chose with such passion and knowledge. The sommelier paired the perfect wine for each of our at least 7 courses and the food was just incredible. It was an unparalleled culinary experience I would highly recommend to everyone! It’s worth the beautiful drive through the Black Forest to see the hotel and enjoy their spa and 4 restaurants. There are many hiking, biking, skiing and cultural experiences to enjoy in Baiersbronn.
I extended our 6 night trip to include an extra three days in Berlin. We took a 5 and a half hour train ride on Rail Europe. The train ride was relaxing and a nice breather from all the driving we had been doing on our own. We read, ate, napped and watched the beautiful countryside from the big picture windows.
We arrived by taxi from the train station to the Ritz-Carlton Berlin. Talk about a warm welcome! The greeter, Louis, who was from the states couldn’t have been sweeter and made us feel right at home. He told us about his family and that his son lives in Pasadena! We were greeted by name every time we entered and exited the hotel. I have to say that this personal touch while traveling far from home really is nice. I commend The Ritz for their caring employees; this alone would have me coming back to stay there again. I definitely trust that if I sent a client there they would not be disappointed. Our suite was on the club lounge level with 24/7 access to the lounge. Breakfast, snacks, drinks, and a little buffet dinner were served all day. You also have a concierge there to help with any needs you may have. We had a view of The Sony Center and the bed and linens were perfectly inviting. The feel of the lobby is vibrant with many families and hip young people. I loved our stay at the Ritz and highly recommend it to any discerning client.
We toured the city on our own the first day with a Berlin City Pass. I found out after pre-purchasing the pass that we could have just bought it there with no problem. It is a good idea to purchase the pass, as it gets you in the all museums, churches, quick stop buses, the zoo, and many more attractions for 2 days. I believe the cost was about $100 PP and well worth it as we were able to do whatever we wanted without standing in the long lines to pay for each attraction. We strolled along the Spree and shopped local flea markets. We visited The Bode, The Altes, The Pergamon and The Neues. Man-that’s a whole lot of ancient art in one afternoon!
For our 2nd and 3rd nights in Berlin I chose The Adlon and did my mystery shopper.
The Adlon’s legendary history and glamorous reputation did not disappoint! At check in, we received an upgrade to the executive suite. Our room faced the square and we could almost see Brandenberg Gate. We were pleased and fascinated that this is the hotel where Michael Jackson infamously dangled his baby, Blanket, from the 3rd floor window! The hosts were gracious, attentive and met all of our expectations.
The room, bathroom and furnishings are luxurious. The 5 star hotel breakfast buffet was elegant and delicious, with staff there to take care of our every need.
We spent our last day on a street art tour. I am a big fan of street art and the culture behind it. Berlin has world renowned murals and graffiti that I had to see! I highly suggest hiring a local guide for this kind of tour because our guide, Tal, took us all over the city by subway to places we would have never found or felt safe finding on our own. It was a fun unique way of exploring neighborhoods in Berlin we otherwise wouldn’t have seen. If you have clients who enjoy the less touristy-more local hangouts, Berlin Dreamwalks would be a great suggestion. They also offer pubwalks and club walks for curious night owls!
I appreciate your patience if you made it this far into my report! I know it’s wordy but I wanted to make sure I got the highlights in. I left Germany feeling blessed and excited to have this new job and opportunity to travel and share my experiences!
“Have a vision of life that inspires you, then try every day to grow closer to the fulfillment of that vision”