A Germanic tour at our own pace – Post Bulletin

We stood on top of Mount Rigi at 5,897 feet. Can we manage the height down? We had trekking poles and hiking boots, but my husband and I were among the oldest in the group. It was a gorgeous, sunny, stunning day in the Alps, but could we do it?

My husband, Lowell, and I have been to Switzerland before, but now we’re on a tour billed as an “active vacation” with “energizers” and “active group travel.”

We spoke with Christine, the travel specialist/owner. She assured us that we could modify the adventures as we wanted or needed to.

And now, here we are, the moment of truth.

Our group of about 30 people had left Minneapolis-St. Bole Airport on June 18, 2023, arriving the next day in Munich, Germany. We had to spend two nights in Munich; Innsbruck, Austria; Lucerne, Switzerland; The Black Forest in Germany; And along the Rhine River.

In Munich, our first introduced dinner was schnitzel and kartoffelsalat (potato salad) – beer, if you like. We were in Bavaria, after all.

On our first full day, our group took a walking tour of the Old Town, conveniently timed so we could see the famous glockenspiel in action. In the afternoon, Lowell and I went to the Viktualienmarket (shops, lots of food, beer garden, souvenirs) where we had Munich lunch – sausages made mostly from veal. We spoke with a woman from Freising, a town west of Munich. She told us that Freising was originally larger than Munich. It had a salt trade on the Isar River, but when someone blew up a bridge, Munich got the salt trade. This is history.

That evening, several of us went to the famous Hofbrau House to enjoy beer, food and old-time music.


One of the most famous tourist attractions in all of Germany, if not the world: Neuschwanstein Castle.


We boarded our excursion bus the next morning heading to the world-famous Neuschwanstein Castle. The active adventure was to begin here. “Lowell and I modified our adventure by opting for the shuttle instead of walking the 40 minutes to the castle, but we walked up the tree-lined path after touring the castle.

In Innsbruck, the group adventure took the funicular – a mountain railway – and cable cars to the “Innsbruck Peak” for a beautiful panoramic view of the city and surrounding mountains. You could have hiked, but Lowell and I decided to take the cable car to a station with a patio overlooking the valley. We had a smoothie and smoothie lunch on a beautiful sunny day.

That night, Lowell and I went to a traditional Tyrolean folk show – music, dancing and Alpine trumpets. We booked tickets and taxi through the hotel. When do I hear such music at home?

To Lucerne. To get there, we traveled through the narrow and picturesque Inn Valley and a small part of Liechtenstein.

One of our big ‘refresher activities’ was the next day – Mount Rigi. Now, we were here. Time to make a decision.

Our group took the first ever European cogwheel train to the summit of Mount Rigi. The view was amazing, stunning and humbling. Mountains, alpine lakes, sunshine – very lucky with good weather.

You can ride the cogwheel train or hike. The scenery was beautiful, the weather was great – Lowell and I decided to go down – it was amazing all the way.

Below, our group took a boat trip across Lake Lucerne to the hotel.

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The ruins of Heidelberg Palace and part of the old university overlook the city of the same name, and are major stops in Heidelberg, Germany.


The streets of Lucerne were crowded with people and music due to the “Stadtfest”. We and another couple found a place to eat traditional cheese fondue. Others in our group found the raclette, a dish of melted cheese with potatoes.

Our final destinations took us back to Germany. We were now in the Black Forest—thick pine trees and a cuckoo clock town. After a stop in Freiburg, famous for its cathedral’s lattice tower, we took a fascinating tour of a cuckoo clock factory where traditional methods of clock making are preserved. That night, our four-course dinner included venison and crème brulee.

Our ‘active holiday’ the next morning was a hike in the Black Forest. You can do a “short” hike with the first guide, or a longer hike with the second guide. Lowell and I were happy with the “short” three-hour trek, including hiking boots and trekking poles.


Our trekking group is hiking in the Black Forest in Germany.


On the way to our final stay along the Rhine, we spent a few hours in Heidelberg, famous for its castle ruins on the Neckar and its ancient university (think “Student Prince”). We tried to have lunch at The Red Ox (Roten Ochsen), a student pub from the 18th century, but it was closed for a private party. Turn! Instead, we ate a sandwich and a berry platter in a square and looked out at the castle.

Our last hotel was in the Rhine Valley among the vineyards. It has its own vineyard and wine cellar. For two nights, we could go wine tasting before dinner. One night, we had one of the best soups I’ve ever tasted – white asparagus soup. The breakfasts were large and wonderful – traditional German fare of bread, cheese and wonderful meats – not unlike an American breakfast.

We had another day of “active travel” on our last day in Germany – an invigorating walk along the Rhine River, part of Germany’s Rhine Castles Trail. However, Lowell and I knew Bacharach as the end point, a 1400s town full of half-timbered buildings. It is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany. A town surrounded by vineyards and a castle on the hill. Some of us explored the city. Others made a long journey.


Dating back to the 1300s, Bacharach in Germany is filled with half-timbered buildings and is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany. The city is surrounded by vineyards and a castle on the hill.


Our last trip was a boat trip on the Rhine River to tour Rheinfels Castle. Lowell and I once again took out our hiking boots and trekking poles. You can hike up to the castle, but we chose to take the bus up, take a tour of the castle, and then hike back down – a modified activity.

The tour of the very large castle – destroyed by the French in the 18th century – was very good. However, the highlight for me was the end of our tour, where our group stood in the castle’s large vaulted dining cellar. Christine’s husband, John, began singing “Amazing Grace.” We all joined. The acoustics were great. It was spine tingling. I still get goosebumps when I think about it. A great end to a wonderful trip.

The next day we headed home.

Spirited Adventures Travel is owned by travel specialist Christine Lagos. Learn more by calling 651-398-2827 or going online at SATravel.us.

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