This past winter my friend Janna, Katy and I went hiking in the Swabian border town of Beuron and found the castle Wildenstein. We decided a return trip was absolutely in our future. A new way to stay while I play (travel) here in Europe was fascinating to discover. It might be old hat if you’re a European, but for most of us from across the pond, I think this is a new way to travel. Great on your wallet, unique accommodations, wonderful hospitality and excellent for families. I think this way of traveling is the bomb!
This past weekend we stayed at The Jugendherberge Leibertingen-Wildenstein. It is also a castle, a hiking lodge, and restaurant. It was so much fun spending the night in this 17th century castle. We enjoyed some hiking, local fare and made some new friends, all without breaking the bank.
Here are some tips to help you join the “hosteling”club:
- Join the Club – literally ! (It’s €22.50 for a family membership) this annual fee makes it easy for you to traipse from destination to destination (world-wide.)
- Katy (my daughter, she’s 21) got a free card and can go anywhere in the world for about €20/night (available for family members under 26, when you sign up together) older than 26 it’s a little more
- There is a world-wide booklet that comes with your membership, enjoy the perusing.
- Not 5***** accommodations but quite nice, things to remember to bring with you, a bath towel, your own toiletries, bed sheets, pillows and cases (you can rent these extras too for longer stays at most facilities (shower facilities are separate from bathrooms)
- Closer quarters (you may have a larger family next to your two-(bed)room and although they are brick walls from the 17th century, we had some echoing but not much
- We ordered breakfast with our room – an extra €5.50/person, we could have ordered dinner also, but they had a large group that checked in, so same day resv. was out of the question.
- Many families with small children had checked-in while we were also and I suspect it’s very affordable (prices vary per property.) If you travel solo or with a companion, you may choose to have a less expensive option which is the dormitory. These are separated by male and female but the private rooms were not much more.
There are over 50 hostels in Baden-Württemberg alone. Lots to discover and share!
We left early Friday morning to begin our journey south, our first stop was the town of Balingen.
With the help of my Marco Polo Ausflug Books (day-tripping books) I chose the town of Balingen. Balingen was a little over halfway on our two hour trip. We always begin a day trip by visiting the local tourism office. Almost every office speaks English. After the attendant gave us a walking tour map we headed out to see some historical and architectural buildings that date back to the late 800’s.
Sites worth seeing in Balingen
After our walk through town and learning all about the fires, floods and rebuilding of the city, we decided to stay for lunch. We found a restaurant, Rosa im Klein Venedig right on the water in the area known as “Little Venice.” It was a delightful lunch and my farm goat cheese salad was unbelievable. The Zollernschloß (not to be confused by Hohenzollern) is a weights and measures museum located in heart of the city and provides a beautiful backdrop, don’t you think.
My friend V who was with us hadn’t visited the lovely town of Rottweil . Being one of my favorite Black Forest towns, and close by we detoured to see the oldest town in Baden-Württemberg. My friend Heather was with me this weekend and we remembered our visit this past February for the historical Fäsching parade and celebration. Thanks, Sigi!
Also the city is known for their beloved dog, the Rottweiler. These beautiful dogs shepherded livestock and kept the city safe from invasion for many, many years. Today, these statues remind the town and visitors of the loyal, protective breed who were first recorded in history around 74 A.D. with the Romans.
The painted houses, Roman gate and majestic views of the valleys are only a few reasons to visit Rottweil. Wonderful restaurants line the streets, the Dominican Museum and the Roman ruins bath and gardens make Rottweil a perfect day trip.
Burg (Castle) Wildenstein
It was finally time to head to Wildenstein and check out our castle digs. Just an hour from Rottweil, we enjoyed our ride through the Swabian valley that borders the Black Forest. We met Uvee at check-in, he remembered me from our visit this winter. Unfortunately, my Swabian German is not great, so a few times I asked him to speak a little slower. He finally spoke to me in English, taking pity on me.
Our rooms were on the small side but comfortable. I knew we wouldn’t be spending a lot of time there. Think more like camping than The Ritz or whatever daydream of Princess’s in castles you might be thinking. Internet was poor, but we were o.k. with that, we headed out for a walk, that turned into a hike. Later on, we bought some cards and played Hearts. I must say I did really well.
Our walk/hike began at the castle which is near the Danube river so we headed in that direction. However, we didn’t have our hiking shoes on, so we hiked just 3 km, found some caves, and beautiful scenery but never did make it to the river. We’ll have to come back.
Next, we headed to Kreenheinstetten, (a nearby town) where Uvee recommended Zur Traube, for dinner. We were so delighted to finally rest our toes for the day, clocking almost 22,000 steps on my Fit*Bit® The food and service were great and we enjoyed Biergarten seating. Our waitress also told us they were a guesthouse and had rooms available too.
Saturday morning we woke up early for our breakfast buffet in the castle dining room, (with excellent coffee.) Breakfast was an assortment of a typical German breakfast with meats, cheeses, breads, musli, yogurt and fruit. They also offered (little meatballs) Frikadelle for you to pack for lunch. As a hiker, these are great to carry with you. What a great service. We check out and headed to the town of Beuron. Saying goodbye- (Tschüss/Bis Bald) to Uvee we headed to Beuron. It’s only seven km from the castle so some people hike it. We knew we would be heading home from there so we drove and parked in the huge parking lot in town near the monastery.
Covered bridge completed in 1801
This covered bridge also documents the town and monastery history along the bridge walls. Located near the majestic Beuron monastery is settled between the cliffs of this valley. It’s one of my favorite monastery churches in Germany. As you can see it’s breathtaking.
The monastery itself is never (nie) open to the public. However, the lovely gift store where you can buy handmade wooden ornaments and artifacts, as well as hand lotions and other products produced by the monks is open to the public. As is the church. The church bells ring every hour and at noon they ring for quite some time. It’s an unforgettable experience hearing these bells echo off the surrounding cliffs.
We walked through town and saw Haus de Natur children’s museum at the Bahnhof and also discovered the Naturpark Express. It’s a train that runs through Swabia from spring to fall. We will investigate next weekend and I’ll report here.
One of the reasons to visit was my new friend Manfred. Manfred owns Cafe Härtl and fed us a warm meal in January when it was snowing and raining on our visit. His restaurant/antique store serves some of the best cakes you’ll find.
This is the Beinen (Bee cake) which is a sticky, light cream cake that is delightful. However, when we visited I tried the Hazelnut cream cake which was very similar to the “Birthing cake” we had when Katy was born over 21 years ago.
I hope you decide to investigate these types of accommodations while you are traveling this summer. They are unique and somewhat rustic but also unforgettable. Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll see if I can help out. If you do stay in a hostel, comment below and let me know how it goes.