On my way through southern Germany I have decided to follow the Romantic Road, a well-trodden route of medieval towns, fairy-tale castles and quaint villages, popular with artist, poets, writers and now international tourists.
My journey commences in the large city of Wurzburg, situated on the Main River and surrounded by vineyards producing the local Franconian wine, which comes in a green bottle called a bocksbeutal, similarly shaped to that used for the French Mateus Rose.
There’s a lot to see in this city and I start in the main square where, in front of the gothic Marienkapelle, a gospel choir are singing and praying. Further on, the bells of the domed Cathedral of St Kilian are ringing loudly and people are climbing up the steps and entering the massive doors. Passing the very ornate university buildings, I eventually arrive at the ornate Court Garden of the Residenz, a UNESCO World Cultural Property and former residence of the Prince Bishops of Wurzburg.
The palace was designed by architect Balthasar Neumann and work began in 1720. The result was 360 grand rooms and a large curved vault above the main staircase decorated by the Italian painter Tiepolo. Luckily, it was spared when British bombers destroyed 90% of the city in 1945.
I discover the history and visit the 43 rooms which are open to the public on a guided tour, which is in English and included in the price of my ticket. Although most of the rooms have been carefully reconstructed from old photographs, the furniture is original as the Wurzbug officials had the presence of mind to store it in case of damage during the war. Disappointingly, photography is forbidden, so the interior photo is not mine.
The next day I follow a lovely path which winds between the defensive walls and leads up to the Marienberg Castle. It was also destroyed in 1945 but many years of reconstruction resulted in its reopening in 1990. However, judging from the scaffold-shrouded chapel, there is still much to be done.
From a terrace in the gardens I am rewarded with a wonderful view of the city and the glass-sided cruise boats which pass along the river far below, under the statue-lined Alte Mainbrucke, the ancient footbridge whose foundations date from the 8th century. It’s a popular place to hang out with a large glass of wine, while watching the sunset.
After the big city of Wurzburg, the quiet village of Weikersheim provides a haven of peace. The 18th century palace is the big draw here, with over the top stucco work featuring a 3D stag and elephant, and a chain-suspended ceiling painted with hunting scenes.
However, I’m happy enough to wander the cobbled streets admiring beautiful bronze statues and more modern, colourful busts of young women. I sit for a while in the market place with a cup of coffee and watch the hikers pass through. While I am following the Romantic Road in my Motorhome, others choose to cycle, or even walk, the 400km route.