Best of Germany is a 10 day Insight regional tour of Germany, starting in Berlin and ending in Mainz. I also had an extra day at the beginning in Berlin, so to ensure I had enough time for the museums that weren't covered in the tour.


May 1
I landed in Berlin's Tegal Airport around 4pm, after catching my adjoining flight from Dusseldorf. I had already obtained the "Welcome to Berlin Museum pass" which entitled me to both free access to certain museums and free use of Berlin's public transport for three days. This was great as all I had to do was validate the ticket on the TGX bus and they took me to Alexanderplatz.

The hotel I had arranged for the night was the Novotel on Museum Island. Great location and easy walking distance to all the main sites. That night I walked to the Cathedral on the Island and then on to the Brandenburg gates, Reichstag and Soviet soldier memorial.
May 2
This was day 1 of the Insight tour. The weather was wet, but I took a walk back around Alexandaplatz again to kill time before the museums opened (10am). I first visited the Neues Museum featuring the Egyptian collection including the famous bust of Nefertiti. I then had to queue for two hours in the rain for the Pergamon Museum. It was madness with lack of crowd control and the crowd surging when ever they allowed anyone through. People were getting crushed. It was no place for families or the elderly. I finally got in and the museum exhibits were awesome. There was so much to see there that I spent around two hours inside!

After that madness I escaped to the Natural History Museum to see the famous dinosaur fossils such as the Archaeopteryx. After this I revisited the sites I saw the night before, before picking up my luggage and taking the U-bahn to find the hotel where the Insight tour was meeting. We had our welcome dinner in Potsdamn platz where we were entertained by a couple of excellent musicians. One from Poland and one from Australia.
May 3
The included Berlin sightseeing by bus was typically frustrating with the road around the Brandenburg gate being closed to traffic, so we passed by without seeing it. The rest was okay with good explanations of the various sights, but very little chance for a photo.

The afternoon was free so I revisited the sights again including Checkpoint Charlie and the AlexPlatz before stopping off at the Alte Museum. No queues for this museum! I tried Currywurst for lunch which is basically a sausage with hot tomato sauce and curry powder. I was very comfortable getting around on the U-bahn to and from Mitte. The Insight hotel was located away from the sights, in the centre of former West Berlin.
May 4
The next day we set off for Dresden, the capital of Saxony. On arrival we braved the cold weather and embarked on a walking tour of the sights. Our hotel was excellently located right beside the Cathedral in the main square, with all the sights on our door step. Dresden is famous for its porcelain china which August the Strong helped establish in the region. In our free time I investigated the market (the stores are closed on Sundays!) before having one of the two optional excursions I took on this tour - Dinner overlooking the Elbe.
May 5
Continuing on the tour, we arrived in Bayreuth for lunch before continuing on to Rothenburg. A picturesque 16th century, medieval town surrounded by city walls and ramparts. Again our hotel was excellently located right near the main square. We were first introduced to snowballs (their local sweet), and had time to explore before our dine around experience. Good food, drink and way too much fun was had by all.

After dinner I continued on exploring and photographing the town by night. The streets featured some imaginative shop windows, some involving stuffed toys in what appeared to be Rothenburg. After a few drinks they were even funnier!
May 6
We left Rothenburg for Nuremberg where we first stopped at the Zeppelin fields to see the Nazi party raleigh grounds before continuing on to the old town for lunch. We had some time to explore the old town before continuing on to Munich. Before leaving we were given Ginger bread (Lebkuchen) a local speciality food - very tasty!

The next stop was the Bavarian capital of Munich. We had three hours to explore so I found myself a quiet spot to base myself, at a disused fountain in front of the church. I set out exploring the sights I had on my map and brought a guide book to help. Later that evening we had our excursion to a local beirkeller. What are the odds it was in front of that same fountain! That evening I was so hungry (and the food was so good) that i cleaned my plate. The owner was so impressed with my effort that he gave me a walnut schnapps. Again the entertainment, food and fun was legendary!
May 7
Wet is all you can describe the weather. We visited the mad Prince Ludwig II's Neuchschwanstein castle, who's image is synonymous with Germany. The castle wasn't completed before the prince's untimely death. The throne was never installed and the rooms were much smaller than you would expect for a royal residence. The castle is right near Hohenschwangau castle where Prince Ludwig II grew up.

From there we carried on to Oberammergau featuring houses painted in murals of the Brothers Grim fairy tails before stopping off at Wieskiche to see the church.
May 8
Leaving Munich we headed for Lindau on Lake Constance for lunch, where we had time to explore before heading off to our hotel Titisee, in the heart of the Black Forest. Lindau was set on an island on the lake which had a Annecy/Geneva feel to it with a lighthouse and lion guarding the harbour entrance.
May 9
Next morning we left Titisee and visited a Cuckoo clock maker who apparently had the largest working cuckoo clock along with a ready supply of cherry wine, liquor and black forest cherry cake. I succumbed to all these and am now have a new clock.

We continued on to Heidelberg where we had just 45 minutes to have a rushed lunch (the fast food outlet Subway saved the day) and see the town before being whisked away to the castle. We left Heidelberg for Mainz, arriving with less than an hour for the next excursion to Rudeshiem. I didn't go, opting instead to explore the city.
May 10
Today Castle spotting up the Rhine! We travelled up the Rhine by bus as far as St Goar where we boarded a one hour river cruise up to Boppard. From there we re-joined the bus for the remainder of the day, travelling to Koblenz where the Mozel meets the Rhine at the foot of the Wilhelm I statue. It was damaged during WWII and left that way until unification before being repaired. I had bratwurst for lunch - think oversized sausage in a hard-crust bun with mustard.

From there we drove back down the east bank of the Rhine back to Rudeshiem to visit the Niederwalddenkmal (Germania monument). Made for the Germany-France war, it overlooks the Rhine in the direction of France. We returned to Mainz for dinner.
May 11
There was just one airport transfer offered by Insight this day due to a marathon that had closed many of the roads. With typical German efficiency they started closing roads early meaning our race to the airport was as much an exploration of what routes were left. When we finally arrived at Frankfurt airport they didn't allow the bus to disembark passengers in front of the terminal so we had a walk to try and find where we needed to be. The airport was a tad confusing but I managed to get through with an hour to spare for my flight to London.

This tour was well paced for the first half with some centrally located hotels, but after leaving Munich things were too fast paced for Insight's usual standards. The itinerary could seriously be increased by a day or two, to allow more time in Western Germany.