I took a business trip to Germany in August 2012.

I flew in/out of Zurich (A), spent the night in Villingen (B, hidden by F), stopped in Uhldingen (C) on the way to Regensburg (D) where I spent 2 nights, then stopped in Nuremburg (E) for lunch on the way back to Villingen (F) for one last night before flying out of Zurich.
About 1000km of driving!

Here are some highlights.
(Click any image for a larger view)


Marcel, my good friend and coworker and host, lives in Unterkirnach (a village adjacent to Villingen), so I stayed in town the night of my arrival.
Interestingly, Villingen is the source of the Neckar and is just north of the source of the Danube.
Villingen is beautiful, and like many old German cities it has a walled town center.
The town center is accessed via any of several towers

I was there!

Same tower, longer view. Note the cobblestone streets.
Most of the town center is off limits to passenger vehicles

Marcel set me up at the Hotel Mercure, which is in the town center and right across from the 13th century Franciscan monastery. Great place to stay!

Here's the historic plaque on the monastery

Looking down the street between the hotel and the monastery

Tucked in between the church and street is an old water trough

Behind the monastery is a beautiful courtyard. The wall on the right is part of the old city wall.

Closeup of the large tower in the courtyard

Some building in the town center

An inviting sidewalk cafe

The church and spire

A model train shop!

The next morning I took an early-morning walking tour of the town center.
The market was all set up - this seems to be a daily thing in the summer.
Some things were familiar, many things I had never seen before, but everything looked delicious

The cheese wagon

The meat wagon

The sausage wagon


From Villingen we drove to Regensburg via Uhldingen.
We took a long-ish route, first stopping at SphereOptics GmbH in Udhdingen, on the shores of Bodensee (known to Americans as Lake Constance).
Bodensee is the 3rd largest lake in Europe, and is the headwaters of the river Rhine.

Udhdingen is on the eastern shore of Bodensee. It's often foggy here, and this day was no exception.

We happened upon the Wallfahrtskirche Birnau (Birnau Abbey), built in the 1740's

We stopped to see it; here's the front

Here's the inside. Video/photos aren't allowed, so I stole this pic from Wikipedia:

Here's a video I took of the front of the Abbey and it's view of the Bodensee.

The SphereOptics office is located in a hillside residental area overlooking the Bodensee; here's the unassuming front of the building
The building is actually 3 stories tall; you enter from the top floor, which is at road level

You must go down two flights of a somewhat tight spiral staircase... how do they get furniture up & down this?

The office is actually a 1-bedroom condo that was finished as an office instead of a residence (i.e. no kitchen)

The view from the balcony is amazing

Here's Marcel in the office

And here's Christina, Rainer, and Marcel on the balcony. Very nice people... Germans and Americans have a lot in common.

Then we were off to Regensburg driving on the Autobahn at speeds up to 140MPH (Marcel loves his Autobahn)


After Uhldingen, we headed to Regensburg via Munich (didn't stop) to visit a customer, and had the chance to tour the town on the evening we arrived.
Regensburg is a walled city on the Danube (about 400km downstream from Villingen), and is known for a number of things, including the Steinembrucke (900 year old stone bridge) and for it's Medieval city center which escaped damage in WW2.
Here's the Stone Bridge.

Closer view

Proving I was there

There's an island in the Danube at the midpoint of the bridge. The right channel is quite fast-flowing, and the bridge piers attract kayakers

The river's left channel is very sedate and picturesque

At the south end of the bridge is the Historiche Wurstkuchl (Historic Sausage Kitchen), which is as old as the bridge itself.
We had planned to eat here, but it closed at 7pm, just as we arrived.

The south end of the bridge. This side has a tower with a clock and fortified gate that was part of the original medieval city wall.
The Wurstkuchl is behind the red/white awning to the left of the larg building that's attached to the clocktower.
The river occasionally floods with the spring thaw, and the record height is at about the middle of the large building's lowest windows.

Here are some pics of the 2011 flood... very impressive.
The south end again, further back

The church spire in full view

Buildings on the upstream side of the bridge

Here's a 360 degree video I took at sunset from the bridge:

The north end of the bridge is undergoing renovation. Instead of an ugly barricade, they created a temporary wall with a life-size historic photograph of the bridge from when it had a trolley line

We had dinner at a beer garden on the banks of the left channel

I'm in heaven: A big plate of Bavarian bratwurst and sauerkraut, with sweet mustard and a half liter of beer

These bratwurst are very different from - and astonhingly better than - the brats we have in America. They're longer and thinner and MUCH more flavorful.
The sauerkraut is also vastly better than any I've had before... the benefits of authentic food.
Headed back across the after dinner with the church spire illuminated.

Here's something you don't see everyday... me in suit!

(I've been told that I look like a Mafia hitman :)


Headed back to Villingen on the last day, we stopped in Nuremburg for lunch.

Nuremburg is a big city with a medieval walled town center.
The modern part outside the walls is pretty uninteresting - just a big, dirty city. But inside the walls it's magical.
Nuremburg was destroyed by Allied bombing in WW2, but the walled city was painstakingly reconstructed and has a very old world feel.

The first glimpse of the old city is this tower:

We drove around the outside of the wall for a bit

Upon entering the walls we came upon this clocktower

There's a farmers market at the base of the tower

We soon came to the iconic St Lorenz church

Closer view of the front

Corner view; it's a massive structure!

Here's a map of the walled city

The buidings have all sorts of neat features, such as this sundial on a corner

We crossed one of the many bridges over the river that flows thru the middle of the city. Upstream view:

Downstream view:

We came to the Frauenkirche with a big open-air market in it's plaza

In this plaza is the Schöner Brunnen, a fountain with a metal ring that is said to bring good luck

What's funny is that the shiny brass ring ring that all the tourists stand in line to touch it not the lucky one!
Marcel, being German, knew that the real lucky ring is the dark-colored one (which I'm touching) on the other side of the fountain!


Random German stuff.

Germany has made a big commitment to "alternative energy". There are LARGE windmills everywhere.

You also see fields covered with modern "crops" of solar panels (near the road) adjacent to more traditional crops (hops, up on the hill)

I saw a lot of construction everywhere we went.
Something that caught my eye is the ubquity of this style of "one armed" crane, where the counterbalance is a set of large concrete blocks at the end of a cable at the base.
In America, cranes tend to be "two-armed", with the counterbalance up in the air.