Not so long ago, it was still kind of planned that we pack up our “summer clothes” and drive off to SYLT – a German island I´ve been really eager to visit ever since I moved over here. But then, well, as we by now probably all know, plans changed. It would have been a long drive by myself and besides, we had no reservation. So, plan B was CAMPING WITH LU, for the very first time! Well, I`ve done it often enough before to feel comfortable sleeping in a tent. Since we conveniently paired up with friends who live on the other side of the country – it was obvious we would meet somewhere half way. And there was THÜRINGEN. We´ve only always just driven through parts of this German state, when going to Slovenia and all I knew a bout it actually was that there are nice forests.
It was a longer weekend due to a national holiday day last Thursday, so we basically had 4 days, which was really enough for the circle we did. We met up in ERFURT, slept there one night and had two more nights in a smaller town called EISENACH. There was lots to see on the way and luckily the weather was super nice & warm – perfect for the first camping experience! In total, we did around 500 km, which is fine. Do watch out for the speeding controls on the way (I am awaiting a letter again).
Off we were. And because we were very good in time, we decided to make a stop in a little town called SANGERHAUSEN, which is still in the SACHSEN-ANHALT state, but on the border to THÜRINGEN. As I checked the route at home I saw here is the WORLD´S LARGEST COLLECTION OF ROSES! For a 5€ ENTRY FEE (kids under 6 free), this seemed like an obvious stop.
So this place has MORE THAN 8.600 ROSES and also serves as a GENBANK and an OPEN AIR MUSESUM – I have to say that even if there were predominately older people in the park, I still found it really interesting and the kids will love it too – mostly because of the playground and because they can run around ;).
Even though most of the roses were not flowering yet (must be better to visit in the summer months), it was a very pleasant walk through the gardens, there was also a very nice CHILDREN´S PLAYGROUND and a cafe, restaurant and shop. We spent almost two hours in here which was even longer than expected ;).
One more hour of driving and we finally found a free parking space in the centre of Erfurt. Erfurt is the CAPITAL AND THE LARGEST CITY OF THE STATE THURINGIA, most famous for its CATHEDRAL.
Also known as St. MARY´S CATHEDRAL, it is built in GOTHIC STYLE on a smaller hill at the main town square, called DOMPLATZ on German. When you climb up the stairs you get a magnificent view overlooking the square and the city.
Make sure you also go INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL, to see the ALTAR and the rich sculptures – one of them is even THE OLDEST FREE STANDING CAST WORK IN GERMANY.
On the other side of the Domplatz there are cute little cafes and restaurants on the ground floors of those typical WOOD-FRAMED HOUSES, where we first had an ice cream and a drink with a view on the Cathedral, before exploring the old town.
The OLD TOWN is not all that big so it´s easy to just walk around and check out the main attractions – we walked all the way to the famous KRÄMERBRÜCKE bridge and admired the buildings on the way. There were surprisingly lots of ICE CREAM cafes along the way, so we had to have another one ;).
This awesome MEDIEVAL BRIDGE, also known as the Merchant´s bridge (German KRÄMERBRÜCKE), is so special because it is lined with HALF TIMBERED HOUSES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRIDGE, so you basically walk on the bridge, but there are houses left and right of you. This makes it ONE OF A KIND IN EUROPE. A smaller branch of the RIVER GERA runs under the bridge. We first walked over the bridge (there are lots of cute shops) and then crossed over on the second bridge, to get a great view.
Not far away from the bridge there is a very nice CHILDREN´S PLAYGROUND, with a part being a water playground – the kids will love it, bring a towel and some extra clothes if you are there during warmer days ;). Also near by there is BIERGARTEN and lots of restaurants. We turned around here and walked back to the direction of our cars. We passed the well-known FORT PETERSBERG on a hill close to the Domplatz, but we decided to skip going inside because it was getting a bit late & the day was already long for the kids, plus we wanted to have a relaxed evening at the CAMP SITE.
Finding a place in a CAMP was more difficult than we thought as apparantly you do have to BOOK IN ADVANCE, even if you just come with a tent for 2 persons. So our first attempt was unsuccessful, as the camp was already full. So we found another camp and luckily managed to get in, but that needed some negotiations as well. Anyhow, it was a really nice one! And close to the HOHENFELDEN LAKE, where there was also a huge FREE TIME PARK, with climbing possibilities, you could rent boats and go swimming in the indoor pools. Very nice. We only had one night here though, but there were lots of families coming for the whole 4 days.
OUR FIRST NIGHT IN THE TENT was great and even I got so much more sleep than at home ha ha. The birds at 4:30 am did wake us up for a second or two, but we fell right back asleep. And it was soooo nice to open the front zipper in the morning and just looking at nature! Our friends have this super car with a kitchen and all, so preparing food was easy peasy this time and we felt really spoilt hihi. The next time we go camping we´ll have to manage this differently ;).
The next morning we packed up our things and moved on towards our next destination, which was the town of Eisenach, about an hour of driving from the camp site. But first, we made a stop at EGAPARK (just 3km from Erfurt), which is ONE OF THE LARGEST PARKS IN GERMANY. You have to pay 5€ for the parking and then there is the 8€ ENTRY FEE to the park, but it´s all worth it.
On the spot there has been a park for almost 100 years already, but it was converted into an EXHIBITION PARK in 1959. Here, we found EUROPE´S LARGEST ORNAMENTAL FLOWER BED (with around 150.000 flowers), a rose garden, a Japanese rock & water garden, glasshouses with orchids, butterfly house, bee houses, an observation tower, a barefoot path and much more.
For the kids, the best of it all was surely this amazing ADVENTURE PLAYGROUND, stretching over on 35.000 m², with pools and slides and all sorts of climbing towers. Also, there is a smaller ANIMAL FARM and lots of restaurants, snack bars and cafes. Bring swimsuits and towels, you will all get wet, especially on a warm sunny day like this!
What was meant to be a couple of hours visit, turned into the whole day! There was just so much to see & do here, and the kids loved the playground at the end, so all that was left for the day was DRIVING TO EISENACH, dinner & wine in the evening after the kids went to sleep ;).
This smaller town is mostly known for its major attraction, the WARTBURG CASTLE, which is also an UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE. This castle is famous for being the place where MARTIN LUTHER TRANSLATED THE BIBLE into German language. Also, the famous composer J.S. BACH WAS BORN HERE. Otherwise there are NUMEROUS WALKING, HIKING & CYCLING WAYS in the area, which makes it a great getaway into the nature, with a little history on the side if you decide to visit the castle as well.
Our camping was around 10km from the town, directly at the smaller lake called ALTENBERGER SEE. Besides the usual camp site amenities, here was also smaller children’s play area with a slide in the lake and luckily no mosquito ;). We stayed here for two nights (make sure you book it in advance if you´re there over the weekend or during holidays.).
ON OUR LAST DAY we took this wonderful WALK THROUGH A NARROW GORGE called the DRACHENSCHLUCHT. You can make a 12km ROUND HIKE, or you just make a part of this hike. There are 2 major parking lots, one in the area called HOHE SONNE and one just outside the town of Eisenach – we parked here and walked the first 500m along the main road, before turning into the gorge. You cannot miss it, just watch out for this wooden ENTRANCE with a DRAGON on it.
After about 20minutes of walking the gorge starts to get extremely narrow and sometimes there is even no space for 2 people to meet! If you can, be here earlier in the morning, it looked like around noon time there were just too many people. Luckily, this was the time we were already leaving ;). The kids loved this hike as it was kind of ADVENTUROUS and again, something I would have never thought it was in Germany! This is definitely one of the highlights in the THÜRINGEN WALD (Thuringia forest)!
Back at the cars it was time to SAY GOODBYE to our dear friends and after almost 3 hours driving we were BACK HOME. I´m so happy this worked out so well with us two sleeping in a tent – besides being outside on fresh air most of the time, we also saved quite some money not staying 3 nights in a hotel room. We paid around 18€ per night for staying in these two camp sites (1 tent, 1 car, 1 child, 1 adult). Can´t wait to go again! THURINGEN was great and this little trip was just right for the 4 days we had. Erfurt especially surprised us as it is really a nice town (it used to be in the Eastern Germany, that´s why I think many presume it´s nothing special, which really isn´t true). If you have the chance to visit this area, it´s surely worth it ;).