German wine country & pumpkins galore! We spent last weekend driving south to find Fall in Germany. Our first stop was a charming riverside town, Rüdesheim am Rhein, known for growing Riesling grapes and turning them into delicious wine. We stayed at the cutest little German hotel in a room overlooking the castle on the other side of the river. Being in Rüdesheim felt like being in the country, which we haven’t experienced much in Europe since we’ve been mostly visiting cities. It was a nice change to find a nearby biergarten with local Germans singing drinking songs and yelling Prost! (Cheers!) to everyone with a beer. We spent a morning strolling around town admiring the huge year-round Christmas shops and sampling some local wine. Before we drove on to our next destination, Jon tried the famous traditional Rüdesheimer Kaffee…which is a special brandy with sugar cubes that is set on fire until the sugar dissolves. Strong coffee is added with whipped cream and chocolate topping…yum!
Ludwigsburg is more of a modern city than a cute German town but its main attraction is the impressive Ludwigsburg Palace. Built in the early 1700s and untouched by WWII, we toured the humongous palace known for its Baroque/Rococo style and comparisons to Versailles in France. We probably visited about 25% of the castle and it still took over 3 hours to view. Oh and the tour was entirely in German so we pretty much nodded and smiled the whole time.
The best part of the palace were the beautiful gardens, home to one of the largest pumpkin festivals in the world every fall. Known as Kürbisausstellung Ludwigsburg to the Germans, the festival had pumpkin flavored foods, pumpkin flavored beer & wine, pumpkin gifts, pumpkin games and, of course, pumpkins! This year’s theme was “Pumpkins in Flight” so we were treated with huge creative pumpkin sculptures of airplanes, Aladdin on his magic carpet, a proud Eagle, UFO’s, the moon landing and many more. Make sure you check them all out in the slideshow below!
The other highlight of the day was the annual Pumpkin boat race, where brave competitors sit in huge hollowed out pumpkins and use a paddle to try and make it across the palace pond. We watched some people sink in their pumpkin and others who flew across the pond like professional pumpkin kayakers!
In a day filled with pumpkins, we chose a few to bring home with us and enjoy this fall. 🙂