Luxembourg City (Day 6 of the trip): Since we were leaving Paris and now entering the driving journey of our trip (the next 10 days) we had to pick up our car. Since we weren't near the airport and weren't going there I decided that picking up the car at another location would be better and it really was, i'm sure it saved us tons of time. We rented with EuropCar and picked up at the Invalides train station, which was so convenient, once we got the car it was a five minute drive back to the hotel to pick up our bags and then off we went.
A few words about driving in Europe. I would not do it without a gps. Maybe if your only in one country and really good at reading maps you would be ok, but since we drove through so many different countries and cities it was SO imperative. If you rent a gps from the car company its quite expensive, so what we did was buy a memory card that pops into the gps that has the Europe maps and then buy the gps that works with that card. We used a Garmin Nuvi and it worked like a charm.
SO onto Luxembourg we drove, the trip up to this point had been all clouds and as we got out of Paris into the French countryside the sun shone beautifully on all the farms and vineyards- we drove through Champagne country. One of the best things about driving through Europe is that everything is SO close. None of our drives were more than 3. 5 hours.
Luxembourg City's old city was very cute. It seemed a bit dead, hardly anyone walking around and we asked a local if it was a holiday, and they said no, its just normally like that. We walked through the Casemates, which are the tunnels/caves built into the big wall/bridge by the old city. It was an interesting little adventure and only a few euros, so totally worth it. We found out that almost the entire city lived inside these caves during the war. We walked around the shopping streets of the city and had dinner at an Italian restaurant before getting in the car to head to our hotel which was south east Luxembourg, right on the German border. Since we were heading that way, and hotels in the city are more expensive, I booked a hotel that was on our drive.Inside the casemates
Gorgeous old city of Luxembourg
The hotel Chateau Shengen was FABULOUS. At only 90 Euros a night it was such a steal. The hotel was built in the 1800's and has been renovated recently, everything is so new, comfortable and beautiful. The most comfortable bed we slept in on the trip. If you are ever in Luxembourg, driving toward Germany, stay there! You won't be disappointed. It was so nice to have such a plush bed after our crappy Paris one. :)
The next morning we woke up and set our GPS for Heidelberg Germany. We grabbed breakfast at a bakerei along the way and arrived in Heidelberg around 10:30. Heidelberg was our favorite stop in Germany, SO picturesque and cute. We started by walking around the Schloss (castle) that looks over the little city, great views to take photos. Then we headed down to the old city and walked around all the cute shops. We ate lunch at a reccomendation from fodor's called the two red oxen, which has been in the same family for 165 years. It was really good traditional german food. We would have stayed longer in Heidelberg shopping and snapping photos but it started to rain on us and get colder so we jumped in the car and set the GPS for the Porsche museum north of Stuttgart.the Schloss. (castle)
The largest wine vat ever. the city had their citizens pay taxes in wine and stored it all here.
loved how picturesque the entire city was. so beautiful.
Heidelberg has a great main pedestrian street with lots of shopping, a super fun stroll...
the restaurant has been around long enough that Marilyn Monroe was said to have eaten there, and there are engraved names in all the wood tables and walls.
While in Stuttgart we did both the Porsche museum and Mercedes museum. If your going to choose one and your not biased between brands I would choose the Mercedes, it has a lot more to it and you can go on a factory tour. My husband is a big car guy and loved both so we went to both. After the Porsche museum we checked into our hotel, the Mercure Stuttgart City Center.
The Mercure was clean and neat, decent beds, and was within walking distance to the old city, for most of the trip I chose hotels that were recommended by fodors or other travel sites and within a budget of $125 a night, However every city we stayed in I caught sight of a Mercure or a Novotel so if you wanted to make your life easier i'm guessing you could book your entire trip with the same hotel chain, you just miss some charm along the way. Another tip for hotel booking that I found is that if you book online and pay in full in advance most hotels will give you a cheaper rate and include breakfast.
We ate dinner in Stuttgart at a recommendation I found in Bon Appetit, Weinstube Zur Kiste, it was good traditional german food.
i had him stand in front of his favorite. My husband is quite the stud. i mean look at that hair, seriously my son better get that hair. :)
Day 7: Stuttgart
At this point in our trip we were slightly exhausted so we slept in a little, ate the provided breakfast at the hotel which was a nice buffet, and headed out to the Mercedes-Benz Museum. One cool thing Mercedes does at this location is a factory tour, however only on Fridays is the tour given in English, and since we weren't there on a friday the tour was in German, my husband speaks German so we went anyway, but they actually wouldn't let me go since I didn't speak german. I'm guessing for safety reasons, so I waited and had a hot chocolate in the cafe. I'm glad he got to do it though, he really enjoyed both the museums and the tour.
After that we headed out to the city center of Stuttgart and were mildly disappointed, after reading in our fodor's book we realized that 80 percent of Stuttgart was destroyed in WWII, so what remains is not much and it feels like a very industrialized, modern city, not what we had expected. At this point I wished that I had not booked a second night in Stuttgart and that we could move on to Switzerland, but we just enjoyed a more leisurely day of shopping and browsing and turned in early, eating dinner at the Mercure's restaurant which was actually quite good.
There was this very fun indoor market that i loved :)
and lots of fun shopping!