Schloss Johannisburg in Aschaffenburg, GermanySchloss Johannisburg in Aschaffenburg, GermanyIn June, I flew back to Frankfurt to catch up with a friend, Daniella, whom we had met at Diverbo and spent time with again in Brussels.

Daniella lives near Aschaffenburg, 40kms east of Frankfurt and most people have probably never heard of it. A small city of 67,000, it is located on the border between the Bavarian and Franken cultures and has its own dialect separate from both. Being here and talking with locals, it became apparent how new ‘Germany’ is as a unified country, and not just the reunification of East and West, but of all the states. The supposed homogenisation of Germany only exists on an international stage as each state still has its own distinctive dialect and culture. Each state is also very proud of their heritage, which they celebrate often and with gusto.

Aschaffenburg was a pleasure to visit and explore and surprised me by the amount of activities to do, both as a tourist and as a local. Whether it is exploring the local architecture, museums & galleries, beer gardens & restaurants, or parks, there is something for most everyone here. During my time I visited a bit of everything and also tried to get an understanding of ordinary life.

Along the riverfront is the Schloss Johannisburg, a 17th century renaissance palace that has been heavily restored after damage sustained during the Second World War. Nearby, on the high bank of the river, is the Schlossgarten with a beautiful terrace and paths linking to the Pompeiianum, commissioned by King Ludwig I. It is a beautiful structure with a view over the river and surrounded by gardens, that is used for weddings and other events. There are a few paths along the high and low riverbank that offer some wonderful views and respite from the city.

Europe in the spring and summer is full of festivals and events as everyone enjoys the sunshine while it lasts. While it was still early in the festival season, I did manage to see a few events, although I saw the advertisements for many more.

Hofgarten Cabaret - Austria meets BavariaHofgarten Cabaret - Austria meets BavariaOne of the first I saw was at the Hofgarten Kabarett: ‘Austria meets Bavaria’. Three musicians took to the stage and proceeded to play folk rock with lyrics sung in Bavarian and Austrian dialects, as well as High German. For the most part the crowd was still, providing applause only at the conclusion of a piece, there were a few popular songs that had everyone (who knew them) bopping along.

At one of the nearby villages, Hofgut, we managed to catch a jazz performance in the beirgarten of the Schweinheim Guesthouse. The guesthouse had a great feel to it with groups of people sitting at long picnic tables eating and drinking through the night.

Kunst im SchlossparkKunst im Schlosspark

Kunst im SchlossparkKunst im SchlossparkAnother event that I was privileged to visit was the ‘Kunst im Schlosspark’ at the Schlosshotel Weyberhöfe. The hotel grounds have several open areas amidst the trees, and these spaces had been converted to a wonderful open air gallery. There was a good range of paintings on display, some sculpture, and digital works. The artists were onsite to discuss their pieces and hopefully sell their wares. Along a river stretching away from the gallery areas was a marketplace where many a trinket was available. It was easy to spend a couple of hours looking at the art and enjoying the space, so we were glad that there was a variety of food and drink available (although it was overpriced and not the best).

Part of the joy I find in visiting new places is tasting the food and drink, and while I was here I explored a variety of local choices.

The first night here, we drove to Wurzburg, 80kms from Aschaffenburg to see a mutual friend and her husband. We ate at a popular restaurant overlooking and the river to the castle, the Gasthaus Alte Mainmühle, offering traditional Franken food. I had Braised Schweineschäufele with dark beer, creamed savoy cabbage and homemade dumplings. The meat, pork from the shoulder, was excellent and tender, and the dark beer sauce was rich and thick (and we had to keep ordering more to keep the meat coated). The dumpling and cabbage were a good accompaniment although not excellent. I washed the meal down with a good local Weizenbeir.

While visiting this area, I felt compelled to explore the German fascination with Würst, or sausage. Everywhere had some form of sausage on the menu, the most common was currywürst. Currywürst is a pork sausage that is steamed then fried and served with a sweet curry sauce. There were many other sausages that I tried with varying levels of quality. It made me realise that my understanding of German sausages, developed from what I have tasted when visiting Hahndorf in South Australia and various German festivals over the years, is not correct. Eating Würst in Germany I found that they are simpler than what I understood them to be, and with less herbs and spices added. This does not make them inferior in any way but it does make you wonder about what happens when one country assimilates another cultures flavours. German sausages are excellently constructed and lightly flavoured and it is well worth trying the many varieties as you come across them. While I was here I tried Bierwurst (A lightly peppered and smoked Bavarian sausage), FränkischeBratwurst (a long sausage with a chunky filling and hints of marjoram), and Weisswurst (a finely minced pork sausage lightly seasoned with parlsey, lemon and garlic. It is cooked in salt water). Another excellent dish was Wurstsalat and Obatzda (an onion and cream cheese mixture) served with bread. You spread a little of the Wurstsalat and/or Obatzda on the bread, the sweet and sour mix over a lightly salted bread is excellent. Each sausage was a delight to taste and if you aren’t vegetarian I would recommend you try some everywhere you go through Germany.

FlammkuchenFlammkuchenOne night we went out looking for a specific dish before we had a few drinks. The dish was called Flammkuchen; diced ham, shredded cheese and herbs over pita bread then baked. It’s the local version of pizza and, while simple, it is very good, especially when accompanied by a Raddler. We met a couple of locals, Seb and Max, and had a great night out as we visited a few bars including Wurst Bendel Wirsthaus which serves a locally famous beer called Baba Bier.

One we went to a place called MiniBar, near the centre of town to listen to a live act. Minibar is a cosy bar with comfortable couches and a small outdoor area. It has a great vibe and the music was good as well. The performance we saw was a solo singer/guitarist performing popular songs from the last few decades with an occasional original. The music in between sets was generally relaxed rock. It’s a nice bar to relax in after a meal or to warm up before going to a club. 

Aschaffenburg has many restaurants, cafés, eateries and biergartens that offer variety of international cuisines as well as local fare.

Chad and Daniela Hiking in the SpessartChad and Daniela Hiking in the SpessartThe area surrounding Aschaffenburg has a number of excellent areas to hike. We took a walk out in the Spessart, a nearby region, along one of the numerous trails, most of which were clearly marked but a few side trails that were not which can allow you to lose your path quite easily. The good thing is that all the trails lead back onto main tracks so you can never really get lost. Another excellent thing about hiking out here is that there are family operated hiker’s huts where you can rent a room, get a meal and a drink. It was at one of these that I tried the Martinsbrau Radler and Pilsner, as well as traditional sauerkraut.

Chad and Daniela Hiking in the Spessart with a deerChad and Daniela Hiking in the Spessart with a deerWe intended to walk through the forest and fields and make our way to a café for some afternoon tea. Unfortunately there are few with an outdoor area so we moved on taking a trail on the other side of the highway back to the car. The area was a pleasure to walk through, and it was made even more wonderful by the deer we saw on the trails and in the forest.

In early June the weather was beginning to warm into the low 30’s, which I normally love, but after travelling in areas where the temperature barely touched 20 I was feeling the heat. To relieve ourselves of the heat we visited a lake at Niedernberg, a nearby town. The lake had a resort on one end but there was an open trail through a light wood surrounding the rest of it. Every few metres the trail would have a small bathing area for people to occupy. The earlier you get here, the better your chance of getting one of these small semi-private ‘coves’. If you miss out, you just have to sit on the one of the larger beaches scattered around with everyone else, most of whom sunbathe over swim. While the lake was busy it never felt crowded, and was a wonderful place to relax, swim and cool down. An interesting cultural point is that women here sunbathe topless and nobody cares or notices, it is just a normal thing to do.

Other Articles from Germany




Three German Castles 

Beer in Aschaffenburg and where to drink it



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