And, as you know, I have a bit of an ice cream addiction. At the market, I was able to sate myself with yogurt ice topped with fruit preserves.

JOHN: It would be hard not to have an ice cream addiction in Germany. It’s sold at shops on every corner! Last year, Germany produced more ice cream — 517 million liters — than any other European country, according to Germany’s Federal Statistics Office.

King of the Castles?

JADA: I knew Germany had a lot of castles — estimates put it at 25,000, but there’s no official count — but I didn’t realize just how accessible they would be. I loved that these structures built for royalty have now basically turned into public parks.

On the way to meet you, I stopped by Frankenstein Castle, overlooking the town of Darmstadt. It actually once housed a mad scientist who experimented with human body parts and is said to have inspired Mary Shelley’s novel. They were having a medieval festival with sword-fighting demos; I got to shoot a bow and arrow.

And then a couple hours later I was at the spectacular Heidelberg Castle, the crown jewel of a picturesque university town on the Neckar river and filled with tourists. But I really liked how after the castle shut down, Heidelberg residents showed up to wander its vast parks and take in the view with, say, a bottle of wine they’d brought from home.

JOHN: Heidelberg may have been the most spectacular, but I think we’d probably both agree that the Rheingau is the place to go for castles. Just a short drive from Frankfurt, this picturesque region is marked by the Rhine River, which winds through it. On our boat ride along the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which is another Unesco World Heritage site, it seemed like we saw a different castle with every turn of the head.

We only did part of the route, getting off at the St. Goar castle, but if you did the entire trip from Rüdesheim am Rhein to Koblenz, you can see about 40 hilltop castles in a 40-mile stretch. And, of course, the region has wineries galore. Interestingly enough, though, unlike many other wine regions in the world, you don’t taste wine at the vineyards here. Instead, there are wine shops in towns where there are tastings.



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