Euro Trip Part 5 – The Rhine Valley to Amsterdam (the long way)

By - May 8, 2006 (Updated: November 30, 2014)

If you haven’t already done so, read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4 of our European Adventure.

Cathedral and Market in Freiberg

Descending down out of the mountains took a full day. There was a bit more snow, a slight detour into Innsbruck and a Switzerland sighting. We drove the length of Austria and then circled around Lake Constance and into Germany.

Things began to level out again as we drove through German orchards and farm land. By evening, we had made our way to Freiberg, where we stopped for the night at the Intercity hotel. We had an interesting view of the train station which was directly under our window, but the rooms where quite quiet regardless.

Freiberg turned out to be a charming city. We spent the following morning strolling along the cobbled streets up to a magnificent cathedral. There was a lively market surrounding the cathedral which was full of produce and plants.

Vogtsbauernhof – the oldest house

I made a slight detour from our planned route as Mom was interested in seeing the Black Forest. (Mom and Dad have a favorite restaurant back home run by a German lady from Bavaria). My handy guide-book informed me of an open-air museum in Gutach that contained the oldest house in the Black Forest – Vogtsbauernhof (say that 5 times fast).

Wonder of wonders, we were able to find the museum and it was lovely and gave us a real sense of what life was like for the early inhabitants of the Black Forest. We had lunch at the park and then set out for the rest of our afternoon.

The rest of our drive that day would take us along the Rhine. Andrew and I had driven through the Rhine Valley twice before and had been charmed by the barges, nearly vertical vineyards and hilltop castles.

We spent the afternoon castle sighting and had a stop in St. Goar. I had my suspicions that my mother would find something interesting to buy in this town and I was right. She is now the proud owner of an authentic coo-coo clock assembled in the Black Forest (mind you there is a whole other story about flying over the Atlantic with clockworks in your carry-on baggage that you can ask her about.)

Castle sighting on the Rhine

We refueled with some cake and coffee at a little spot in the town and then headed for our hotel – yet another Holiday Inn Express, outside of Köln (or Cologne for you English folk).

The following day was Good Friday and our destination was Amsterdam. To give my folks a sense of the Netherlands we took the long way from Köln to Amsterdam, via Friesland and over the Afsluitdijk (or ‘enclosing dike’ that keeps North Holland from being under water).

As we traveled north-west through the Netherlands the landscape flattened significantly until there wasn’t a hill in sight – a stark contrast from the jagged peaks of the Alps only two days earlier.

Mom’s clock is there somewhere

In Freisland we visited some familiar sheep and then headed across the dike with a stop to see the Waddenzee. Then we turned south again and ended the day at the Holiday Inn in Amsterdam.

What evening in A’dam would be complete for Andrew and I without supper at Los Pilones – well, none. Mojito anyone? (PS. Mom and Dad – you can thank me for not posting the post-Mojito pictures later)

Now What Amsterdam-Buy the ebook now

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
It's after Halloween so I can officially share Christmas Markets now right...? 🎄🎅 - 1 week ago


  1. Comment by Alison

    Alison May 8, 2006 at 18:50

    The only in-car navigator we have in our car is me 🙂 I have pretty good map reading skills and Andrew has an innate sense of direction (mostly). I buy good maps (my favorites are the Michelen ones) and we hope for the best. Do we skill get lost from time to time – sure. But that’s also how we’ve found some really cool places we never would have found otherwise. GPS can be handy (we did have a borrowed one for a few months) but even they aren’t always right. We’ve had it send us to dead end and one way streets (the wrong way) so it’s good to have maps as back up anyway.

  2. Comment by Ash

    Ash May 8, 2006 at 17:33

    Your European adventure sounds wonderful! I have a question for you regarding navigating around Europe. Do you use an in-car navigator? I am terrified of getting lost and we’re about to buy a navigator so we can venture a little further than our home town 😉 If you don’t use one how do you manage it???

  3. Comment by Mom

    Mom May 8, 2006 at 20:28

    Just wanted you to know that the coocoo clock is up and working beautifully. The cats are still wondering just what it is though. Thanks for not posting ALL the pictures.

  4. Comment by Kim H

    Kim H May 10, 2006 at 07:57

    That’s cool that you went to the Black Forest museum- I’ve always wanted to go there because my ancestors came from there and were one of the founding families of Lunenburg NS! It’s still on my travel agenda!

  5. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler May 12, 2006 at 18:46

    I so want to do a tour like this with P (I mean all the countries).

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