Most people picture Germany as a land of snow covered Christmas markets, wooden chalets and castles overlooking a medieval city. Bad Wurttemberg, the third largest state in Germany, offers all those attractions and more. Known as the “Sunny Side of Germany”, this area in southwest Germany gets 1,700 hours of sunny weather each year. No wonder it is an ideal place for family vacations offering a variety of experiences.
Ravensburg, Home of the “Blue Triangle” on Puzzles and Books
Look around your house. See any puzzles, games or books with the distinct blue triangle in the corner? Then you own a Ravensburger product made in the town of Ravensburg. The city’s altstadt is one of the best preserved in Europe. Kids freely ride bikes or scooters in the pedestrian only zone, while adults enjoy relaxing at the many outdoor cafes. The city has a light-hearted, friendly feel with many towers and gates to explore. Climb up the Blaserturm to see wide-reaching views of the Alps and Lake Constance. The tourist office offers a special tour for children. Kids dress up in medieval robes and tour the town carrying wooden swords. Adults, alas, simply wear their own clothes and probably carry a camera.
In September, the entire city celebrates “Ravensburg at Play”, turning the town into a giant playroom. Kids and adults enjoy playing together, with games, crafts and puzzles as the center of town is transformed into a giant playroom. (And you don’t have to clean up!)
Hotel Obertor, Traditional Hotel
We stayed at the Hotel Obertor, a delightful and traditional hotel located within walking distance to the town center, along with
restaurants and shops. The hotel offers parking, which is a huge bonus in a town where parking spots are hard to find. I often hear Americans grumble about European hotels with small rooms and no elevators. My reply is, “You are in Europe! Some things are different than your local Best Western.” Yes, you have to carry your suitcase up the stairs to your room. Yes, you might not have a giant whirlpool bathtub in your room. But staying at Hotel Obertor gives you a spotlessly clean room, Wi-Fi and a comfortable bed. The breakfast buffet, (included in the room price) was one of the best we’ve had. We did a pretty decent job of sampling the breads, homemade jams, fruits, yogurts, cereal, granola, cheeses, meats and juices. Oh yes, for the American visitor, they also offered scrambled eggs and bacon.
Hotel staff seemed genuinely friendly and went out of their way to answer any questions we had. Everyone spoke excellent English and told me they learned it in school. Makes me wonder about the way schools teach languages in the US. Our daughter took four years of Spanish and failed as our translator when we visited Mexico! Staff at Hotel Obertor made us feel welcome, which in turn, made us feel that we’d come back on our next visit to Ravensburg.
My only wish was I had a child to come with me to see this museum! It is designed for adults and kids to learn and have fun together in creative ways. Naturally everything centers on the Ravensburger company, established in 1883. The museum shows how puzzles are made and games developed.
Kids and adults have the chance to visit various thematic rooms ranging from craft projects to searching for hidden figures on the walls. Graphics and displays show the development of this major puzzle and toy company in a fun way. In the “Packaging Vault”, various drawers open to reveal more facts about the company. You’ll look at the giant stack of hundreds of puzzles and rejoice that you don’t have to sort out the pieces like at home! Friendly staff speak English and know how to relate to kids. Plus the gift shop has reasonably priced items for sale!
This museum, just a short block away, is quite different from the Ravensburger Museum. The outside is deceiving, as it looks like a small building. Then you start exploring and discover the building holds one of the best preserved, late medieval residential areas in southern Germany. A total of seven buildings recreate life back to the 11th century. The English audio tour helped us understand the exhibits with the dialogue, music and background sounds. While younger children might lose interest, older kids and adults will gain an appreciation for life as it was for the
Ravensburg is filled with additional museums and historical sights. The amusement park based on Ravensburger games, Ravensburger Spieleland, is only a short drive away. Enjoy even more of this sunny area by visiting Lake Constance for outdoor fun.