Since the Corona virus hit, taking trips has been tricky to say the least. However, whilst some countries are still in the middle of battling the newest novel virus, the Netherlands has loosened its rules, with Germany following suit. We’ve been looking to travel again for a while, and whilst a full on adventure wasn’t on the cards, we did feel like a change of scenery would be good for us. So, we headed off to Heimbach, West Germany for 3 days on a trip to explore its rolling hills, hairpin roads, and to discover its apfelstrudel.
We took our sweet time finding suitable accommodation. Our checklist for finding the perfect place to stay was:
- An area where Corona hadn’t hit hard
- Somewhere where we could rent an apartment rather than a hotel
- A spot with plenty of nature and small towns rather than the big city
We finally settled on Landal Eifeler Tor, a roomy, peaceful, and relaxing holiday park with plenty of space that had both apartments and bungalows for hire. As an area that hadn’t been hugely affected by the Corona virus, we definitely felt like it was a safe spot to spend a few days.
Based in the picturesque region of Heimbach, Landal Eifeler Tor resort has everything you could need to kick back and relax in the heart of nature. It’s a park for families and couples alike, and is sprawled across a hill with glorious views of the river Rur. It’s fully equipped with park shop, snack bar, information center, bike hire, and a few restaurants too. There’s plenty for kids to do, with an array of outdoor play areas and a pool to keep them happy.
Corona Measures in Germany
You may be wondering what kind of Corona measures were in place in Germany. Well, face masks are mandatory whenever you step indoors in a public area, and a minimum of 1.5 meters of social distancing is also expected from everyone. Also, you’re expected to sit outside when it comes to eating at a restaurant or cafe. Not too bad considering how strict some measures in other countries have had to be.
Corona cases have been declining steadily since mid April, and whilst there are still a few active hot spots (mainly around larger, more populated areas), Germany have been taking care of their own and trying their hardest to beat the spread of the virus, with pretty good results.
How do the rules compare with those in the Netherlands?
Here in the Netherlands, the spread of the virus has decreased rapidly in the past few weeks, with 0 deaths being recorded on multiple days in June. Fantastic news for sure.
Whilst face masks are only mandatory when you take public transport (and in fact, in some places, including hospitals, people are being told that they’re not allowed to wear face masks at all), the 1.5 meter rule is plastered all over floors, shops, and even hi-viz jackets worn by shop staff. Furthermore, cafes and restaurants can only open to a certain capacity, and you’re expected to enjoy these places by sitting outside on a terras, rather than enjoy your food or drinks indoors. Overall though: not too strict.
When it comes to supermarkets, we were definitely surprised by the difference in rules between the two countries. In the Netherlands, you must carry either a basket or take a trolley through the shop, and may only enter alone, whereas in Germany, you’re allowed to enter in groups and in most places, shop with just a basket, as long as you have your face mask on. Which rules are better? I’m not sure.
Day one – cycling around the Rursee
On our first full day, we decided to hire a few electric bikes and hit the nature trails that promised easily cycling through the forest, and jaw-dropping views of the Rursee.
The weather was incredible: temperatures heading up to 30°C and glorious blue skies to see us through our journey. I can’t lie; I was slightly nervous to be heading out into the blazing sunshine on a bicycle. I’m neither the fastest nor most skilled cyclist in the world, so I was expecting to be thrown from the saddle at some point in the journey. Thankfully I survived, with no scratches or scrapes, just a sore booty and in need of a cold shower.
We headed out on a route planned using Google Maps. It promised to take us 30km in total, with a stop halfway round our journey in a town named Rurberg where we could make a pit stop for refreshments (always my favourite point in a trip, I’m not gonna lie).
The cycling was relatively easy – I forgot to mention we hired electric bikes, and I totally see what all the fuss is now, by the way. It made the rolling hills bearable, and it meant that I could actually keep up with the group (the Dutch ride a bicycle out of the womb whilst the British quiver at the sight of a bike at all). It also meant the wind could rush through my hair and my jumpsuit, keeping me cool (literally), calm (well, not really), and collected (kind of) the whole time.
Day two – Monschau
After a pretty active first day, we fancied something a little less heavy on the buttocks and decided to head into Monschau, a medieval town with Tudor style buildings held up by beams, cobbled lanes, and a castle sitting pretty on top of a hill.
Monschau is almost car free, thanks to its tiny streets that can hardly entertain a group of four people walking side by side. That meant we had to park just outside the town and wander in. Luckily, there were plenty of parking areas and loads of free spaces, with just a short walk into Monschau itself.
With the streets almost empty, it was the perfect opportunity to take in the town in all its glory (thanks Corona, I guess), and we spent some time wandering around the cobbles and taking in the views.
After spending a little time exploring, we (I) noticed a cafe selling homemade apfelstrudel, and you know I can’t deny myself those simple pleasures in life. We took some time for a breather, some delicious dessert, and a little bit of people watching at Alte Herlichkeit, an old school hotel-cum-cafe serving its apfelstrudel with a little bit of rum in it for an extra kick.
Monschau is a wonderful spot to enjoy a little bit of sight seeing in the beautiful valleys of Germany, and you’ll certainly find plenty of souvenir shops, cafes to eat, bakeries, chocolate shops and bratwurst cafes to give you that authentic experience.
Whilst we found it to be a quiet corner, I can’t help but think that this little town can become quite overcrowded during peak times; its small winding streets aren’t built for large crowds, and I for one am a massive hater of swarms of people and clogged avenues. If you’re ever planning on visiting this area, I’d really consider going early in the morning to catch it at its most empty.
Day three – Wilder Kermeter Natural Adventure Park & Heimbach
Wilder Kermeter Natural Adventure Park
Our final day in Germany was spent in the woods and in Heimbach itself. With the weather being less ‘arid desert’ and more ‘breezy European’, we felt as though we could pack a little bit more into our day.
We headed a mere 5 minutes into the hills and away from our resort on the recommendations of the woman in the tourist information shop, who told us that there was a gorgeous forest walk with stunning views over Rursee.
Wilder Kermeter Natural Adventure Park is a forest left completely to its own devices. Without deforestation, hunters, and other annoyances to rid the forest of its natural beauty, wildlife has sprung back into action and repopulated the area to almost its original state.
There are of course a few areas where humans have got involved to help educate the masses that walk its routes daily. A few certain areas around the park provided short clips to teach children and adults alike what it meant to restore the forest back to its original state, and there was even a natural adventure area built up from fallen trees that were shaped and set up into their own routes.
The entire park was wheelchair and pushchair friendly: perfect for families of any size, and included various routes of differing lengths to cater to anyone and everyone. We managed to walk almost 5km through beautiful forested areas, and there was even a magnificent look-out area where we could take a moment to take in the view and enjoy a few refreshments.
Our final stop was Heimbach, the small village close to our resort. With its picturesque architecture and winding roads leading up to the castle, Heimbach is the epitome of a rural German town.
It’s got plenty to tuck into, including ice cream shops, a beer garden, and multiple restaurants. There’s an open park with a play area for youngsters, and we were even treated to an open air brass band playing all those… brass classics. Finally, there’s a gorgeous brown stone castle watching over Heimbach, and you’ll even score a pint up there or a bite to eat in its restaurant.
We spent a little time wandering the streets and taking in the architecture. For some reason, this whole area reminded me a lot of Wales; the greenery, the water, the pastel Tudor buildings lining the streets. I definitely felt at home here.
The coolest part of Heimbach? This awesome book exchange created out of an old phone box. I mean, it may have stuck out like a sore thumb, and it certainly wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thought it was amazing.
Our first trip of 2020 – already over
With just three days to explore, our first little trip of 2020 was quickly over. We fit plenty into our mini German Corona holiday though, and we even got this awesome rainbow on the last night. It was the perfect way to end our trip.
Have you planned a little getaway for when the Corona rules lift in your area? Let me know where you’re headed and if you’d fancy a trip to Heimbach, Germany.
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