After saying Bye-Bye to The Netherlands, the moment we entered Germany, we were driving on Autobahn. Autobahn is the federal controlled-access highway system in Germany. The official German term is Bundesautobahn, which translates as "Federal Motorway" or "Federal Auto(mobile) Track".
German autobahns have no federally mandated speed limit for some classes of vehicles. However limits are posted (and enforced) in areas that are urbanized, substandard, accident-prone, or under construction. On speed-unrestricted stretches, an advisory speed limit of 130 kilometres per hour applies.
For breaks during longer journeys, parking sites, rest areas are distributed over the complete Autobahn network. Parking on the autobahn is prohibited in the strictest terms outside these designated areas. A rest area usually also includes petrol station, lavatories, toilets, restaurants, shops and a playground. Without any exception, we have to pay a service charge ranging from 50 cents to 1 Euro for using lavatories and toilets and we get a receipt for the same. Then if we buy anything like coffee, tea, snacks, cold-drinks, chocolates etc from the shop inside which the toilet is located, the amount paid for the use of toilet is adjusted against the cost of the purchase.
We drove to Cologne (Koln), which is famous for Eau de Cologne, where we visited the magnificent Cologne Cathedral (KÃ¶lner Dom). This 515 feet tall gothic Cathedral took six centuries to build and is Germany's most visited monument. Dedicated to the saints Peter and Mary, it is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. Cologne Cathedral is the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany and has been Cologne's most famous landmark for centuries. Once the tallest building in the world, it lost the title to the Washington Monument in the USA, but it still boasts the world's largest church faÃ§ade.
The cathedral suffered numerous hits by World War II aerial bombs but did not collapse and its reconstruction was carried out after the War stopped.
The cathedral's main treasure is a golden reliquary (container for holy relics) containing the remains of the Three Magi of Christmas story fame. These relics and other treasures have made Cologne Cathedral a major pilgrimage destination for centuries.
Amongst the celebrated works of art to be seen in the Cathedral are Sarcophagus of the Magi, the Gero Cross (Gero-Kreuz), and the Madonna of Milan. It is possible to climb a spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 100 metres above the ground. The cathedral is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List of culturally important sites.
The Chapel of the Virgin contains The Patron Saints of KÃ¶ln, the painting notable for its photographic realism with the varieties of herbs in the foreground and believable depth.
We then enjoyed an Indian dinner and stayed for the night at NH Frankfurt Airport West at Raunheim.
After a continental breakfast in the morning, we checked out of the hotel and travelled across the attractive country-side to the famous Black Forest region of Germany. In the relatively inaccessible Black Forest valleys industrialisation had not arrived until late in the day. In winter, many farmers made wooden Cuckoo Clocks to supplement their income. This developed in the 19th century into the precision engineering and watch industry, which boomed with the arrival of the railway in many of the Black Forest valleys. The initial disadvantage of their remote location, which led to the development of precision-engineered wooden handicrafts, became a competitive advantage because of their access to raw materials: timber from the forest and metal from the mines. We stopped at the Drubba Centre in the heart of the forest, where we had an opportunity to see and buy Cuckoo Clocks and other items of souvenirs besides tasting the real flavour of the Black Forest Cake. Cuckoo clocks, wall and grandfather clocks all are made in Germany.
Tourists from all over the world enjoy tax-free shopping in luxury on the shores of romantic Lake Titisee. Our tour operator had organised a ‘stop, lunch and shop' experience for us.Titisee is a famous lake which is believed to have been a glacier left over from the last Ice Age. Titisee lies in the heart of the Black Forests, surrounded by dark fir trees, fairly tale woods and flowering meadows.
Next, we drove to Switzerland known for its spectacular mountain scenery, sparkling lakes and folklore traditions.