Do you know that feeling of living in a separate world from the locals while traveling? When everyone follows a sports event while you visit all the museums? When you eat in a recommended restaurant while everyone, but really everyone, else is having a barbecue outside? The Pfalz [pfalts], a region of Germany that is often overlooked in favor of Bavaria, makes it really easy for you to blend in with the locals. Here is what a typical visit to this region could be like:
Plan a shorter or longer hike, using this tool. Hiking is really the thing to do here and many of the start and end points are easily reached by public transport from cities like Heidelberg, Mannheim or Kaiserslautern. Good places to start or end your tour are Bad Dürkheim, Wachenheim, Deidesheim and Neustadt an der Weinstraße. A very nice tour is the second stage of the Pfälzer Weinsteig which takes you from Bad Dürkheim to Deidesheim. You will pass through a pine forest that smells wonderful on a warm summer day, there will be views over the vineyards and you can stop at the ruins of Wachten castle for a break. For the real Pfalz experience, drink a Weinschorle [wine-shore-lae] here. The wine of the region is probably the best in Germany, and the Schorle (wine with sparkling water) contains a much more generous serving of wine than in other regions of Germany (and in any other country I have been to).
Upon your return to the civilization, keep on sampling the wines of the region. Riesling [rees-ling] is the star but there are also Pinot Gris and, if you prefer red wine, Pinot Noir. Choose a crowded restaurant and enjoy to be surrounded by merry people. With your wine or Schorle, try one of the very rustic (and meaty) dishes of the region. Pfälzer Würste mit Kraut (sausages with sauerkraut) are a good bet, Pfälzer Teller (sausages, liver dumpling and Saumagen, made famous by Helmut Kohl) is for the more adventurous. Wurstsalat [woo-arst-saalaat] with french fries (shown below) is not only served here but may still be local enough if you are not from Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
If you can, time your visit with an event like a Weinfest [wine-fest] or Weinkerwe [wine-care-wae], a calendar of the events is here. Some of them are really big with a complete set of attractions including observation wheels while others focus more on wine and food. There will always be (bad) music and excellent wine and all are excellent opportunities to blend in and do what the locals do: eat, drink and relax after a day of hiking.
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