A German solo journey uncovers village life, seasonal joys, and sausages galore

Solo Traveler on the heart of Germany river cruise
Sarah Sweeney January 15, 2019

When Vantage recently sent me on our Heart of Germany river cruise, I immediately set my sights on one thing: sausage. And while every day in a new port presented another opportunity for my unfolding sausage safari, I discovered so much more than these prized German links. From friendly locals to seasonal charm to medieval cobblestoned towns, here are six highlights for solo travelers sailing the rivers in this part of the world.

A meat lover’s paradise
From the moment my Cruise Director mentioned a historic sausage restaurant nestled on the Danube banks of medieval Regensburg, I was salivating. Thankfully, I’d worked up an appetite after a wonderful walking tour, so I made use of my free time and took an outside seat at the town’s Historic Sausage Kitchen. This inconspicuous little joint is the oldest continuously open restaurant in the world — it was founded in 1135! But rather than the giant sausages you’re used to at home, the kitchen here serves up petite, finger-sized bratwursts, melt-in-your-mouth sauerkraut, and a sweet-sour mustard that pairs perfectly with a light German pilsner.

 schaschlik Over at Nuremberg’s Christmas Market, I discovered what the Germans call schaschlik — a skewered meat dish with a salty-sweet ketchup-style sauce and a hearty dousing of paprika. After seeing the long, wraparound lines for this fusion Turkish-German-Hungarian dish, I knew I had to try it for myself — to my utmost delight. Germany may be the indisputable king of sausage, but when it comes to street food, schaschlik made a believer out of me!

Solo hospitality
It should come as no surprise that other parts of the world are friendlier to solo travelers than right here in the United States. Whether it’s a unique European preference for solitude, or a distinctly American outlook that favors companionship at all cost, solo travelers will feel right at home in Germany! Not only are Germans friendly and hospitable, but they’re downright hysterical, too. Traveling solo allows for more cultural immersion — more time getting out of your comfort zone! — and I met some great people on this trip. Germany is definitely a destination I’ll return to solo.

Solo Traveler drinking local German beerUnique German beers
On Christmas Day, our cruise pulled into Bamberg where, after a walking tour of this cute little town on the Main River, I sat down for a 10 a.m. round of sausages and schnitzel at the city’s historical Schlenkerla brewhouse, famous for its rauchbier, or smoked beer. The brewery roasts its malt directly over an open wood fire, which dries the malt and smokes it at the same time. The result is something similar to Guinness, and just as drinkable!

Medieval villages
Regensburg features the largest medieval old town north of the Alps, and this town was a joy to explore on foot. Wandering in and out of quaint courtyards and down narrow lanes, I was awed by both the preservation of this town and that many of Regensburg’s historic homes are used as university student residences! I also particularly loved Bamberg, which is home to the cutest half-timbered Birkenstock store, darling pastel homes, and a towering cathedral; and Heidelberg, which buzzes with life and a great pub culture, thanks to its thousands of students who come to study at Germany’s oldest and most renowned university.

The m/s River Splendor From the Concierge’s expertise to the fabulous cuisine and hospitable staff, I had a rollicking good time on board Vantage’s m/s River Splendor. With less than 200 travelers on board, the cruising experience was intimate, charming, and fun-filled — with festive and delicious dinners, lectures and quizzes, and onboard performances, I never once yearned for the spoils of the land!

Wintertime blues? Think again
Travelers flocking to Europe in the summertime will experience all the pleasures of the continent, plus its enviable warm weather. But Europe in the wintertime has its own set of unique pleasures. It's less crowded in the off-season, for one, which means more room for exploration, fewer lines at attractions, and access to some of the best shopping in the world. Also, there’s a distinct thrill in wandering through Bavaria during the holiday season. If ever a place was tailor-made for the holidays and wintertime, it’s Bavaria. Imagine fog rising from the rivers most mornings, piping hot Gluhwein (mulled wine), Christmas markets, and woolen socks and sweaters. It’s a cozy experience, and one I can’t wait to do again.

You can explore these destinations and more on these fabulous Vantage cruises:
Solo Travel Award Recipient Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales
Blue Danube Cruise: An Active Journey
Grand European Sojourn
Danube Splendor: A Holiday Cruise

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