Mention Germany’s name, and images of beer fests, Lederhosen, and fairy tale castles likely come to mind. But with its pristine green landscapes, well-preserved Altstadts (old towns), and lesser-known festivals, Germany offers much more.

I called fairytale Heidelberg home for a decade, marrying in the city’s castle, not far from the promenade where my parents pushed me in a carriage as a baby. My parents now live in a tiny village in Bavaria, so I’ve had the chance to spend time in two distinctly different German states. Glimpses of horse-blessing ceremonies, seasonal celebrations, and mountain hikes follow.

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