Black Forest - need to know
Aer Lingus (0818 365 000 aerlingus.com) has just started a new service to Stuttgart, flying four times a week from Dublin.
For more information, visit stuttgart-tourist.de, baiersbronn.de and baden-baden.de
In the Black Forest, Hotel Lamm Mitteltal (0049 7442 4980; lamm-mitteltal.de), is a family-run hotel in Baiersbronn-Mitteltal with the atmosphere of an Alpine chalet. This is the place to come if you fancy sitting in a wooden tub under the stars. Doubles from Â¤82.
In Stuttgart, the Steigenberger graf Zeppelin (0049 7112 0480; steigenberger.com) on Arnulf-Klett-Platz is a smart hotel bang in the centre, across the road from the main train station. Doubles from Â¤199.
In Baden Baden, the Dorint Maison Messmer (0049 7221 30120; dorint.com) on Werderstrasse 1 is a five-star gem popular with Russian plutocrats, though you may need to win a few euro in the casino to hang your hat here in this plush hotel. Doubles from Â¤283.
FIVE GREAT THINGS TO DO
•Unwind in one of the region's numerous spa baths. Caracalla Therme in Baden-Baden (pictured below) has a rock grotto with hot and cold pools, whirlpools and waterfalls. See carasana.de/caracalla.html.
•Taste Maultaschen, a local version of ravioli which has its roots in religion. During Lent, cooks wanted to hide the fact that they were eating meat. The solution was to fill little pasta pockets with mixtures of meat fillings.
At the wood-panelled Murrhardter Hof (murrhardter-hof.de) in Stuttgart, I had a delicious Maultaschen Feinschmecker -- pasta pockets filled with tomatoes and mushrooms.
•Take a stroll in the Black Forest in the hills above the village of Tonbach. The wooded hills give way to grass clearings and wooden chalets (baiersbronn.de). Stop off for lunch at the Bauernstube restaurant in the hotel Traube Tonbach (traube-tonbach.de).
•Sample local grape varieties at the wine museum in Uhlbach (Weinbaumuseum 0049 7112 2280), a suburb on the edge of Stuttgart. Visitors can walk through the vineyards along designated trails.
•Witness the future of motoring at the cutting-edge Mercedes-Benz Museum (mercedes-benz-classic.com) in Stuttgart, which contains more than 160 vehicles, some dating back to the very earliest days of the motor engine.
For more information, see Stuttgart-tourist.de, baiersbronn.de and baden-baden.de