Back in the 90s, my buddy Will and I had an opportunity to drive cross country: him to take a class on the east coast, me to see an old girlfriend in Wisconsin. Along the way, we created a quest: to visit as many roadside restaurants as we could until we discovered the “perfect” steak. We eventually found it at Gorat’s Steak House in Omaha, Nebraska, a cavernous joint favored, apparently, by investment wizard Warren Buffet. Special bonus: our waitresses name was Rosie (another quest of ours).

Creating quests is fun. Quests spice up your trip and make you feel like an adventurer of yore, searching for the Holy Grail, the Golden Fleece, the Ark of the Covenant. Or, in another quest of mine, the Bergs of Bavaria. Let me explain.

After my college semester studying abroad in Paris, my friends Cinny, Denisia, Scott and I did a Eurail loop around Europe: Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Upon arriving in our final country, one of us (I can’t remember who) remarked, “Have any of you noticed how many cities there are in southern Germany that end in Berg or Burg?” Naturally it was me, the treasure hunt guy, who blurts out, “Let’s visit all of them!” Well, as it turns out, that isn’t even remotely possible; there are dozens and dozens of German cities that fit the bill, and interestingly, Berg and Burg haven’t different meanings. “Burg” = castle. “Berg” = mountain. Well anyway, we did manage to accomplish a small piece of our quest, hitting 4 bergs/burgs, namely:

• Nuremberg: dominated by its grand castle, it features ornately decorated churches, elaborate fountains, and the great Tucherschloss Museum.
• Wurzburg: a university town, it’s known for the Wurzburg Residence, the Marienberg Fortress, and the 180-meter-long Old Main Bridge, lined with impressive statues of saints.
• Heidelberg: nestled between the Neckar River and the foothills of the Odenwald forest, the town’s Old Bridge and its grand castle are two of the nicer sights in Germany
• Bamberg: cited as one of Germany’s most-beautiful cities, Bamberg is a UNESCO heritage site with a well-preserved old town center and a blend of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

If I had to pick one to recommend, I’d probably go with Bamberg – a town with less “big sites”… a place to get lost in and wander around. The point is – we *loved* our berg/burg quest! We loved setting a mission for ourselves and then trying to achieve it. The next time I’m in Germany, perhaps I’ll seek out the best Vegan Restaurant in Bavaria. Omaha can have its steaks. Give me strudel and tofu!
(What quest are you working on now?)