My 5: Schwetzingen Palace, Germany.

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1. Schwetzingen Palace, November 2008. In late 2008 I undertook my second visit to Germany. I’d recently gotten married and my wife was a Dutch girl whose mother’s side of the family hailed from Deutschland. Living in Brussels, the two of us made the four-hour drive to Wiesental, a small village in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Hanging out with Grandma turned out to be much more fun than expected, what with her sublime home-cooked apple strudel and engaging Second World War stories. There was also the ludicrous TV program we all watched that night, where unreasonably blond, blue-eyed men sang accordion-driven songs about their love for the German countryside whilst dancing around trees and stroking deer. But as entertaining as it all was, the weekend’s highlight was our visit to nearby Schwetzingen Palace, an eighteenth century royal residence set amid a complex of beautifully landscaped gardens.

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