Saturday, September 14, 2013

Germany Part IV - Rothenburg ob der Tauber

(For Part III click HERE)

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

After leaving Salzburg we headed back to northern Bavaria to the perfectly preserved, quintessential medieval city: Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Rothenburg is probably my favorite city in all of Germany.  I love how quaint it is.

We stayed at Hotel Kloster-Stüble in Room 15.  The room was very nice and spacious, and the included breakfast was terrific.  It was your typical German breakfast with delicious fresh made breads, cheeses and meats.  They also offered mimosas and eggs to order.  It was nice to have fried eggs for the first time in two weeks.  The only thing unusual we noticed about our room was the incline of the floor.   It must have been at least a 3-4 degree incline from one side of the room to the other.  We joked that we had to hike uphill to get from the bathroom to the crib.

Due to major construction on the autobahn running up from Salzburg, we got into town pretty late.  So we just walked around the market square, peeked into some windows, then had dinner at the hotel restaurant.  It was a really good meal and worthwhile even if you aren't staying at Kloster-Stüble.  (plus they had a bench seat for Max to lay on).

The next two days we spent walking around the town and relaxing.

Christmas Village

Of course the first thing we had to do was hit up the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village.  It is amazing.  There are actually two stores, one smaller and more manageable (far fewer people) and the other is huge and very elaborate.  We did most of our shopping in the smaller store, then we took Max to the bigger store to look at all the lights and moving marionettes.  I could have easily spent another hour in the bigger village, but Jeremy clearly wanted to go and I had already spent enough money.  

We also stopped by the Teddy Bear store and bought Max a Steiff Teddy named Charlie.  I wanted him to have something special from Germany and these handmade bears are perfect.  He looked so cute with his new Teddy and his Lambie from Oberammergau.  He's really enjoying sitting up now and being able to look around.

After shopping we grabbed some lunch at an outdoor cafe called Reichs-Küchenmeister (flammkuchen, sausage, and beer of course).  Fortunately we were able to find a table where there weren't people smoking right next to us. After lunch we did a little more shopping in this cute children's store and bought max two wooden puzzles as well as a wooden stacking tower.  We then headed over to the Crime and Punishment Museum.  I gotta say, the museum was interesting, but not really as good as all the hype.  I'd only rate at 2.5 stars.

Over the two days we also took the opportunity to do laundry.  It was pretty easy to find the place but there's no way that I would have stopped by a laundromat like that in the states.  It's ironic how a place designed to clean your clothes could be so dirty.  The laundromat is just outside the walled part of the city, so it was an easy walk and we brought lunch sandwiches with us to occupy the time.

Night Watchman Tour

One of the most recommended activities in Rothenburg is taking the Night Watchman's Tour.  7E/pp and well worth it, 5 stars.  This guy is as informative as he is funny.  He captivates you with his voice and you are drawn listening to him explain the history of the city.  

Did you know the city was spared in WWII because some high ranking official in the US Army, who had never visited Rothenburg, had seen pictures of the town growing up and though it was so beautiful that didn't want to see the town destroyed.  So he gave the order for the US Army to first offer a surrender by the Germans before leveling the city.  Although the Germans were under strict orders not to surrender, the German commander was out of the city when the offer from the US forces came in and the lieutenant commander, probably understanding that there were no other good options, took the offer, and thus the city was spared.  Pretty neat.

Walking the Wall

Another great activity to do in Rothenburg is walk the wall.  It's the only city (I believe) whose wall is completely intact and you can walk about 75% of it.  Jeremy and I started just after breakfast and we spent about 2 hours just strolling along with Max.  It's pretty wide in some sections but narrow in others, so I wouldn't advise a stroller.  Between certain hours of the day you can also climb the Roedertor tower at the East end of the town for an amazing view of the city; though the hours seem to be a little loose so its best to go right in the middle of the open window.  Also note that it costs 2E to enter the tower room at the top and that you pay only after you've climbed the 135 steps to the top, so bring some coins with you.

While in Rothenburg we ate at three really good restaurants.  The first of which I told you about earlier, but I also want to mention Zur Hölle and Gaststätte Bürgerkeller.  Both of these were recommended by Rick Steves and the first, Zur Hölle, is practically the only place open past 8pm, and literally translated means Hell.  It is described as "dark and foreboding" but it is awesome.  Really cool little bar/restaurant that serves up amazing food and great wine (and beer of course).  There are a few little nooks throughout the small building nestled with tables and we sat in this cute little area off to one side.  Here is also the first place that we had Liptauer, a savory paprika cream cheese spread.  Delicious!

Our second night we ate at Gaststätte Bürgerkeller.  This also gets high marks from us, but unfortunately the owner told us that after 27 years in the business he would be closing down in December of this year, so unless you're going to Rothenburg soon you'll probably miss out on this little gem.

During one of our relaxing days here we also dropped into Restaurant Glocke.  Next to the restaurant is a wine store but you can also go into the restaurant at anytime (we went around 3) and ask to do a wine tasting.  They have a 4,40E deal which lets you sample 5 Franconian wines.  We did a dry white and a red tasting.  Keep in mind the wine of the region is white, so there are about 10x more white wines to choose from than reds.  The tasting was a nice way to escape all the people and relax for a bit.  We weren't there during dinner but from what we could tell this would probably be a great place to eat.


Our last day in Rothenburg we took a quick side trip over to Nuremburg to see the Nazi Documentation Center and the old town.  The Documentation Center now houses a very interesting museum exploring not so much the Holocaust itself but the perfect storm of events leading up to it.  We spent about 2.5 hours in the exhibit and we probably could have spent even more if it weren't for Max's feeding schedule.  

We then drove into the old town and walked around for about two hours.  We followed the walking tour of Nuremberg (or Nürnberg) as outlined in the Rick Steve's guidebook.  Here's a picture of Max and Jeremy in front of a really creepy fountain.  I will say, I was really impressed by the architecture throughout the city, especially St. Lawrence Church.  Wow.

It was really nice to have been stationary for a few days, but it was time to leave and head to the last city on our vacation, Munich.  

(continue to part V HERE)

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