Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

In 2005, I visited Germany for the first time. It was on our way back from two weeks in Ukraine and I think we spent about five days in the Frankfurt area. On one of our days there, we took a bus to the cutest place I've ever been, a little city called Rothenburg. At the time, a few or perhaps all of us believed that we were actually in Wittenberg, and were going to see the church where Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses. Geographically, we were about 270 miles away, but perhaps we'd just misheard and had been informed that we were going to a place that had an affiliation with the Reformation. Whatever the case, for more than half the day we were pumped to be in the same town where so much history had happened, even if we were dead wrong. I remember so few concrete details from that day, just that we were really wrong about the city we were in (we thought maybe "Rothenburg" was "Wittenberg" in German - haha!), that it was cute, it was walled, and that I ate lunch at a Chinese restaurant for the first time in my life.

Well since then, I've thought a lot about that cute little German town, and when we knew we'd be moving to Germany, I looked it up to see if we'd be close. We weren't really, so when I started planning our January trip, I decided to see if we could add it to the itinerary. It worked out well, and I got to make more memories in Rothenburg - NOT Wittenberg. I even found the Chinese restaurant where I'd eaten lunch!

The city looked quite different, because of course it was a foggy memory in my mind and because it was a different season. It was, as I remembered, very cute. I'd had this idea that it was like a perfect little Epcot looking world, and I wasn't wrong. I'm so glad we added this to our trip because it was fun to see again.

We arrived at around 6pm and decided to walk to our hotel. Pulling suitcases over cobblestones became the norm for us on this trip and if I could do it over, I might have booked places that gave us a little less walking time, but it was okay. We were a little under 15 minutes' walk from the hotel. We got there, checked in, and got to the cutest room ever. I'd booked all our rooms as four person rooms because we wouldn't really be spending all that much time in the hotels anyway, but this one was pretty big. We had two separate bedrooms and a little common space in front of them, which was nice and cozy. The hotel we booked was Restaurant Alter Keller, and though there were lots of places in the city that looked similar to ours - quaint German restaurant on the bottom, rooms upstairs - I'm glad we chose this one. The owner was really helpful and friendly and even made us breakfast the next morning.

After check in, we walked around and looked for something to eat as we explored the city. It's pretty tiny and easy to walk around in a short period of time.

 We found a quiet place that was still open (it was fairly late due to a train that wasn't on time, the walk, and the time it took to check in, plus things close earlier in the winter). I had Jaegerschnitzel, which is just a schnitzel (pork or chicken cutlet) covered in a mushroom sauce. We had a lingering 

We decided to walk off dinner and explore. Rothenburg was our coldest stop of the trip. It was 10 degrees that night (but wait - it would be a balmy SIX in the morning!).

We turned in and tried to stay warm. The hotel was pretty old, and relatively warm, but you can't really compete with the combination of freezing temperatures and old building. The beds were super comfy though and much better than what we have in Muenster.

In the daylight, Rothenburg was even cuter. I learned while writing this that Rothenburg is the town in one of my favorite childhood movies, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the town with the creepy childcatcher. If you've never seen the movie, it's a weird one. I'm going to rewatch it now!

It was a chilly morning as we walked around, but everything was so perfectthat it made the cold feel not quite so miserable.

We breathed sighs of relief as we escaped the cold in St. Jakobkirche, the very same church I'd mistaken for bearing the 95 Theses years earlier. It was built in the 15th century and holds a very interesting blood alter upstairs in the loft that is believed to hold actual drops of blood from Jesus Christ.

We appear to have a green screen behind us here! I promise we were really there! Also interesting to me was the lack of people. I remember that in the summertime, this main square (the historic Rathaus is just out of the picture here) was so unbelievably crowded with people and stands, but as you can see, in the winter (or perhaps just on very cold days) the crowds stay home.

We came across some mistletoe in a doorway sooooo...

We liked these little houses that hang on the wall. Danita bought one of them as a souvenir.

A dessert Rothenberg is famous for is the Schneeball. Schnee means snow in German, so as you might guess, it's a round ball of what seems to be pie crust. Lots of bakeries sell them, so we asked which was best at a shop and found this one. There were many options for the Schneeballs. I chose a mini with cinnamon sugar and Carson had a mini with Nutella, but Danita and Fern shared a large white chocolate covered champagne flavored Schneeball. They were good, but probably not my favorite dessert ever. When in Rome though, right?

Next, we climbed the city walls. I'm not sure of the exact distance of the walls, but you can see the whole city pretty easily so it can't be more than a few miles. Portions of the walls (and the city) were destroyed in WWII, but have been rebuilt.

Following a trip around the wall, we decided to visit the Criminal Museum. We took turns in the stocks first.

 As you can imagine in a medieval city, there were all kinds of torture implements showcased, and we didn't really love learning about all the ways people were tortured back in the day. Everyone left really grateful to live in 2017, where bakers whose bread isn't heavy enough aren't dunked in the river from a hanging cage (that's the thing I'm standing under below). Also it looked like redheads had a pretty good chance of being considered witches, and they didn't believe that actual proof was necessary to convict a witch (apparently a pact with the devil would be hard to prove), so really who knows where I'd be if I lived then.

They had a special exhibit on Luther and Witches, which gave the history of the Reformer but also explained his opinions on witches and witchcraft.

We headed to the train station early for some reason and discovered that we were in fact so early that we could just hop on the train an hour early and get to our next destination then. It was super fun dragging our bags up hilly, icy cobblestones.

We had to change trains a few times on our way to Munich. We still got some reading in, and Carson worked on a project.

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