Sunday, August 23, 2009

Germany Trip... Part 2 - Rothenburg

So after we finally made it to Rothenburg Ob De Tauber, we walked to the city center (the main part of the city is surrounded by its city wall and what used to be a moat. The moat is now a park area and walking path.) We actually have all of the pictures from here. Yea! :)(From the big camera at least) We went to the TI (Tourist Information) and was able to find directions to a few hotels. (Rick Steves book helped too...) We chose one, but they were booked (at least that what the man said when we told him we didn't have reservations. He seemed a little put off). He recommended another place across the street called "Pension Berzit." It was really nice. "Pensions" are small hotels with no restaurant or other services. Some are private homeowners with a few rooms to rent out. Here's a few pictures of our room and the view.... (We took a picture of the outside of the hotel, but those didn't make it...)

cobblestones again!

We rested a while and went out for dinner. (It took almost all day to get there because of all the train changes and the delay). We ate at a nice little restaurant right near the main square. They had a big outdoor dining area (beirgarten-Beer Garden) which was really nice. The only problem with these outdoor dining areas is the smokers. Everybody smokes in Germany. I have never seen so many smokers. (I'll bet the cancer rate in Germany is really high!!) The restaurant was right next to the biggest church in the city center. And guess what... It was covered with scaffolding! After we ate dinner, we walked around the town. It was after 6pm. All of the tour buses were gone and most of the stores had closed. It was really nice actually. We headed back and crashed for the night.

Tuesday 8/11
Rothenburg is a very touristy city, mainly because it was not completely destroyed during it's long history. The city wall is nearly intact and damaged sections were rebuilt with donations. All the houses and buildings were rebuilt in their original styles. (part of the city was destroyed in the 30 years war.) It has a great medieval feel to it.
The tour buses show up around 10am and that's when all the shops open. (When I say tour buses, I mean many, many, many buses.) We woke up around 8 and had to wait for the shops to open. We walked around for a little while. The first thing we did was walk around the city on top of the wall. From there we could see most of the city. Lots of cute little German houses and gardens. Several of the wall's original towers were still standing and one was open to visitors. We were able to go up to the top where there were some really great views of the walled city as well as the city outside the wall and the fields. (Notice the windmills in the background). I have tons of pictures from here. I'll post them in a later post. (Blogger isn't photo loading friendly.)
(This last one is the bridge that takes you over the "moat" and down to the park area outside the city wall.)
We left the wall and went through the Medieval Crime & Punishment Museum. (Cool website) By this time, my feet were really hurting. I bought a pair of Merrill walking shoes specifically for the trip and so far they had served me well. But I've learned that no company makes a shoe that can overcome cobblestones. Anyway, this museum is huge! Three stories of some pretty scary stuff. Some really strange "shame masks" used for "men who act like pigs", Chastity belts, odd cages that held people who were caught doing frivolous things like gossiping, wearing the wrong clothing, selling bread that was a little off it's intended size and weight, and such. They would put you in a mask, chain you to the wall of the jail and make you stand there for hours and people would come by and ridicule you. They had stones and wood blocks that were used for beheading (you could see the ax marks), Cages with spikes, thumb presses (squeeze your thumbs or fingers until you confessed), stretching boards (where they pulled your limbs off). They had this cage connected to a large pole(There's a picture below). It was used for dunking "bakers" into the water. Bakers (yes, people who make bread) were punished if the bread they sold was not the correct weight. If they died, oh well... There was a necklace made of large wooden blocks painted like dice and playing cards. It was worn by the person who was bad at poker. Seriously. There was a mask with a large medal clarinet looking thing for people who were bad at music. Very strange stuff. (I only took a few photos. I don't think you were supposed to take pictures inside.)
We left the museum and turned the corner and then all of a sudden, this huge rush of people just showed up out of nowhere. The tour buses had arrived. We walked around most of the city. Went into a few shops. Rothenburg is the home of Kathe Wohlfahrt, (store website) a company that makes Christmas decorations. They have a large Christmas Museum and store there. Really cool, but very touristy...

We had a quick sandwich at a little bakery and then walked around some more. We read in the Rick Steves book about a little cuckoo clock and souvenir shop that he really liked and visited often. The lady there spoke broken English and saw us walk in with the book. She talked to us for a looong time! She had pictures of her with RS going back 10-15 years I think. She had his "Postcards From Europe" book that he signed for her. (He mentions her several times in it). Her name was Annaliese Friese. We felt bad that we had already gotten a clock and souvenirs because she was such a nice lady. (More pictures of our walking around time...)

We ate dinner at an Italian restaurant. We had pizza and pasta... Typical. (The restaurant was a RS recommendation.)

After dinner, we went back to the main square and waited for the Nightwatchmen's tour(very informative website - lots of city history info). The Nightwatchmen used to walk the streets at night and watch for fires. Fire was the most feared thing back in the medieval era. If he spotted a fire, he would sound his horn to wake up everyone. The tour was really interesting. He does an English tour at 8pm and a German tour at 10pm. (Look at the website to learn more...very interesting.)

After the tour, we ate some ice cream at a little cafe and then headed back to our room. (ice cream shop was RS recommended-notice the sign on the wall).

Our feet were killing us!! We only had a shower in our room. I would have loved to have been able to soak my feet that night... (It turned out that every hotel -except one- had a shower and no bathtub.)

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