One Meter Chocolate Bunny, Perfect for Markus
April 25, 2019
Our second day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Rothenburg is charming. It is quite small and can be hurriedly seen in a day. We chose to devote a day (half day actually) to Markus and a full day to exploring the town. This gave us a day to unwind before leaving the castle road for the romantic road south.
A Motor Tour if you Perfer Not to Walk
Literally Empty Streets
Rothenburg’s North Gate
Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Today looked to be another bright sunny day. Yesterday’s temperature was mid 70’s in the sun. Would there be no need for our warmer clothing? This was mid-May weather.
We arose early and ate at our hotel, Glocke Weingut und Hotel. We had Frühstück of cereal with yoghurt, nuts, and fruit; a poppy seed roll, and cappuccino. If I remember correctly this cappuccino was “real” and not made from a push-button machine. With no need to pack for our next leg, we could spend all day looking for parts of Rothenberg we had not yet seen. First wanted fresh pastry. Where would we find an excellent bäckerei.
Café Stübchen Zuckersüß
There are four bakeries on the main street just outside our hotel. We skipped the one we tried yesterday with their Sneeballen, which were disappointing. Why? They are the same consistency all the way through, crispy flakey chunks of fried dough covered with a variety of things: cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla seem most popular. They would be significantly better if the center were a gooey mass of chocolate, though that would make them much harder to eat. In any event, we skipped BrotHaus Café, checked the other three out and settled on Café Stübchen Zuckersüß, beside our hotel on the same side of the street.
We each had a “real” cappuccino. Ellen had a puff pastry filled with whipped cream, which she enjoyed. I had a slice of a poppy seed pie: thin crust filled with poppy seed with a binder to hold it together. Not overly sweet with essence of poppy flavor. I very highly recommend this bakery, their cappuccino is “the real deal” and the pastries are excellent.
You Can See The Tower Cat Walk On High
Rathaus on Market Square, One Scaffolding Tower
Walking back up the main street, we found ourselves at the tourist center. We mingled looking around and decided it was not going to help us much. We walked toward the “new” town hall, new by European standards. It was build in the 1570’s. Again it was under construction. There were two large scaffold towers at the front of the building. We walked behind the scaffolding and found an entrance. “Is this main town hall entrance?”, we asked ourselves. We went in and up a set of stairs, and into a large room with a turn style. A sign said, “wait for green to go ahead”, in German. The light was green. There was a sign that said “pay at the top” also in German. Pay? Well ok, we’re game. Pushing through the turn style were more stairs. I counted 82 of them in all. 82 steps to get to a wooden stair case that continued up. I lost count of the stairs sometime after the staircase become narrow and more like a ladder. It continued up to a very small landing, stairs continued up ahead and to the left sat a woman behind a window. You pay to go up that last flight of stairs. We paid and with some trepidation climbed into and through a low narrow doorway onto the top of the church tower. Atop the tower sits a very narrow 360 degree catwalk with an outstanding view of Rothenburg below. We were stunned. Perhaps because the entrance is hidden by the scaffolding, perhaps because it is off season, but for whatever reason we were alone with each other and this stellar view. Thinking back on the waiting room at the turn style and the green/red semaphore to control traffic, we were extremely lucky not to have had to wait hours. To be alone together is altogether amazing. I’ll post a number of photos from the tower toward the end of this page.
Part Way Up, It gets Narrow and Steep from Here
Back to earth, lunch and a beer sounded about right. We recalled our garden restaurant search with Markus’ search for a peaceful bite, “Let’s find a garden restaurant”, perhaps the Herrnschlösschen is open. One hotel had a terrace, but did not serve food ‘till later. The Herrnschlösschen was closing. It looked like the owner and his wife were shutting down for a while. The garden was closed, in fact the hotel and restaurant were closed.
The Old Castle Garden
The West Gate Seen from the Garden
View Into the Valley from the Castle Garden
Earth, Air, Fire, Water, & Ellen the Five Elements
We continued down Herrngasse to an arched gate in the town’s surrounding wall. We walked through to a large garden, Jardines Antiguo castillo, garden of the ancient castle. Wow. Thoughts of food, gone. This was another picturesque gem. We walked the garden, captivated by the view to the valley below and across to Rothenburg’s south gate. It was past noon and the lighting for photography was sub-optimal. “Let’s return an hour before sunset.” We headed back to our hotel to rest and see if we had web access to plan tomorrow. On the way back Ellen mentioned that the fellow we had seen dressed in black last night gave tours of the town in the evening. The English tour started tonight at 8:00. “Would you like to go?” “Yes” That complicated things. Sunset would be at 8:20 that night. Photography would be best around 7:30 to 8:30. We’d have to take our photos around 7:15-7:45 then run to Market Square.
Where does the time go. 7:00 arrived and we were off to the garden to catch photography’s golden hour. I set an alarm for 7:45. It is so easy to lose track of everything with sensory overload and/or thoughtful focus. The alarm seemed to go off in a few minutes time. The opportunity for good photos was there, we had fun, but it was time for our “tour of Rothenburg”. We boogied off. (Buggered per Monte Python?)
View Out Our Window, Glocke Weingut und Hotel
Rothenburg from the Garden
The Night Watchman
A substantial crowd was milling about the square. Perhaps 50 or 80 people; all for the tour? At 8:00 sharp, a fellow dressed in black and carrying a long pike strode into the square and began speaking. A half-circle formed around George as he spoke. “If you want to take a photo with me, now is the time! Don’t be shy.” Many people did, We all noticed that it was the women who stood by George and had their photo taken. One fellow stepped forward, through his arms around George and had his photo taken. We all roared. It was hilarious.
“The Watchman” walked us around a short loop out into the gardens just before sunset, by the restaurant named HELL, and back to the main square. He stopped a number of times to talk about Rothenburg’s history. Not the history of names of politicians and dates of construction. Not that boring historical stuff that books are made of. He talked of city life in the old days.
A few examples. I will not tell all. You may find yourself having your photo taken with George one day. No need to spoil the experience. In the old days near the fountain in Market Square, there stood a circular cage. If an individual was ill behaved or too drunken and rowdy, that person could find himself placed in that cage. The cage could be rotated. People, young people mostly, would have fun spinning the cage with the ruffian inside. Another tale, the massive doors at the tower entrances would be closed at night to protect the town. The massive doors had a “man hole”, a door small enough that only one man at a time could fit through. Before sunset bells would be rung calling people out in the fields inside the town walls. At sunset the doors were closed. Anyone outside the walls could enter the town through the man holes. However, human nature being what is is, everyone would arrive late at the gate and expect entrance into the town. To solve this problem, a tariff was levied on those arriving late. There were few late arrivals.
The Door and the Man Hole are Original
The Night Watchman Weaving a Tale
George also explained why part of the city wall was destroyed, how the city came to be saved from total destruction because a US general’s mother had visited the town before WWII.
If you walk the town’s ramparts, you will see numerous plaques with the names of families from around the world. George explains the significance of those plaques.
In addition to being a captivatingly romantic town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber has a unique history that comes alive as George speaks. I asked him how long he has been doing this. “Twenty seven years”, was his answer. I have since seen that two other towns have Night Watchman tours. Perhaps George started a trend. I do recommend taking his evening tour, and giving him the 7 euro he asks. Will you ask yourself how much George makes in a year? I did.
The West Gate at Sunset (and Illuminated)
George Has Mastered Comic Delivery
After the tour, I wanted a beer. I had not had one all day! We’re in Germany; it’s always Zero.Beer.Thirty. We sat where we had first eaten with Markus “last week” or so it felt. It was only yesterday. Ellen had her usual water with lemon or lime. My beer was good, though Germans do not drink their beer cold, but rather cool. Below room temperature to be sure, but not ice cold. Ice cold was the greeting I got from our waiter when I asked to pay by card. “Too Little” and I had no cash. “AutoGeld” up the street. There was an ATM just up the street, though it would have been impossible to find without help from an EIS Maiden. A gal at an ice cream shop pointed to a glass door across the street and said, “ATM is there”. I gave my waiter a hefty tip (for Germany) and we parted “best of friends”.
HELL, the Restaurant
Tomorrow (morgen in German) we’re off to Nordlingen, Donauworth, Augsburg, and Landsburg am Lect, time permitting.
Photos from the Church Tower
Sunset on the Tower
St. Jacob’s Church
The View Down Klostergasse
Please Do Not Ring the Bell