Discovering Deutschland

We left Bacharach early for the road trip to Rothenburg on the Tauber river, arriving around mid-day. It’s an interesting town, and classically quaint, with shutterbugs all over town during the day. It touts itself as the best preserved medieval town, and it’s definitely worth seeing. The original part of the city is surrounded by an old stone wall, the tallest part of which has a cover and railing, so you can walk along it and see the town from the wall. It’s far more touristy than Bacharach, but with an equal charm and interesting history. I was finding myself wishing we had two days there instead of two days in Bacharach, especially comparing the hotels, as the place we stayed in Rothenburg was much better.

I walked a bit around town, going into various shops, restaurants, bakeries, and cafes. With the number of tourists, you’re bound to run into fellow Americans, as well as people from all over the world. My favorite encounter of non-locals was with a group of people that I overhead discussing American football — once I heard “Seahawks”, I joined in and found myself with a Green Bay and Denver fan, and others in the group who were Irish, so it was fun to chat with them a bit about my upcoming visit to Ireland.

The town park was really lovely, jutting out from the town on a bluff, with great views of the river valley below, and the surrounding hills, as well as a vista back toward the town.  The visit to St. James Cathedral to see the famous altars within was quite impressive, even for an agnostic like me.  I also walked a bit atop the medieval town wall, because, come on, how often can you say that you’ve done that?

The highlight of the evening was The Night Watchman’s Tour, which did not disappoint. He had a record crowd for the evening stroll through the town, and the description of him as sort of a medieval Jerry Seinfeld is apt, as he was hilarious. A very entertaining history lesson and town stroll, all in one.

Breakfast in the morning was glorious; I should have taken a photo of the spread. It was a work of art — I’ve never seen a hotel breakfast spread that beautifully done. And it was delicious to boot, so the whole visit to Rothenburg was lovely.  If you ever go to Rothenburg, consider a stay at Hotel Gerberhaus on the south end of town.

Tuesday morning we left Rothenburg and went to Dachau, and I have a dedicated post on that experience, which I’ll post next.  Afterward, we had a late lunch at a monastery, Kloster Andechs, that is also a restaurant and brewery, where huge amounts of food are accompanied by huge steins of beer. So, naturally, I had their homemade apple cider out of a large beer stein. The grounds of the monastery were lovely, including the church and grounds. On a large placard was a bit of history, with “Der Andechser Heiltums-Schatz” in huge letters, so I have some research to do on this, since it was all in German, but I was able to show a photo of the plaque to our bus driver, who is fluent, and he told me that it essentially described the historical treasures of the church (Schatz means “treasure”, and is also used as a term of endearment, like “sweetheart”, such as mein schatz).

In late afternoon we stopped by Wieskirche in the German Bavarian country-side, a Rococo style church in a meadow, surrounded by farmland, and green pastures and trees as far as you can see.  It was amazingly ornate inside, and unexpectedly beautiful.  The afternoon drive in this whole area was green and lush, and really beautiful.

We have now arrived in Reutte, Austria, just across the border from Germany, and will return to Germany tomorrow to tour the two famous castles of King Ludwig, Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein.

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