Europe – day 1 – Rothenberg

The start of our trip was relatively uneventful (except that my good camera died the morning of the trip). Our plane was not full so we had some time to spread out. Of our party of six (My wife Joan, daughter Liz, Liz’s friend Danna and our friends Susan and Kevin) I was the only one who got a significant amount of sleep on the plane. Joan was unable to convince her body that the time on her watch had any meaning what so ever.

Before we left the airport we rented two cell phones (one for me and one for Liz) and the kids headed off for the train to Munich where they visited a former exchange student they knew.

Getting sleep on the plane was a good idea since I drove us from the Frankfort airport to our destination. We jumped on the autobahn and headed to Wurtzberg for our first stop. Wurtzberg is the northern most town on the Romantise Strasse (Romantic Road). It does not get the amount of tourism as our day’s destination of Rothenberg but it is a beatiful town. A castle (Schloss) looks down on the town which straddles the Tauber river. We ate a quick lunch at the Cafe Haus Bruckenback including flammkuchen (a flat bread pizza-like dish without cheese and with a very thin crust) . After lunch we wandered the streets of Wurtzberg. It has interesting town hall, cafes, old churches, and a farmer’s market, just the sort of things that draw us to Europe. Before long, the blue skies clouded up and we found ourselves in a downpour. It was the sort of rain that has a habit of blowing your umbrella inside-out. We retreated to a bakery (Müller Bëck) to… well, it was a bakery, do we really need an excuse? A German gentleman we met on the plane said that the saying in Germany was that if it rained on June 27th it would rain for 7 more weeks. Apparently it had rained this year on the 27th.

We did not travel by the most efficient route to Rothenberg. We tried to find the Romantische Strasse but did not find it. It does not help that the roads are generally labeled by which town you are headed to and I have yet to see a road marked as heading a compass direction like “South”. We also followed one road that on the map led to the autobahn. It did lead us to the autobahn but the autobahn was 100 feet above us and inaccessible. By the time we arrived at the Hotel Gerberhaus in Rothenberg I needed a nap, as the jet lag had set in. We explored the town taking advantage of the many hours of daylight. The restaurants close relatively early (many around 8pm) so we headed to dinner while it could be found. We went to a restaurant recommended in Rick Steve’s guidebook (the Glöcke) which had a good German menu and an owner who was willing to explain whatever German we could not figure out. I had a year of German in high school and Joan had a year in college so we can get by, but our German is very rusty.

After dinner we headed to the main square and saw the start of the night watchman’s tour. The tour starts at 8pm (not quite night yet in July) and is an English tour about the history of Rothenberg. The night watchman is in appropriate medieval garb and fills the tour with humor so that even non-history buffs can enjoy it. The crowd was very large on this night as there was a group of high school kids from Arizona presenting two concerts the next day. It was these concerts that had led us to change our itinerary to include Rothenberg. We had been planning on going to Heidelberg but learned that a young man, Paul, we have known since he was 3 was singing in the choir concert here and that his parents (good friends who we have traveled with previously – Jim and Marylyn) would be attending. We looked in the crowd for Paul but he was not there. We did find at least one person who knew him.

We opted to wait for the next day to take the tour when the weather might be better (it wasn’t) or the crowd might be smaller (nope). So we dragged ourselves back to the hotel to try and sleep off the jet lag. Just after we went to bed the sky outside our window filled with fireworks. They were probably for the fair we had seen outside of town but 4 jet-lagged Americans thought it was very nice of them to have fireworks on July 4th.

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