Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On to Rothenburg

This city was built in the 1300s and is a totally awesome place.  The “old town” is an enclosed walled city which is right in the middle of the new, modern town.  We drove through an archway which is only of 2 ways into the old city, then followed Sammy’s instructions and drove directly to the hotel.  We checked in and parked in a small parking lot about a block away. That is, an American block.  I rarely saw any “blocks” of our normal length.  They all, everywhere we went, were longer or shorter or non-existent.

Rothenburg, pronounced “Rote-in-burg” is an awesome town.  It’s become a tourist place and there are shops (called houses, not shops) everywhere.  I asked were such-and-such a place was and was told “It’s two houses down,” etc.  There are people everywhere.  The narrow streets are built of stone and are bumpy when driving over them; you have to watch where you put your feet and / or cane when walking so you don’t trip over a stone sticking up higher than the others.

There is a wall all around the old city, built to protect the residents from invaders.  However, during one war, the city was conquered and was threatened with destruction.  The mayor pleaded with the general to save the city and the residents.  The general said if someone could drink a large tankard of beer in one glug, he would save the city.  The mayor, supposedly, did so and was a hero.  There is a large building - I think it was the city hall - that has a clock and two windows.  At the hour, the windows open and an animatronic general watches an animatronic mayor glug down his beer.  At 5 minutes to the hour, the market square gets very full, everyone watching the clock and having his / her camera ready.

Old buildings everywhere!  Not a new building in sight.  New windows, perhaps, and new interiors, but the walls on the outside are originally old.  We Americans, as most know, think “old” is 200 years or so.  Walking on streets that were built in the 1300s is amazing!  Touching walls that are 700 years old is awe-inspiring.  I love “old” (maybe that’s why I love Norm?) and it was thrilling to be in Rothenburg. 

We did a lot of shopping and even (shock) split up, planning on meeting back at a certain spot and knowing we wouldn’t get lost.  I saw an old cathedral but didn’t go in, as they charged to go in and it wasn’t too impressive, from what I could see.  It was more impressive on the outside (I did see a properly aged cathedral the next day). 

Touristy is a correct word for the shops (houses, excuse me).  Knick-knacs everywhere, but I bought into the idea and bought my own knick-knacs.  I wanted dolls, so got my second one (first one was Swiss), a Bavarian one.  Pictures of them will come at a later time, I promise.  I also found some thimbles, some liquor glasses for Norm and other cool things that can’t be mentioned now.  How about I take pictures and show them when the receivers have received them?    

We had a beautiful set of rooms (two bedrooms) in the Hotel goldener Hirsch but there was no Internet ... this was the first place we stayed that did NOT have Internet.  I was told that an Internet Café was down the street, through the famous archway.  Dad and I walked down there; the proprietor was closing up early to do some shopping.  He told us that there was another one up in the Market Square, so we walked up there.  The two in the shop could not speak any English except to know that I wanted Internet, but we couldn’t connect.  I was charged € 2 (2 Euro) for the password but because there was some trick to connect that I couldn’t figure out, I was given the money back.  We went back to the first Internet Café in the morning and had good connections so we could plug Sammy into directions for our next hotel.

I had a lot of questions to ask the receptionist; she was very helpful and would get the other office girl if she couldn’t understand or tell me what I wanted to know. 

I need to say, right now, that I met no-one in Europe that was not friendly, helpful and kind.  The taxi drivers (all but one - late at night and non-English speaking, so he wasn’t very talkative) talked and asked questions and answered questions and got us to our destination quickly and without cheating us by going a longer way, as we had been warned could happen.  The people who could speak English were helpful; those who could not speak English would find someone who could to help us.  We saw no suspicious characters that were out to steal anything of ours.  We felt very safe, as far as our bodies and our belongings, the whole time.
In Oberammagau, I asked the waitress what the name of the berry was that I had discovered everywhere.  After trying to pronounce it in English, she finally wrote it down.  That is the kind of helpful I mean.  (This lovely berry that I fell in love with is Red Currant.  We have it here, but it doesn’t seem to be used as much!  I got some Red Currant jelly when I got home!)

In the morning, this was our last full day, we spent time until almost noon wandering around.  We went to the back side of the hotel and found a path and also a “short” wall (I could look over it but it ran clear down to the valley below) that I could take pictures from.

We left Rothenburg, which was the highlight of my trip.  I need to go back and spend more time prowling around - hopefully Norm and I can do that some day.  We then headed to our last city before flying out.  This was another old city, Aschaffenburg, with a lot of old buildings, but it also blended new buildings alongside.  But that’s another story for tomorrow.


The church bells of the Town Hall


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