Europe 2012: Day 76, Prague to Rothenburg


City Center of Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Woke at 7am.   It will be another hot day in Prague, but we are leaving for the heat in Rothenburg, Germany today so does it really matter?

Our schedule is tight – one bus and then three trains, each with less than 5 minutes per transfer.   My DH is prepared – he has written down the time, location, and gate of every transfer.  What a guy!

The Prague Bus Station — our bus to Rothenburg, Germany.

We arrive at the Prague train station early, a good 30 minutes before our bus is scheduled to leave at 8:33am.   We still have some Czech crowns left, so my DH buys us sandwiches and cookies for the 4 hour bus ride.  We eat one of the sandwiches as we wait for the bus.

I swear, there is more luggage than people on this bus!    Stowing all the luggage under the bus takes longer than expected and the bus leaves the terminal almost 10 minutes late.   Oh well, not much we can do about it.  The bus is comfortable.  It is equipped with electrical outlets, so I plug in the netbook and work on my blog.   We enjoy the scenery of the Czech and German countryside.   The fields are green and rolling, dotted with farms and small towns.   I remember from my high school history class that many Germans migrated to Wisconsin because Wisconsin looked a lot like Germany – and it does!    It really does!

Overall, we make every train transfer and the trip is uneventful.   We arrived in Rothenburg at 1:30pm and it hot!   The half-mile walk to our hotel was not bad as long as we stayed on the shady side of the street.   We walk through a stone gate and into the walled city of Rothenburg.  My God — how cute is this place?    It is like a storybook – plaster and beamed German houses line the narrow cobblestone streets.  They are an assortment of pastel colors, all with window boxes overflowing with red geraniums!  The store fronts are packed with pastries and Christmas decorations.   On first glance, there are not a lot of tourists to be seen.   But once we pass through the main square, we see the groups of Chinese tourists and in an odd way, I feel better for that.

We find our hotel, Hotel Gotisches Haus, a wood framed tutor building with tourists eating ice cream on the sidewalk.   We walk through a lovely lodge/restaurant and meet the young blond German receptionist at the front desk.   She checks our name off the list, gives us our room key and shows us to the elevator.

The room is lovely but there is no air conditioning.  We knew this when we booked the room because we didn’t think we would need it – stupid, stupid, stupid!   The room is warm and muggy.  We open a window and we go out to get some ice cream.

As I said, Rothenburg is right out of the storybook!   Here are some pictures of the street outside our hotel:

Fountain in Rothenburg City Center (Germany).

Colorful timber buildings with flowers boxes. (Rothenburg, Germany)

Just like a storybook! (Rothenburg, Germany)

Finding ice cream was easy!   I ordered a scoop of the chocolate and a scoop of Kirsh (a cherry liquor) ice cream.   I happily shared  it with my DH.   We stop at the Tourist Office and look through the flyers for interesting things to do in our day and a half stay here.    One of the places I read about in the Rick Steves guidebook was the Christmas Museum – I gotta go there!

The Christmas Museum was located off the main square, about 30 yards away from the tourist office, behind the Chinese tour group.    When you walk in you are immediately welcomed by cool air-conditioning and a twinkling white Christmas tree.  This museum is all about the history of Christmas and Christmas decoration.   I liked it!   The displays were great!  My favorites were the  Christmas cards, the Christmas storybooks, and the Christmas Pyramids.

A Christmas Tree! In August! (Rothenburg, Germany)

A Christmas display of a Teddy Bear village! (Rothenburg, Germany)

Christmas Pyramids. (Rothenburg, Germany).   Christmas Pyramids are wooden structures with wooded figures (usually religious), candles, and wooden fans on top that spins when the heat rises from the candles.   They are  wondrous and I want one!

Attached to the museum is a huge store that sells nothing but Christmas decorations called the Rothenburger Weihnachtswerkstatt!   We spend the next hour going through the various rooms  of Christmas tree decorations, trinkets  figurines, dinnerware, linens, pyramids, candle arches, and my DH’s favorite, wooden incense smokers.  The temptation to buy something really lovely and really expensive is great!   But do I want to be lugging something delicate around with me for the next 30 days?   I consider the cost of shipping any purchase back to the States — that is pretty pricey too!  I will give it some more thought.   I couldn’t take pictures of the store but click on the links to view the Käthe Wohlfahrt website.

After the Christmas Store, we had dinner at a lovely restaurant in a cool cave —  Restaurant Burgerkeller.  It was cool.  It was dark.  It was nice!     My DH ordered Chicken Chicken Cordon Bleu with Spätzle.   I ordered the Nuremburg Sausage with Sauerkraut.   Both dishes were excellent!   Since it was a slow evening, we spent some time talking to the owner/cook of the restaurant (he said business is always slow when it is hot).  We also started a friendly conversation with a couple from Calvary, Canada.  They were traveling up and down the Romantic Road and intended to see “it all” in a week.  Pretty ambitious of them, we thought.  They both had impressive, expensive cameras with huge lens — I felt so inadequate!

Dinner at the Restaurant Burgerkeller in Rothenburg, Germany.

Chicken Chicken Cordon Bleu with Spätzle

Nuremburg Sausage with Sauerkraut

Interior of Restaurant Burgerkeller — its dark, its cool, its a cave. (Rothenburg, Germany)

We paid our bill and left the restaurant in time to attend the 8pm “Night Watchman Tour”.   This is a tour given by a tall fellow portraying a medieval Night Watchman who is responsible for the peace of the city of Rothenburg between the dusk and dawn (mostly he looks out for fires which are a huge threat to a city made mostly of wood construction).   He dressed in a long flowing black robe, toted a mean looking stick (a combination sword/ax/pick), wears a three pointed hat that holds down is mass of unruly hair, and carries an ox horn around his neck (he blows into it to warn everyone of impending doom).    His deep, foreboding voice makes his show frighteningly effective.   He spoke of the sanitary conditions of a medieval town (not good), the superstitions of the residence (fear of the dark),   the boom-and-bust of Rothenburg’s economy, and the impact of the black plague and various wars on the city.  He told good jokes too.  Click here to see a Night Watchman YouTube video of the tour.

The Night Watchman — see a video. (Rothenburg, Germany)

After the tour, I was feeling tried so we went back to the room.    The hotel manager was able to find us a fan for the room, which was a good thing since the only thing to come through our open window was a moth.

Quote of the day:   “This is the Grand Daddy of all Christmas stores!”  — DH

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