food order lowered by basket

As I said at the end of my last article, when we preparing to leave Salzburg, Jurg, our wonderful coach driver, had asked us if we wanted to take a different route to Heidelberg from where we would take a boat down the Rhine River to Koblenz.

food order lowered by basketNear the entrance to the town – food orders sent to the kitchen by rope basket

We had all agreed to take the Romantic Road via Rothenburg ob der Tauber and willingly made a donation to the extra fuel cost. This was one of the real advantages of being in a group on a coach without an official guide who had to stick strictly to the itinerary. We also had a Group Leader, Colin, who was very open to suggestions and new ideas. It was the first group tour that Trevor and I had taken and it convinced us that it is a good form of holiday, especially for Senior Citizens. The best part is that everything is organised and one’s luggage is taken on and off the bus for you. In most circumstances, you will be on a coach with many strangers but with this trip most of us knew each other from our local churches.

Back to our trip to Rothenburg; as you will see, its full name is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This name for towns is very common in Bavaria where the local river or district is included in the name of the town. Here it means,’Above the Tauber’. Oberammegau means ‘Over or Above the Gau Region’ and Unterammegau ‘Below or Under the mountains of the Region.’ Why did Jurg suggest we go this route and stop in Rothenburg? Firsty, all the towns along the Romantic Road are just beautiful and very romantic in age and style. Then there is Rothenburg which was first declared a city in 1170 and has a castle which was built in 970AD. The city has been well maintained and is quite beautiful. The city wall still stands and some of us took a walk along it and enjoyed some beautiful views of the city. There were also some really interesting and unique places and things to see and enjoy.

Original town wellOriginal town well from 14th century

The Rathaus or Town Hall is to be found in the Town Square along with shops and the Ratstrinkstube or City buildings – The Gothic part with the Tower was built, without foundations, between 1250 and 1400 and, being built of red stone, gives the town its name, ‘Red Tower above the Tauber’. The second building is of Renaissance style having been added in the 1570s. Arcades were then added in 1681. These various styles give the building wonderful character.

Rathaus Rothenburg 2The Rathaus or Town Hall

The Ratstrinkstube has a very interesting story to tell. The front of the building has a clock which was installed in 1683 and on either side of it is a window. These open every hour between 11am and 3pm and 8pm to 10pm showing a man in each drinking wine. This has taken place since 1910 to commemorate an  incident which took place in 1631. Catholic troops had invaded the Protestant city but, for some reason, instead of immediately destroying and plundering the Catholic General, Tilly, offered a challenge. If a City Councillor could drink a tankard of wine in one go he would spare Rothenburg. A former mayor, Nusch, took on the challenge and won.

RatstrinkstubeThe Ratstrinkstub. the windows on either side of the clock are the ones which open up.

But the most amazing place to visit is down the road from The Square – Käthe Wohlfahrt All Year Round Christmas Shop. There are 2 storeys of Christmas decorations and related items. One just cannot take it all in even if you were there for a day, I am certain. We had just an hour and could not get over the amount and variety of items available. Very expensive but I had to buy just one memento for my Christmas tree. A small, simply carved wooden angel. They offer to pack and post to anywhere in the world but we resisted all temptation. We were able to spend about 3 hours in this lovely town and I am so glad that we did. I had not heard of it before but would recommend it to anyone who happens to be able to get there.

Christmas shopA few of the items in the Christmas Shop

From there it was back on to the bus and off to Heidelberg where we spent the night before boarding a boat to Koblenz. Our coach trip was gradually drawing to a close but Jurg had one more surprise in store for us.

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