Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Europe: Rothenburg

Bacharach to Rothenburg (pronounced ROE-ten-burg). You've no idea how badly I want to post my pictures! Every day gets that much better. (Later edit - pictures now posted here.)

Rothenburg is a walled city - the best-preserved medieval town in Europe. A complete working town - active and alive, with a booming tourist industry and tall peaked roofs.

  • St. Jaykob's church (complete with glorious pipe organ, stain glass and flying buttresses) has an altarpiece which is intricately carved lifesize wooden last supper with a removable Judas.
  • The town hall tower is a winding climb to a narrow result which gives great views of the square and town.
  • The Crime and Punishment Museum is an amazing collection of ancient and more recent torture tools and judicial documentation.
  • The Christmas store (largest I've ever seen) netted my souvenir: a handpainted Rothenburg scene on a glass bulb.
  • Numerous restaurants and bakeries gave many food options, every other building was a store of some kind - my favorite purchase was a Swiss Army knife engraved with my name. Got one for Andrew and a small one for Tim - it was his birthday today.
  • A town legend is depicted in moving figures behind windows which open like a cookoo clock on the hour.
  • The Night Watchman looked more like the Pied Piper for his one hour tour... there must have been 100 people following along.
  • Enjoyed gelato and coffee (koffee) just off the main square.
  • Walked along the town wall around half the city to return to our hotel.
Almost relieved we're only here one day - it's something of a sensory overload.

Met many people, two parties from Canada (the Canadian flag on my pack helped that happen) and one from Maine.

Biggest event of the day: we met Rick Steves! It had been rumoured that he was in the area - shop keepers were whispering bright-eyed that he was supposed to be coming - almost the same way a child anticipates the arrival of Saint Nicholas in December. Rick is doing research in the area and dropped by the same restaurant during supper (one recommended in his guidebook). He greeted us warmly, heard we were on one of his tours, posed for pictures and then graciously excused himself to ''Go make his guidebooks better.'' We may see him visit the tour group at breakfast tomorrow.

When he showed up in the Square later to greet his friend, the Night Watchman, it was as if a rock star had arrived. His books (and his tours) are that good. They really are.

We finished the night (B & I) with a walk along the town wall back to our hotel. Didn't need a guide but was glad I brought my flashlight!

Wish you were here.

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