We arrived in Rothenburg ~ 4:30 – found the old walled city, and eventually our lodging:  Gastehaus Victoria, where we will have all three of the rooms.  It is cute and cozy – bold fabrics and silk flowers everywhere, with a sitting room in the suite and table and chairs in a common room on the 2nd floor.  We were warmly greeted by Hanne, and welcomed the chance to relax a little before exploring this charming old town. 

Four of us decided to take the recommended “Night Watchman’s Tour” from 8-9 PM.   For 4 Euros per person, we enjoyed the walk – in spite of the large Saturday night crowd – led by our “Night Watchman – George”.  He provided lots of interesting history of the town and plenty of humor, too!   Some of the highlights:  The town began as a parish in 970 – grew through the favor of several kings until it was granted a town charter in 1172, and the first wall was built.   In 1204 construction began on a second fortification, which is still largely preserved today.  It became a free imperial city in

1274 (and again in 1325 and 1349)… The building continued, with many political upheavals over the centuries – with the Thirty Years’ War, beginning in 1618, inflicting severe damage on the village.  In 1802 Rothenburg was annexed to Bavaria and throughout the 19th century was discovered by tourism.   In 1945, just a few weeks before the end of WWII, forty percent of the city was destroyed by a bombing raid --  but it escaped total destruction thanks to the energetic intervention of a US general.

We then met Dad and had dinner at Hotel Altfrankirche Weinstube am Klosterhot (several blocks from Gastehaus Victoria), run by Hanne and her husband Mario, the chef.  It’s one of the few places in town that serve hot meals after 8:00 – they serve dinner until 10:30 and the pleasant, candlelit pub is open until 1:00 AM.  (They also rent 6 rooms with baths above the pub – but they were booked when we inquired.)  We had a delightful late dinner, including creamy potato soup, plates of Tyrolian ham and cheese, baked Camembert and a wonderful Camembert and onion spread – with fantastic brown and rye breads, fruit and vegetable garnishes, and delicious local Tauber beer and dry white Sylvaner wine.  Hanne presented us with a special after-dinner drink made with Schnapps and cassis – wow!  Satin sheets and huge down comforters and pillows greeted us when it was time to sleep.

(9/19/04) We awoke to sunshine, so Paul and I decided to walk the 1.5 mile wall around the city before breakfast – but we misjudged the time it would take, so we had to race-walk through town to meet the rest of the family for breakfast!  The wall walk was pleasant – you couldn’t help feeling the history here, in spite of the added roof and safety railings – but the view outside the wall was rather disappointing – though the views over the town were great.  Breakfast was the usual German buffet at Hotel Altfrankirche – but with good coffee and lots of fresh fruit.

Candy, Stan and Paul then headed to the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum – “Interesting, with lots of history!” – while Dad and I walked to Market Square, visited the TI, and relaxed with coffee at an outdoor café next to Town Hall.  We marveled at the number of Japanese tourists that visit this town (and supported the post WWII effort to rebuild it – as evidenced by plaques on the wall walk).  Next, Paul and Dad returned to the guesthouse to relax, while Candy, Stan and I went shopping, with limited success.  The shops and souvenir places are generally overpriced with an emphasis on collector nutcrackers and Christmas ornaments.   We found one shop that had very fair prices for dolls and beer steins:  Herbert Kabalo, #11 Schmiedgasse.   Anyway, it was interesting to look around and walk the narrow streets.

We met for lunch at 2:00 at a place several blocks from the square, advertising Sauerbraten – Paul’s favorite.  However, we were dismayed to discover that they stopped serving from their main menu at 2:00 (Germans eat early) – but the waitress arranged for 3 servings of Sauerbraten (with spaetzle, instead of potato dumplings) – but it was, unfortunately, only fair.  Candy and Dad had bratwurst with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes – a better choice.

During a leisurely walk back, we stopped at St. Jacob’s Church – built in the 14th century, and Lutheran since 1544.  It was very impressive, with an ornate high alter (from 1446), the Alter of the Virgin Mary (1520), and the famous 500-year old “Alter of the Holy Blood” – by Tilman Riemenschneider, completed in 1504 -- some very famous wood carvings!

Dad was quite tired by this time in the trip, so, after a rest, we picked up dinner at Hotel Altfrankirche and took it back to the guesthouse for him… then headed out on foot to find a spot for our dinner.  It wasn’t easy on a Sunday evening – so after a stop for a glass of wine, we found an empty restaurant just off the square (name forgotten) where we had an acceptable, but not memorable dinner of typical German fare.  I’m sure that Rothenburg has many fine restaurants, but we were typical tourist victims in a very touristy town.    If we return, we’ll stick with Hanne and Mario and ask for their suggestions for other local places!