My parents took a trip to Germany almost 20 years ago, when my brother was participating in a high school exchange program and living with a host family in Erlangen. My mom came back from that trip raving about the “Romantic Road” and what a wonderful visit they had. At the time, I didn’t really think much about her travel stories other than "that's cool", and even since I moved to Germany, I hadn’t really given much thought to where and what exactly was this “Romantic Road” place. Perhaps Germans don’t really reference this part of the Frankonian region of Bavaria in the same way - I’m not sure - but for whatever reason, Rothenburg ob der Tauber wasn’t really high on my list of must-visit places in Germany. And what a pity! Now that I’ve experienced the charm of this walled medieval village, I’m already making plans to go back (specifically, during Christmas market season).
A little Googling has revealed to me that perhaps I was alone in my ignorance of Rothenburg odT’s appeal. It’s a well-established stop-off on the tourist route through Germany, and has even been the location for several films, including the first and second Harry Potter movies and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and it was the inspiration for Disney’s Pinocchio. Well! Now I can confirm that it’s “romantic” reputation is well-deserved, and honestly, I wouldn’t mind a real romantic getaway weekend to Rothenburg odT sometime in the future… I can envisage it now, blanketed in snow, sleigh-bells jingling, the delicious, warm scent of roasted, candied almonds rising up from market stalls, a steaming hot Glühwein in hand… Any takers?
One pleasant surprise during our recent trip to Rothenburg odT was that it wasn’t actually unpleasantly overrun with tourists. I thought that the town might have a Disneyesque feel to it, with busloads of tourists swarming over the quaint cobblestone streets, and climbing the old stone walls. But in fact, it felt more peaceful and sleepy. The thought did cross my mind that perhaps many tourists don’t stop overnight, and we might have arrived after the crowds, but I can’t confirm this suspicion.
So what does one do in Rothenburg odT? Well, the simplest recommendation is just to walk around and soak in the charm and the history. You can actually walk all along the town walls, which offer amazing panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. Then I suppose you should eat one of the ubiquitous snowballs “Schneebälle” in order to say that you tried it. The traditional pastry is sold in Konditorei all throughout town – you can’t miss the many window displays – and are more about appearance and tradition than taste. But they're not bad, and certainly worth trying. Just don't try to eat a whole snowball by yourself.
Colleen and I didn't set off on our trip to Rothenburg odT until after work Friday, so we had a rather late arrival (luckily the sun was still shining until well past 9 PM), and by the time we started looking around for a place to eat dinner, almost every restaurant in town was closed; drawback of a sleepy town I guess. But this did cause us to stumble upon one of the only restaurants in town that remained open, which just happened to have a beautiful beer garden out back, overlooking the cathedral. Not only that, but they served up the best Spargel I've had yet this season.
91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber