Bad Wimpfen to Rothenberger ob der Tauber
Another good weather day and we're up earlier since we have further to drive and more to see, plus we wanted to spend the morning exploring more sites in beautiful Bad Wimpfen before heading out.
Again our drive is along the Neckar River most of the way and we head for Heilbronn. This is another town on the river though much larger than those we've been to. The traffic is a bit heavier and, like most big cities the construction crews are tearing up streets, which makes driving, even with the Garmin, a little challenging. We eventually find a spot to park right beside the Rathaus, which is limited to 40 minutes, but the police meter maid let us know we could stay a bit longer so we have an hour, which is more than enough. Even better, and unknown to us when we parked, our spot is just around the corner from Marketplatz, the center of town, where everything we want to see is located.
There is an astronomical mechanical clock on the town hall that is similar to the one in Prague, which has all sorts of other information displayed. Then on to St. Killian's church with a late Gothic altar, immense as it sits on the square. We walked around looking at some of the other old buildings, admiring an interesting fountain sculpture near the church and read some of the history behind them and an hour later headed to Schwabish Hall.
Getting out was interesting as Ms Garmin had us driving through the square, which is restricted to pedestrians, as well as attempting to get through streets that at that time were blocked by bollards erected for some reason, but eventually we got out and quickly back to the road along the river.
Schwabisch Hall is another breathtakingly beautiful town and is the site of of a former Benedictine Monastery with many defensive walls and towers, chapels and buildings that were built throughout the ages in different architectural styles located on the Kocher river.
We parked behind the church of St. Michael, another massive structure, which fronts onto the Marketplatz, from which 53 steps lead up to the church entry. The steps are wide, at least thirty feet, and set in an arc that converges as you get nearer the top. In touring the inside we came upon a crypt over which was placed a glass cover and inside were piles of bones and skulls, neatly arranged as you might a wood pile. There was no explanation of what they were so we'll have to look it up later.
We stopped for lunch first on the Marketplatz. Obviously my German, and the waitresses English, weren't clicking. Instead of a quiche for Karen and a dish of cooked shrimp wrapped in what was spaghetti strands of potato, also fried, we ended up with two plates of quiche and the with 4 each of potato wrapped shrimp. But it turned out well as Karen loves quiche and Mike likes shrimp, and a double order of them was just fine. A salad each and drinks and we were set, lazying in the sun with the square spread out before us.
After lunch we went off to see the town. The half-timbered houses, in various colors, line the Kocher river and three different old wooden bridges, one a covered one, connect each side and a small island in the middle. The scene just begs to be turned into picture postcards.
We strolled around some more streets and views and then back up to the church. We had noticed earlier the number of people who spoke English which was surprising, though maybe shouldn't be since we're in generally tourist destinations. Especially noticeable were the Japanese tourists who obviously had no trouble with English. Even more interesting were the number of shops with names like New York Style. You can see why the French wanted to ban the use of non-French words. But you can't stop history and there are 'to-go' signs outside many food shops.
We left Schwabisch Hall about 3:30pm and headed for our last stop, Rothenberg ob der Tauber which is on the Tauber river. About 80 Km, with most on the A6 and A7 highways. There was just a brief traffic jam getting off the A6 to the A7 basically because the exit from the A7 to get to the A6 was shut down so that as cars exited they had to get back on which made for a zoo. We were delayed only about 5 minutes here and we got to Rothenberg - both the Garmin and the hotel's directions agreed perfectly. This is an incredibly beautiful mid size medieval town and driving anywhere means driving through small streets, under centuries old towers and by large squares inundated with people.
The hotel is more than we expected. Wooden beams everywhere, wooden ceilings, even our room has a wooden ceiling with beams. The bathroom is larger than our upstairs bedrooms with plenty of space and the bedroom is actually the living room too, with a sofa, armchairs and some chests and wardrobes.
Once again we dropped our stuff and headed out. The sky is a bit cloudy but with the sun shining through enough so it's only a short wait to get a sunny picture. But as time passses, and the sun starts to set, it does get darker, and a bit chillier.
Marktplatz is packed. This is a destination city for every tour in the area. Since we had a full day planned for sightseeing here tomorrow we wandered aimlessly just to absorb the ambiance of the place. This town is the most beautiful and romantic we have been to in all our travels. Everywhere we turn, we are oohing and aahing.
We can also see the shops that will be collecting our Euros over the next few days. Among others, we've seen two of the largest XMAS shops right across the street from each other, both owned by Kathe Wohlfahrt, known for her XMAS items, and who we first ran into when we were in Brugges. A third Kathy Wohlfahrt shop also houses a Xmas museum which is supposed to be spectacular but we will skip it for now. Plenty of great outdoor sites to visit.
We did stop at another shop to pick up some gifts and souvenirs, but it was getting late and we wanted to eat and be done by 8pm for our final activity of the day.
We ended up at an Italian place. Karen had a salad and pizza. Mike had a primi of spaghetti aglio, olio et pepperoncini (garlic, oil and a strong red pepper) and for the main another Forelle (trout) and salad, and wine.
Then we were off to 'The Night Watchman's Tour'.
A local guy meets every night after dark on the Marktplatz and gives a guided tour (a la Jerry Seinfeld) around key points of the town while narrating what it was like to live in Rothenberg in the middle ages and especially as a night watchman and the need for one. Tonight there were over 100 people who were following him out of the square and around town and the edges of town, as he walked, halberd in hand, as well as carrying a lantern as he would have back then, with his black hooded garment, all making him look the part. Very interesting, fun and educational tour.
After 13 hours of walking around we were ready for our bed
Bad Wimpfen Fountain
Thinest House in Bad Wimpfen
Heilbronne Astronomical Clock
Lunch at Schwabisch Hall
Old Houses on River
Hotel Marusturm - Rothenberg
He refuses to stop attempting getaway
Night on Marktplatz