We picked up a rental car in Munich. It was a standard which is normal in Germany, but neither of us has driven one since we lived here. Harold managed to get the car out of a tight parking space and negotiate Munich Traffic with a standard. Our biggest fear was that we would have to stop and restart on a hill with a car right behind us!
The car had a navigation system, but it was all in German and we never did figure out how to change it to English. We used it in German, but I am not sure how easy that would be if you speak no German at all. The car manual was in German too and we had to pull over at a rest stop to figure out how to turn the lights on.
We left Munich and headed off on the autobahn which really does have no speed limit in most places. We were doing 120 and there were a few cars which were just flying by. Harold described it best “ holy crap those guys are going fast” . We occasionally drove like that too. What I recall is that driving that fast is actually not that scary, but being the passenger is. When we moved back to Canada from Germany, we had to make a real effort to stay under the speed limit on the highway. We had German drivers’ licenses (we still do) and we told the kids if we got pulled over on the highway, speak German and act confused!
Our first stop was a brief one in Beilngries, a small town along the Main-Donau Canal. The town is obviously a tourist cycle tour stop. The hotels had places to store and park bikes and there were cycle tourists everywhere. The town has a lovely church. The one thing we could not find was a public bathroom!
We also stopped at Schloss Hirschberg which overlooks the town. There are many walking trails in the area.
In Rothenburg ob der Tauber (literally translated to Rothenburg on the Tauber which is the river which flows by it) we stayed within the old city wall at Freud Pension. It’s just inside the city walls. The room was basic and clean and a traditional German breakfast of buns, cheese and wurst with yogurt was included. We chatted with our host in a combination of German and English. The pension was right across the street from one of the town churches and we could hear the church bells and the organ from our room. We loved it, but our host shared that during the lock down the organist would often spend all day playing and it got to be a bit too much. There were lots of tourists in Rothenburg, but it is obvious that they are set up for many more. We were told that in general the tourists are back, but the Chinese are not allowed to travel and that is still having a big impact. Like Canada Germany was locked down for several months and although the government provided help as they did in Canada the tourist businesses are still struggling.
The night we arrived in Rothenburg the local choir was practicing outside. They were great.
Rothenburg is a major tourist attraction because it has a beautiful Altstadt (odds are you have seen it on a jigsaw puzzle somewhere) and an intact city wall which you can walk on top of. The wall and the city were actually heavily damaged in WW II, but it has been rebuilt. It’s still an ongoing effort. We saw people doing repair work on the wall. In order to pay for the repairs, people from all over the world donated money. You can still make a donation, and for 1200 Euro they will put a stone with your name and hometown in the wall for all to see.
Other than the wall and the beautiful old buildings are worth the trip.
Rothenburg’s most famous museum is the Criminal Museum which if full of ancient torture devices. We took our kids there once, but we did not do on this trip. We stopped by the outside and saw the dunking cage for bakers whose bread was too light. There are also many Christmas shops and a Christmas museum which we also skipped. It’s by the main square, where you can climb the tower at the Rathous for a great view but it was closed for construction when we were there. We did pay to go up the tower on one of the wall gates. It was 3 Euros each and worth it for the views.
Another popular activity is the night watchman tour
The other thing Rothenburg is known for is Schneeball (Snowballs), a pastry treat sold only in Rothenburg. It’s basically a roll of pastry bits formed into a round snowball. They come in several flavours, we bought one and tried it. It was Ok but I think it would have been better with coffee.
There are several hiking trails in the area and a great bike path which goes from town to town. We ran around the city wall and down to the Tauber river. Very scenic but not flat!
We also attended a free organ concert in the main city church. The organ was huge and most impressive although we know very little about organs.
We looked into renting bikes but the only place we found only rented e-bikes and they had to be booked online in advance. E-bikes are everywhere in Germany. Outside of the big cities I think at least ½ of the bikes we saw were E-bikes.
As you would expect Rothenburg is full of German restaurants. We don’t eat red meat and Harold does not do dairy so that is a bit of a challenge. We found a Thai /Asia restaurant in a small mall which is in the town outside the city walls. You can also find grocery stores outside the old city walls which are a good source of cheap food.
Germany has many, many bakeries you can find one on almost every corner. Here you buy your baked goods daily so the bakeries open early everyday except Sunday when everything is closed.
One of German St James’ Way Pilgrimage Routes goes from Rotheburg to Rottenburg. It’s a 210 km route which is marked with blue shell signs. We saw a few pilgrims walking the route.
We did a day trip from Rothenburg to Schwabisher Hall. It’s another, nice old city along the river, with a lovely market square where you will find St Michael’s Church.
The views along the river are also worth the walk. We found a second-hand shop there where I bought a scarf to look less like a tourist