Dateline: Rothenburg, Germany and points east
I woke up this morning in the town of Wurzburg. As I slept in, something of a hazard on a cruise where the liquor is included and there is no bar bill, I didn’t have a lot of time to explore this particular town but I did get a brief look at the Archbishop’s Residence. His excellency certainly had taste and money to burn.
After brunch, it was on the bus and a trip down the autobahn for about 70 km to the town of Rothenburg. The autobahn was safer than I thought. There were a couple of large Mercedes in the left lane whizzing by at enormous rates of speed but the vast majority of drivers seemed to understand that 100 km/hr (60 mph) was entirely appropriate for the road and conditions. The Bavarian countryside was quite rural with fields of grain and a smell of cows. There were a lot of power generating windmills in the fields. Germany wishes to be fossil fuel free and it looks like they’re going to make it.
We approached Rothenburg through the new part of the city, which looked like most other suburban towns but with architecture reminiscent of German Medieval styles, got off the bus, walked through a gate in the city wall and into the old town. The town is a well preserved medieval city. In the 11th through 14th centuries, it was an important trading center at the intersection of a couple of major trade routes. By the Renaissance, trade patterns had changed and it devolved into a sleepy down off the beaten track and the money and prestige left leaving the medieval architecture and city planning behind. it existed for a few hundred more years, without a lot of notice until the Romantic poets of the 19th century discovered it as a fairly intact medieval town, and it was visited and made famous by Hoffman, Schiller, the brothers Grimm etc. By 1900, the locals realized they had a major tourist destination on their hands and they worked to maintain it’s style and charm. World War II bombs damaged about a third of the town, but it was rebuilt on it’s original design and remains a UNESCO world heritage site.
The old town is relatively small, still surrounded by its defensive town wall and filled with medieval half timbered houses and other buildings. It’s very much a Grimm fairy tale come to life and you can easily see the characters from Into the Woods venturing out from one of the city gates into the countryside to get their wish. I did some shopping, buying a watercolor of one of the towers from a local artist, toured the church, the city hall (but did not climb the twelve flights of stairs up the tower), and walked the trail around the town which wound through gardens and the galleries of the old city walls and defensive towers.
Then it was back on the bus and off to meet the boat which had moved upstream to Ochsenfurt. This evening, we’ve been continuing up the Main and through more locks as we continue to climb towards the Danube. Post dinner entertainment was a German Oom-pah band. They were better than the one from the biergarten in Rudesheim and didn’t try to include Jimmy Buffet in their repertoire. I decided to treat my shingles with one to many Rudesheim coffees and, being in a pleasant mood, had a nice conversation with the lounge pianist before retiring to bed and to write this update. I can’t think of a good story tonight. Must be the brandy. Hopefully one will occur to me tomorrow. We’re not docking until lunch time so I get to sleep in.