Missed Part 1?
Berlin was an amazing city (and I look forward to returning in September 2017), but Cliff and I were super stoked to begin our trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber along the Romantic Road <– cue awww. The Romantic Road is a 200 mile + highway between the cities of Wurzburg and Fussen, linking dozens of towns and castles. These small towns are quintessentially German – if you close your eyes and think medieval Europe or Barvaia, this is what you will see.
The Romantic Road was the trade route that connected the center of Germany to the south in medieval times. The Romantic Road term was coined in the 1950s as part of a tourism effort. How did we pick Rothenburg ob der Tauber out of the dozens of towns along the road? My friends Rosie and Jon visited the town earlier in the year and recommended it when we were planning the trip. She also suggested staying there over night as the town empties out of day trippers in the evening. Okay… enough background and back to the recap!
We checked out of our hotel on Monday morning and made our way to the Avis in Mitte to pick up our rental car. I made our reservation a few months in advance because we needed an automatic (I do not know how to drive stick shift). Cliff and I were excited about our road trip! We imagined ourselves in a cute little Mini Cooper or Fiat, you know like in all the movies that take place in Europe, scooting down the Autobahn and cutting through narrow alleys. Well to our surprise, we received a Ford Focus sedan, which is a pretty good sized car. Our Avis representative said that was the only automatic car available, womp womp.
Travel Tip: Avis had a couple of add-in options such as GPS or Wi-Fi for an extra $7-$10/day. I chose the latter so we could use our cellphones during the trip! The Wi-Fi was portable, so we even had connectivity when we left the car.
It was fun driving on the AutoBahn (yes, there were stretches you could drive really really fast) and we even went through some small German towns and country roads. I found German drivers to be more courteous than U.S drivers. When we signaled to change lanes, they would let us in vs. speeding up. We also noticed that all the trucks were driving in the far right lane (usually the “slow lane”), so we didn’t have to worry about them erratically changing lanes and felt much safer.
We made a few pit stops, including one at McDonalds (we noticed there weren’t many dining options for random stops – I suppose we could have researched in advance). The menu was pretty much the same, but the ordering experience was different. Cliff and I noticed that the cashier was confused when we tried to order by number (even though it was on the menu), instead we had to order each item by name.
It took about 5 hours to drive from Berlin to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (note: there is another Rothenburg in Germany, so be careful when entering your final destination). The town is a popular desitnation along the Romantic Road and is a well persevered medieval town. I got so excited when I saw the buildings peak up behind the city walls. We had a little minor issue getting to our hotel. The GPS took us down a hill towards a small dirt road (see below). We thought it was a strange entrance and realized we were heading in the wrong direction when we saw private driveways! I had to drive in reverse for about 200-400 meters before I could turn around. I was so nervous I would scratch the car.
We found the correct entrance to the town!
After another scary driving moment (squeezing through an alley with the Ford Focus is no fun), we found the Hotel Gotisches Haus. It is the building in the middle – isn’t it the cutest?!?! I booked this room per the recommendation of We Took the Road Less Traveled By. It also received glowing reviews on multiple review sites. I emailed Alex, the nicest hotel manager, if there was parking nearby. He said street parking was limited, but to check-in first and then he would help us with parking.
Image: Hotel Gotisches Haus
The hotel, originally a house, was built in the 13th century and served the nearby Franciscan monks as a bread house. Emperor Friedrich even stayed in the building during a visit in 1474! There are 11 rooms in the hotel with varying sizes and amenities. We stayed in one of the smaller rooms, number 33. How adorable is the room key?
There was a cool hanging light fixture/artwork of the town near the entrance. For some reason it reminded me of Hogwarts!
We brought the luggage upstairs (there was an elevator/lift) and we ooohed and ahhhed at the architecture. The room was small, but it had so much character! The bathroom was spacious and there was even a large soaking tub. They also placed mini bags of HARIBO Gummi Bears on our pillows. I had no idea that HARIBO was a German company.
After we dropped off our backs, we went downstairs and Alex gave us a map of the town and showed us where to park (there is a huge lot near the church). It took us a good 15-20 minutes to find the parking lot, even though it was only a 5-10 minute walk. There were narrow streets (some one way) and tourists were walking around.
The parking lot was next to the city wall! I can’t believe they are over 800 years old.
It took a little shuffling, but I made it up the stairs so we could check out the view. If my foot was not sprained, I would have loved to walk around the entire circumference of the wall.
We walked towards town and made note of potential dinner spots. I originally made dinner reservations at Zur Höll (the building dates back to 900), but we were running behind.
I was loving every inch of this small town. By 5:00 the tourists (via bus) were clearing out.
Two of my favorite buildings. You will see them again later in this post.
Next up was the Plonlein! It is one of the most visited and iconic images of Rothenburg. I wanted to take a picture of my own postcard before sunset. We met another nice couple that took our picture and we did the same for them.
Sigh… I wish I could go back!
Doesn’t this remind you of Belle’s town from Beauty and the Beast? Although Rothenburg was not the town in that movie, it was the inspiration for Disney’s Pinocchio. Harry Potter was also filmed there.
Another point of interest.
Typical Bavarian buildings.
After some…ok tons.. of picture taking (thanks Cliff) we went to Hotel Reichsküchenmeister for dinner. It was a beautiful night, so we chose to eat on their patio. Our table overlooked St. James Church (not the church pictured below).
The food was delicious – I had beef stroganoff and Cliff had the schnitzel. Cliff also enjoyed his dunkle! We saw the Nightman Watch Tour convene outside the church during dinner. The tour was highly recommended and on our to-do list, but our stomachs won out.
We walked back to the hotel after dinner. The town was so empty and we loved it! Here is town hall and the main square. It felt like we were the only ones there (sort of haha).
The old apothecary buildings again. The lights made them glow!
We were exhausted. Once we got back to the hotel we watched some television (German coverage of the U.S. Presidential debates) and tried a schneeballen before going to bed. If you Google Search Rothenburg ob der Tauber you will find many references to their famous schneeballen or snowball. It is a small round pastry traditionally topped with powdered sugar. There are also tons of other flavors such as nutella, chocolate, nuts, and the list goes on. So how was it?
It depends on where you went! I read online reviews there were two stores that specialized in the Schneeballen – Diller Schneeballentraume Cafe and Zuckerbackerei. They were literally across from each other. Schneeballen – Diller Schneeballentraume Cafe opened late and we purchased one for a post dinner treat. It was a little disappointing. They were pretty hard and fell apart easily. Did they all taste like this?
The next morning I purchased a schneeballen from Zuckerbackerei (they close much earlier than Diller so we were unable to pick one up the night before). Cliff and I were a little hesitant to try it at first, but we were pleasantly surprised! It was soft and flavorful. We wish we bought some more! The online reviews were spot on, I thought Zuckerbackerei was the better of the two.
After our schneeballen adventure I wanted to check out some of the shops for gifts, including the Christmas stores!
A store full of ornaments and nutcrackers!
I purchased two mini nutcrackers – one as a gift and one for me 🙂
I loved everything about this town and highly recommend it if you are traveling through Bavaria. We also enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Gotisches Haus – it was clean, cute and comfortable (note: it also comes with a free breakfast). Next up, Fussen/Schwangau and Neuschwanstein Castle!
Here are two great blog posts I read while researching for this portion of the trip:
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber by We Took the Road Less Traveled By
- Fairy Tales and Legends in Rothenburg by Travel Addicts
- My Next Marathon – Jenny Runs ________
- Berlin Marathon Update
- Before the Fall – My 2016 Berlin Marathon Countdown
- 2016 Berlin Marathon Expo + Good News + Spectating
- Germany Vacation Recap – Berlin – Part 1
Do you have any travel tips?
Do you know how to drive stick shift?