Germany Day 6 (Rothenburg/Würzburg)
Since both Tim and I have a good bit of German in us, our facial features and physical appearance blend in here pretty well. In addition, there is enough variety of clothing that nothing in our wardrobes really stick out, including the US sports team clothes which we see plenty of people wearing. What really makes it clear we are not from the area is when we get our coffee to go and can’t be bothered to sit down and take our time to drink it like the locals! We always get an amused smile when we ask for it to take along with us and we never see any other people walking down the street or on the trains holding coffee.
For our last full day in Germany, Juan Carlos rented a car to drive us out to Bayern (in English – Bavaria) so that we could experience a medieval city. After getting ready, we took the S Bahn to the Hauptbahnhof where all the car rental places were. Although the car we ended up getting was wholly unacceptable to Juan Carlos (having gotten used to very nice BMW or Mercedes vehicles), we thought it was a perfectly fine car, since Tim and I are of the variety that generally rents the cheapest possible cars we can get (and the BMW Smart Car was a little too small for the three of us, but they were available for rent).
I haven’t yet mentioned Ray and Juan Carlos’ aversion to lids on their coffee. (This is possibly an aversion shared by much of the country, since “to go” coffee is such an anomaly). But picture Tim and I with our “to go” Starbucks and Juan Carlos with his but without any lid. All of us are in the car, and Juan Carlos is driving (stick shift, mind you), speeding (as much as you can in Germany), with his open coffee cup. AND HE DIDN’T SLOSH OR SPIL A DROP! Quite impressive!
Contrary to what some might think, not all of Germany is without speed limits. But it is pretty cool to see that there are different speed limits posted for each lane! I really wish that my morning commute had the same feature, and I’m sure that Tim thinks so as well. Juan Carlos was very upset that our American made car could not go much above 160 kph without shaking.
On the way to Rothenburg, we stopped at a rest stop to use the bathroom. This was one that you paid 50 cents (in Euro) to use it. This has happened to us several times with public toilets, but I actually prefer this system as the restrooms are very clean most likely as a result, and in the ones we went to they are generally well stocked. With the 50 cent ticket, you can use it towards a snack downstairs if you wish or just throw it away.
Anyway, enough about the bathrooms. We arrived in Rothenburg, parked, and walked into a small town straight out of a Disney movie. All of the houses and businesses were in the medieval style and all of the streets were cobble stoned. It was a shock to see actual cars driving on them. Tim loved this place, as it was so visually interesting and he took a ton of really cool pictures. In fact Juan Carlos and I kept losing him and found ourselves looking back every 5 minutes to try to spot him.
[It was amazing how you could walk right through this little town and see structures built for defense and daily life in the 13th century and in the same view see modern life (including tourism) fitting right in without spoiling the romanticism of it all - in a way, alot like Old City, Philly, but alot older!!!]
We ate lunch at a little diner that had a good variety of things. Since I was so cold, I ordered Grog, which is hot rum and water. It definitely warmed up my body! Tim had a bratwurst on top of sauerkraut along with some potato soup.
[Schneeballs on display]
After lunch, we walked along the ramparts and city wall which was complete with slots for archers, cannons and a very stereotypical tree in the middle of the courtyard. We took some cool pictures peaking out of the windows at each other.
In late afternoon, we took one last stroll around the city and decided to head out to Würzburg before it got dark.
Juan Carlos parked at a parking garage in Würzburg and we immediately headed for this really cool bridge that lead over to a castle high up on a hill. It took us 20 minutes to climb all the stairs and hills to get up to the castle, but we trudged along. There were some really cool picture opportunities along the way with all the little tunnels and stone statues and lofty views of the city.
The castle itself was really great. We got there just as it was starting to get dark, which gave the surroundings a sort of surreal feeling. I tried to take some pictures of Tim in the courtyard, but they go blurry. I am not meant to focus a camera that complicated, and my vision is probably really too poor to do it properly. So, you can blame all the blurry pictures on me.
After touring the grounds, we walked back down and across the cool bridge and then around the city for awhile. This city also had a bit of a medieval charm, but had more modern things mixed in, such as a big mall in the center. We stopped for some hesse shokolade (hot chocolate, which puts any cocoa you’ve had in the U.S. to utter shame). Eventually, we headed back to the car – cold and tired, but happy to have seen this area.
The drive home was fun, listening to German music on the radio and trying to avoid getting merged into by the truck drivers.
For dinner that night we went for Spanish tapas and had a good talk with Ray and Juan Carlos. I can’t believe the vacation ends tomorrow!
[The inevitable collision of modern day communication technology and medievel architecture.]